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Third Street Play

Now we shall discuss how you should play various hands in general on third street in a normal eight-handed razz game. We will assume that you are not playing against total idiots who play by showing their high cards. It is true that games like this are not that rare. However, when you find a game like this, any type of tight play is going to get the money and since most of the readers are good poker players to start with, it is not necessary to discuss how to play in a game with maniacs. Therefore whenever we speak about how many players are behind you it means we are talking about how many low cards, as it is assumed that high cards are automatically folded.

How should we play if the high card is to your immediate right and we are next with a three-card hand? Here the play will change depending on whether it is the $15-$30 game or the $30-$60 game. Remember, we had mentioned that in the $15-$30 game it is correct for a player to limp in last position, if he knows he can win the flop and then win the pot only because he is getting 6-to-1 odds. The Fundamental Theorem of Poker tells us that we can't allow our rival to make the correct play. This would suggest that as long as no one else has yet called, especially in the $30-$60 game, it is never correct to limp in with any playable hand. Hence, with rare exceptions, if the high card is to your right you should raise with all playable hands to avoid allowing poor hands to correctly limp in as they are getting 6-to-1 pot odds. One another exception is with a very good hand which would be something like a bike draw with the perfect cards out. If you do limp in with this hand and somebody calls you who you suspect is weak you should be inclined to call again on fourth street . The second reason to limp in with very good hands right under the gun in a $30-$60 game is that you suspect someone else will raise and you get a chance to re-raise.

However in a $15-$30 game where anybody who limps in behind you is only getting 3.6-to-1 (18-to-5), it can be much fair to limp in with a good hand. One another reason to limp in with a good hand is to set up a situation that allows you to play average hands. If you never limp in with a good hand you would be setting up your raise those times when you would like to be able to see fourth street for a single bring-in bet. This will likely happen if you have a three-card hand but many of your cards are out. So for instance if you hold

And there were two 4s and an ace gone you would have a reasonably weak hand. However, if you catch a good one especially a 4 or an ace on fourth street, your hand would simply be good. This is a kind of hand with which you would like to be able to see fourth street cheaply and as you are known to slow-play extremely good hands in early position you might prevent players from raising when you do limp in with a weak hand.

The second time you would limp in with a decent hand in early position would be if you had a three-card eight with the perfect cards are out and the 8 was showing. If there are two or more low cards behind you it is not good enough to raise against aggressive players who are capable or re-raising you. But then it isn't that bad either.

If there are many low cards behind you in an early position, you need a good reading poker hand to play the game. Three-card eights should be thrown away, especially in the $15-$30 game. If the 8 isn't showing and the decision is close, he decision is whether to fold or raise. In other words, if you have a three-card eight where you would not play if you knew one of the low cards behind you would also play it might still be worth playing because of the additional possibility that you can steal the ante even though that is a weak possibility. This is of course is another application of the semi-bluff. Seventy percent of the time you will be playing a hand that you don't particularly want to play but 30 percent of the time you will win the ante. Calling with such kind of hands is generally a bad play. A raise can even be correct with a good three-card nine if the 9 is not showing. However, if you think there is no chance you can steal the antes you should better off fold. It is also true for three-card eight-sevens. As people fold, if you are next, you are in a similar situation to being under the gun. In other words, as long as no one has yet played, your strategy depends on your hand and the number of low cards yet to act and your strategy is similar to the under the gun poker strategy concept that just mentioned now.

For instance someone has already raised the pot. The basic concept which is stressed in most of the text is that a hand that can call a raise must be even better than one that can raise itself. This is because when you are raising before anybody else has played you have the extra chance of stealing the ante. Once someone else has raised that possibility is no longer there. Hence if a player has already raised, especially in an early position where it is impossible that he stealing or semi-stealing you very simply need to have a hand. However, in razz your hand does not have to be as good as the raiser's hand. It can be almost as good because of the price you are getting from the initial bring-in and the antes. In the $15-$30 game, you are getting 28-to-15 odds. In the $30-$60 game, you are getting 70-to-30 odds. You can play little more hands in the $30-$60 game in this situation. Most three-card seven can be played unless the cards that are out are very disadvantageous to you. Three-card eights can generally be played, especially if the 8 is in the hole. Almost never play a three-card nine for a cold raise. If you were the initial raiser have gotten re-raised, you may have to play it. The situation is different because there is little money in the pot.

The question arises as to whether you should re-raise rather than a call. As mentioned earlier, it is very important to re-raise the original raiser if he may be stealing. You cannot give him that extra way of winning by out-flopping you on fourth street if he didn't have a hand. It also can be a good playing bankroll to re-raise if the ante is high and you do not want other people to play correctly behind you because of the odds that they are getting. You may want to re-raise the initial raiser knowing full well he has a hand just to make sure that it gets down to you and him.

However, there is other good reason why it is unwilling to put a double bet in on three, especially against weak players, and especially if your hand is only fair to good. The reason involves fourth street play. If there is only one raise out in on third street, it is correct to throw your hand away on fourth street if the raiser catches a good card and you catch a bad card. Similarly, it would be correct for him to throw away his hand if he catches bad card and you catch a good card. It will be discussed in detail later in the text.

Conversely, a bad player who starts off with three good cards will invariably call again on fourth street even if it comes good to you and bad to him. This is good edge. Unfortunately, by putting in a double raise, you have eliminated that edge because you are almost forced to come again on fourth street no matter how the cards fall. This is a very important concept. By making a double raise, you have made fourth street automatic. By restricting it to a single raise, you have given him the opportunity to make a mistake. This concept or principle is one of the reasons why it is unwilling to re-raise on third street especially when the ante is small and your rival is weak. If the ante becomes big, it is unfortunately necessary to re-raise because of the "juice" already in there in the form of the bring-in and the antes.

The last situation on third street would be where a rival has only limped and you now must act. Once a rival has limped you should not think of stealing the ante. The question is whether you should raise with the hand. The answer to this is "sometimes." If there are no further low cards behind you, you can limp in without a hand in the expectation of out-flopping him especially in the $30-$60 game structure. In this case, especially if your rival is a good player, you should often limp in when you do have a hand since he knows that you could very easily be limping without a hand. Here you must trap him. The second time to just limp in behind an initial limper is if you are sure that he is slow-playing a very big hand. However, if there are even more low cards behind both of you, and there is a good chance that the initial limper has decided to limp in with a decent hand, it is generally necessary to raise just to limit down the field. Once again, this is correct in the bigger ante games than in the smaller ante stealing games. However, if by limping in behind the initial limper, you can get loose players to come in with all kinds of hands, you should consider playing it that way. You can also limp in behind an initial limper playing it that very good hand with the expectation that someone raises behind you. You can now raise.

There is nothing wrong about re-raising with the very big hands with the perfect cards out. The reason is opposite of the reason mentioned a few paragraph earlier. With a very big hand, it is correct to call for you on fourth street irrespective of what you catch even if there was only a single raise. Then why not make it even more perfect by making in a double raise? The second time you might want to put in an extra raise on third street is if there is a high card playing. You might not consider it doing so as to throw off your rivals. While it is not covered every possible situation that may arise on third poker street, this section together with some examples at the end of the text will help you to give some guidelines to tackle the problems efficiently.

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