Concepts: Hand Quality, Pot Control, Equity Curve, Hand Odds, Split-Pot Freerolling
A STUDY IN STUD-8
August 20, 2016 -- Today we welcome in another poker variant to the Open Face Odds family - Stud Hi Lo, also known as Stud 8.
Much of the same street-by-street odds analysis we have applied to OFC is useful in other poker variations, so let's get under
the hood! Today we'll take a look at this HU spot in a Stud 8 tournament, examining street-by-street odds, starting hand strength and the concept of
freerolling in a split pot game.
3RD STREET: Here my opponent has raised the bringin showing a 2, and I have woken up in the small blind with a semi-premium 357. As Stud-8
is a split pot game, the goal is to scoop both the high and low portions of the pot whenever possible.
In this spot, I assume I already may have a better low draw with 7-high,
as well as plenty of outs to win the other side, including making a pair, two pair, or possibly a straight. A steal is perfectly likely from this
particular opponent, so I'm happy to pay to see 4th street here.
A note on pot control: 4th street will always inform your overall equity curve, so it's wise to see 4th before getting
too many bets in with a drawing hand like 357 (this is a fancy way of saying 'sometimes things go sideways').
With that precaution, however, this particular draw is very live, and could stand
a few more raises if necessary. There are 19 cards that can improve the
low side (AAAA 222 4444 6666 8888), 9 cards that directly improve the high (333 555 777), and multiple runner-runner draws that
drastically improve the high (KK, 33, or 46, for example). Odds right now are above 90% that I can
either runner-runner the low, or pair+ for the high.
4TH STREET: The Ace is an excellent card for my hand, as I am now 4-to-low with an ~80% chance to hit on that side,
and ~60% to pair for the high.
5TH STREET: The hand improves even more, as the AA is a definitive favorite against villain's high range, and with two cards
to pull my hand can still beat an 8-low with 16 outs (222 4444 6666 888). I get all-in with my opponent.
6TH STREET: It turns out my opponent didn't actually have a made hand on either side.
As you can see the first 5 cards are J5238; basically, this was a steal that should have been shut down on 4th
street. J52 is a weak starting hand, but once the villain caught a 3 on 4th, my guess is they decided to go
with it as a bluff and/or with backdoors to either side. But by 5th street, both backdoors were a significant dog. The 'emergency low' was
drawing to an 8-high while I was drawing to a 7-high, and on the high side the AA was a virtual lock as a 90%+ favorite.
Here is a spot that illustrates the concept of freerolling in a split-pot game.
The villain has gotten all their money in on 5th street with what is essentially only a draw to
half the pot (the low side). The high side is all but conceded to the Aces.
My hand doesn't need improvement at all; theirs
needs major improvement to even win half.
By 6th street, villain is drawing dead on the high side.
Now the freeroll has gone from a virtual lock to an actual
lock for my hand. There is no card that gives the villain the high; and only a two-out Ace saves the low, the chances of which
are under 5%.
7TH STREET: A useless pair comes in for my opponent, giving me the scoop and tournament knockout.
A few takeaways for your stud game:
1) Avoid starting hands where the high and low cards are split, such as an offsuit J52. Suited, they play better, and a KQ2 suited might be worth getting
to 4th street with, but ultimately you'd like to
see a pair or cluster (KQT, 235) before completing the bringin. 552, 542, or 852 suited would have played much better for the villain here.
2) Take a careful look at 4th and 5th streets to determine if you think your equity is rising or falling, and don't hang on to a loser
just because you're getting a good price.
3) Avoid bloating the pot until you can see your equity clearly.
4) Try to avoid freerolling your opponent; conversely, try to get as much money in the pot when you are on the right side of the freeroll.
"Risk comes from not knowing what you are doing."
-- Warren Buffet, billionaire
"Pineapple OFC wouldn't be so popular if it were more appropriately named Math"
--Richard Lyndaker, poker player (Twitter)
CRACKING THE PINEAPPLE
April 29, 2014 -- Alas, it is true. To play Pineapple OFC well, you must know your probabilities.
There's just no other way around it. The witticism in Mr. Lyndaker's tweet cleverly sums up the
mathematical reality behind the game, one that ties in appropriately to the Oracle of Omaha's quote:
You either know what you're doing, or you don't.
What that means in Pineapple is knowing your odds. Sure, Pineapple is fun, it's sick, swingy and crazy,
you get lots of cards, big hands are always around the corner, gambles often pay off, and Fantasyland is always in play.
All of that is true, and that's part of what makes the game exciting.
But behind the curtain, it's draw poker, and that means math. Knowing your numbers is going to give you an edge,
not only for your hand's trajectory, but it also gives you an understanding of how much risk your opponent
is putting themselves in.
I recently played a hand online that perfectly illustrates how knowing one's exact odds can be helpful, and also
how NOT knowing (or caring about) them can quickly make you a loser.
Out of position on the second pull, I am dealt AQ3, and I've got a decision to make. I'd like to pair Aces in front for a 9 point
royalty and a trip to Fantasyland. With 10's already set in the middle with a few unders to a QQ8 back row,
I feel I can make this work. However, I'd like to know my exact odds to unfoul before I take that route.
Here is the situation before setting:
I don't have a fancy odds calculator to plug in the scenario, nor do I have time to do so. But I have done
my math homework, and I know my basic probabilities here.
If I set
the Ace in front with Q in back, I will have a 4-outer (QQ88) and a 5-outer (44222)
to improve each row. I am
excluding the 10's from the outs scenario as that will make trips in middle and would require a 2-out Queen in
back to unfoul, which is only 33% likely to occur. However, the 4- and 5-outer are 56% and 65%, respectively,
to hit with 6 cards to come.
With each row's draw comfortably above the 50% mark, the AA royalty equity of 9 pts,
Fantasyland expected value (6-10 points, depending on your opponent), and the fact that my opponent is more likely
to flush the back row than I am, I have all the justification I need to gamble.
Curiously, on the next pull, my opponent set KK in front, even with the knowledge that I had already set two Aces,
leaving them only one out to unfoul. And herein lies the difference between a good gamble, and a bad one - or
'knowing what you're doing' or not. The probability of their hitting an Ace in the last two pulls
was only 19% at that point in the hand. That is approximately the statistical equivalent of getting it in preflop
with 22 against AA. Did my opponent know how low their odds were when they set that way? I'd say they probably
knew it was a longshot, but I'd also guess they assumed I'd foul with my setup. Either way, I'd take my 50%+
probabilities all day against their >20%. Based on the math, my gamble was perfectly reasonable, but theirs was
very unreasonable. When you look at their setup, you might posit that they were hoping for the case Ace or
perhaps a wheel straight. But there is a difference between hopeful and probable.
The final runout:
My opponent fouls. It's possible that my aggressive line forced them to respond in kind, but as the
numbers and results show, it was not an optimal response to set the KK in front.
The fact that my opponent decided to take a swim upstream against
the flow of probability extended their points loss; if they had taken a more conservative
line they would have made a flush in the back and limited my win to 6 points, rather than giving me the
scoop/foul bonus as well as giving up the flush equity they had accrued.
Catching the pair of 7's on the third pull took care of my back row problem; I haven't done hard numbers yet for that scenario (probability to catch a random
pair in any pull of 3 cards), but based on game play I estimate the odds in the 15%-25% range
depending on board contour. And if the 7's hadn't come it's reasonable to assume a Q or 10 could have appeared
in their place, so the possibility of a 77 pull only added % points to my play that I hadn't even factored into my
It turns out I could have caught the flush as well, so there were
several options, as there nearly always are in Pineapple.
I chose a path that was the most straightforward and made sense mathematically
with an eye towards overall hand E.V.
As far as I can tell the 'luckiest' part of the hand was when the villain
decided to gamble poorly.
USE THESE CHARTS TO GREATLY IMPROVE YOUR PINEAPPLE OFC GAME! ONE CONVENIENT PDF INCLUDES:
*Up-and-down straight draw *Gutshot straight draw *Flush draw (4 to it) *Runner-runner flush draw (3 to it) *Two-pair-to-full-house *Combo draw, e.g. straight flush draw *Overs pairing: A to AA or AK to AAK / AKK *Pair-plus-kicker-to-full-house or quads: 443 to 44333 or 44443 *Single to trips: J to JJJ