(Distributed April 3, 2007)
READER QUESTIONS LOW-HAND RULES IN SPLIT-POT POKER
Questions from readers in Texas and Illinois are in LuckyDog’s e-mailbag this week.
(SET ITAL) * In a recent garage game, we played two split-pot games (best/worst hands split). In Pass-the-Trash, low hand was A-2-3-4-6. We then played split-pot Omaha and low hand was called A-2-3-4-5. The same player called each game. My take is that A-2-3-4-5 is a straight and can’t be considered a low hand. What do you think? — Steve Z, Flower Mound, Texas (END ITAL)
Good question, Steve. Actually, “ace-to-five” is the most common low-hand evaluation method used in card rooms when playing split-pot games. That means 5-4-3-2-A is the best qualifying low hand and that straights and flushes don’t count as such in forming your best low hand.
Pass the Trash, a form of draw poker also known as Anaconda, typically is played high-only. A high-low split version of the game can be played either ace-to-five (with straights and flushes disregarded), or ace-to-six (where straights and flushes DO count as high hands).
Ace-to-six gets its name because the absolute best low hand would be 6-4-3-2-A. Next best would be 6-5-3-2-A, then 6-5-4-2-A, 6-5-4-3-A, 7-4-3-2-A, 7-5-3-2-A, 7-5-4-2-A, and so on.
In a garage game, of course, the “rules” are what you make them! The only requirement is that the player calling the game announces which low-hand evaluation method is in play before dealing.
By the way, Ol’ LuckyDog rarely plays split-pot games because I like dragging the whole pot when I win!
(SET ITAL) * I have played cards for about 50 years, but only with close friends. It is a social event rather than a money event. We enjoy your column in The Dallas Morning News, even if we do not understand some of the slang you use. I am never too old to learn! — Just sign me “Texas reader” (END ITAL)
Well, Tex, you’ve touched on a dilemma. If I don’t explain common poker terminology, it’s tougher for new players to learn. Conversely, if I write for the inexperienced player, then intermediate-level players may not get much from a column.
Let’s explain two Texas hold’em terms you cited:
Late (steal) position — Acting in last position (on the button) or the cutoff (one seat before the button). These are “steal” positions because, if no one has entered the pot when it’s your turn to act, you can raise even with marginal hands and expect to steal the blinds quite often. This is more effective in no-limit than limit, of course, because larger bets are more likely to drive out the blinds.
Ace-rag or ace-baby — A starting hand composed of an ace and a side card smaller than a 10. The smaller the side card, the weaker the hand (discounting the minimal potential to make a straight with A-5, A-4, A-3 and A-2). Also referred to as A-x. Many people will play A-x if it’s suited, regardless of position, because of the potential to make the nut, or best possible, flush.
In any event, your approach to the game is perfect! Your group plays “for five or six hours and no one loses more than maybe 30 bucks. Where else can you have that much fun for $30?” You are so right!
(SET ITAL) * I only like poker on TV when the top players are battling each other. When it’s just a bunch of no-names, I don’t watch. How about you? — John S. of Moline, Ill. (END ITAL)
I know what you’re saying, John, but remember that many well-known players in the game today were “no-names” at some point. Rather than change channels, consider watching the unknowns to learn from their mistakes or to spot the next superstar.
Meanwhile, some fresh poker hits the tube this week. The new World Poker Tour season premieres Wednesday (April 4) at 9 p.m. ET on the Travel Channel, and you’ll probably recognize only two or three of the final-table players. Still worth watching, though.
Then on Sunday (April at noon ET, NBC begins airing its third National Heads-Up Poker Championship. A starting field of 64 players will be whittled down, one match at a time, until the final two survivors square off on the show airing May 20.
Two surprising heads-up performers are better known for making movies than playing poker. Don Cheadle, an Academy Award nominee and Oscar-winning producer, defeats the great Phil Ivey on the April 15 show, and actress Shannon Elizabeth amazes everyone with a deep run starting April 22.
E-mail your poker questions and comments to email@example.com for use in future columns. To find out more about Russ Scott and read previous LuckyDog Poker columns, visit www.creators.com or www.luckydogpoker.com.
COPYRIGHT 2007 RUSS SCOTT
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