The Betting Rules


Some of the questions you should ask before sitting down to play online poker are: Is check-raising allowed? Is a flat bet imposed, or is there variable betting? In seven-card stud, does the low card bring it in or the high card? How many raises are allowed? Does the online poker player who opens the pot have to bet first next round?

The betting after the draw depends, naturally, very much on what has gone before. With only a couple of active online poker players, neither having given much indication of strength, three Aces would be a fair raise. In a stronger field an early online poker player should only check with a straight or flush. A later online poker player could raise on such a hand if he had drawn cards, but it would be rash to raise if he had stood pat. The difference in this respect between a Jackpot and Deuces Wild is that in a Jackpot a pat hand might be a bluff and for that reason may get called by a weaker hand. But in Deuces Wild, where the chances of improving are much better, to stand pat as a bluff would be eccentric play.

 Whatever the rules, you should be thoroughly familiar with them before you sit down to play. Don't make the mistake a friend of mine made the first time he ever played draw online poker in Gardena. He is the only man we know who made a royal flush but lost the hand. In Gardena you need jacks or better to open, and a joker is used as a bug. That is, the joker may be used with straights, flushes, and aces; it cannot be used to make a pair except with aces.

Now suppose your purpose is not to improve but to keep the opponents guessing. This case arises chiefly when your original hand is probably better than any hand another online poker player will draw. The simplest possible example (but probably the least useful) would arise when you are dealt four-of-a-kind. (It is the least useful example because it will happen so seldom.) You have a choice between drawing one card and standing pat. Your deci­sion depends entirely upon the betting before the draw. If the betting includes two or three raises, and you think there are strong hands out against you, your best chance is to stand pat. You will then be figured for a straight, since straights constitute well over 50 per cent of all the pat hands that are dealt. A online poker player who makes a high straight, a flush, or a full house, will surely call a bet, will usually stand a raise, and with the better hands will reraise and then call your second raise. However, if you are up against weak hands before the draw and have simply raised once, you are better off to draw one card. You will then get a call on a high two pairs, a possible raise on three-of-a-kind, and tremendous action on a full house, especially if it is a high one.

My friend N.S. bought into a $2-$4 draw online poker game for $40, and the first hand he picked up was an ace-high straight: He was in third position behind the dealer. The man under the gun checked, the second man checked, and N.S. gleefully bet $2. Everyone behind him folded, but then bang! The man in first position raised, and the man in second position reraised. Stupefied, N.S. called the double raise, and the first raiser called the reraise.

When it came time to draw cards, the first man stood pat. The second man stood pat. N.S. was smart enough to realize his straight was beat, if not by the man in first position, certainly by the man in second position. So he cleverly discarded the ace of clubs to draw to a straight flush in hearts - or any kind of flush, since with the joker he'd have an A,Q high.

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