Increasing the Betting Pace

The good player increases the money flow in a poker game to increase his profits. But opposition to higher stakes exists in most games. Often a more subtle and effective way to increase the money flow is to increase the betting pace (rather than the betting stakes). A faster pace usually increases excitement in a way that is appealing to most players, especially weak players.

The betting pace is increased by adding modifications to the game such as those listed in Table 17.



Advantageous Effects

Twists (extra cards)

Provides additional large last-round bets. Induces players to stay for twist cards. Increases confusion. Amplifies players' weaknesses.

Split pots (high-low)

Allows more bets and raises. Provides more playing and betting opportunities. Creates dynamic betting situations. Increases confusion. Amplifies players' weaknesses.

Check raises

Allows more and larger raises.

Pick-up checks

Permits larger bets.

Right to bet

Allows more raises.

Early bet

Early buildup of pot. Keeps more players in for large last-round bets.

Bet or get, blind bets

Produces more betting. Early buildup of pot. Keeps more players in for larger bets.

Additional cards

Produces more calls.

Novel games

Increases confusion. Amplifies players' weaknesses.

Wild cards, freak hands

May or may not increase betting pace. Increases confusion.

Table stakes: pot limit or no limit

Allows direct control over the betting stakes. Permits more aggressive betting and bluffing.

The good player can usually work many advantageous modifications into most games -- even into games that are not dealer's choice. The following paragraphs describe some of those advantageous pace-increasing modifications.

The twist increases the betting pace. At the normal conclusion of a poker hand, a card or cards may be exchanged (twisted) for a new card or cards. An additional round of betting follows each twist. As players grow accustomed to that modification, they usually become addicted to it and make the twist a permanent part of the game.

A single twist played with five-card stud is the gentlest way to introduce this modification. Most players will accept a twist as a good way to convert normally dull five-card stud into a more lively "six-card" stud game. As players become accustomed to the twist, the good player can further quicken the pace by adding other twist modifications such as--

twist in seven-card stud twist in draw poker pay for each twist [e,gM an amount equal to the ante)

double twists giant twists in stud or draw [as many cards as the player desires are exchanged on each twist)

progressive paying for unlimited twists second twist costs twice the first twist, third twist costs twice the second twist, and so on),

Because of the dynamic betting action between high hands and low hands, the betting pace increases markedly when pots are split between the highest hand and the lowest hand (high-low poker). Many players are initially hostile to high-low poker. Seven-card stud high-low is probably the easiest way to introduce split-pot games. With patience and persistence, the good player can usually generate great interest in high-low poker. Again, the good player can further quicken the pace by adding other high-low high-low five-card stud high-low draw high-low with qualifiers (minimum hands required to win, such as two pair for high and nine for tow)

high-low with a twist high-low with qualifiers and twigtSn c. Check raise and pick-up checks (27)

Player A checks; player B bets; now player A raises . . . that is called check raising. Player A checks; player B checks; player C makes a bet three times larger than the maximum bet by making A's bet, B's raise, and then his own raise . . . that is called picking up checks. Check raising and picking up checks increase the betting flexibility as well as the number of large bets and raises. But if those modifications cause a defensive attitude among players, a decrease in the betting pace can occur. Also, house rules of many games prohibit check raising and picking up checks.

  1. Right to bet (28)
  2. Split pot, high-low(26)

modifications such as-

Every player has a chance to bet or raise during each round of betting. With this rule, a player holding a strong hand cannot be shut out of his bet or raise by three minimal raises made in front of him. Right to bet increases the betting pace, particularly in split-pot games. Players seldom object to this seemingly equitable modification.

An indirect method to increase the ante is to permit a small bet after dealing the first hole card in stud or the second card in draw. The early bet usually holds more players in the game for the later rounds of more expensive betting. But if most players stay or drop on the strength of their early cards rather than on the size of the pot, this modification can drive out potential players and thus decrease the betting pace.

No checking is permitted with the bet-or-get rule ... each player must either bet or drop. This modification gets players involved early and keeps them in for the big last-round bets. Most players are unaccustomed to this modification and may object vigorously to it. A similar modification is blind betting (and raising) in which the first player after the dealer is forced to bet (and if called for, the next player is forced to raise). Blind betting and blind raising are common in public poker and are very effective for increasing the betting action.

g. Additional cards (31)

An additional sixth card is dealt to each draw hand. The hands are then reduced to five cards during the draw. That additional card keeps more players in the hand, particularly in lowball draw. Players seldom object when this simple modification is introduced.

Poorer playing normally results when new or novel games are introduced because most players do not understand the changes in play and odds that occur. Novel games may range from simple lowball draw or hold'em stud to a complex game such as "place-and-show-tickets split-pot-with-twist-your-neighbor." (That game is played as follows: At the conclusion of a stud or draw game, each player draws for use in his own hand a card from the hand of an adjacent player. The pot is then split between the second and third best hands.)

A decreased betting pace may result, however, if players become frightened or excessively confused by wild games or modifications that are too extreme or are introduced too rapidly.

i. Wild cards and freak hands (33)

Wild cards can increase the betting pace and loosen up certain games. As players become accustomed to wild cards, their fear of very strong hands usually dissipates. But if so many wild cards are used that hands such as five-of-a-kind and straight flushes become common and any betting strength suggests those maximum-value hands, the betting will dry up.

The bug card (the joker--used in low hands as a wild card, and in high hands as an ace or as a wild card for completing straights and flushes) can increase the betting pace without causing fear of maximum-value hands.

The good player rarely encourages the use of freak hands such as blazes, tigers, dogs, kilters, and skeets. While such hands could temporarily increase his edge odds by adding confusion, the use of freak hands may deter players from accepting other more profitable modifications such as twists and split pots.

j. No-limit table stakes and pot limit (34)

No-limit table stakes and pot-limit betting allow more aggressive betting and bluffing, giving the good player direct control over the betting. But such open-ended stakes can slow down the betting pace and normally cannot be used with split-pot games. In many games, therefore, no-limit table stakes or pot-limit betting (versus high-limit games) would actually decrease the financial opportunities for the good player.

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