Increasing the Betting Stakes

After increasing the betting pace, the good player can often increase the betting stakes sharply. Most games can withstand a tenfold to hundred fold increase in the betting stakes. Even when the big losers seem to be at their financial limits, the stakes can usually be increased significantly.

The good player increases the stakes in carefully planned steps. Several temporary increases may be necessary before higher stakes become permanent. But in some games, stakes can be increased immediately and rapidly. Opportunities to increase the stakes occur when players want--

  • a chance to get even by increasing the ante or stakes in the late hours or during the last round
  • a more equitable relationship to the ante by increasing the first-round or opening bets
  • a chance to protect a hand by increasing the middle-round bets
  • an opportunity to bet a good hand by increasing the last-round bets.

The stakes are normally easier to increase after the betting pace increases. Opposition to higher stakes and game modifications often diminishes when the resisting player is--

  • tired
  • losing heavily or winning big for the evening
  • on a losing or a winning streak
  • upset by some occurrence during the game
  • affected by personal problems
  • drinking.

A good way to increase the stakes is to let those players who want to double the stakes, for example, play at double stakes whenever they are the only players left in the hand.

When John Finn started playing in the Monday night game, it was already seven years old and the stakes had been stabilized for five years. A dollar was the maximum bet, and only straight draw and stud games were allowed. The chart on page 67 shows how both the betting pace and stakes steadily increased after John took control of the game:

Months after First Game

Pace

Average

John Finn s Average

Winnings, $

John Finn s Edge Odds, %

0

Straight stud and draw

0.50-- 1

25

8

30

1

1-- 2

40

14

35

2

Add twist

70

32

45

3

2-- 4

100

40

40

7

Add high-low

170

94

55

8

5--10

210

105

50

13

10--20

260

130

50

18

Add qualifiers

360

234

65

19

25--50

450

270

60

26

50--100

600

210

35

27

25--50

550

358

65

46

50--100

700

350

50

61

Add complex and wild modifications

50--100

1400

840

60

The data in the chart on page 67 show three interesting phenomena:

  1. When the stakes increase, there is not a proportional increase in the average winnings or money flow because most players initially play tighter at higher stakes. But an increase in the pace causes looser play and a relatively large increase in the money flow.
  2. John's edge odds go up when the pace increases and down when the stakes increase. This is because his opponents play more poorly as the pace increases, but more cautiously at higher stakes.
  3. An increase in the pace eventually leads to higher stakes.

The data also show how the increases in stakes and pace affect John's profits. The doubling of stakes after twenty-six months causes his edge odds to drop sharply-- from 60 percent to 35 percent. At those higher stakes, he must spend a greater portion of his income to hold valuable losers in the game. On realizing that, John drops the stakes back to the previous level and brings his edge odds up to a healthy 65 percent. Why the big increase in John's edge odds when he lowers the stakes? After getting a taste of higher stakes, the players bet more loosely and play more carelessly when the stakes are lowered to the old level. Nineteen months later, John doubles the stakes again ... and this time the increase is profitable and permanent.

John usually tries raising the stakes soon after increasing the betting pace. Under the pretense of giving the losers a break, he often increases the stakes during the last round of the game. The following dialogue shows how he advantageously manipulates that last round.

"You're getting blasted again," Sid Bennett says to Ted Fehr. "Must be losing a grand."

"That's only four thousand hamburgers at my drive-in," Ted says, smiling weakly. "Wait till I get the deal. I'm doubling the stakes like we did last week. Got to make a big comeback."

"No sir, none of that," Quintin Merck interrupts as his cigarette falls from his mouth. "Next thing you know, we'll be playing the whole game at double stakes."

"Quintin's right," John says, trying hard to sound sincere. "If anything, we should ban double stakes even for the last round . . . it's too expensive."

"Yeah," Scotty Nichols says while counting his winnings.

Two hours later, John announces the last round.

"Hey, double the stakes for the last round," Ted cries.

"We made a rule against it," John says with a shrug. He then turns to the other players and continues, "We gave the losers a break last week. Ted is stuck bad. Let's double the ante and play a round of high-low draw--for Ted's sake."

"Yeah!" Scotty says as he checks his freshly emptied wallet. "I'm in," Ted says, throwing his double ante into the pot.

"High-low draw? That's a stiff game," Quintin grumbles while anteing slowly. "That's worse than doubling the stakes."

What does John accomplish with that manipulation? He introduces the fast-pace, high-low draw game. He doubles the ante, which will make the stakes easier to increase at a later date. He creates the impression that he is both helping a loser and opposing higher stakes, while actually setting up conditions for both higher stakes and a faster pace.

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Footnotes:

  • 15 ] Estimated strength of a hand is relative to the estimated strengths of opponents' hands.
  • 16 ] Statistical value of a hand is relative to the number of opponents. The statistical value of a hand decreases with increasing number of opponents.
  • 17 ] The good player often adds another variable by inconspicuously altering the order of his face-up cards.

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