When you are playing Multiplayer Draw Poker at The Gold Casino, do you know what position you’re in? Do you know what “position” is in a poker game? In order to win at this game, your answers to both of these questions should be “yes.” Position should partially determine whether you check, call, raise, or fold. The last player to act is the dealer, and the dealer is in “last position.” The player who is first to act (check, open, or fold) is in “first position”; the player who is second to act is in “second position,” and so on. Here’s a few examples of why this is important.
Pretend that the first five cards have been dealt to each player, and that you are in the dealer position. This is the most advantageous position because you get to see what all the other players do before you act. Suppose that you are dealt two small pair off the draw, a pair of 5s and 6s. If everybody checks to you, it is most likely the case that the other players don’t have strong hands (unless they’re trying to “slow play” you; I’ll write an article on “slow playing” soon). In this case, it is to your advantage to open with at least 30-40 grams, even though your hand is mediocre. Most of the other players will probably fold when you open, hence eliminating most of the competition and maximizing your chance of winning the pot.
Now suppose that you’ve got the same hand – a pair of 5s and 6s – and the player in the first position opens for 40 grams. Imagine that the players in the second and third positions both call. What should you do? Well, chances are that you’re up against three strong hands, and chances are that one of them also has two pair; and since you’ve got 5s and 6s, one of them probably has two pair with one of the pairs being higher than 6s. If one of them doesn’t have two pair, you’ve got to assume that at least one of them has at least a pair of Jacks, and will draw to two higher pair. So again you should fold, because the only cards that can save you are another 5 or another 6. You might now be asking, “Is the guy crazy, telling me to fold my two pair?” Absolutely not! If you stay in this pot it’s going to cost you 40 grams to call the bet, and probably at least another 100 grams to get to “Showdown.” Do you really want to risk 140 grams of gold on a pair of 5s and 6s? Of course not: save your gold and wait for the next hand.
Position is even more important after each of the players have discarded. If someone who acts before you opens up with a big bet, and you’re holding only one pair – even a big pair – chances are that you’re beat. It’s not worth calling a big bet on the chance that you’ll draw to three of a kind, unless you know that the player is a crazy better.
Or imagine that you’ve in the dealer position after discarding, you have a straight, a flush, or a full house, and the player in the first position bets 200 grams. Everybody else folds, and how it’s your turn. Here you know that you’re now playing only against one player. You can now raise the other player another 200 grams; and since that player is already invested for 200 grams, he or she will definitely throw 200 more grams your way. If the player re-raises you, don’t let your ego get in the way: just call, or raise only if you have a large full house (Kings full or better). And if you have strong reason to believe that the player has you beat, it’s okay to fold – sometimes you’ve got to fold a good hand. All good players fold good hands sometimes.
Here’s another case. Suppose you’re in the first position, and you are dealt a pair of aces. In this case you should open with a big bet – but not too big, let’s say 50 grams. This will eliminate most of the competition, increasing your chances of winning the pot. If after discarding and you don’t get another ace or another pair, take it easy! Don’t throw 200 grams out there, because that just gives the people who act after you the chance to raise you 200 more grams, and your pair of aces isn’t good enough to call a raise. The other players might have two small pair, three of a kind, or even better. Instead, open with about 40 grams. This way your bet is big enough to win you a nice pot if you win the hand, but not too big that you risk too much money.
If you are in first or second position and are dealt a mediocre hand (a pair of 9s or worse), just check, and wait to see what the other players do. It’s okay to call a 20 gram bet and draw for another 9, but don’t kid yourself and think you’re going to win a big pot with a pair of 9s. If everybody checks, then you can play your hand out and see if you get lucky. After discarding, you should still check, even if you have only two pair, because sitting in first or second position makes you vulnerable to a big raise.
Next time you jump in Multiplayer Draw Poker at The Gold Casino, think about your position on every hand, and know when you are in a strong position or a weak one. This will help you to maximize the amount of gold in the pots you win, and minimize the amount of gold you put into a pot that you lose – this is how winners win and losers lose!