One of the casinos in Malta has recently decided to run a mixed games cash game night. The inaugural event was held on Thursday 30 January 2020. What a night it was! This post will give you a bit of information and a couple of highlights.
Casino Malta has a new poker room manager and he is a good friend of mine, Chris Cullen. Chris previously managed the Oracle Casino poker room in Malta and ran a mixed game there before changing job. Between Chris and me we came up with an interesting mix of games for Casino Malta. Here is the casino’s social media poster for the game:
As you can see, the stakes are not massive. This presents an opportunity for poker players to sit and learn new games without hurting their bankrolls. All the eight players who turned up for this first event were mixed games regulars. Six of the players attended the home game that featured in my recent blog post. Now they were here to play a mixed games cash game in a casino! The games all produced some interesting hands and a certain amount of action. Let’s pick out some of the highlights!
Pot Limit Courchevel Hilo
When we got to the first orbit of this game, Caner announced that he hadn’t played it before. Within three hands he had been all in twice on the flop for about 200 big blinds! The first time he had flopped nut low plus a flush draw and found himself up against two people, one with the nut flush draw and second nut low and the other with top set. Blank turns and rivers meant he took half of the pot.
The next hand, Caner had raised preflop with A2568 when the door card was a 3. Suits were irrelevant in this hand. The dealer completed the flop: 3/56 and Caner and Jean quickly had all their chips in. Jean tabled the bad news for Caner – he had A2347 for the nut straight along with the nut low and a very likely 75% of the pot leaving Caner with just 25%. Until the turn came … 7! Now Caner was the one looking sure to take 75%. The dealer then showed the river… 7!!! Now Jean’s full house turned the much bigger share of the pot back to him.
Caner is a great gentleman and after the hand he said he was happy with the outcome.
Pot Limit Sviten Special
This game is my favourite, I play it as often as I can both live and on the Pokio mobile app. There are always some interesting spots. Players cannot rely overly on a narrow range of poker skills. They have to be both exploitative and scientific. Live reads, sometimes scorned by game theory-focused online hold em regulars, are crucial. Card removal, blockers, betting to protect equity on early streets, analysing betting lines, understanding good spots to bluff, making thin value bets – all essential skills. And we have to make some very painful hero folds…
One pot that had seen some action in the early streets really hotted up on the river. The board contained four clubs, king high, and no pair so the omaha nuts was an ace flush. All the players that went to the draw had taken more than one card. This means that draw hands were unlikely to be too strong. Unlikely, but not guaranteed.
With three players seeing the river, Caner checked in the big blind. Jean, cutoff, bet €35 into the pot of around €50. Mattia called the €35. Caner now reraised to €115! Jean took just a few seconds to call. Now Mattia went deep into the tank…
Mixed Games versus No Limit Hold Em
One of the things I love about a mixed games cash game is, when someone takes some time they usually have a real decision to make. None of us at the table had any problem with Mattia taking a few minutes to make his decision. I could see he had a strong draw hand and was trying to work out whether Caner had him beat. He confirmed this when he said out loud that he felt Jean had the nut flush and therefore the omaha half of the pot. Mattia had drawn three cards, and I was sure he had improved his draw hand, most likely he has trips. I was also sure Caner had trips.
So it was probably trips versus trips. Who had the highest? This was Mattia’s dilemma. It is a real tough spot and one of the things that makes mixed games so fascinating. Also an illustration of how playing this specific poker game puts a player in situations where they have to use all their poker experience to come to a decision. An illustration of why I think mixed games players become better poker players than those who stick to one variant.
Next time you play texas hold em, don’t take forever to fold J3 offsuit to an under the gun raise. Keep the experience fun. If you think you’re a top poker player with a great future in the game you need to do everything to keep the recreational players in the game.
Enough digression, back to the hand…
Mattia ended up folding his hand face up. He had trip 6s for the draw hand and no real omaha hand. Jean tabled his cards, confirming the nut flush for omaha. His draw hand was quite weak, just a pair of jacks. Caner meanwhile showed one of the few draw hands that Mattia could beat – he had trip 5s! Caner also had the second nut flush so his river raise was reasonable because there was a decent chance he could scoop the pot
Mattia had made the “wrong” decision against the specific hands that Caner and Jean held. But in the long term I think he is rarely winning any portion of the pot and his fold is painful but good. You can do the maths if you like, but don’t forget he was only playing for half of the pot.
Jean was also second guessing his own river decision. Would Caner have folded if he had shoved, awarding the full pot to Jean? It would have been about another €150 for Caner to call. Jean obviously hadn’t raised in the hope that he would get some value from Mattia making a call. Again, I think in the long term Jean probably made the correct decision. Caner’s river checkraise against two players indicates a lot of strength and he is not going to fold.
Imagine if Mattia had found a call… would Caner have been upset about his decision to reraise?
Personally I think all three players played the river really well. All of them had different decisions they could quite reasonably have made and in the circumstances came up with probably the best answer.
Razz is a poker game where players have to get in there with bluff and counter bluff. You have a low card that everyone can see and the other players have high cards… you have to raise. If you fold and wait for a spot where you have two other low cards with the open one you are not going to play many hands. When you do play, everyone will know you are strong and fold so you won’t win anything.
On the other side of this is the fact that when you do have a strong hand you should be in great shape because the other players know you are capable of representing strength you don’t have.
A cool hand occurred between me and Teemu. We have had some intriguing battles in the past when playing razz, and some of the other games. Teemu is definitely a player who understands the hand ranges in a mixed games cash game and has a style that is extremely difficult to beat.
I have 32\4 (my 32 were face down, everyone could see the 4) and Teemu xx\6. I raised on the first street and only Teemu called. Fourth street was ugly for both of us:
I bet, Teemu called. He is capable of floating with his visible low card but nothing very strong underneath. Fifth street was pretty crazy:
Teemu bet. Oh dear. Should I raise? I have the best draw. Should I fold? Don’t be silly. I call. Sixth street made this a really weird spot between two very poor razz hands:
And again, Teemu bet. Same situation as 6th street and again I call. As our friend Wouter said at this point, we are both drawing to a jack! To those who don’t know much about razz, we want low cards. Sizeable pots, as this was becoming, are rarely won by cards as high as jack…
The dealer gave us 7th street face down and Teemu looked at his card and bet again. I hadn’t looked at my card yet, which Teemu knew, and I announced that I might raise. I looked down and peeled back the card. K. Yuk. Should I bluff? It would look pretty strong. But Teemu is not the type of player to run a bluff against here. So I folded face up. Teemu didn’t show his hole cards.
Both of us received a lot of praise from the rest of the players for the way we played that hand. Funny how experienced poker players can appreciate the thinking that goes into playing such trashy hands!
The casino streamed the game with just a couple of seconds delay on its Twitch channel. To be honest the coverage was disappointing as the production consisted only of a silent video captured from a camera positioned above the table and it was not even possible to make out any of the players let alone follow the action. I hope that this will improve in the coming weeks and months. Nevertheless, the coverage should be available every Thursday from 7pm CET. Maybe this establishment can become well known for regularly streaming a mixed games cash game in a casino.