Getting the Odds Straight

I had a friendly argument with a player over the odds of hitting a straight in a poker game last night. Not a big deal and we worked out the number perfectly and compared the pot odds to that number to decide whether it was a good play to call the raise or let the hand go. But our discussion shouldn’t really have been about getting the odds straight. We should have been discussing the current dynamics of the game, the flow of the action, and the chances of knocking the aggressive player out of the tournament.

In a cash game you can base your decision on just the odds, but in a tournament you have more to ponder. I always consider the time I spent getting to the event, the cost, and whether I can rebuy (which I hate to do). So, the odds aren’t always perfect for my decisions because I hate to get bumped out of a tournament on a draw, especially if there is any chance I can make my hand and still lose. For me, that’s a total disaster. Of course my tournament Guru’s Derek and Roger keep telling me to play for the win, not the final table. And, I am willing to make a slightly lopsided (odds wise) draw if I’m up against several players and my stack is going to either be gone or substantially pumped-up. Do you play your draws differently in cash games and tournaments?

In other odds and straights news, the game of Straight Jack is finally hitting casinos. The game was introduced in 2012 by SHFL Entertainment and has finally made its way to a few casinos after undergoing a few tweaks. The game is really just standard blackjack with a side bet that pays for any two-card or better straight. However, because a 3-card straight pays 10-1 and a 4-card straight pays 50-1 (200-1 on a 5 card, plus the progressive jackpot), the player may forsake basic strategy rules and hit hands they otherwise wouldn’t. And, regardless of whether the odds are perfect for such a move, when faced with a reasonable chance of improving a bonus from 2-1 to 10-1, or even 10-1 to 50-1, you’ll probably just want to go for it!

I know I’ll have issues deciding because I always base my blackjack decisions on odds, not hunches, but unlike the poker tournament where you get knocked out if you don’t improve your straight, in Straight Jack you already have a guaranteed payoff for whatever straight you already hold, you can only improve and get paid more. Aeee, what a dilemma!

By the way, you can catch Straight Jack at Talking Stick Resort and Casino Arizona in Scottsdale starting next week.