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The Lowball Book





THE LOWBALL BOOK

Okay, here it is.  

It should run about 2500 lines, and end with five table
charts (the "plates" ... which you should be able to
print out on just about any printer).  Please let me
know if you don't get a complete, clean copy (or if you
do, for that matter)....

Will Hyde

                        * * *
                        * * *

PLAYING THE RUSH is copyright (c)1978, Whitestone Books.
Entire contents are copyright (c)1984, Whitestone Books.

Permission to copy for non-commercial use is granted,
providing nothing is deleted.

Whitestone Books/P.O. Box 1144/Los Altos, CA 94022

                        * * *
                        * * *




THE LOWBALL BOOK...
(Justin Case)


   Author's Note:  This little book is not a primer.  It
is not going to help you much if you are trying to learn
to play Lowball.  This is the book of numbers, the book
on the mathematics and psychology of playing percentages
... Lowball percentages.  This little book is not a good
percentage bet, if you do not know what a good percentage
bet is.
   This little book is for the Lowball Player.  The
experienced Lowball player, who has progressed to where
he wants to know the precise percentages.  This book is
for you if you are aware that the best percentage player
is the best player ... if you see that it is possible to
have "the best of it" on every hand you play -- even when
it is a Ten or a two-card draw -- if the odds on the
money are right, and you know the numbers.
   If you don't already know about patience, persever-
ance, pat hands, position, proposition bets, and all
those other points of play ... you are not ready for
this.  I am not even going to comment on the gestures,
table talk, body language, or any of those other little
subtleties that go into the make-up of a super-player
like the incredible Mr. Sherman ("The Sniveler On The
Roof") or that silver-haired dude whose net percentage at
Artichoke Joe's is often better than Artichoke Joe's. 
Those things you will learn the way they learned them.
   Experience.
   In other words, poker strategy is poker strategy ...
you can read about it in two-hundred different books, or
subscribe to GAMBLING TIMES and have all the new strate-
gies delivered as soon as they are born.
   In this little book you learn the numbers; what they
are, how to compute them and to apply them; how to come
up with a net percentage you can take to the bank.  This
little book is the one you were looking for when you
couldn't find it.  This is "the book" on Lowball.

                        * * *


This little book is dedicated to the Players, Tourists
and Live Ones at the Cameo Club -- in grateful apprecia-
tion of their many contributions to this effort, over the
years....

[Editor's note:  The "Plates" (table layouts) referred to 
 in the text cannot be displayed properly on screen in an 
 ascii format.  They will be appended in an easy-to-print 
 form at the end of the text.]

                        * * *




TAKING THE BEST OF IT...
(Justin Case)

   Lowball is played like Draw Poker, except that the
worst poker hand wins.  Almost.  Aces are low, Straights
and Flushes do not count, so 5-4-3-2-1 is the best
possible hand.  Your largest card counts first; any Eight
(8-6542, for example) beats any Nine (9-4321 is a Nine);
any Seven beats any Eight, and like that.  The next
largest card breaks ties.

   So now you know how to play Lowball....

   Sure, I know, you didn't need that; you play Lowball
all the time ... in a cardroom.  Sometimes you win pretty
good, too.  Just last Thursday you won a hundred and
sixty dollars in a Straight Four at the Garden City, in
San Jose; and a couple of weeks ago you won four hundred
playing No-Limit at the Cameo Club in Palo Alto.  In
fact, subtracting your losses from your winnings for the
last six months shows you have made a net profit.  Not a
whole lot of money, but you know how few are the players
who win consistently.  For six months now, you have done
better than most of the "Regulars" you play with.  Still,
for some reason, you are not ready to sell you house and
move to Gardena.

   I'm kidding, of course, there's no reason to move to
Gardena; you can find all the action you want just about
anywhere in California (and in six or seven other
states).  In fact, sometimes you can find too much
action, right here in River City....

   That might even be the problem: that hand that always
seems to come along just when you are winning real good
... that killer hand, where Captain Marvel makes his big
play with a rough Nine and you have a Six to draw to,
with the Joker.  Or you pick up that pat Eight when three
players are already in the pot, and you are not sure how
much to raise it (why do you always seem to raise it too
much when somebody has a pat Six -- or not enough when
everybody is drawing, so they all play and your pat Eight
gets drawn out on?).

   Some hands are automatic, anybody could play them,
they play themselves.  But never in the crunch ... when
the pressure is on, you always have that marginal hand
you don't really know how to play.  These are always
hands you could win, if you could just get a little bit
lucky....  Sometimes you do win them, sometimes you do
get a little bit lucky; but more often you go busted,
because Lady Luck is a fickle bitch.

   Lady Luck is a fickle bitch, and her name is Karma. 
Now and then she will bring you a Deuce so you can make
a straight Six when you are up against a Seven-five you
thought was a Nine ... but hers is a balancing act; for
each time she slips that Deuce in there, she is going to
give you a Seven on your Six and you are going to have to
call that Seven-five.  If you get to where you are
putting your trust in her, she will screw you.

   Getting lucky means beating the odds, and now and then
you will do that; you do it every time you "take the
worst of it" and win, every time you gamble and win.

   AXIOM #1:  GAMBLERS DON'T WIN; WINNERS DON'T GAMBLE.

   What's that? you say, and now you want to remind me
that empires have been built from gambling:  Las Vegas;
Reno; Atlantic City; Monte Carlo ... gambling is every-
where, gamblers are everywhere; everybody loves to
gamble.

   Which is bullshit, and you already know it.  Empires
are built from gambling, right enough ... but the Emperor
does not gamble.  The Emperor takes the best of it; he
has a few percentage points in his favor in every game he
spreads for gamblers to play.  And he takes that percent-
age to the bank as if it were a tax, which it damned
nearly is.


   THE EMPIRE TAX...

   Of course I'm talking about the "house percentage,"
and in a Lowball game you do not play against the house. 
Theoretically, your odds are the same as everyone else's;
and they are, going in.  However, after the cards are
dealt the odds change; they must be adjusted to the value
of your hand.  And often the odds change a little more
(sometimes a lot more) with each bet.

   Example:  You have a pat Eight, a good one (8-5321);
it's a Four-to-go No-Limit game; there are two players in
the pot for four dollars each; you have raised it twenty
more; everybody has about a hundred on the table....

   At this point you are a pretty good favorite (it looks
like it is going to be two players drawing a card, each
with three-to-one against his making a Seven or better). 
I want to call your hand a three-to-two favorite to win
the pot (three-to-one against each hand, two hands) and
that is close enough, but you cannot really figure it
like that.

   In a series of four plays at 3-to-1, you figure to win
three times and lose once (WWWL).  There are four
different ways this can happen (WWWL/WWLW/WLWW/LWWW), so
it takes a series of sixteen hands to exhaust the
possibilities.  If you have two players, each with odds
of 3-to-1, you have two different sets of sixteen
possibilities.

   Each player figures to make his hand four times in the
series, so it looks like you win eight times and lose
eight times.  If that were true you would lose (at 100.00
per hand) 800.00 on your eight losers, and win 1600.00 on
your eight winners; or 800.00 profit for the sixteen hand
series -- same as one player, where you lose 400.00 and
win 1200.00 in the series.  But that is not quite right
either....

   In this series there will be a total of eight Sevens
made, between the two players, but you will lose only
seven times.  Combined, they will make eight Sevens in
sixteen plays (eight Sevens in thirty-two hands) but that
is not eight losers in sixteen plays to you, because one
of each player's Sevens will fall on the same hand as one
of the other player's Sevens.  Once in sixteen you will
lose to both players ... so you lose seven at 100.00
each, and win nine at 200.00.  It is a net profit (Empire
Tax) of 1100.00, not 800.00.

   If I had gone ahead and called your hand a three-to-
two favorite we'd need a computer to figure a sixteen-
hand series ... but it would work out to nine wins of
200.00 and six losses of 100.00, in a series of fifteen
plays.  A net of 1200.00.  Close, but inflated.

   It doesn't matter anyway, neither of them is going to
try to beat your pat Eight-five....  We came here to see
how a bet can change the odds, and the one remaining
player behind you just came over the fence with a 100.00
re-raise...!

   AXIOM #2:  A LARGE BET CHANGES THE VALUE OF A HAND.

   So what do you do now?  I cannot tell you, because I
don't know the player.  Some players will make a play
like this with a Nine (especially a "two-way Nine," like
a Nine-five) and others would not do it with a rough
Seven.  Your play from this point depends upon your
familiarity with your opponents.  If this bet is made by
a "Tourist" (a player you do not know) and the only clue
you have is the size of the bet, you are in trouble. 
This much I can tell you: if the Eight-five is no good,
the hand is no good ... it is at least three-to-one
against improving it.  Only the "Live One" makes that
play.

   Now then, before we get into where those odds come
from, and how to read them, let's find out where you are
at.  This time you are playing Eight-to-go No-Limit (we
will get to the Limit game later on).

   Refer to PLATE ONE...

   The pot is opened for eight dollars; called for eight;
and (you) called for eight (drawing to a Six).

   Play #4 is a 72.00 RAISE (bet is 80.00 straight).

   First two players PASS.

   It is now on you to CALL 72.00 (you have 75.00).

   You know the player who raised well enough to know he
has an Eight (he never plays Nines, and the raise is too
big for a smooth hand).  Some players will make this play
when they are drawing a card (usually to the nuts with
the Joker), trying to pick up the 32.00 that was in the
pot after play #3 (your CALL), but not this particular
player.  He is pat.

   So, what do you do now?  And why...?

   This one is easy....

   If you play, you must CALL 72.00 to win 112.00.

   That's 11-to-7 on the money....

   You have to make an Eight.  Odds are two-to-one
against making the hand....

   You do not attempt a 2-to-1 longshot for 11-to-7 on
the money.  It would be an Even Proposition if there were
144.00 already in the pot.  I would play it if there were
150.00 or more -- I want that Empire Tax, remember?

   The odds on this play are the odds on the hand,
because you will have only three dollars on the table if
you make this CALL (after-the-draw possibilities modify
the odds, and we will go into that later on, but in this
case there are none).

   The only way to approach it, if you are thinking in
terms of Making A Living, is to see that it IS a living,
and life goes on and on and on and on....

   All these hands will be played and replayed and then
played again.  That's three, right?

   For every three times you play this hand, you will
lose two, at 72.00 each, or 144.00.  The one you will win
will pay 112.00.

   Now do you see it...?

   The only way to play this hand is to never play it!

   And please, try to forget about your 8.00.  When play
number four (the raise) comes down, that 8.00 is gone
into history.  Karma got it.  You have no interest in
this pot, unless you call the raise.  If you consider
that 8.00 as yours, then the bet is even worse -- you can
only win 104.00.

   You have to see the numbers, and realize they are all
going to run together, in time.  The importance of one
hand is soon lost; it becomes just another number in a
chain of numbers which adds up to a total number -- from
which your Wang could compute your batting average, your
Empire Tax rate.

   Would you give me 14.00 to 11.00 on the flip of a
coin?

   Just once?

   Can you be talked into it...?

   I hope not.  If you can be talked into laying long
odds on an even-money bet, or going against the odds for
even money, you are a "taxpayer" ... and I am sure you
know what that makes you.

   What about that Enormous pot you would have won ... if
you had just had the balls to play that marginal hand for
so much money...?  Was it really all that marginal?  Was
it just too much money, not worth taking the chance?

   Did you know what your chances really were...?

   Your exact percentage...?

   You are drawing a card to the nuts (4-3-2-1) and you
think you can win with an Eight ... so what are the odds
against making an Eight or better?  What if you need a
Seven ... what are the odds then?  What are the Outside
Odds and what are the Inside Odds?  What does "Odds on
the Money" mean?  And how about "Balancing the Odds?" 
Whatever happened to "Lowball is a simple game...?"

   Are answers better than questions?

   Balancing the odds is wondering if this little book
can sell enough to compensate the writer for what it is
going to cost the player....  Jesus, I can think of a
number of players who are going to find the leak in their
play in this little book -- and a number of others who
might not think this is such a good idea ("Hey, Asshole,
don't wise up the Live One ... I'm trying to Make a
Living here ...").  If consciousness of the "Empire Tax"
(and how to compute it -- which is coming up shortly)
were to appear suddenly in the Big Apple at the Cameo
Club, I can see some very real numbers being shaved from
my chain of numbers which adds up to a total number....

   If you don't know what I am talking about when I say
"My chain of numbers" you are not paying attention!  It
is going to come up again, when we consider THE ENDLESS
LOWBALL GAME, but if you are missing things like that at
this point, by the time we get to that point you will be
coming back to here to see what you missed.  Some of this
is just Lobbying, because we are going pretty fast, and
that is only good up to a point, too.  We don't want the
points to run together like the numbers in my chain....

   Momentarily I am going to give you a list of numbers,
an odds chart, the odds against making a hand.  Twenty-
four sets of odds that are so important you have to learn
them all.  So important that right after I give them to
you, I am going to show you how to compute them from hand
to hand and from play to play, just in case you cannot
learn them all ... because every hand you play is
affected by these odds, and most are determined by them.

   Then we will go into balancing those odds against the
Odds on the Money; a mating that gives birth to a little
beauty called the Net Percentage (the Empire Tax).  The
whole process passed through when we were playing the
hand on PLATE #1, but like I said, that one was easy. 
The Empire Tax on that one was the difference between
112.00 and 144.00 ... but in that case you would have
been paying the tax, if you had made the CALL.  You know,
if you think of it as a TAX, you might be able to resist
paying it....

   We are almost ready to type another hand into your
computer, but it is going to be a little closer this
time; so this time you get to run the program first.

   First the Odds chart:

   ONE CARD DRAW (odds against):      5:   11-to-1
                                      6:    5-to-1
                                      7:    3-to-1
                                      8:    2-to-1
                                      9:    7-to-5
                                     10:    .EVEN.

   ONE CARD DRAW (with the Joker):    5:    5-to-1
                                      6:    3-to-1
                                      7:    2-to-1
                                      8:    7-to-5
                                      9:    .EVEN.
                                     10:    5-to-7

   TWO CARD DRAW (if you must):       5:   71-to-1
                                      6:   23-to-1
                                      7:   11-to-1
                                      8:    6-to-1
                                      9:    4-to-1
                                     10:    5-to-2

   TWO CARD DRAW (with the Joker):    5:   23-to-1
                                      6:   11-to-1
                                      7:    6-to-1
                                      8:    4-to-1
                                      9:    5-to-2
                                     10:   11-to-7

   And for the purist:  The 6-to-1 is in fact, 6.2-to-1,
and the 4-to-1 is actually 3.8-to-1 (in the first case
you will miss 62 times for each 10 you make, instead of
60; and in the second you will miss 38 to each 10,
instead of 40).  In neither case is the difference
significant, and as it happens, they cancel each other. 
And if you are into making sixty-two two-card draws, you
don't give a damn what the odds are anyway.  Some pretty
good players will tell you that a two-card draw is never
called for, and in truth, it very rarely is.  But you
will run into situations where a two-card draw has the
best of it ... if you know the numbers.

   Beginning with 53.  There are 53 cards in the deck,
unless you play in one of those rare joints where there
is no Joker in the deck (Artichoke Joe's, in San Bruno). 
If you play without the Joker count it this way anyway. 
Trust me ... you will see that it works out.  The Joker
we will deal with separately, shortly.


   THE FORTY-EIGHT UNKNOWN CARDS...

   Now let me try that again.  There are 53 cards in the
deck, and you hold five of them; so there are forty-eight
unknown cards from which you will be drawing, if you draw
a card.  It works the same way if your opponent is
drawing and you want to know the odds on (against) his
drawing out on your hand.

   There are always forty-eight unknown cards; the cards
in your opponent's hand (unknown to you) do not change
this.  Sure, you know your opponents are holding mostly
small cards too, when they play a hand, and it seem that
"uses up" some of the cards which will make your hand. 
Maybe so, but maybe it is using up the cards which would
pair you.  Nor can you figure the discarded hands are
heavy in high cards -- the player behind you just threw
away four treys and the Joker.

   It makes no difference either, that there are only
thirteen cards left in the stub (in an eight-handed game)
and only eleven of them are actually in play (everybody
burns the first card and, if the draw goes that far, the
last one).  They are all at random from the forty-eight
unknown cards; so to calculate the odds on any one of
them is to calculate from the unknown forty-eight.

   Like this:  Drawing to 4-3-2-1, you want to know the
odds against making an Eight or better.  You can catch a
Five, a Six, a Seven or an Eight (four of each); sixteen
cards you can catch.  Now then, 16 of 48 is 32-to-16 --
exactly 2-to-1.

   But what if you need a Seven or better...?

   You can now catch twelve cards (5-6-7), so it is 12 of
48, or 36-to 12:  Exactly 3-to-1 against making a Seven
or better.

   For a Six it is 8 of 48; 40-to-8 ... Exactly 5-to-1.

   I wonder if you noticed (it's easy to see on the odds
chart) that having the Joker in your hand increases all
draw possibilities by four cards ... and moves the odds
a full notch (drawing to a Seven with the Joker, has the
same odds as drawing to an Eight without it).  I'll bet
you noticed that I did not include the Joker as one of
the unknown cards you can catch though, didn't you?  I
shall go into that right after we play another hand.

   This time it is 5-5-10, Twenty-to-go, No-Limit (this
is the "Big Apple" at the Cameo -- the afternoon big
game).  You just sat down with 200.00 (the minimum) and
the Whistling Oakie got you for 75.00 on the very first
hand.  The second hand, on the middle Blind, was unplay-
able; so now you have 120 on the table and the Houseman
is dealing for you.

   See PLATE #2...

   The pot is opened for twenty and called twice, before
it gets to you.  You have a five-dollar Blind already in
the pot, so it will cost you 15.00 to call.  You know all
these players, and you can just feel it ... everybody is
speculating, they are all on the come.  You could
probably win it right here, if you tapped off -- it's
tempting -- but you have a pair of Queens in your hand. 
You don't have enough money to make that play, and you
don't have enough hand for a short raise.

   But what about the 15.00 CALL?

   Time to balance the odds.

   At this point there is 80.00 in the pot, but it may as
well be 90.00 -- because the big Blind is going to creep
in here for ten dollars more, even if he's drawing three
cards (it will look like 10-to-1 on the money to him, and
it just about will be).  To you it looks like 6-to-1
(15.00 to win 90.00), better than 5-to-1 even if the big
Blind does not play.

   What kind of hand can you make at 6-to-1...?

   Your 4-3-Joker has odds of 6-to-1 against making a
Seven or better.  If you have to make a Seven to win, you
are into an Even Proposition, and Nines win hands like
this.

   It is an easy call.

   Ah, yes ... then the big Blind does come in -- with a
200.00 raise!  The son of a bitch is making the play you
wanted to make...!

   And you were right too, everybody was speculating. 
One at a time, all three of them PASS.

   Now he's looking at you, and your hundred-dollar stack
of chips....

   Show him the two Queens, drop them face up....

   Now he is looking at you, at your hundred-dollar
stack, and at the two Queens; he is doing a little odds
balancing of his own.

   "C'mon," he says, "I'm drawing," and he throws away a
card.  (What just happened is called a "Proposition Bet"
and it happens all the time in games like this one.  You
just offered him two for one -- you'll CALL a hundred of
his raise and draw two cards, if he will draw one -- and
he went for it.)  He knows what he's doing (although he
wouldn't do it if he knew you had the Joker).  If you do
not have the Joker, he is a three-to-one favorite on the
draw; if you do have the Joker he is favored by two-to-
one.

   His odds against making a Seven or better are 3-to-1,
and yours are 6-to-1 ... 2-to-1 against an Eight for him,
and 4-to-1 for you -- he has two-to-one the best of it on
the draw.

   But there is 205.00 in the pot, and it is 100.00 to
you (all you have on the table).  There is only five
dollars in Empire Tax in this pot, but it is on your side
of the bet.

   Don't tell me who won, it doesn't really matter; it is
just another number in an endless chain of numbers....

   Play this hand three times: lose a hundred twice, and
win 205.00 once....

   I know, you are not going to play that hand three
times in three years ... but you are wrong about that. 
Any hand that plays to those odds is that hand; it does
not matter what the money amounts are, nor what the hands
are; only the odds count.  Any hand that works out to
two-to-one on the money and two-to-one against the hand,
as closely as that one did, is that hand again.  To put
a hundred into a 200.00 pot, when you have to make an
Eight, is the same bet.  To put fifty cents into a dollar
pot is likewise.


   CONCERNING THE JOKER...

      It is 9.6-to-1 that you will not be dealt the
Joker, and if you do not have it, it is 8.6-to-1 that
your opponent does not have it either.  It is 47-to-1 you
will not catch the Joker on a one-card draw; and if you
do, it won't do anything for you that a number of other
cards would not do.  If you draw one to an Eight, and
catch the Joker to beat a Nine, the Joker didn't do
anything for your that any of the sixteen other cards
would not do.  The presence of the Joker in the forty-
eight unknown cards, does not make a significant differ-
ence in your chances of making a hand -- and the differ-
ence it does make will be turned to your advantage
anyway, like another tax.

   Can you work with a number like: 2 9/13ths-to-1...?
That is, two and nine-thirteenths to one, the true odds
against making a Seven.  How much is 2 9/13ths-to-1 in
dollars?  It does not compute, I cannot visualize it.  I
can visualize drawing to 4-3-2-1, needing 5, 6 or 7,
which is 12 cards of 48, which is 36-to-12 ... which is
3-to-1....

   And I am always aware that I still have a little bitty
edge when it all works out dead even, because the true
odds against my making my Seven are a small fraction of
a number shorter than I play them.  It is a surcharge on
my Empire Tax.  It does not have to work out even though,
that fraction is there no matter how the odds work out.

   Of course it is not, but when I make that 47-to-1
shot, and catch the Joker, it feels like a collection on
my fractions.

   Adding an imaginary Joker to the deck of fifty-two, so
you can count from forty-eight unknown cards, does the
same thing, including building in the fractions.  Doing
that, changes 2 11/12ths to 3-to-1.  The differences are
a little smaller, because now you are discounting the
existence of an imaginary card; adding one card to the
cards which will not make your hand, but not discounting
one which will.

   Either way, it works out.  Besides, if you are playing
good cards it does not get that close.

   AXIOM #3:  PLAYING DEAD EVEN WILL KILL YOU...

   If you could manage to hold your odds to exactly EVEN
on every hand you play for a year's time, at the end of
the year you would probably be even on your play ... and
stuck for a year's TIME....  Dead Even.

   By discounting the Joker as one of the unknown forty-
eight, you will come up with odds that work out to even
numbers (whole numbers, numbers with no fractions) but
they will never be Dead Even.  It is like deducting full
dollars from your checking account when you write a check
with cents in it.  It adds up.

   Now I hope I have not given you the wrong idea about
the Joker, about its importance.  The value of the
possibility of the Joker (as a card you can catch) is not
significant, but the reality of it is.  When the Joker is
in your hand it changes everything.  When the Joker is in
the deck it is just one more card you can catch, it
increases your possibilities by one card; but when it is
in your hand, it increases your possibilities by FOUR
cards.  The twelve cards you can catch to make a Seven,
for example, become sixteen cards when you hold the
Joker.  The odds change from 3-to-1 to 2-to-1, and that
certainly is a significant difference.  At times, as you
have seen (PLATE #2), the Joker can make a two-card draw
into a "good bet."

   One more little thing:  When you hold the Joker in
your hand, and compute the odds (your own, or those of
your opponents), the numbers you come up with are true
odds.  If you hold the Joker, the three-to-one against
your opponent's making a Seven is exactly three-to-one,
the fraction-causing possibility of the Joker is elimi-
nated.  Of course, your opponent does not know that.


   OUTSIDE ODDS/INSIDE ODDS...

   You are drawing to 5-3-2-1 (to make it easy) and you
put him on an Eight.  When you consider the odds against
"making an Eight or better" you are working out the
Outside Odds....

   Now you catch an Eight!

   Is it the best Eight...?

   Now you are considering the Inside Odds (which, in
this case, are 33-to-1 in your favor, with one tie
possibility).

   If you are drawing to an Eight, the Outside Odds are
the odds against catching inside the Eight ... when you
do, the Inside Odds are the odds against your Eight being
the best Eight.

   Does it matter?

   Suppose you are drawing to 7-4-3-2 -- and you make the
Seven.

   Now your wife's mother bets a pretty good chunk, and
says:  "Be careful, I made a Seven...."  She is teasing
the Live One who built the pot -- and then drew two, to
an Eight -- but you know the old lady is telling the
truth.

   Good thing you drew smooth, isn't it?  If you caught
a Six the Inside Odds make old moms the favorite by a
margin of 4-to-3, but a Five gives it to you by 5-to-2;
and if you caught an Ace, you can't lose.

   There are seventy ways to make a Nine, and half of
them have an Eight in them; thus 9-7654 will beat more
than half the hands he could have when he says, "I have
a Nine."  Exactly half, in fact, with one tie.  Before
the hand started you had 7-6-5-4 to draw to, and you put
him on a Nine.  He went all-in with a small stack, and
stood pat.  You drew a card and asked him what you had to
beat, and he said (of course) "I have a Nine...."

   Your Outside Odds were 7-to-5 against, but you caught
a Nine, sure enough (actually, your Outside Odds were
two-to-one, because it takes an Eight to win it on the
Outside).  Now it must be decided by the Inside Odds, and
that is a coin flip: 9-7654 beats 35 Nines, loses to 34,
and ties one.

7-6543      There are thirty-five different ways to make
7-6542   an Eight -- and twenty of them have a Seven.
7-6541
7-6532      Fifteen Sevens (listed), and ten of them are
7-6531   Seven-six -- a Seven-five is a Six-and-a-half.
7-6521
7-6432      Okay, let's play one more hand at the Cameo
7-6431   Club, to see if any of this is working, then we
7-6421   will go play some Limit Lowball for a while.
7-6321
            This time the game is Six-to-go.
7-5432
7-5431      See PLATE THREE...
7-5421
7-5321      This pot is opened for six dollars, and has
         been called for six, when the short stack at the
7-4321   table goes all-in for 20.00....

   You are Dealing (Houseman is dealing for you, so you
have a 1.00 Blind in the pot), and you have Q-6321; it is
19.00 to you....

   At this point there is 38.00 in the pot; it is already
2-to-1 on the money, and you know the two players with
six dollars in the pot are unlikely to pass.  You are
almost a cinch to get at least three-to-one on your money
-- the (Outside) odds against a Seven.  The numbers force
you to play.  The big Blind comes in as well, the other
two call the 14.00 RAISE, and there is 102.00 in the pot.

   Everybody draws one card, except the player who went
all-in; he stands pat.

   You catch an Eight (8-6321).

   After the draw, the first player PASSes (he has 120.00
on the table); second player PASSes (90.00 in his stack);
third player also PASSes (60.00); all-in player cannot
bet, so it is on you (you have 200.00 left).

   You cannot PASS a Seven or better at the Cameo.

   The all-in player could have anything.

   How much is your hand worth now...?

   The best possible hand, among the players who drew a
card, is some kind of Eight.  The pat hand cannot win any
part of this bet, so as far as this bet is concerned, he
does not matter.  The Inside Odds on an 8-6321 are such
that your hand amounts to a cinch.

   If you can assume everybody knows what is happening,
and will more-or-less play the value of his hand, there
is a "Best Bet" in this spot:

   100.00.

   If you tap off (bet 120.00 or more) the odds on the
money to the first player (with 120.00) are 220.00 to
120.00, and he will probably lay down an Eight -- the
money odds are short, and he has to consider the possi-
bility that the 102.00 already in the pot is locked up by
the pat hand, which would mean he is getting EVEN odds on
his money from you, on the side.  Betting 100.00 makes it
202.00-to-100.00, and he can justify calling with an
Eight, because of the 2-to-1 odds against your having
made an Eight (and because the other two players have
PASSed once).

   If the bet comes to the second player (with 90.00 in
front of him) the money odds are 192.00-to-90.00.  If he
has an Eight, the odds are better for him than they were
for the first player.

   To the third player, the odds on his money will be:
162.00-to-60.00.  If he has a Eight, he is "Pot Stuck,"
forced by the numbers to call.

   There always exists the possibility of somebody
getting crazy and calling for a bluff, or double-thinking
himself into calling with a Nine; thinking you are making
a play with a Nine because you think the all-in bet was
a desperation play (a Ten), and you want to force the
other three players out.


   THE LIMIT GAME...

   Now then, before we go play some Limit Lowball, some
thoughts that slip in here with all these odds and your
Empire Tax....

   In a No-Limit game the size of the bet you are
prepared to make (or call) determines the "value of the
hand."  In the Limit game, the value of a hand is
determined by the number of bets (raises) you are
prepared to put in.

   When you pick up a pat Eight-five (for instance) you
say to yourself:  "This hand is worth four bets," or,
"I'll go six bets with this one, if old Flash Gordon
raises back...."

   Anyway, you make an evaluation of the hand in this
spot, and you play it to that value.  When old Flash
Gordon takes it to the seventh bet, you make another
evaluation (AXIOM #2 comes into play now).  If you go any
further, you are considering breaking the Eight; and the
further you go beyond the value of the hand, the greater
become the odds against you.  Every bet you make at
three-to-one the worst of it, is a bet you must make at
three-to-one the best of it, if you want to stay even on
your Empire Tax.

   You are going to win the "bad bets" in exactly the
same ratio you are going to lose the "good bets."  If you
could make the same number of each, they would cancel
each other.  Unfortunately, you can make all the bad bets
you want ... but you have to get somebody to CALL the
good ones.

   Before you tell me that computing the odds against a
particular hand doesn't help the Limit player much,
consider a play like this:

   Pot is opened, raised and raised again (three play-
ers). 

   Opener puts in the fourth bet and gets called by both
players.

   Opener is pat.

   Player Two hesitates a moment and "breaks a Nine."

   Player Three hesitates even longer, and then he too,
shows a Nine as he discards it.  "I can see this isn't
gonna get it," he says.

   After the draw it is PASS, PASS, and Player Three
says:  "Oh shit, I caught a Ten...."  He has a Ten-six.

   Now the pat hand shows his straight Ten.  "You got
lucky," he says, "But I made you break the best...."

   What did he do wrong?

   Two things.  First, he exceeded the value of his hand;
played a worthless hand for four bets, trying to "make a
big play."

   Then he did not bet it after the draw (when was the
last time you broke a Nine because you were convinced it
was no good, and then called with a Ten?).

   In No-Limit, "Bluffing" is making a bet he cannot call
because it exceeds the value of his hand by too much; it
is a "pressure bet," playing the money against the odds. 
In Limit, Bluffing is misrepresenting the value of your
hand before the draw (the straight Ten in the preceding
hand would have been Bluffing, and would have won the
pot, if he had followed through with his misrepresenta-
tion of the hand and bet it after the draw).

   In Limit, it is called "Snowing a hand" (it's a "snow
job") and it begins with the first bet.  You cannot
change the value of a hand with one bet, not in a Limit
game.

   The point of all this is that the two games are both
Lowball, but to move from one to the other is to change
more than the joint you are playing in.  As you are about
to see....

                        * * *




PLAYING THE RUSH...
(Justin Case


   My old lady says I shouldn't be doing this piece yet. 
She says I haven't exactly been Making A Living at Limit
Lowball.  She is right about that, so far, but it remains
to be seen.  I have been at it for a couple of weeks,
this time, and I have been playing pretty close to even,
which means we have spent too much money out of my stack. 
But that is no big deal; this is not the first time I
have switched to Limit.  I am still in action, and
haven't really had a rush of cards yet.  But I will, and
when my four hours of glory come along I will still know
what to do.

   My old lady says I am the world's greatest Lowball
player (about that she's wrong, his name is San Francisco
Al ...) but she thinks I should stay with No-Limit.  She
might be right about that too; she is, after all, a
"Professional" (licensed by the city).  She deals in the
No-Limit games at the Cameo Club, in Palo Alto (where I
spent my youth doing the same thing) and she thinks the
big Limit games are a crap shoot, for Gamblers, and the
small ones are strictly for the "pleasure players."  She
is certainly right about that -- God couldn't make a
living playing Two-limit.  Not if He stayed in the Two.

   The mistake my old lady makes is that she knows
"Gamblers" don't win (the first rule of No-Limit is that
Gamblers do not win, and Winners do not gamble).  The
thing she is missing is that some rules apply to some
things, and some other things have other rules.

   My old lady sees no difference between Gambling and
Playing Fast.  True, they look the same thing, but they
are not.  A Gambler is either out there gambling up, or
he is not out there at all.  A Fast Player, on the other
hand, is either out there playing fast, or he's out there
playing not so fast.  The Gambler has but one speed; the
Fast Player knows when he is speeding....

   The rules in Palo Alto are not the rules in San Jose,
where the name of the game is Limit.  It is a different
game, but I have been here before and I know what the
difference is.

   I just haven't had one yet.

   The four-hour rush.  It is a phenomenon of the Limit
game that comes around at irregular intervals.  It is
literally a rush; a head rush ... a high.  Perhaps the
reason a lot of players play.  You can feel a rush in
your cheeks, and sometimes a feeling of euphoria like
when the dentist lets you sniff the nitrous oxide.

   Limit Lowball is a game of rushes.  You do not pick up
that one big hand.  You cannot play around the edges all
night, picking off a few small soft spots -- just staying
even, waiting for that pat Six, and a chance to double or
triple your entire stack.  The hands in Limit are played
more-or-less the same, regardless of the size of the
game.  The trick is in playing in the bigger games when
you are running hot, playing faster when you are making
a lot of hands.

   I haven't really had a rush yet, but I have been
feeling some little flashes.  I am beginning to feel good
about the game, and I know what is going to happen before
we get to five thousand words.  I've been playing in the
Six-limits at the Comstock and at the Garden City.  About
half the time I start right out winning and it is a
question of how much I can win; the rest of the time it
is a question of how stuck I am going to get before the
cards change and I get out of the trap.

   When I sit down in a Six and win a hundred or so in a
short time, I will jump into a Twenty.  I will do this on
seven or eight bets.  I am not in action until after I
have made the jump to the Twenty, and after I make that
jump I am looking to jump again; there is no limit to how
high I will go if I keep winning.  When I lose the chips
I have on the table, any table, I will go play Pan for a
while, or go home.  When I am playing in a Twenty I am
playing with chips I did not buy -- I do not buy chips in
a Twenty (if I were into giving you a list of rules, that
would be number one).

   That is, put no limit on the amount of money you will
win, and when you are winning put no limit on the size of
the game ... but when you come down to the tablecloth in
the bigger game you are at the point where the dollar has
the least value.  A stack of five-dollar chips is not a
hundred dollars; it does not look like a hundred dollars,
nor does it feel like it.  It is not five times as hard
to buy as a stack of one-dollar chips, and it plays the
same.  So don't buy them; go home and let the value of a
dollar return to normal.  Come back tomorrow and buy
those one-dollar chips.

   I am not telling you how much money to play for; I
don't know how much money you have.  Add another zero to
all the numbers if you like, start in the 60.00 and jump
to the 200.00 if you like ... you are playing for "bets,"
the money amounts are not relevant.

   I rarely play in a Deuce (Two-limit) but it is a good
place to start; the action in a Deuce is generally pretty
fast, and if you get lucky you can make enough to jump to
a Four or a Six.  Again, the difficult part is in being
able to quit the bigger game if you lose the chips you
have on the table.  Whether you are starting in the Deuce
and jumping to the Four or Six, or starting in the Twenty
and jumping to the Eighty, it will kill you at the faster
rate if you blow what you moved with and start buying
more chips.  If you start out losing in the Deuce you
will likely stay there (where the chips are ten dollars
a stack) but if you beat the Deuce and jump to a Six, and
then start losing until you are down to the tablecloth,
it is going to cost you thirty dollars for the five bets
you get for ten in the Deuce.  If you get stuck in a
smaller game and then move to a larger game and buy more
chips, in the hope of getting even quickly, you will find
that you have found the shortest route to the poker
player's poor house.

   It is really very simple, if you have more chips than
you bought, you are winning, and should be looking to
move up A.S.A.P. -- as soon as you make the Buy-in -- if
you have less than you bought, the game you are in is big
enough, maybe too big.

   In other words, when you are winning play faster and
play for more -- if you keep winning the joint will
close, or the game will break up, and you will have to
take a winner home.  If you are losing, do it in the
smallest possible game.  Or even better, quit.  At least,
when you come back down to the tablecloth in a game you
have moved up to, quit.  Go back to the smaller game, if
you still feel like playing.  Chances are your luck will
change and you can try it again.  If that happens don't
feel disappointed because you didn't stay in the bigger
game -- if you had your luck might have gotten worse.  I
suggest that if that happens (you start winning again in
the smaller game) win a Buy-in for tomorrow, and quit.

   If you have never played Lowball before, you can learn
to play this game in half an hour.  If you have any "card
sense" at all, you can be holding your own within a
couple of sessions.  The way the hands are played in a
Deuce is the way the hands are played in a Twenty or an
Eighty (in fact, the bigger games are generally the
faster games).  The only element of skill that can be
sharpened enough to make a long-range winner out of you
is your ability to keep yourself under control.  That
means controlling your losses.  Saving those bad bets.

   You think he has an Eight, no worse than an Eight, and
you put in three bets to draw to an Eight, because you
are last and you have the Joker (it is only 7-to-5
against making your Eight).  You catch a Nine, and he
comes out betting after the draw.  You are sure the Nine
is no good, but maybe he made a mistake and you want to
see if you were right about his hand.  You do not like
this call, but you call anyway.

   He has an Eight-five.

   Now you feel you made a bad bet when you called, you
should have saved that last bet.  But you are wrong
again, you did not make a bad bet ... you made FOUR bad
bets in that hand.

   Saving those bad bets.  Ask any experienced Limit
player for the key to the game and she (ladies play too)
will tell you it is saving those bad bets -- and she is
not just talking about (this is important!) those bad
calls after the draw.  She is talking about not playing
those short-odds hands.  Every time you do not make one
of those odds-against bets, you have saved a bad bet.

   Ask a really good Limit player (yes Virginia, there
really are Really Good Limit Players ...) for the key and
he will tell you it is saving those bad bets and Playing
The Rush ... betting the shit out of those "good bets."

   The Live One does not care if you have the best of it,
he will play anyway.  He is not even playing the same
game you are playing.  He is playing hunches, because
that is all he has to go on.  He thinks a one-card draw
to a Bicycle must be played at any price -- because you
can't beat a Bicycle "...and if I don't play hands like
that, I ain't playing Lowball...."  He is playing
hunches, and you are playing percentages.

   If you are consistently drawing rougher than the other
guy, you are just as consistently losing to him.  It is
three-to-one against drawing a card and making a Seven,
it always will be three-to-one against -- the odds do not
change for the Limit game.  But Live Ones play Limit,
too.

   It is not really luck that changes.  Hands run in
streaks, you must see that they do, and learn to play up
when they are running to you; but a rush of cards is not
a suspension of the law of the Empire, it is not a "Lucky
Streak" where you get to gamble and win for a while,
where you get to beat the odds for a series of hands.  A
Rush of Cards is a series of hands where the odds are in
your favor, a series of odds-favored hands.

   A Four-card Rush is a series of good one-card draw
hands, good hands before the draw.  A Four-card Rush is
bad news, for it doesn't become a Four-card Rush until
you repeatedly miss on the draw.  When you are making
them it becomes a Rush of Cards.

   I am probably going to say this again, but it is one
of those things that becomes obvious after you see it: 
A Rush of Cards is not a series where you beat the odds,
it's a series where you get the odds.  The cards do not
change so that you get to take the worst of it and win,
they change so that you get the best of it for a series
of hands.

   A "Lucky Streak" is drawing three cards three times,
and winning one of them -- a Lucky Streak is playing
stupid and winning anyway.  You are not waiting for a
Lucky Streak, you are waiting for a rush of cards.

   The name of the game is Limit, and the art of the game
is limiting your losses.  If you get a rush enjoy it,
jump on it and play on, play it out.  Don't get scared
when you get so "lucky" you feel guilty about it; when
you win nearly every hand you play and you are playing
nearly every hand.  A rush is a thing of heat, and you
can feel it when you are hot -- and on the other hand,
sometimes you will get so cold it is like sitting in a
car with a dead battery.  When that happens, go walk
around the building or something, you cannot start a rush
by pushing it....

   And we are stalled here too.  We are going to have to
have an understanding of what is meant by "Playing ABC,"
because we can't talk about playing faster until we have
a point of reference.  I am sure you are aware that there
is a point where the Fast Player becomes the Live One. 
The Fast Player puts in an extra bet when he has the best
of it -- the Live One puts in an extra bet every time he
plays, just in case he gets lucky and overcomes the odds.

   Every game has a tough old bird who wins because he
never "gets out of line."  He is the Hard Rock -- he has
a formula by which he plays and he never deviates from
it.  You can almost tell what he has in his hand by the
way he plays it.  He never comes into a pot to draw two
cards, and he never draws to an Eight.  He doesn't try to
bluff.  When he raises, his hand is complete and it is
not a Nine.

   It is possible to play by a rigid formula and win (the
one in the above paragraph works).  It is called "grind-
ing it out," and it is exactly that.  It is a grind, but
learn to do it ... because it will save you when you are
cold.

   Of course there is a little formula to my play too, I
give considerable thought to the amount of TIME being
paid in the game, and the rate at which the Blinds are
eating into my stack (for example: in a Six-limit I pay
about a bet an hour to the House and the Blinds consume
another bet every eight hands, a total that can run to
thirty dollars an hour if I never play a hand).  I have
to win five bets an hour to stay even, and sometimes I
don't play in five hands an hour.  So (and the formula
comes in here) I try to play every hand I play for an
extra bet.  The range of hands I find playable is a
little tougher than most -- I usually have the best of
it, so I like to play in the big pots.  I don't play in
all the raised pots, but unless I am really salty, all
the pots I play are raised.

   You cannot say I play ABC, because I raise on the
come, and I have been known to play a Nine for a lot of
money.  The thing I have in mind in this method is the
ratio of the size of the pots to the hourly rate of
forced investment.  For instance (this is a variation on
the Empire Tax):  In the long run, you can expect to win
with a pat Nine (against one player who draws a card)
about seven times in twelve tries, and you will be dealt
X-number of Nines in any given length of time.  If you
play them all, you should end up with a net profit; if
you play only the Nines that fall in a good spot, they
are good enough an investment to justify an extra bet or
two.  Some of the biggest pots are won by Nines.

   And speaking of the Empire Tax....

   The odds in favor of ANY pat Nine, against a one-card
draw, are always going to be at least seven-to-five
(depending upon the Inside Odds).  Even if you play them
all, it is the law of the Empire that you will collect a
net percentage of one-sixth of your total investment.

   Want it in numbers?

   Play 100 hands (pat Nine) against one-card draws.... 
100.00 per hand.  10,000.00 total investment.

   You win seven of twelve (net of two in twelve).

   Gross return:  11,666.67.

   Your net percentage is more dependable, easier to
collect, than for the No-Limit player -- because you do
not face the possibility of a big bet after the draw.

   It is as dependable as taxation ... and if it is your
Nine, it is your Empire.

   If you are going to be the Emperor though, you must
learn patience and perseverance.  You gotta give the
people a little credit -- let them pay installments --
realize you must lose five of twelve, and one hand is
just one number in an endless chain of numbers.  If you
go getting mad at the taxpayers every time one of them
collects a little refund check, you are wasting time on
ire, Sire....

   Spare me that crap about thinking like a No-Limit
player.  If you play Limit because you think it is easier
-- you don't need to know all those numbers -- it does
not necessarily mean you are a loser, but it means you
are lost.  It means you are playing in a game you do not
really understand.  The value of a hand is often differ-
ent in Limit, but not the odds on your getting it, nor
the odds on its standing up when you do get it.

   Consider a pat Eight.  When I pick up a pat Eight in
a No-Limit game, and I have (say) three players in the
pot, the raise I put in often wins it right there; or it
will go to heads up, and I have two-to-one the best of
it.  When you pick that hand up in a Limit game, the
raise will be called three times and the odds are three-
to-two the hand will not stand up.  In my case it is a
return of 200.00 for each 100.00 invested; in your case
it is a return of 300.00 twice, for each 100.00 invested
three times.  The net result is the same.

   In time.

   Of course the plays come down differently, you get
there by a different route, but you are going to the same
destination.

   In the Limit game you will never get to play your pat
hand for all your chips (if you have very many) against
a player who is drawing, because even the player who
wants to gamble will not go very far against a suspected
pat hand.  And from that side of it, you have to consider
that the player with the pat hand will only pay off one
bet after the draw -- you cannot justify taking the worst
of it (paying a big price to hit the deck) on the grounds
of what you can win after the draw.  The bigger the pot
before the draw, the higher your percentage when you have
the best of it, to any degree.

   You must be aware that even if you are drawing to Ace,
Deuce, Trey and Four, you are taking the worst of it
against a pat hand (nobody plays Tens anymore) but if you
are drawing against two pat hands, your percentage is a
little better.  Because you are getting two-to-one on
your money without changing your odds on making the best
hand by quite that much -- because of the Five and the
Six, and probably the Seven.

   I guess, in the back of my mind, I am thinking of the
player who has not had the cardroom experience.  There
was a time when I played poker regularly with a group of
friends; more than once we rented a motel room to spread
a game (when a real Live One wanted to play) and I had
never considered playing in a cardroom.  When I first
went into a cardroom (more than twenty-five years ago) it
was like turning on to marijuana.  I thought I was
venturing into a world of hustlers and cardsharps.  I
thought I was taking a chance on getting hooked on
gambling (like taking that first toke is taking a chance
on becoming a junkie of another kind) but I have found
that Lowball and Draw Poker are not gambling, in the pure
sense of the word.  The hustlers and cardsharps all went
to Hollywood ... it is a new world.  The player raising
you out of your chair might be that little old gray-
haired lady who checks out books at the library.

   You cannot play Blackjack, Craps or Roulette, but the
Garden City (for instance) feels like a casino in Nevada. 
There are no slot machines, but you can hear the constant
rattling of the chips in the nervous fingers of the
players.  Built to look like a big church, it is an
impressive structure.  It is a big business.

   When you walk in you will be "behind the rail," in an
area of comfortable sofas for players waiting for a seat
in a game.  Here too, is the man at the board.  If there
is a game of the size you want that is not full, he will
direct you to a Floorman, who will seat you in a game and
sell you some chips.  If there is no seat open he will
put you down for a game (put you on the board).  This
area is elevated slightly, and while you are behind the
rail you can look out over the heads of the players at
the forty tables on the playing floor.

   Above each table hangs a large chandelier, built to
look like a wheel (that's apt) with eight spokes.  The
lights are in the ends of the spokes and in the center,
if you look closely, you can see a little red light on a
closed-circuit television camera.  This is one of the
assurances the player has that the games are straight.

   However, don't kid yourself, and don't put your faith
entirely in an electronic eye that sees only the visible. 
When you deal, count the stub.  On the draw you will burn
the first card, and work from a twelve-card stub (eight-
handed).  If the draw is 1-1-2, for example, you will
have eight cards left in the stub.  If the stub does not
come out right (short a card) make that your last hand.

   It happens, but it does not happen often ... the
chances are your deck will always come out right; but it
is a comfort to be sure, so count the stub.  If it ever
does happen, tell the Floorman about it when you cash in. 
These guys are "professionals" too, and they will deal
with it.

   I did not mean to do a testimonial for the Garden
City, but it is a class act.  An Empire unto itself.

   I mention this because the City Mothers feel the
cardroom belongs over with the porno movie houses and the
dirt-book stores.  They see the player as some kind of
degenerate who needs to be protected from himself. 
Jesus, talk about playing with a short deck ... you are
a whole lot safer inside one of these modern cardrooms
than you are on the streets.  A whole lot safer in one of
these games than in a private game.  The games are
straight, the player is protected, and the people who
play are just people.

   I could do a whole section on the laws and regulations
covering the operation of a cardroom, but that would be
a bad percentage bet; let's let it suffice to say that
the day of the backroom game is ended.  Like the bowling
alley and the pool hall, maturity and respectability have
come to the cardroom.  The environment is First Class;
the games are played by the rules; quickly, quietly and
straight.  You do not play against the House and nobody
is being ripped off.

   There is something of a paradox in the law (or at
least, in the Official Attitude) about playing cards. 
Gambling is against the law (unless the government has
the House Percentage, as in Horse Racing or the Lotto). 
Lowball is a form of Draw Poker, and isn't really
gambling ... it is a game of skill.  Lowball is not
against the law because it is not gambling, but it is
subject to regulation by the County and the City, because
gamblers play it; and gamblers need to be protected....

   In other words, the gamblers will not get you, but the
good players will.

   The essence of the law is right, I guess, because the
good player does win.  He wins because the element of
gamble can be controlled.  When the cards are not
running, and the best of it is not good enough -- when
you just cannot make a hand because your battery is dead
-- you can tighten up and grind it out with the Hard
Rock.

   When you are gambling too much, making fooling plays
because you are hot and stuck, you will know it.  You
will play hands for more money than they are worth, and
you will put in too many bets to draw too many cards too
many times.  You will know you are blowing it while you
are blowing it.  It will remind you that the good player
wins because he is sitting over there whistling to
himself and playing the percentages against your foolish-
ness.

   The Taxman.  Playing against him is a bad percentage
bet.  You will learn that when you learn that the odds do
not change, but the cards do.  They don't change so that
you can beat the odds for a while; they change so that
you get the odds for a while....

   The cards change, and the idea is to be there when
they do -- without getting too stuck while you are
waiting.  I took my old lady to the Comstock last night
(while I was waiting for this paragraph) and wrote the
perfect lyric for that tune.

   The Comstock is another class act; smaller than the
Garden City, less formal, but state-of-the-art neverthe-
less.  Last night they were busy, really humming.  I like
that, because there are definitely good games and bad
games, and when the joint is buzzing there are always
games where everybody wants to gamble up.  Regardless of
the size of the game, the amounts of chips passing
through the pots is a definite variable from game to
game.

   The speed of the game is an entity in itself, like the
running of the cards.  It is a thing to consider apart
from whether or not you are holding a lot of good cards. 
In some games you don't need good cards; every pot will
be raised and everybody will be trying to make a Nine,
because nobody has a hand and Tens and Jacks are winning
pot after pot.

   Two or three guys playing Nines at each other means
most of the pots are being won by Nines.  There are more
ways to make a None that all the hands of Eight-or-better
combined.  If nobody is playing Nines, only half as many
hands will be played -- less than half.  Nobody plays
Eights, and you are down to nobody plays much.  Somewhere
in there is the speed of the game.

   The game I sat into was a beauty.  It was a Six, but
it was raining chips in groups of eighteen and twenty-
four, three or four players in every pot.  It was the
game I am always looking for, but it was a little faster
than I was prepared for.  I had come in with eighty
dollars in my pocket (and twenty of that was already in
action in a Deuce -- my old lady doesn't like Limit, but
she spends all day dealing in games she can't play in,
and she likes to play).  I sat down with ten bets -- a
normal buy-in, but in this game it was a matter of lose
three pots in a row and go home.  Maybe only two.

   But I'm a Player.

   When you sit into a Six-limit your first hand must be
on the big Blind (the dealer antes one dollar, the player
to his left antes two, the player on his left antes three
-- the player with the most money in the pot "in the
blind" goes last, before the draw).  When you sit in any
other seat you do not get a hand unless you double the
Blind (and the Limit, on that one hand).

   Doubling the Blind (called, "killing it") is a bad
percentage bet when you are short -- and sixty dollars is
short, in a good game -- but what the hell....

   After the first hand I was down to thirty-six dollars
and the game was back to Six-to-go (instead of twelve). 
Six bets.  I should have been in a Four-limit in the
first place; I was supposed to go busted quickly, but it
was one of those nights when everything went the way
everything would go if you were writing a book about it.

   For the first hour I threw away hands that were better
than some of the hands some of the players were drawing
to.  I was doing little more than watching the speed of
the game and making the Blinds.  I anted away twelve more
dollars and then won eighteen.  Then I anted away twelve
more.  So I had thirty dollars when I picked up my first
real hand.

   The pot was opened for six, raised to twelve and a
third player had come in cold for the twelve, when it
came to me.  I had a pat Eight-five, and went to three
bets.  The opener quit, but the player who put in the
first raise, raised again (made it four bets) and the
player between us again came for two bets.  I called,
holding back my one remaining bet on the chance that he
was trying to play a Nine.  I did not want him to break
a rough hand.

   I was right.  He had a Nine-seven and he played it
pat.  The other player drew a card and paired Aces (if
the Nine-seven had broken, he would have made a Seven). 
I bet the remaining six-dollar bet and he paid it off,
and I had about ninety dollars on the table.

   Ninety dollars in a Six is about right, normally.  It
is fifteen bets, and that is just about as stuck as you
should allow yourself to get.  If you lose fifteen bets
in a game and keep going, the game had better be a really
good one, and you had better have the control to play so
tight you squeak (even so, you are doing one of those
things which will come to be known as one of those things
you should not do).

   But that is going in the other direction.  We are
talking about a different ninety dollars now.  Now it's
ninety in chips that cost sixty in real money ... now it
is five bets of "their money."  On this money, I play a
little faster.  If I get to speeding I will crash, and I
am usually able to quit gambling and invest an hour on
waiting for a pat Eight (for you gamble less if you do
not draw, and sometimes while you are waiting for an
Eight, you will find a Six).  But again, that is going in
the wrong direction.  This time it worked.

   Now I had fifteen bets when I picked up the perfect
hand to overplay:  Ace, Deuce, Trey and Joker to draw to.

   I was in the two-dollar Blind (next to last before the
draw and first after the draw).  The pot was opened and
called twice when it came my turn.  I raised.  The big
Blind passed but the three players in the pot all called
(a total of fifty-one dollars, including the unplayed big
Blind).

   I drew a card, caught a six and bet it (in twenty-five
years, I have had this hand beaten only one time).  The
first player behind me passed, the second called the six
dollars and the third player raised six more.  I raised
again.  One pass and one call (seven more bets after the
draw).

   Unlike No-Limit, the play of the individual hand is
almost beside the point; I am not trying to tell you how
to play a hand.  The point of this is that for the first
hour in this game I did little more than make the Blinds
and watch the action.  I took no chances, gambled not at
all, and it worked out that I still had chips on the
table when I finally got a really playable hand.

   The Joker-321 might have been played without the
raise, during that first hour, but when I picked it up I
had a little more than ninety dollars on the table and
the game was still a fast game (faster even, for now I
was raising on the come and encouraging the action too). 
When I cashed in (from the Twenty) I had a little over
five hundred from my sixty-dollar investment -- and my
old lady said it was okay to do this piece now.

   And speaking of my old lady, remember the twenty
dollars I gave her when we came in?  When I quit she was
playing in a Four-limit, and had a hundred and thirty
dollars.  She ran the twenty I gave her up to fifty-five
in the Deuce, and then cashed in the twenty and moved to
the Four with thirty-five.  She doesn't win as consis-
tently as I do because she gambles too much, too soon,
but she is a Player.  Give her a rush of cards and you
will find her in the Twenty at the end of the evening.

   The name of the game is Limit, but the limit only
applies to an individual bet; there is no limit to the
amount you can win or lose in a given period of time.  It
is not a game for children and it is not a game for the
timid.  The game is played fast, the action is fast, and
sometimes you can go through a bankroll (or build one) in
a matter of minutes.

   To most men (and women) gambling is as natural as
eating; nearly everybody gambles daily, in one way or
another.  Bet the horses, buy a sweepstakes or Lotto
ticket, bet a few bucks on a football game; it is all a
matter of degree, the urge to gamble is there in all of
us.  Of course there are people whose lives have been
destroyed by gambling; of course there are people who
cannot control their losses, people who have lost their
homes and businesses and like that ... but it is not a
fault of the game they play, it is in the way they play
it....

   Lowball and Draw Poker played straight (the way they
are played in the casinos of California) are not gambling
in the pure sense of the word.  You do not play against
the House and you do not play against a set percentage
(in the odds).  You play against other players who may or
may not play the game as well as you do.

   And the good player does win.

                        * * *


   LIMIT VARIATIONS...

   If you change your mind, and decide to move to Gardena
after all, you will find the game there is a little
different once again.  They play Limit Lowball in Gardena
(mostly) but it is not Straight Limit, where every bet is
the same amount.  Most of the Gardena clubs play a
version of Limit which has one major difference -- the
limit is doubled after the draw....

   Before the draw the game is about the same as the game
we just left at the Comstock, but the doubled bet after
the draw does present an opportunity to stand pat and
steal a pot now and then.  It is still risky business to
bet a busted hand (one you drew to, as opposed to a hand
played pat) because an eight-dollar bet is not much into
a pot of eight or ten four-dollar bets, but there are
situations....

   If I could bet "two bets" after the draw at the
Comstock or Garden City, I would play all those hands
full of sevens and eights.  The no-hand-at-all "snowing"
of a hand is bluffing from the start, and has no hope of
winning if anybody makes a hand; it is setting up a
situation where you win if nobody makes an Eight or
better.  Snowing a hand is playing those two-to-one odds
against his making an Eight.  So give me a hand full of
Eights, and let me double my bet after the draw ... it
adds a whole series of pat hand possibilities.

   I hate to admit it, but I have never been to Gardena
(that's like Moses not going to Israel).  I am sure I
will, sooner or later, but like I said in the beginning,
there is no reason to move to Gardena; you can find all
the action you want just about anywhere....

   Morgan Hill is about as far south as I go -- and it is
there that we find the game that splits the difference
between Limit and No-Limit.

   Spread Limit....

   For some reason I cannot explain, it seems the Spread
Limit game is popular all over the state, but you usually
find it in those little one-cardroom towns in the
country.

   Like the Country Casino, in Morgan Hill.

   The Country Casino is a six-table joint of recent
vintage (owned by my boss-in-law, and a small group of
Big Apple players from the Cameo Club -- the incredible
Whistling Oakie is one of them, so it must be a good
percentage bet).  I think it is an investment in the
future of Morgan Hill, a little country town that figures
to be a metropolitan center pretty soon.

   The first few times I went down there, it was for a
tournament (forty-eight players buy 40.00 worth of chips
-- sometimes 100.00 -- and play until all but three are
eliminated by a process of doubling the size of the game
every hour).

   My old lady loves to play in these tournaments (in the
money, three tournaments in a row) but to me the attrac-
tion is the games that form from the players eliminated
from the tournament.  The action in these games gets
insane -- everybody starts out stuck (because of the
tournament) and a Four-to-Twenty can be a big game.

   Four-to-Twenty is a Spread Limit game.  You can bet as
little as four dollars or as much as twenty, or any
amount between.  It is played like No-Limit up to a
point.  You have the No-Limit player's ability to put a
20.00 raise on a four-dollar bet (enough to bring AXIOM
#2 into play on one bet) but you also have the Limit
player's protection from going busted on one bet.

   The best of both worlds?  I am not sure about that,
but it certainly does combine elements of both games.

   Two-to-Ten is the small game; Eight-to-Forty is
usually the big game.  They do play 20.00-to-100.00 at
times, but the 5-5-10 usually goes to No-Limit.  It's up
to the players.

   There is another difference in these games -- no TIME. 
The House does not collect TIME from the players.  There
is a Dealer in these games and the Dealer "rakes the pot"
... TIME comes out of the pots, the winners pay the TIME
for everybody (they do this at Artichoke Joe's too, in
the small games).  It is a break for the Short Money
player because there is no overhead, no nut to crack,
while he is waiting for the cards to change.  I have
found it makes little difference to me; it costs a little
more than TIME when I am winning a lot of pots, but it
costs nothing when I am not.

   This is the game where Percentage Players play the
rush....

   And the next step is back to where we started from.

                        * * *




THE ENDLESS LOWBALL GAME...
(Justin Case)


   After you have a grasp on the odds of the game, and
have developed a measure of control over your urges to
defy the odds, you must make the next step.  The big
step.  That is, you must see that the game today and the
game tomorrow is the same game.  It is an endless Lowball
game, and it goes on and on and on....

   You are going to play hand after hand after hand.  You
are going to win some; you are going to lose some; you
are even going to tie some; but as a Percentage Player,
you know it makes little difference from hand to hand. 
You are playing for an average.  As a percentage player,
you know you do not have to win this next pot ... it
makes little difference whether this next pot turns out
to be one of the pots you won, or not.  Each hand is just
another number in an endless chain of numbers....

   The Player (note the capital "P") realizes the law of
averages suffers many infractions, that you cannot depend
on it this hand.  The law of averages only tells you who
should win, not who will.  Not this hand.  And knowing
that, the Player is not disturbed when he has a bad day,
or when the Live One makes that 11-to-1 shot, and draws
out on his pat Six-four.  He knows the law of averages
will average out, in time, and he knows he needs no more
than that.  He will never panic behind a salty streak and
make another "bad bet," and then another....

   He never gets "hot and stuck."

   Sure I am talking about control -- but I am talking
about control based upon a certain knowledge.  Do you
think Bill Harrah gets pissed off because some tourist
bet a thousand dollars on twelve-craps, threw two sixes
and won 30,000.00...?  Are you aware that Mr. Harrah is
5000.00 ahead on that play -- because the true odds are
35-to-1 -- his craps table still has five thousand
dollars in its bank that should not be there.

   He does not lose as much as he is supposed to lose
when he loses, and he wins more than he is supposed to
win when he wins.  Bill Harrah is a Percentage Player.

   An Emperor.

   I know, that's craps and this is Lowball, there is a
big difference.  And there is, did you know there is no
bet you can make in a casino where the odds are as long
as they are against a one-card draw who has to make an
Eight?  The House percentage in most of the casino games
is rarely more than five or six percent (those two green
numbers make the odds against Red or Black work out to
20-to-18, and that's about as bad as it gets).  The odds
against that one-card draw to an Eight are still 2-to-1
(20-to-10).

   Still, you know the Roulette wheel cannot lose,
because of those thousands upon thousands of bets, each
paying 18-to-18 when the odds are 20-to-18 (about 5.25%
the best of it).  The greater the volume of bets made,
the more assured the percentage, you knew that.  So why
don't you play Lowball the same way...?

      Admit it.  The toughest thing you are asked to do
is to take that loss.  Jesus, it hurts (when that sucker
put all those chips in the pot and then drew out on your
pat Six -- talk about the agony of defeat -- it was like
being punched in the stomach, it took your breath away). 
So what do you do?  Buy a thousand, and when he gets out
of line again....

   You know what the flaw is here though, don't you?  He
is not going to get out of line again ... you are.

   Now it is to hell with percentages, to hell with the
best of it, now you are hot and stuck and you are ready
to gamble.  And day after tomorrow, when another Live One
makes another dumb play and your pat hand stands up like
it is supposed to do, you will still be stuck the extra
thousand you lost because you forgot about that chain of
numbers, because you went to playing every hand as if it
were going to be the last hand you would ever play.  You
forgot about that average you play for.

   You forgot there is no last hand in an endless Lowball
game....


   SMART MONEY...

   Now I am going to tell you to do something I am sure
you will not do.  You will see the reason for it, it will
make obvious sense, but you won't do it anyway.  I know
players who can't learn this one:

   And that is, play the money you have in action as if
the money does not count, as if you had a ton of it, as
if it is not real money.

   If your play can be affected by the size of your
bankroll, it can only be badly affected.  Keep in mind
that the other players (some of them) will be aware you
are playing short money, and they will take advantage. 
If you allow anything but percentages to determine
whether or not you play, it will work for them.  The odds
do not change because you are playing short money, but
the play often does.  If you pass up an odds-favored bet
(a "good bet") because you are short, you are playing
Scared Money, and you should not be playing at all.

   Surely you are familiar with the expression "Smart
Money," generally taken to mean money bet on a favorite
to win, but not always.  Sometimes the Smart Money is on
a 20-to-1 shot, because the bettor has inside information
that mitigates the odds.  A horse race, for example:  You
know a trainer or jockey who tells you about a 20-to-1
longshot who, for any number of reasons, has a much
better chance than that (they've been holding him back,
building up the odds, but this time he is going to go for
it).  You don't know the true odds, but you know they are
a lot less than 20-to-1.  Maybe you never bet the horses,
but one who does would call this a Smart Money bet.

   In a Lowball game, Smart Money is rarely short money,
for the simple reason that you do not get the true odds
on an all-in bet; you don't get full value for your
money.

   Suppose you have two players in a pot for 20.00 each,
and you go all-in with your last 20.00 (let's give you a
pat Six this time).  You will be getting two-to-one on
your money and will be a heavy favorite to win the pot,
even if they are both drawing to a Wheel.  Now what if
one of them bets 50.00 after the draw, gets a 50.00 call
and wins a 100.00 side pot, with a Seven...?

   In other words, as a percentage player, every bet you
make is a Smart Money bet (your chances of winning are
always better than the price you pay to play) unless you
cannot cover the bet.

   My advice to the short money player?  Play Limit, play
for the fun of it, or don't play.  There is no such thing
as a short money percentage player.


   BLUFFING...

   And then there is the one about Bluffing.  Which is
what I would be doing if I said I could tell you when to
do it and when not to.  Because I don't know the players,
and that is the most important aspect to Bluffing.

   In a Limit game I do very little bluffing, it is
rarely a good percentage bet.  That is, betting a busted
hand is a poor percentage bet.  "Snowing a hand" is a
different situation altogether, as we have already
discussed.  I will usually try that a time or two (more,
if it works) when I have a hand full of Sevens and Eights
-- and I NEVER show the hand if it gets away a winner. 
It does not make you macho to show the whole room you
just played the shit out of four Eights!  You trying to
be the Cincinnati Kid?  Trying to eliminate a whole
series of pat hands from your good bet list...?

   I suggest you save those plays until you know all the
players and they have all played hundreds of hands with
you, and nobody has ever seen you make a play like that
before -- and if it works, they have still never seen you
make a play like that before....

   Hands like that don't happen often, and when they do
they are not really Bluffing.  Four Eights is all the pat
hands between Seven and Nine.  When a couple of tourists
call a moderate raise and draw a card, then pass it to
you ... four Eights is a better hand than a pat Eight. 
Nobody "slipped an Eight," and you can make it nearly
impossible to call with a Nine, can't you?  Of course
knowing all the Eights are dead is the same as holding
them.

   Bluffing is betting a busted hand, using the pressure
of AXIOM #2 to force your opponent to lay down what you
know is the best hand.  There are a lot of players who
will pass an Eight, intending to catch someone bluffing,
and end up calling a moderate bet from a player who
thought his Nine, or rougher Eight, was good.  But when
the bet is serious, not moderate, they inevitably say: 
"I slipped this sucker for action ... but not that much
action...."  The player who slips that Eight is nearly
always passing it because he is afraid to bet it.  Nearly
always.  I hope you don't try to bluff those known
"calling stations."

   When you are playing with "tourists," and don't have
a clue about who makes those long calls, try this one
(for starters): the first few times you pair up, just lay
down like a little girl and say something like:  "I can't
bet ... I paired up again...."

   After you have done that a few times, change horses
and go the other way.  Every time you pair up, bet it
like a Seven -- and stay on this horse until you get
caught.  You might steal a dozen pots before you do get
caught.  When you do get caught, be sure everybody knows
it.  "You got me ... I paired up again...."  Lord, I hope
I don't have to tell you not to show a successful bluff. 
The Cincinnati Kid was a loser, remember.

   Now that you have been caught bluffing and everybody
knows it, don't do it again -- but now you do not let
them see the pairs you lay down.  Your chances of getting
that long call are greatly enhanced now.  Now they are
wondering if you were bluffing all the time.

   Anything I could tell you about bluffing is subject to
be modified out of existence by your familiarity with the
players, but there are a few yardsticks.  First, would he
make that bet with a busted hand?  Some players never
bluff, and some bluff every chance they get.  Somewhere
between is everybody else.  Second, would he make that
bet if he made a hand, if he is looking for a call?  A
player with a Six or a Wheel rarely bets enough that it
is a tough call.  If the size of the bet and the size of
the pot make you feel you would be pot stuck with an
Eight, you are probably dead with an Eight, and crazy to
call with anything rougher.  Try to be suspicious when
they make it easy, don't double-think yourself into
making what feels like a bad call.

   If you are into guessing ... well, your guess is as
good as mine.  Remember too, that player who bets every
time he pairs up, is not paired up every time he bets.

   Laying down the best hand?  The player who never does
it is over there by the rail, looking for a stake.


   AFTER THE DRAW...

   After the draw possibilities modify the odds.  I
remember saying that when we were playing a hand which
had no after the draw possibilities, so I said we would
get into after the draw, afterwards.

   Now then.

   See PLATE FOUR...

   And we will play another hand in the Big Apple at the
Cameo Club (20.00 No-Limit).

   This one is opened and called for 20.00 by a couple of
Live Ones, each with about 100.00 on the table.

   You are ahead of the dealer and the Blinds, but behind
these two.  You have 480.00 in front of you and a pat
Eight-six with the Joker in it.

   How much to bet?

   80.00.  That makes it 140.00 in the pot to the first
one, for a 60.00 call (for two-to-one on his money, this
guy will draw two cards).  He will play for 60.00 more,
and that will make the other one think he is pot stuck,
he will play "for the action."

   After the draw, either or both will call 40.00 with
just about anything.  Your best shot at that other 40.00
is after the draw.  Go for it now and you will lose them
both.  Your best bet is 80.00, and there is 140.00 in the
pot (including the Blinds).

   Looking good ... right?  Right.  And then comes my
hero, whistling a little tune about AXIOM #2, and raising
it 120.00 more!  His bet is 200.00....

   Now there is 335.00 in the pot.

   The two Live Ones are gone.

   You have 400.00 more.  He has 1400.00.

   It is 120.00 to you....

   You still have a pat Eight-six with the Joker in it,
and it just went from a heavy favorite to a dead hand in
one bet.

   You know the Eight-six is no good, and if you break it
and catch a Seven you are in a world of hurt.  Pot stuck
with a marginal hand.  But there are three ways to make
a Six, a good Six, and you will have 280.00 more after
the draw.

   Three-to-one against making a Six.

   335.00 to 120.00.

   What this is, is short odds if you miss, but not if
you don't.  Not even the Taxman can get away if you make
the Six.  He will have to bet first, into what will be a
455.00 pot (with your call).  What this amounts to then,
is this:

   615.00 to 120.00 that you can't make a 3-to-1 shot.

   If you don't play hands like this....

                        * * *



   AFTERWORDS...


   THE EMPIRE TAX is the Percentage Player's income.  It
is the amount of money above the odds against the hand.

   It works like this:  There is 100.00 in the pot; you
have a one-card draw to a Seven, which figures to win,
and it is 30.00 to you.  There is ten dollars in Empire
Tax in this pot, on your side of the odds on the money.

   The odds against making the hand are three-to-one
(3.00 to 1.00).  The odds on the money are 3.33 to 1.00. 
In a series of four plays, you will win one time and lose
three.  You will win 100.00 once, and lose 30.00 three
times, and put 10.00 in Empire Tax in the bank.  The
longer the series of hands the more accurate your
percentage figures to be.  Play this hand enough times
and it becomes a cinch 3.33 for 3.00.

   If you can win with an Eight, the odds on the money
are still 3.33 to 1.00 -- but the odds against the hand
are only two-to-one.  Now there is 40.00 in Empire Tax on
your side of the odds on the money.  Play this hand three
times; you lose 30.00 twice and win 100.00 once.

   If you have to make a Six to win, you are up against
odds of five-to-one.  That is, the odds on the money are
3.33-to-1.00, but the odds against the hand are 5.00 to
1.00.  You are PAYING an Empire Tax of 1.67 every time
you put 5.00 into a pot at these odds.  You are getting
100-to-30 on a 150-to-30 proposition.  Play it six times;
win 100.00 once, lose 30.00 five times.

   It's really very simple:  If the odds on the money are
greater than the odds against the hand, play the hand.

   If there is an element of skill involved it is in your 
ability to determine what kind of hand it will take.  But
there are not all that many possibilities, and you can
usually come pretty close to the Outside Odds.


   THE FORTY-EIGHT UNKNOWN CARDS are the cards from which
you are drawing when you try to make a hand.  There are
four of each card you can catch to win, and subtracting
the total of these "live cards" from the forty-eight,
will give you the odds against making the hand.

      Drawing one to an Eight, for example, means there
are four different cards you can catch, and there are for
of each of these.  Sixteen of the forty-eight unknown
cards are live cards, so thirty-two are not.  Thirty-two
ways to miss; sixteen ways to make your hand: two-to-one.


   THE JOKER is a hammer when you hold it in your hand. 
Those two-to-one odds against making that Eight, are only
seven-to-five now; now it is but two-to-one against
making a Seven.

   The presence of the Joker among the unknown forty-
eight cards is no big deal.  Disregarding it gives you
the forty-eight, which is such a nice number, and the
four, eight, twelve, sixteen, twenty, twenty-four,
twenty-eight and thirty-two, which all work so well with
it....

   Not counting the Joker among the forty-eight changes
the odds against making your hand just enough that when
your odds come out to Dead Even, you are still alive.


   THE OUTSIDE ODDS are the odds we have been working
with, the odds against making a hand.  The INSIDE ODDS
are the odds on a hand being the best hand when it is up
against a high-card tie.

   Whatever the high card in your hand (Nine; Eight;
Seven; Six) the Inside Odds give you the best of it in a
high-card tie, if your hand does not contain the next
largest card.  A Nine-seven beats half the Nines possi-
ble; an Eight-six beats twenty of the thirty-five Eights;
a Seven-five beats ten of fifteen Sevens; a Six-four
cannot be beaten by a Six.

   A straight Seven has three-to-one the best of it
against a one-card draw to a Six, but a Seven-five has
five-to-one the best of it -- because he must make the
Six....


   THE TAXMAN is the ultimate percentage player ... he
always knows what the odds are, and he always has the
best of it.

   That does not mean he is always the favorite to win
the pot.  He is not.  He doesn't expect to be.  He does
not hesitate to put a hundred dollars into a pot of
220.00 or so, when he knows he has to make an Eight.  He
knows he can only win this pot one time in three, but he
knows what that means.


   THE ENDLESS LOWBALL GAME is the game the Taxman is
playing in.

   When it is a three-to-one proposition, he plays the
hand in a 4-series, he thinks of it as one hand in a
series of four hands.  There is no first hand to the
series, or every hand is the first hand, it does not
matter.  The series does not start with this hand, nor
does it end with this hand; this hand is just one of the
four.  When he gets lucky and wins this hand three or
four times in a row, he knows that doesn't mean much
either.  It does not change the odds on the next hand or
on the next series.  The individual hands he wins mean no
more than do the individual losses.

   Endless chain.

   It's funny, everybody knows the Taxman is a big
winner; over the years he has always been a big winner. 
Everybody knows playing against him is a bad percentage
bet, but everybody does.  Some of them swim upstream in
a lot of current (take the worst of it for big bucks)
because they get an extra thrill from beating him.  Fast
Eddie Felson after Minnesota Fats....

   It is funny because the Taxman couldn't care less who
beats his hand; when somebody makes a really dumb play
and wins a big pot anyway, he says it's a good thing they
do that now and then ... if they didn't, they would stop
trying it.

   It is not that he cannot be shaken, it is that there
is nothing in this game to shake him with.  The Taxman is
the ultimate percentage player, his Empire Tax rate is
the highest in the realm.  The odds against his hand are
always less than the odds on the money -- every bet he
makes is a Smart Money bet.

                        * * *


   FINAL EXAM...

   Last hand.  The Big Apple (20.00 No-Limit) and then
four questions.  You should answer all four.

   See PLATE FIVE...

   Friday night at the Cameo Club, full moon, two minutes
to closing time.  This is the last hand of the night,
everybody's last chance to get even.  This is the one
where the crazies come out.

   And you are first, with Molly Hogan and a number-four
hand to draw to (Q-6542).  In this spot, at this time,
with these players, you know you are going to be raised
if you open.  You have 120.00 on the table (you have been
playing all evening and you are stuck 80.00).

   You open for 20.00.

   The Pale White Hunter immediately makes it 120.00. 
They call him that because the color drains out of his
face when he picks up a good hand.  Right now he is nice
and pink.

   That brings in Lou C. Luce, "for the action," he has
a slick two-card draw.  He calls the 120.00.

   And then the dread moment ... it is on Rocky Hardy,
last before the blinds.  Oh shit ... he's counting his
money ... he just does have 120.00 ... everybody in the
room knows he has a Seven if he makes this call.

   He calls.

   That's it.  All the Blinds pass, and it is on you for
the 100.00 you have left.

   400.00 in the pot so far, including the Blinds.


   Q1-  Do you put your 100.00 in there?

   Q2-  Why?

   Q3-  What if you and Rocky Hardy each have another
100.00 (an additional 100.00, which means you are even
for the day).

   Q4-  What if you have the Joker?


   Now play fair.  Before you go on, play out the hand on
PLATE FIVE (so you can see it all) and answer all four
questions completely.  This is a test, remember....

   If you miss Question #1, you must read this little
book again, before going any further.  It is impossible
to miss Question #1 and answer Question #2.  If you miss
any of them, you have not been paying attention ... and
it is not fair to say you have read THE LOWBALL BOOK....


   A1-  The answer to question number one is:  No.

   A2-  Because the odds on the money are four-to-one to
you, and you cannot change that after the draw.  You will
be all-in at 400 to 100.  Because you have to make the
Six to win, and the odds against doing that are five-to-
one.  If you could win with a Seven it would be a good
percentage bit, but the Inside Odds kill your Seven.  You
will probably play anyway, but the answer is no, because
it is a bad percentage bet.

   A3-  If you and Rocky Hardy each have 100.00 more, the
hand is a coin flip.  Five-to-one on the money and five-
to-one against the hand.  You can assume Rocky's 100.00
is yours if you make the Six, so it is 500.00 to this
100.00 call.  Your bet after the draw is not relevant. 
Its only function in this pot is to pick up the 100.00
Rocky Hardy is adding to the bet against you making your
hand.  If you have 100.00 more, the other two players
make it a definite go situation.  They add 200.00 to your
possibilities after the draw.

   A4-  Go for it.  The odds on the money are still four-
to-one -- but now the odds against the hand are only
three-to-one.  This is the bet you are looking for. 
Series of four: lose 300.00 and win 400.00.  This is the
Percentage Player's hand.

   The Percentage Player likes this hand because he is
playing for an average -- he knows his income comes from
the net result of a series of hands in which he often
loses more pots than he wins.  He doesn't really expect
to win this pot, but he knows he will win it often enough
to come out ahead.

   And that's where it's at....

                        * * *




THE PLATES (TABLE CHARTS)....
Set your printer to 60-lines:
(Top/Bottom margins, .5 inch)

_____________________________
line 1.



                      PLATE ONE

                  ------------------
                  |                |
                  |                |
                  |                |
                  |                |
                  |                |
                  ------------------

        ------------------  ------------------
        |1-OPEN      8.00|  |2-CALL      8.00|
        |5-PASS       -- |  |6-PASS       -- |
        |                |  |                |
        |                |  |                |
        |200.00      8.00|  |200.00      8.00|
        ------------------  ------------------

------------------                  ------------------
|BLIND       4.00|                  |3-CALL      8.00|
|                |                  |7-              |
|                |      $112.00     |    (Q-6421)    |
|                |  (72.00 TO CALL) |                |
|                |                  |75.00       8.00|
------------------                  ------------------

        ------------------  ------------------
        |BLIND       2.00|  |4-RAISE    80.00|
        |                |  |                |
        |                |  |                |
        |                |  |                |
        |                |  |150.00     80.00|
        ------------------  ------------------

                  ------------------
                  |DEALER      2.00|
                  |                |
                  |                |
                  |                |
                  |                |
                  ------------------




1-  Play begins after BLINDS; a blank position is a PASS.
2-  Plays are numbered in order.
3-  Pot shows total (including Blinds) after last play.
4-  Amount lower left (each position) is amount on table.
5-  Amount lower right is total invested in this pot.
6-  Amount shown after RAISE includes CALL amount.
7-  Position with hand (shown) is your position.
8-  It is on you....




line 1.



                      PLATE TWO

                  ------------------
                  |2-CALL     20.00|
                  |7-PASS       -- |
                  |                |
                  |                |
                  |450.00     20.00|
                  ------------------

        ------------------  ------------------
        |1-OPEN     20.00|  |                |
        |6-PASS       -- |  |                |
        |                |  |                |
        |                |  |                |
        |200.00     20.00|  |                |
        ------------------  ------------------

------------------                  ------------------
|BLIND      10.00|                  |3-CALL     20.00|
|5-RAISE   210.00|                  |8-PASS       -- |
|                |     $205.00      |                |
|                | (100.00 TO CALL) |                |
|1000.00   120.00|                  |300.00     20.00|
------------------                  ------------------

        ------------------  ------------------
        |BLIND       5.00|  |                |
        |                |  |                |
        |                |  |                |
        |                |  |                |
        |            5.00|  |                |
        ------------------  ------------------

                  ------------------
                  |DEALER      5.00|
                  |4-CALL     15.00|
                  |9-              |
                  |    (QQ43Jkr)   |
                  |100.00     20.00|
                  ------------------




1-  Play begins after BLINDS; a blank position is a PASS.
2-  Plays are numbered in order.
3-  Pot shows total (including Blinds) after last play.
4-  Amount lower left (each position) is amount on table.
5-  Amount lower right is total invested in this pot.
6-  Amount shown after RAISE includes CALL amount.
7-  Position with hand (shown) is your position.
8-  It is on you....




line 1.



                     PLATE THREE

                  ------------------
                  |1-OPEN      6.00|
                  |6-CALL     14.00|
                  |9-PASS       -- |
                  |                |
                  |90.00      20.00|
                  ------------------

        ------------------  ------------------
        |                |  |2-CALL      6.00|
        |                |  |7-CALL     14.00|
        |                |  |10-PASS      -- |
        |                |  |                |
        |                |  |60.00      20.00|
        ------------------  ------------------

------------------                  ------------------
|BLIND       3.00|                  |3-ALL-IN   20.00|
|5-CALL     17.00|                  |                |
|8-PASS       -- |     $102.00      |                |
|                | (On you, to bet) |                |
|120.00     20.00|                  | ----      20.00|
------------------                  ------------------

        ------------------  ------------------
        |BLIND       2.00|  |                |
        |                |  |                |
        |                |  |                |
        |                |  |                |
        |            2.00|  |                |
        ------------------  ------------------

                  ------------------
                  |DEALER      1.00|
                  |4-CALL      9.00|
                  |      (6321)    |
                  |11-  (8-6321)   |
                  |200.00     20.00|
                  ------------------




1-  Play begins after BLINDS; a blank position is a PASS.
2-  Plays are numbered in order.
3-  Pot shows total (including Blinds) after last play.
4-  Amount lower left (each position) is amount on table.
5-  Amount lower right is total invested in this pot.
6-  Amount shown after RAISE includes CALL amount.
7-  Position with hand (shown) is your position.
8-  It is on you....




line 1.



                      PLATE FOUR

                  ------------------
                  |                |
                  |                |
                  |                |
                  |                |
                  |                |
                  ------------------

        ------------------  ------------------
        |1-OPEN     20.00|  |                |
        |5-PASS       -- |  |                |
        |                |  |                |
        |                |  |                |
        |100.00     20.00|  |                |
        ------------------  ------------------

------------------                  ------------------
|BLIND      10.00|                  |2-CALL     20.00|
|                |                  |6-PASS       -- |
|                |     $335.00      |                |
|                | (120.00 To Call) |                |
|           10.00|                  |100.00     20.00|
------------------                  ------------------

        ------------------  ------------------
        |BLIND       5.00|  |3-RAISE    80.00|
        |4-RAISE   195.00|  |7-              |
        |                |  |   (8-632Jkr)   |
        |                |  |                |
        |1400.00   200.00|  |400.00     80.00|
        ------------------  ------------------

                  ------------------
                  |DEALER      5.00|
                  |                |
                  |                |
                  |                |
                  |            5.00|
                  ------------------




1-  Play begins after BLINDS; a blank position is a PASS.
2-  Plays are numbered in order.
3-  Pot shows total (including Blinds) after last play.
4-  Amount lower left (each position) is amount on table.
5-  Amount lower right is total invested in this pot.
6-  Amount shown after RAISE includes CALL amount.
7-  Position with hand (shown) is your position.
8-  It is on you....




line 1.



                      PLATE FIVE

                  ------------------
                  |2-RAISE   120.00|
                  |                |
                  |                |
                  |                |
                  |800.00    120.00|
                  ------------------

        ------------------  ------------------
        |1-OPEN     20.00|  |                |
        |                |  |                |
        |    (Q-6542)    |  |                |
        |                |  |                |
        |100.00     20.00|  |                |
        ------------------  ------------------

------------------                  ------------------
|BLIND      10.00|                  |3-CALL    120.00|
|                |                  |                |
|                |     $400.00      |                |
|                | (100.00 To Call) |                |
|           10.00|                  |600.00    120.00|
------------------                  ------------------

        ------------------  ------------------
        |BLIND       5.00|  |4-CALL    120.00|
        |                |  |                |
        |                |  |   (a Seven)    |
        |                |  |                |
        |            5.00|  | ---      120.00|
        ------------------  ------------------

                  ------------------
                  |DEALER      5.00|
                  |                |
                  |                |
                  |                |
                  |            5.00|
                  ------------------




1-  Play begins after BLINDS; a blank position is a PASS.
2-  Plays are numbered in order.
3-  Pot shows total (including Blinds) after last play.
4-  Amount lower left (each position) is amount on table.
5-  Amount lower right is total invested in this pot.
6-  Amount shown after RAISE includes CALL amount.
7-  Position with hand (shown) is your position.
8-  It is on you....

*end*



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