Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Pass the Trash stepped limit

Today was dealer's choice Tuesday and it was my turn to select the game. The game I ended up with was Pass the Trash but instead of the standard betting limit structure, I wanted to ramp the limits up each street. Previously, limit games have been .50/1 and I thought those limits were too low for this crowd. Ryan has even noted that the variance on limit dealer choice days is far lower than on other days.

First of all, the way the game is played is that everyone is dealt seven cards. Pick three cards that coordinate the least with your best four and pass them to the player on your left. After you've picked up the three from the person to your right, you have to ditch two cards and the remaining five cards are your hand. You then order the five cards face down. Each card is revealed one at a time with a betting round in between each card. After the fourth card, each player must declare their hand as either hi, low, or both. All declarations are done simultaneously by opening your hand to reveal zero, one, or two chips.

So the way we played, everyone had to post a single chip ante to get cards. After passing the trash, ditching your two cards, ordering them, and revealing your first card, a round of betting limit style in increments of two chips capped at three raises. Reveal the second card then a round of betting with four chip increments. Third card then betting in eight chip increments. Then the fourth card is revealed and the final betting round in sixteen chip increments. Overall, I like having higher limits. A bet of four on the end just isn't enough to bluff in my opinion. I am not married to the stepped limits but I think it echoes the increasing bets in NL.

What I didn't like was the fact that the hi/lo nature pretty much split up every pot but with no scoops today. I also think that solid fundamentals would add to your chips stack. Nothing too fancy required. Get a good hand, observe other hands developing, put the chips in when you are good and there you go. Anyone losing large amount of chips I think had plenty of warning that they were behind. One thing that a lower limit structure would have done is prompted more showdowns just because they can be seen cheaper. It did get expensive because betting got three-bet or capped on late streets but that is because hands were still multi-way in late streets and one person typically is just feeding the pot to be chopped by the hi and lo.

So what to do for next time. I definitely think playing limit should use limits higher than .50/1. Stepped limits allowed for players to "chase" or try to represent hands and get more money into the pot before it got chopped up. There wasn't as much declaration drama as expected but that may have been because the field got thinned so much from the higher limits. Maybe the Fibonacci sequence as suggested by others for next time will allow for more players to the showdown and some more interesting declaration play.


Ryan said...

"Stepped Limit" betting was interesting, but the doubling was too extreme.

In PTT, there's generally one person with the mortal nuts...either they've got a low that is already lower than cards showing, or someone has a boat and is looking at a bunch of possible straights and flushes.

That player is going to raise every chance he gets.

As you described, you can also get situations where there are two people who know they can't lose, and a third player who doesn't realize he's beat. The two nut-holders cap every street, and the sucker's entire buyin is in the middle by the river.

Anyway, I think even Fibonacci might be too steep for a game like PTT, but it would definitely be better than 1/2/4/8/16. You pretty much had to risk an entire buyin to go all the way with any given hand today, and that's out of whack.

Of course, being someone who always knew when he was beat and simply auto-raised his nut hands, I found it within me to tolerate it for an hour. ;)

In general, I think "Step Limit" would be a better structure in a single-pot game.

Marshall said...

I am so brutally confused by this post.

Ryan said...

Let me give a cleaner explanation of Pass the Trash.

* Hi-Lo Split, and the wheel is the nut low
* 7 Cards dealt to each player
* Players pass any three cards to the left
* Players discard any two cards, and stack the remaining five in any order
* Players simultaneously reveal the top card of their stack, and there is a betting round
* Repeat the process until the betting round after four of the five cards have been turned up.
* Any remaining players "declare" (secretly set whether they are going high, low, or both, and reveal simultaneously)
* Split the pot accordingly

The "step limit" betting Martin introduced was basically standard limit (three-raise max on each street), except the the limit in each betting round was double that of the previous round.

With starting stacks of 100 and a river limit of 16, you had to commit a full buyin to showdown almost any hand.

Marshall said...

Cool, that makes sense now. Interesting game.