Offense vs. Defense

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Last week, I alluded to two different situations that a player may face while playing. One of these is a bet-check situation and the other a bet-fold. Nowhere is the difference more glaring than when comparing the games of Let It Ride and Mississippi Stud Poker.

We are talking about two very similar games, but one allows the player to keep playing without making additional wagers, while the other requires the player to make more wagers if he wants to see the game to the end.

Do not be confused by Let It Ride’s gimmick of putting the wager up first and then pulling it back. This is absolutely no different than if the player made a single initial wager and then could optionally put a wager up as the cards are displayed. Theoretically, Mississippi Stud could have been built in a similar fashion. The player could have had to put up four equal wagers, but as each card is turned, he could pull back the ones not committed and end the game there, folding his hand. Conversely, he could add to the single unit already there to make a 3x wager. The math is all the same. The strategy is all the same.

The real difference is that part about folding. There is none in Let It Ride. If a player wanted to pull his 1 and 2 wagers back on every hand, he could do so. He would lose his bankroll rather quickly, but he’s free to do so and play every hand until the end. The decision to make that 1 or 2 wager depends solely on how that one particular wager will do if he makes it. What happens to the money wager is irrelevant. What happens to the 1 wager is irrelevant to the 2 wager. The decision is a simple one: will you, on average, win more than you wager on that particular wager?

Mississippi Stud has a far more complicated mathematical equation to deal with. When you get your first two cards, the decision to make a wager is based on more than that one wager. If you don’t make at least a 1x wager, then you will lose your initial wager. So, now if you fold, you are down one unit.

If you make the wager, will you overall expectation be to lose less than one unit, based on all of your wagers — quite frankly the ones you may or may not make for the rest of the hand need to be factored in as well.

The decision to make a 3x wager vs. a 1x wager is more similar to the one made in Let It Ride. Those other two units are wagered when that wager itself is more likely to win than to lose.

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What it comes down to is that when the player is faced with a Play or Fold decision, he finds himself playing defense often. Frequently a wager is made so that you lose less than if you Fold. In a Play-Check situation, the player is completely on offense and should only make the wager when he can stick it to the house.

About the Author

Elliot Frome

Elliot Frome’s roots run deep into gaming theory and analysis. His father, Lenny, was a pioneer in developing video poker strategy in the 1980s and is credited with raising its popularity to dizzying heights. Elliot is a second generation gaming author and analyst with nearly 20 years of programming experience.

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