OFC Poker Strategy: +EV decisions

OFC Poker Strategy: +EV decisions

Let’s continue the discussion about one of the most important things in Open Face Chinese – poker math. We have already learned to count the outs in different situations and how many % we have. The thing we haven’t learned yet is to determine if those % are good enough to proceed further. In Hold’em poker it’s easier because you can see the pot size and compare it to your chances of winning it. Today we’re inviting you to learn how to make the best decisions in OFC.

Let’s take a closer look to this hand which we already investigated in the previous OFC Math strategy.

Last time we did the calculations and learned that if we put Q on top, our chances of catching a King or the last five and not fouling are 49%.  So what are we to do with it, should we take the risk?

The first thing we need to understand is that we can’t analyze this hand in a vacuum. We always have to pay attention to what other players are doing and how many points can they collect. Let’s try and count everything to see a couple of interesting moments and hopefully learn a little.

Let’s make it easier and just count the two rows so we won’t have too many possibilities. First we choose a safe line and don’t risk with QQ up top. In this scenario we will have a flush in the bottom and +4 points for royalties. If we decide to put 9 in the middle and 4 up top, then we will have a small chance of drawing both King and Queen in the last draw. Not to make it too confusing let’s leave this small chance to the other strategies.

So we have +4 points for royalties, and in the second row we can’t receive any, because there are no nines left. If we draw a four in the top row we won’t get additional points as well.

Let’s take a look at our opponents. The worst thing to do in OFC is to let the villains scoop us (win all three rows against us). The best case scenario would be to scoop them instead.

Against Player 1’s bottom line we have +1 point. We also have a pair of nines in the middle against a pair of twos. They only have one out to improve their middle line (if we discount pairs). So it’s more likely that we will have +1 from the middle line as well. In the top row we have Q4x and it’s most likely our opponent will beat us there with a stronger kicker so it’s -1 for us. It’s important that they don’t have any royalties yet with only a two pair in the bottom which means that their middle row can’t improve and that’s +5 from Player 1.

Now let’s analyze a more risky play with a pair of Queens up top. We have +4 on the bottom and +7 on top for queens in royalties. In OFC every Fantasy Land is worth around 7 points. If we get to Fantasy we will receive +7 points in the long run. In the vacuum for royalties and FL we will have +18 points (with safe play only +4). Let’s compare our hand with Player 1. We’re 100% sure we will win the bottom line. If we don’t foul in the middle, there’s a very good chance we’ll win as well, because our opponent needs two kings in the last draw and there are only two of them left in the deck.

The most likely scenario is they will improve to a lower two pair than we have in our middle line. So we’ll have +1 for bottom and +1 for the middle lines. QQ up top changes the situation dramatically, because we have a good chance of scooping our opponent and that equals +3 more points. We get what we get – if we take a risky line we have a chance of scooping the opponents for +6 points (for winning all rows +3, scoop +3) and with the safe line only +1.

All in all we get +5 points for safe play, and with a risky play (QQ up top) we might get whooping +22 points. The fact is we can’t avoid fouling every time, so we need to count our points and our percentages. 22 points times 0.49% equals 10.78 points. Let’s take into account how many points we will receive in the case where we will not draw QQ. Our opponent doesn’t have any extra points for royalties, so if we foul it will be -6 points.

Let’s put all numbers into action:

(22*0.49) + (-6*0.51) = 7.72

Safe line +5 points, aggressive line +7.72 points.

We get that in the long period we will earn 2.72 points more. This might not be enough for some of you, but in the long period this difference could determine a losing player from the winner.

However this is only one side of it. We need to look into the other player who is involved in the hand as well. In this case our situation against them is a lot worse compared to Player 1. Let’s look into the lines: with a higher flush our opponent wins the bottom line (-1 for us). We will most likely win the middle line if our opponent doesn’t draw triple sevens or a straight (let’s assume +1 in the middle for us). The top row is ours with a pair of queens and that’s +1. In this case it’s very important that all the aces are already gone. The only way they could beat us in the top row is draw two kings. So we will have +1 for the top row, +7 for Queens and around +7 for Fantasy Land. All in all we get +15 points.

To complete our calculations we need to know how many points we would lose if we were unable to complete the hand with Queens up top. We would lose -6 points for rows and -4 points for their flush. Now we have everything we need.

Let’s count:

15 x 0.49 + -10 x 0.51 = 7.35 – 5.1 = 2.25

So in the long run our aggressive line earns us 2.25 points more than the safe line.

Of course it’s impossible to remember all those situations or to calculate them during the play, but you can always do it after your session to learn more and then try to look for similar situation when you play.