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Best of John Grochowski
Queens and baseball lines12 July 2015
Also, I was playing a few weeks ago and folded with queen-3-2. The player on my right saw, and said, “Uh-oh. You should have played that. The dealer last night told me you should play queen or better.”
ANSWER: Queen-6-4 is not a moneymaking hand. It’s a hand you’ll win often enough that if you bet, you’ll lose less money overall than if you folded and forfeited the ante. Sometimes you’ll lose double, since you’ll lose just an ante and bet, but there will be enough ante-bet wins that the average loss will be less the cost of folding.
As for betting queen regardless of the other cards, that was the original strategy published in the first analysis of the game by the late Lenny Frome. Lenny was a friend of mine, and he always had player interests at heart.
Part of what he did was to simplify strategies so they were easy to remember, eliminating some low-cost complications. His three-card poker strategy was easy to remember because queen or better also is the dealer’s qualifying hand. The cost is small on the few extra hands you’ll play compared to a queen-6-4 strategy. Hands you’d play at queens or better but not at queen-6-4 are queen-6-3, queen-6-2, queen-5-4, queen-5-3, queen-5-2, queen 4-3, queen 4-2 and queen-3-2.
A year or so after Frome brought out his initial booklet on Three Card Poker, Stanley Ko presented an analysis of the game, complete with a recommended strategy of betting with queen-6-4 or better. I think players can handle the full strategy, so that’s the version I’ve presented in this column for many years.
If you’re a casual player just remember to bet queen or better, you’ll be playing with a lower house edge than someone trying to feel their way through the game by instinct. If you can remember queen-6, better yet. But queen-6-4 is best.
QUESTION: Several weeks ago you explained the baseball money line. A reader wrote that he saw a line of Nationals +105 and Mets -115, so the Mets were the favorite, and a $100 bet would win $105 on the Nationals, but it would take a $115 bet on the Mets to win $100.
So far so good. I’m a football bettor, and I know the money line. I’ve been trying to get into baseball to give me something to do between football seasons, and it drives me nuts that you might see that line one day, but then see it reversed to Mets +105 and Nationals -115 on the next.
I’ve never been much of a baseball fan, so I’m probably missing something obvious, but why would the favorite change overnight?
ANSWER: Every baseball fan who’s reading this is probably shouting the answer about now. Baseball lines are heavily dependent on the starting pitcher. If Nationals ace Max Scherzer, who has a 1.76 earned-run average as I write this on Father’s Day morning, is starting, the line will be much different than if the starter is Gio Gonzalez, with a 4.82 ERA.
Similarly, if the Mets are starting Jacob deGrom and his 2.34 ERA, the line will lean more in their favor that if the starter is John Niese at 4.21.
The overall quality of the teams involved matters, of course, but the pitching matchup is always a major factor in setting the line.
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Best of John Grochowski