Eight mistakes in 8-Game

Eight mistakes in 8-Game

Sunday, 16 February 2014

Team PokerStars Online member Adrienne “talonchick” Rowsome flags up some classic mistakes in 8-Game, and ways to fix them…

There are countless ways people go about learning a new skill. Some people like to hit the books and learn everything they can before testing their skills in the real world. Others, myself included, like to jump into a new task feet first, hopefully learning a few things along the way.

The second approach is the one I’ve taken when trying to branch out to include 8-Game in my daily grind, instead of just Limit Omaha Hi/Lo. When you attend the poker school of hard knocks, you inevitably come out with some bumps and bruises, but I feel it’s the best way to learn a new game.
Making mistakes and adjusting is how we get better at poker, and focusing on what NOT to do is one of the fastest ways to get better. Luckily, I’ve made plenty of mistakes along the way that we can all learn from. Here are eight mistakes I’ve made in 8-Game that should give you a helping hand to get started.

2-7 Triple Draw

Deuce-to-Seven is an action game that not too many players have experience with. The information you give and get is very different to any other game in the format. No cards are ever seen besides your own, so all the information comes from the actions you take, such as calling and raising, and the cards drawn. This means you must be very stingy with the information you give your opponents.

When I first started this game I found myself giving away too much information with the combination of how many cards I drew and whether I would call or three-bet. For example, if I was in the big blind facing an open-raise from the button, I would always four-bet and draw one card with 7-4-3-2, but would call and draw one with 9-8-6-3.

I was essentially playing my hand face-up against my opponents who were experienced in 2-7. Knowing whether or not I had a weak or strong four-card draw allowed them to play near perfectly against each range. I now play most of my three- and four-card draws exactly the same in any given situation, and give my opponents as little information as possible.

Limit Hold’em

For me, Limit Hold’em is the least sexy of all the games in the mix. When it comes around I tend to go on autopilot and give my brain a rest. When I’m going over hands after a session I rarely focus on Limit Hold’em hands.

While I may not being making massive errors, not taking it seriously certainly costs me money. It’s easy to focus on getting better at the flashier and fancier aspects of poker, but it is almost always the fundamentals that make us the most money. I’ve now made a point to put as much focus on Limit Hold’em as I would any other game, even if I don’t find it as exciting.

Omaha Hi/Lo

Most players have a favourite game in a rotation where they know they are by far the best player at the table and Limit Omaha Hi/Lo is mine. You might even be so excited about it that you start to ramp up for it the last couple hands in the game that comes before it.

Knowing that you are the best player, you find excuses to play hands you would otherwise fold. With such limited time in this game you try to commandeer every pot, instead of just making the best decisions. What should be your best game can often end up becoming your worst.

This was one of the first leaks I fixed when I started 8-Game.
Hand-selection was one of the advantages I had against my opponents, and giving that up just levelled the playing field for them. It can be tempting to play more hands in your favourite game, so now I remind myself that every hand is an independent event, and it’s important to play each hand as well as possible.


Razz players will tell you that it is a stupid, stupid, stupid, frustrating game. It is a unique game where premium starting hands can turn into complete trash very quickly. In Hold’em there are very few situations where you are forced to fold A-A post-flop, but A-2-3 in Razz is near worthless if you catch bad on fourth and fifth streets.

Being stubborn with pretty starting hands was the first mistake I had to correct in Razz. With a hand like (A-2)-3-K-Q you are very likely crushed even against an opponent’s weak board such as (x-x)-7-8-9. My solution was simply to stop treating the first three cards as my “starting hand”. If, in my head, the hand doesn’t get started until fourth or fifth street, I’m not going to get too frustrated when I brick out right away.


My first mistake in Stud was not always to know 100% of the dead cards.
Stud may feel like a simpler game than the rest in the mix, but attention to detail is incredibly important. If you are not keeping track of all the dead cards you are passing up free information. I think by now we know that this is something a poker pro should never do.

When the Stud games roll around I make a point to keep off my phone, stay off websites and not check Skype messages. My attention goes to following all the dead cards. I even made a point of naming the cards off out loud to help me keep track... online only, of course.

Stud Hi/Lo

A trap in any split pot game is to overvalue marginal high-only hands. I originally found this harder in Stud Hi/Lo than I do in Omaha Hi/Lo.
Possibly its because buried kings looks a lot like a Hold’em hand, or due to the fact that the game before is Stud Hi, but it can be hard to not get carried away.

It can be easy to get caught in the middle of a raising war when you have a high pair. For example, you have (K-K)-6-J-9 and there is a bet and a raise in front of you, facing boards of (X-X)-4-6-A and (X-X)-5-8-3. Being stuck between these hands can be even worse, as tough opponents will keep raising either side of you, even if your kings are winning right now. With at least one made-low and another hand that could beat your high, this is a spot where it should be easy to lay down your hand, but where I often found myself getting stubborn. Recognising this mistake later triggered me to notice others doing the same. I now make sure to get in a few extra bets for some added punishment!

No-Limit Hold’em

Being skilled at reading players is a huge part of playing winning poker but many bad plays have been made in the name of a “good read”. It can take hundreds of hands to develop a solid read on an opponent, which is something that takes a long time to reach six hands at a time. The first mistake I had to correct in NLHE was straying from a solid fundamental game, without an excellent reason to do so.

Since you must play many hours with a player to get a good read on their NLHE play, sticking to basics is usually the best strategy. It can be tempting to try to translate their play in other games to NLHE, but this is often a huge mistake. Just because someone plays wildly in 2-7, doesn’t mean they aren’t a complete nit in NLHE. Work on gaining solid reads on your opponents in each game, but don’t trick yourself into thinking you have a good read when you don’t.

Pot-Limit Omaha

Things tend to get whacky when the big bet games roll around. The ability to take someone’s whole stack in one hand creates a sense of urgency, and you see pots bloated in spots that would never happen in a normal game. This is especially true in PLO, which is a game with a lot of gamble. I am a gambler at heart, so not getting caught up in the fever is something I have to focus on in PLO.

When you only play six hands in a game, it can be very easy to slightly overplay hands. In a normal PLO game I could easily fold six hands in a row, but this seems crazy when that’s the entire round. I hate missing out on a potentially lucrative opportunity. Hands on the flop that would normally be a marginal fold tend to be called, and sometimes I find myself sticking it in much lighter than I should. The swings in PLO can be punishing to a stack that I work hard on building through all the fixed limit games!

The structure of a mixed game often means that players, even very good ones, will be making mistakes they normally never would when the games don’t change as drastically. Keeping yourself out of these traps, and taking advantage when others don’t, is a huge key to success. Review your game and see if you are making any of these common errors. Hopefully, reading about the mistakes I have made will help you to spot a few of your own and make some changes.

Tags: Adrienne “talonchick” Rowsome, strategy, mixed games