The Use of “fp or worse” in Strategies

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A few weeks ago, I discussed the taxonomy of 3-card straight flushes. The first comment after it was published was “Dork Alert!” I assumed that I was being called a dork by someone who didn’t like the column. I was such a dork that I didn’t even know the meaning of dork! By the time I figured out what it meant, a couple of other readers defended me by saying that I was certainly not a dork, but the jury was still out about whether or not I was a nerd.

I’m so glad we got that straightened out!

My first thought was that I have never come up with a suitable epitaph for myself. Perhaps I could use, “Definitely not a dork. Possibly a nerd.” What do you think?

My second thought was, “Oh yeah? If you thought that column was nerdy, watch this!” 

I’ve been studying 9-5 Triple Bonus Poker Plus (TBPP). TBPP is a game that’s been around for a long time. It’s the same game as White Hot Aces (WHA), except WHA pays 400 coins for the 5-coin straight flush, and TBPP pays 500 coins for the same hand. These games pay 1,200 coins for four aces (As), 600 coins for four 2s, 3s, and 4s, and 250 coins for the other quads. On dollar versions of the game, the payout for As is sometimes shorted to $1,199 for W-2G purposes.

The hands I wish to discuss contain an A along with a suited jack ten (JT). Sometimes you hold the A. Sometimes you hold the JT. The perfect strategy includes flush and specific straight penalties to the JT. And flush penalties, straight flush penalties, and straight flush kicker penalties to the A. Strangely, the term “straight flush kicker penalty” actually has some meaning in this game, even though it is not a kicker game. 

Let’s start with the penalties to the JT. If there’s a flush penalty to the JT, or an 8 straight penalty, or a 9 straight penalty, we always hold the A by itself — no matter how severely the A is penalized. We do not consider either a king (K) or queen (Q) to be straight penalties to the JT for the purposes of this line in the strategy because that would turn the hand into a higher-ranking 4-card inside straight hand. Neither do we include straight flush penalties to the JT because any of them (a suited 7, 8 , or 9) would create a 3-card straight flush combination that is much higher in value than a solitary A.

  1. A♠ J♥ T♥ 8♠ 3♠ — Hold A
  2. A♠ J♥ T♥ 9♠ 3♠ — Hold A
  3. A♠ J♥ T♥ 4♠ 3♥ — Hold A
  4. A♠ J♥ T♥ 5♠ Q♦ — Hold AQJT
  5. A♠ J♥ T♥ 2♠ 7♥ — Hold JT7

Now let’s look at the JT with a 7 straight penalty. We hold the A by itself unless there are two other cards in the hand suited with the A. Given that there are only five cards in the hand, and we already know we have an A, J, and T, if there is a 7 penalty and there must be two cards suited with the A, the 7 itself must be one of those two cards. The fifth card could be a flush penalty (a suited 6), a straight flush penalty (a suited 5), or a straight flush kicker penalty (a suited 2, 3, or 4.) The last two examples below show the 7 penalty with only one penalty suited with the A, and that penalty is as severe as it can be. In example i, there is one straight flush kicker penalty, and in example j there’s a flush penalty and a kicker penalty.

  1. A♥ J♣ T♣ 7♥ 6♥ — Hold JT
  2. A♥ J♣ T♣ 7♥ 5♥ — Hold JT
  3. A♥ J♣ T♣ 7♥ 3♥ — Hold JT
  4. A♥ J♣ T♣ 7♦ 4♥ — Hold A
  5. A♥ J♣ T♣ 7♥ 2♠ — Hold A

The only situation we’ve not covered so far is when the JT has no flush penalty, straight flush penalty, and no straight penalty. It stands to reason that we hold the JT more often in this case. And we do, unless there are one or more cards in the hand suited with the A. Without the A being penalized with some kind of flush card, even with two of the most severe kicker penalties, we hold the A by itself.

  1. A♦ J♠ T♠ 5♦ 6♣ — Hold JT
  2. A♦ J♠ T♠ 4♦ 6♣ — Hold JT
  3. A♦ J♠ T♠ 6♦ 5♣ — Hold JT
  4. A♦ J♠ T♠ 6♦ 5♣ — Hold JT
  5. A♦ J♠ T♠ 2♥ 3♣ — Hold A

Although I didn’t show examples, it should stand to reason that if one flush penalty to the A is sufficient to have you hold the JT, two such flush penalties should make JT > A by an even wider margin.   

You might be wondering why I’m calling a 2, 3, or 4 a kicker penalty or a straight flush kicker penalty (depending on whether or not it is suited with the A), even though there are no kickers in this game. Liam W. Daily and I devised the symbols “kp” and “sfkp” to describe these cards in our Double Double Bonus strategy card and Winner’s Guide. The reason I use the same term here is that the presence of the exact same cards (namely a 2, 3, and 4) lower the value of holding the A by itself. How? Each one of those cards dealt and not held eliminates the possibility of a 600-coin quad jackpot. If one of these “kickers” is suited with the A, it also eliminates the possibility of a 500-coin straight flush jackpot.

So far, I’ve given you, in words, the exact strategy for these hands. On my personal strategy card, published here for the first time, I use a more compact notation. Here is what I use:

A (< JT with neither sp nor fp when fp or worse) 

    (< JT with {7p and no fp} when two fp or worse)

As always in my notation, the term “with” refers to what is inside the parentheses (in this case, the JT) and the term “when” refers to what is outside the parentheses (in this case, the A). The letter “i” in the word “with” is a mnemonic device for the start of the “internal” — specifically internal to the parentheses. The letter “e” in the word “when” is a mnemonic device for the start of “external.”

The term “fp or worse” means fp or sfp or sfkp.

Notice the strategy doesn’t refer to either an 8p or 9p, and my explanation here starts from there. Those are two of the three possible straight penalties. If I mentioned them specifically, I would have had to say ({8p or 9p} and/or fp). While I considered that, I found that more confusing than the way I wrote it.

Please note that this is a game most of my readers don’t have access to for stakes they want to play and goes into greater detail than most of my readers want to go into. I wrote it because now if someone posts “Nerd Alert,” I feel like I have earned it! Whether they intended it as a compliment or not!


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