Rammin' and Jammin' on a Draw

Aug 14th, 1999

Jamming (raising or reraising when not holding the best hand but a good draw) is a very important concept in loose hold'em games. It's about being an about 2 to 1 dog when drawing to a flush or a straight on the flop, therefore, you are making money on your bets and raises *if at least three opponents call*! Therefore, if you are *sure* you will get enough callers, it's imperative to bet or raise (ram and jam) to maximize EV. IMHO, this is one of the most powerful weapons when combating the fish.

Sadly, this important poker concept seems to be overlooked by Sklansky and Malmuth, as their (otherwise) excellent work is geared towards tighter Las Vegas games.

The following is excerpts from rec.gambling.poker on this subject. Enjoy.

Izmet



From: izmet@siol.net (Izmet Fekali)
Subject: Re: Ram and Jam, Bank shots and other no fold'em tactics
Date: 03 Aug 1999 00:00:00 GMT


In <7o67q7$grh$1@garnet.tc.umn.edu> Doug wrote:
> I have seen some posts on this newsgroup about certain tactics that are
> said to be very powerful in low limit (no fold'em) hold'em. Since I am
> planning a trip to San Jose soon and expect to find myself in the middle
> of some of the wildest California no fold'em games I thought that I
> would solicit comments on these particular plays. First, I will give the
> tactic and then a brief description of how I understand the tactic to be
> applied, followed by any questions that I have. I would appreciate any
> help that anyone can give in helping me to understand these plays.

As I consider myself an exeperienced (and no-doubt succesfull) player in no-fold'em games, I'll give it a shot.

>
> 1) Ram and Jam:
>
> As I understand it, Ram and Jam is when you raise with a drawing hand
> because there are enough players that will call your raise to give you
> the proper odds for raising.

Correct.

> This all seems pretty straight forward but a few issues confuse me.
> Particularly I am not sure how you calculate how many calling players
> are needed to make the raises profitable. I understand that for example
> If you have 9 outs on the flop, then your odds of making you hand on
> the turn are a little worse than 4:1. The odds of making the hand on
> either the turn or the river are roughly 2:1. Which of these numbers do
> you use to determine how many callers you need?

Jamming is usually done on the flop, if there are enough callers on the flop. It is best done with strong flush draws. Here two callers are about borderline (as the odds against making your flush with two cards to come - but not necessarily winning with it - are a little better than 2 to 1). It's best to be sure at least three people will call your raises. The more, the merrier.

How to be sure to get enough callers? Well, you have to know your players. For example, if somebody bets in early position and there are two callers behind him and you are dead last to act, you have to consider your options: If you raise, will the original bettor raise again? If not, you can be pretty sure the other two players will not fold at this point (which is good). If he reraises, will he drive the two players out (which is not good)? If they cold call the first player's reraise (and thus you still have three opponents in the pot), you can reraise again (and hope the original bettor caps it). If somebody folds, you should not raise again.

When last to act, It is usually best to raise even if this causes some players to fold, as this can often buy you a free card on the turn.

When first to act, you have to decide whether to lead at the pot and hope you get enough callers. What you'd like here is getting like two callers, a raise, two cold callers and a chance to reraise and trap the players between you and the raiser. Usually, this is a little too much to wish for.   Again, you have to anticipate the likely action. If there is a likely raiser to your left (acting immediately behind you), you should check. If you bet at this spot, he might raise you and drive everybody out, which is a disaster - you are out of position, have not enough callers on your bet and your odds for the draw are cut in half. Therefore, it is probably best to check and if the player behind you bets, you can trap the callers and raise (if there are two or more). If there are not enough callers, you simply call, as you do not have a proper payoff on your raise.   However, if the likely raiser is at the opposite side of the table; this is ideal for leading into him. What you hope here for is to get a few callers before the action gets to him, he raises, a few callers and a smug reraise from you. You do not stop reraising until the cows come home.  

These plays may seem science fiction to some Vegas pros, used to tight play, but believe me they surely happen a lot in lo-limit games.   The most important thing is to plan your rams and jams carefully. Will your raise drive people out instead of getting more money in the pot? Is there a better flush draw out? If you hit it on the turn, can it get counterfeited on the river? Do you really have 9 outs on a flush draw or will you get f#$%ed by a third spade which will pair the board making a full house for your opponent and a sore ass for you?

> Note, I am not talking about pot odds and how much you need to call. I
> am referring to how many players you need to call your raise to make the
> raise +EV for you. Also, I would like to disregard the free card and the
> semi bluff in this situation because a) they are less likely to work in
> a game that is loose enough that you would ram and jam in. b) They
> complicate the analysis somewhat. Also, I am talking about a draw to the
> nuts. If you are drawing to less than the nuts then you have to discount
> the value of your draw.

This is the proper way to discuss things academically. Real life play is something else. You do not have to draw to the nuts to make these plays profitably. With weaker draws one additional caller is usually enough compensation.

> When you don't make it on the turn you would like to call as few bets
> as possible.  Now, I can see that if you were sure that you would not
> have to call any bet on the turn then you should probably bet for value
> on the flop with as few as 2 callers (counting on them calling a bet on
> the river when you make it, to account for the fact that you have a
> little less than 2:1 odds of making your hand). But often it is too much
> to expect that the turn will be checked around and you will have to call
> at least one bet. On the flop, you committed to seeing the river and you
> pumped up the pot so that it would be incorrect to fold now anyway. So
> you are going to have to call the bets on the turn. But you would like
> the amount of money put in on the turn to be smallish compared to the
> amount of money put in on the flop. Your best way of controlling this is
> to put in as many bets as possible on the flop and then check and call
> any bets on the turn.

Your reasoning is correct. Check and call on the flop is automatic, if there are many people in the pot. You'd need at least five callers to bet or raise here, yet this is a mistake often seen by weaker players. Head's up play is a different animal, of course. Here, you'd often bet your draw, hoping to make your opponent fold before the river.

> So to summarize: On the flop you can bet a 9 out draw for value if you
> think that at least 2 people will call and no one will bet the turn. In

No. You can jam on the flop even if you anticipate a bet on the turn. However, I prefer at least three callers. Two are borderline, and it's impossible to predict the number of callers with that precision anyway.

> most cases, somebody will bet the turn and you will need more callers on
> the flop. Is 3 enough? It seems pretty clear though that you want to put
> as much money in the pot on the flop as possible so don't miss an
> opportunity to bet. If you think that you can get 5 callers on the turn
> then go ahead and keep jamming, otherwise just check and call when you
> don't make your straight.

5 callers on the turn is a little too much to wish for and it is often not enough.

--
Izmet Fekali
Burek Experts Ltd.  


From: Doug
Subject: Re: Ram and Jam, Bank shots and other no fold'em tactics
Date: 03 Aug 1999 00:00:00 GMT

Thank you for your comments. I do have one question however.

Izmet Fekali wrote:
>Your reasoning is correct. Check and call on the flop is automatic, if

You mean the turn don't you? If not then I'm not sure that I understand this part.

>there are many people in the pot. You'd need at least five callers to bet
>or raise here, yet this is a mistake often seen by weaker players.

Thanks for your advice.


From: Abdul Jalib
Subject: Re: Ram and Jam, Bank shots and other no fold'em tactics
Date: 03 Aug 1999 00:00:00 GMT

izmet@siol.net (Izmet Fekali) writes:
> In <7o67q7$grh$1@garnet.tc.umn.edu> Doug wrote:
> > I have seen some posts on this newsgroup about certain tactics that are
> > said to be very powerful in low limit (no fold'em) hold'em.
> > 1) Ram and Jam:
> >
> > As I understand it, Ram and Jam is when you raise with a drawing hand
> > because there are enough players that will call your raise to give you
> > the proper odds for raising.
>
> Correct.
>
> > This all seems pretty straight forward but a few issues confuse me.
> > Particularly I am not sure how you calsulat how many calling players
> > are needed to make the raises profitable. I understand that for example
> > If you have 9 outs on the flop, then your odds of making you hand on
> > the turn are a little worse than 4:1. The odds of making the hand on
> > either the turn or the river are roughly 2:1. Which of these numbers do
> > you use to determine how many callers you need?
>
> Jamming is usually done on the flop, if there are enough callers on the
> flop. It is best done with strong flush draws.
> In this case two callers are about borderline (as the odds
> against making your flush with two cards to come - but not winning with
> it - are a little better than 2 to 1). It's best to be sure at least three
> people will call your raises. The more, the merrier.

My "Theory of Sucking Out" post might help you understand this. It is archived at http://www.posev.com/poker/holdem/strategy/.

> How to be sure to get enough callers? Well, you have to know your players.
> For example, if somebody bets in early position and there are two callers
> behind him and you are dead last to act, you have to consider your options:
> If you raise, will the original bettor raise again? If not, you can be
> pretty surethe other two players will not fold at this point (which is
> good). If he reraises, will he drive the two players out (which is not
> good)? If they cold call the first player's reraise (and thusly you still
> have three oponnents in the pot), you can reraise again (and hope the
> original bettor caps it). If somebody folds, you should not raise again.
>
> When last to act, It is usually best to raise even if this causes some
> players to fold, as this can often buy you a free card on the turn.
>
> When first to act, you have to decide whether to lead at the pot and hope
> you get enough callers. What you'd like here is getting like two callers,
> a raise, two cold callers and a chance to reraise and trap the players
> between you and the raiser. Usually this is a little too much to wish for.
>
> Again, you have to anticipate the likely action. If there is a likely raiser
> to your left (acting immediately behind you), you should check. If you bet
> at this spot, he might raise you and drive everybody out, which is a
> disaster - you are out of position, have not enough callers on your bet and
> your odds for the draw are cut in half. Therefore it is probably best to
> check and if the player behind you bets, you can trap the callers and raise
> (if there are two or more). If there are not enough callers, you simply
> call, as you do not have proper payoff on your raise.

All good points. More generally, if you don't know what is going to happen behind you, and there are a ton of players in the pot (so a semibluff won't work), it's usually best to check with a draw in early position, and then if there are enough players in and you won't drive out too many potential callers with a raise, (check)raise after someone bets. Low limit players will almost always call two cold back after calling one initially, so the only time you have to worry about driving them out is when they haven't called any bets yet.

> However, if the likely raiser is at the opposite side of the table, this is
> ideal for leading into him. What you hope here for is to get a few callers
> before the action gets to him, he raises, a few callers and a smug
> reraise from you. You do not stop reraising until the cows come home.

Yes. In higher limit games, betting out early versus several players and a late position preflop raiser is an easy way to drive players out of the pot, since they don't like calling with a likely raiser behind, but fish don't think even that far in advance.

> > Note, I am not talking about pot odds and how much you need to call. I
> > am referring to how many players you need to call your raise to make the
> > raise +EV for you. Also, I would like to disregard the free card and the
> > semi bluff in this situation because a) they are less likely to work in
> > a game that is loose enough that you would ram and jam in. b) They
> > complicate the analysis somewhat. Also, I am talking about a draw to the
> > nuts. If you are drawing to less than the nuts then you have to discount
> > the value of your draw.
>
> This is the proper way to discuss things academically. Real life play
> is something else. You do not have to draw to the nuts to make these
> plays profitably. With weaker draws one additional caller is usually
> enough compensation.

Yes, if you're not drawing to the nuts, it reduces your effective odds somewhat, but it will affect your decision mostly only when your odds were borderline to start with. Certainly a king high flush draw is very strong, for example. Not having the nut draw does make it tough to ram and jam to the maximum, however.

> > When you don't make it on the turn you would like to call as few bets
> > as possible. Now, I can see that if you were sure that you would not
> > have to call any bet on the turn then you should probably bet for value
> > on the flop with as few as 2 callers (counting on them calling a bet on
> > the river when you make it, to account for the fact that you have a
> > little less than 2:1 odds of making your hand). But often it is too much
> > to expect that the turn will be checked around and you will have to call
> > at least one bet. On the flop, you committed to seeing the river and you
> > pumped up the pot so that it would be incorrect to fold now anyway. So
> > you are going to have to call the bets on the turn. But you would like
> > the amount of money put in on the turn to be smallish compared to the
> > amount of money put in on the flop. Your best way of controlling this is
> > to put in as many bets as possible on the flop and then check and call
> > any bets on the turn.
>
> Your reasoning is correct. Check and call on the flop is automatic, if

On the turn!

> there are many people in the pot. You'd need at least five callers to bet
> or raise here, yet this is a mistake often seen by weaker players.

In no fold'em, you will sometimes have those 5 callers and be able to jam on the turn. Or you may have a stronger draw, like a straight-flush draw, and need only 3 callers to jam on the turn.

> Head's up play is a different animal, of course. Here you'd often bet
> your draw, hoping to make your opponent fold before the river.
>
> > So to summarize: On the flop you can bet a 9 out draw for value if you
> > think that at least 2 people will call and no one will bet the turn. In
>
> No. You can jam on the flop even if you anticipate a bet on the turn,.

Right. Remember, you're making money on every extra dollar going into the pot on the flop, when you're going to win the pot more than your fair share of the time. On the turn, if you miss, you (usually) switch into calling for odds situation, in which you're losing on the extra bets going into the pot. Here, you're only calling for the chance of winning the money that's already in the pot (plus the money that will be in the pot by the end.) The painful situation on the turn does not mean you shouldn't jam on the flop, as you still make money for every dollar you put in on the flop. In fact, if anything, jamming on the flop might improve your call on the turn, since it ties the other players in on the turn, thus better supporting your draw and costing you less to draw.

- snipped stuff on bank shots -

In many ways no fold'em is not an easy game to play. The fish will lose money, but so will the intermediate players who will often make bad laydowns or hopeless calls despite playing good starting hands. A disproportionate amount of the winnings will go to the best player, the player who knows when to ram-n-jam 'em, knows when to bank shot, and knows when to run. There are players who specialize in being that best player in no fold'em games: Full Value Al in Vegas $8-$16 through $20-$40, Doc in the $15-$30's at Hollywood Park, and yes Izmet in Slovenia.

--
Abdul