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Crushing Live Poker With Twitter

by Bart Hanson |  Published: Feb 15, 2017


January 9 — Don’t Get Upset If You Make The Right Fold Preflop And Then Happen To Flop The Nuts

I was watching an old World Series of Poker episode from 2005 the other night and saw Scott Lazar appear to fall apart after he folded A-5 offsuit preflop from the blind. The board ended up coming out with three aces in it making him quads. He then burned off the rest of his chips with K-9 suited and then Q-10 offsuit, all-in preflop. In his post-bustout interview he said that the would-be quads hand put him on tilt.

I have always had the luxury of having decent mental game. I never get too upset over getting bad beats and I realize that I cannot control the way the cards come out. Last week I was playing in a $5-$10 no-limit hold’em game and something happened that made me take a rare step back, away from the table.

I was in a very good game and all of the stacks were fairly deep. There were a lot of loose players wildly putting chips in the pot and I was looking for an excuse to play hands against them in position. A solid player opened from under-the-gun +1 to $40 and a mid position player called. I looked down at ADiamond Suit 7Diamond Suit and also called from the button. This brought the small blind in and the big blind, one of the whales at the table, reraised to $300. The original raiser then folded, but the mid position player called, quite surprisingly. Even though the big blind was one of the guys I thought I could extract money from easily, I knew that his three betting range was extremely tight and figured him for Q-Q, K-K or A-A. Against that range it would be very difficult to make a lot of money with ADiamond Suit 7Diamond Suit so I folded.

The flop came out KDiamond Suit 5Diamond Suit 2Club Suit and I was literally sick to my stomach. The big blind quickly bet out $600. The player in middle position then moved all-in and the big blind snap called! The board ran out 3Club Suit 9Club Suit and the hands were revealed as top set of kings for the big blind and a set of fives for the mid position player. “Damn!” I said to myself. I knew that if I had called the extra $240 that I would have just won more than $4,000 in the pot. I had to take a step away from the table but my disappointment was very short lived.

I knew that my fold preflop fold was 100 percent correct to that sizing given my assumption about the big blind’s range. I do not know that the odds are of someone flopping top set vs a flopped flush, but they have to be very, very small. With a hand like ADiamond Suit 7Diamond Suit I am trying to get into the pot cheaply and I am trying to usually make at least forty times the raise size in order to call for the implied odds value of the hand. Both of those conditions were not met so what difference did it make that I flopped the nuts?

On that topic it always amazes me how people do not realize that poker has randomness as a part of the game, so that there can be a game. Chess is not a game that is gambled on for high stakes money because you literally can almost never win against someone that has superior skill. There is no element of luck involved. In poker, the bad players at least have to have a chance to win or we could not gamble on the game. That is why I find it very peculiar that some professional players get upset about the order of the cards possibly being compromised if something screwy happens with the deck.

I had a friend of mine tell me about a recent hand that he played at the Hustler Casino in a tournament. To make a long story short he got a guy all-in with pocket fives versus A-J on a K-10-5-A board for all of his chips. Apparently the dealer did not realize that the all-in action was on the turn and thought that the hand was over so he dropped the deck. When the players indicated that the river card had to be put out instead of picking up the deck and trying to reconstruct the cards in order he simply went into the card pile, burned a card and then revealed the river. Of course, the QDiamond Suit fell and my buddy lost the hand. He ended up then calling over the floorman and protested that the deck was not in the correct order. No one at the table could confirm or deny that the cards that were taken were correct or incorrect so the floorman let the action stand which I think was the right decision as the objection did not happen before the river was revealed.

If we take a step back and assume that nothing shady was going on and the dealer made an honest mistake, does it matter that the river may not have actually been the original river? I say of course not, so long as if a queen had not come out my friend would have won the hand. The cards are just a way to add randomness to the game. It makes no difference if someone were to decide to choose the river from the middle of the deck or the top of the deck (again so long as nothing shady was going on). So why do people get upset when they fold a close to playable hand that makes the nuts?

January 5 — Think About What You Want To Accomplish When You Flop A Pair And A Flush Draw

It is interesting how different types of players take different lines with draws. Some guys play them incredibly fast, pounding money into the pot whenever they have at least nine outs. Others take a more passive route and just call until they make their hand. Just like anything in poker one size does not fit all. In these situations it really depends on the board texture, stack sizes, position, fold equity etc. to figure out the most profitable approach to playing a draw.

One interesting scenario to examine where taking a passive or aggressive line may both be correct is specifically having a pair and a flush draw. In some situations you can really drive the hand for maximum fold equity especially if the board is raggedy and you do not think that a preflop raiser can take a lot of heat. In other situations, however, it may be perfectly correct to check and call as you may not have the fold equity needed to make an aggressive play profitable or more importantly you might be in a way ahead way behind scenario.

I played in one of these situations a few days ago at the Commerce casino in Los Angeles. The game was $5-$10 and my opponent was playing extremely aggressively preflop but had little awareness postflop similar to a lot of out of town players that come through during the major tournament series, the LAPC. In this hand I called a solid player’s open from middle position in the small blind with KClub Suit QClub Suit to $40, $2,000 effective. The villain in the hand was in the big blind and he reraised to $185. The original raiser quickly folded and I decided to call. This was something I rarely did in the past with a hand like KClub Suit QClub Suit but I had noticed that the player in the big blind was incredibly wide in his preflop action and he did not play well post-flop. I also thought I had decent immediate equity versus his three betting range.

The flop came out pretty strong for me in the form of AClub Suit KDiamond Suit 5Club Suit giving me middle pair and a flush draw. Now, some of us might think that this is an absolute monster flop as we have 14 outs to improve to better than one pair. A lot of guys would play for “stacks” here wanting to get all the money in on the flop. However, if we do an examination of this board texture is fast playing this draw really the right play? I also want to mention the fact that I did not think that this particular villain was capable of folding top pair as I had seen him make some really poor calls earlier in the session.

Let us examine all of the options. If he had nothing and we went for a check raise, he simply would have folded. If he had at least an ace he would definitely call our raise. If he had nothing we would have such a hammer lock on the hand we would not want him to fold. And if he actually had a legitimate hand like A-K+ we may fare to get reraised on the flop. Following this logic I was happy to just call his $150 bet.

The turn brought out the 3Heart Suit giving me no help. I checked again and this time he bet larger, $375, which I called. The river fell the 9Diamond Suit and at this point I hoped that he would check giving up on a bluff. Unfortunately for me he did not oblige and bet $800. I decided to fold. He then triumphantly tabled A-A for top set.

I was pretty pleased that I realized that this was not the type of board to go crazy versus a three betting range with my pair and flush draw. If the board had come out 7-6-5 with two spades and I had had ASpade Suit 6Spade Suit, especially against a single raise preflop I would have played a pair and a flush draw much more fast as the board would have favored to hit my range and would have put maximum pressure on an overpair. But here, as you can see, not all pair plus flush draws are equal. ♠