Great hand turns ugly quickly

Great hand turns ugly quickly

January 16, 2018 3:00 AM


I was playing $4-$8 limit hold’em at my local casino. I had just joined the game and, in the cut-off position, looked down on J-Q spades, well exceeding the Hold’em Algorithm starting hand criteria. What a great way to begin a poker session, I smiled to myself. So, of course, I stayed to see the flop along with four others.

This is where the hand becomes so very interesting (and worth writing about). The flop was Jd-9s-10s. I had flopped top pair on the board, an open-ended straight draw, and 4 to a big flush – possibly even a straight flush. Quickly, I estimated I had a mountain of outs: two outs for trip Jacks; three for two-pair (Q’s and J’s), nine outs for the Q-high spade flush and eight outs – less two if they were spades – to the Q-high straight. Twenty outs in all!

With the turn and the river yet to come, the probability (the card odds) was almost 70 percent I would connect and almost certainly take the pot on the showdown. With four opponents in the hand with me, I knew I had a very Positive Expectation (pot odds higher than the card odds). The big blind (BB) bet out $4 on the flop; the others called his bet.

Now it was my turn to act. I rationalized: If I were to raise at this point, with all these great outs, I would be getting much better than even money on my raise. It would be a value bet. But then I thought: If I raise now, I would be almost certain they would all call my raise – giving me a bigger pot to win.

On the other hand, they would most likely check to me on the turn and only the better hands would call my bet. Wouldn’t I be much better off by waiting to raise until the turn when the bets are $8 (rather than $4)? Of course!

I just called the BB bet to see the turn. It was the Ace of spades, completing my big (and so beautiful) spade flush. A middle-position player opened the betting. The others folded their hands. That was not what I had expected. Now I could not raise to build the size of the pot on the turn as I had planned after the flop.

As for the middle-position bettor, I had played with her on several previous occasions, and recalled she was a rather loose player. After studying the board, I figured her for a pair of Aces – perhaps two-pair, Aces-up. Even if she got lucky and caught a set of Aces, my flush was the best hand. In any case, I decided to raise her bet.

To my surprise, she promptly re-raised. Then I paused to think further: Oh my gosh, I had not figured her for a flush. If she did have it, was my Q-high spade flush better than her spade flush? She would have to hold two spades including the Ks in the hole. Not likely, I rationalized – optimistically. No matter, with all those chips in the pot, there was no way I would not invest one more bet of $8 to see who had the better flush.

Tantalizing me, as all the other players eagerly watched, she slowly turned up her hole cards. Yes, you guessed it. Unfortunately, she had been dealt K-4 spades in the hole! She had caught the nut flush, whereas I had only the second-nut flush.

Is this the way to start out a poker session? Where did I make my big mistake?

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