I can challenge a poker writer's analyses

Dec 24, 2013 3:00 AM

I enjoy the poker hand analyses published in a leading poker magazine, including the writer’s perceptions of the players’ likely reasoning as they played their hands.

It was the final table with six remaining players vying for the top award. In this hand, the blinds were 4Y-8Y with a 1Y ante (where Y is 100,000), the button raised to 16Y with Ah-Kh in the hole. The Small Blind (SB) responded with a re-raise to 34Y. Then, the button went all-in for a total of 89Y; and was called by the SB.

Here’s the point: The SB held A-7 offsuit. Had he taken the trouble to learn the Hold’em Algorithm (see GT ad) he would have realized he had only 23 points; whereas, the Algorithm requires 25 points from an early position. Without hesitation, he should have mucked that hand before the flop.

Furthermore, I surmise the SB was not aware of the Hold’em Caveat that encourages folding marginal drawing hands unless there are no raises and it is a multi-way pot.

In this case, even if he regarded the A-7 as a marginal hand, the Button had made a raise (and soon after, went all-in); plus there was just one opponent staying to see the flop. Besides, you don’t have to know the Hold’em Caveat to realize the cost-to-play with A-7 offsuit, was much too high to warrant risking a major tournament win!

The SB was just giving away his chips. Fortunately for him, he had started the hand with considerably more chips than the Button. Still, that hand cost him almost 40 percent of his chips. No one can afford that kind of loss very often. It’s almost impossible to survive playing that way.

Shortly after that hand, that player was knocked out of the tournament, finishing in fifth place. (He was lucky to finish in the money for a princely sum of money – even though he had started that day with the chip lead among the six players at the final table.)

Pot odds vs. card odds: The writer of this hand analysis seemed to be trying to make an excuse for how poorly (in my opinion) the SB played that hand. The writer commented that the SB was getting 2.5-to-1 pot odds when he called the Button’s all-in bet. But there is no mention of the SB’s card odds.

I thought everyone knows the pot odds must be higher than your card odds to warrant a call; otherwise you have a Negative Expectation – a poor investment. And, at the final table of one of poker’s most prestigious tournaments, wouldn’t you expect the SB to exercise more caution against an opponent who is raising and re-raising?

Consider that the odds against the SB improving his hand to a pair of Aces on the flop were substantially higher than 2.5-to-1. What’s more, with all the raising by the Button, didn’t the SB consider his opponent might be holding a better Ace in the hole?

As for his 7 kicker, it’s really a “rag.” The SB could just as easily have paired his 7; and then there were so many combinations his opponent could hold that would demolish his pair of 7s. (Didn’t he consider the range of hands his opponent might hold?) More likely, the SB would not improve at all on the flop. Then what? (As it turned out, the board did not help either player; so the Button’s King kicker took the pot!)

In summary: I must admit I don’t think very highly of any player – whether in a limit cash game or a no-limit tournament – who calls all raises with A-rag. I go by the old adage: “The chips you save by not losing are just as valuable as those you win.”

Furthermore, playing his hand in this (reckless?) fashion, I must wonder how that player in the SB was able to make it all the way to final table of that tournament.

“The Engineer,” a noted author and teacher in Greater Los Angeles, is a member of the Seniors Poker Hall of Fame. Contact George at [email protected].

 GamingToday on Facebook      and         GamingToday on Twitter