Badly botched poker hands are out there

Jun 7, 2016 3:00 AM

My friend Lucy told me about a “badly botched” hand she had observed while playing $4-$8 limit hold’em at the casino. She explained what she meant by using the term, “botched.” It’s when a player makes a series of almost unbelievable mistakes in the same hand. “He should have known better,” she emphasized.

An elderly gent in a late position holding K-6 called a preflop raise by an early-position player who plays very tight. He was also deceptive, having been caught in trying to bluff out two opponents a few hands earlier when his Ace-high (nut) flush draw failed to materialize.

Everyone else folded, putting the K-6 and early-position heads-up. More than likely the other players realized, for the tight player to have raised from an early position, his hole cards must have been a made hand (A-A, K-K and Q-Q), or a premium drawing hand such as A-K, A-Q, A-J, K-Q, or a middle pair (J-J, 10-10, or 9-9).

The flop came down: A-K-10 rainbow. After a short pause, the tight player checked his hand. The K-6 hesitated, and then bet $4. Perhaps he was trying to represent a pair of Aces in his hand. The tight player promptly called the $4 bet.

When the turn was a blank and the tight-player again checked, the K-6 bet out with a c-bet of $8. Early-position calmly called. Another blank on the river, and again the tight-player checked. Without any hesitation, the K-6 again made the bet – now $8. But, this time, after the tight-player hesitated a few moments, he raised it up, slowly counting out $16 chips and pushing it into the pot.

The K-6 studied his hand and then focused his attention on the board; apparently he was thinking over the situation. Then he looked around the table and boldly announced: “Re-raise,” making it $24 in all! 

“It was so obvious,” Lucy said, “the tight-player had slow-played him on the flop and then again on the turn, and then check-raised on the river. Didn’t the K-6 even suspect that the tight-player could have his K-K beat?”

Showdown: The tight player turned his hole cards face-up. He had A-K – Big Slick – for top two-pair. Frowning, the K-6 turned up his hand, and shook his head from side-to-side. “Tough luck,” he announced to the table.

“I smiled to him,” Lucy said, “but I was thinking: What an idiot! He made so many mistakes from the get-go, all the way to the end.”

Looking me in the eyes, Lucy shook her head. “How could any half-way decent player – even a rank amateur, even a poor player – botch his hand so badly? So many obvious mistakes! Did he want to give away his money?”

His first mistake – probably the biggest – was investing his chips in that hand from the start. K-6 in the hole (especially when it was unsuited) is a terrible starting hand, and hardly merits a call to see the flop. It’s what we call a Hi-Lo hand. What’s more he cold-called a raise by an early-position opponent who had played so tight up to that hand. What could he think early-position was raising with? Did he think at all? Then, playing the hand heads-up, he certainly could not expect much of a pot if, by chance, he got real lucky. Yes, there is always the chance he might make two-pair or trips on the flop. (The odds are very much against these happening.)

Sure, he made a pair of Kings on the flop; but with an Ace also flopped, certainly he should have allowed for the possibility his opponent had caught a pair of Aces. The fact is, at a full table, the odds strongly favor at least one player having an Ace in the hole. For that matter. Early-position could just as well have had a King in the hole with a better kicker, thereby dominating the K-6 all the way.

Yes, I agree with Lucy: That was a badly botched hand.

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