Biblical over river aces

Biblical over river aces

August 29, 2017 3:00 AM


A young man wearing a black yarmulke – a skullcap often worn by Orthodox Jewish men – came to our $4-$8 limit hold’em game at the casino, and promptly got involved in the action. He seemed to be quite skilled at the game. Most likely, he was not a rabbi but it seemed convenient for me to label him that way.

The “rabbi” mucked his first few hands preflop, then folded another on the flop, and then apparently was dealt a hand he liked and played to the showdown.

I made it a point to carefully observe his play to learn what kind of player he was. He raised preflop from the under-the-gun position. At that point, considering his previous folds preflop, I tentatively labeled him a tight-aggressive (TAG) player.

Being in the Big Blind, I looked down at my holecards: 4-5 clubs. Certainly not a decent starting hand. But after several others called his raise, the implied pot odds were attractive enough to warrant my investing one more small bet to see the flop. If it did not improve my hand substantially, I was prepared to fold. (Step 2 in Epstein’s Two-Step concept.) It was an attractive flop: 2c-3s-10s, giving me an open-ended draw to a small straight. With 8 outs, I had a reasonable chance of making the straight.

After I checked, the “rabbi” opened the betting. Several of us called to see the turn. It was the King of clubs, giving me 9 more outs for a club flush – in addition to the straight draw.

The river was an amazing card: Ad. That gave me a bottom straight, most likely the winning hand! This time I opened the betting. The “rabbi” promptly raised. It was now down to just the two of us, the conservative lady from Boston (me) and the “rabbi.” I studied the board – 2c-3s-10s-Kc-Ad. What could he be holding? I looked him in the eye; no tells.

I reasoned: Without three of the same suit on the board, a flush was not possible; and, with no pair on the board, a full-house was impossible. I doubted he might hold the same straight as mine; I could not imagine him raising preflop with hole cards as low as 4-5. So, I put him on two-pair or, at best, a set. My small straight had to be the nuts!

Reassured, I decided to re-raise him. He thought for a few moments, glanced at his hole cards, and then re-raised me. I considered him a TAG player, so was not surprised by his re-raise. More important, I was sure I held the nuts. And, with just the two of us remaining in the pot, there was no limit on the number of raises allowed.

So again, I re-raised as a big value bet. After all, I held the nuts. The best he could do was tie my hand – not likely in this case. I sensed that all eyes at the table were closely following our action.

Expecting him to just call my last raise, I was taken aback when he re-raised once again. Pausing to reassure myself, I re-raised him again. This time, he just called my bet.

You probably can guess what he showed down: He held pocket Aces, and had made a set of Aces on the river. Can’t blame him for getting excited, and raising away on the river! Fortunately, there was no pair on the board that would have given him a full-house. I scooped a monster pot, enough to fill more than two racks, and tipped the dealer more than normal to share my good fortune.

At that point, the “rabbi” got up from the table, and slowly walked away. After that huge loss with a big set, he needed a break. And the game moved on. As the dealer dealt out the next hand, I thought about the “rabbi’s” experience on that hand. I could “feel” for him. But my elation over winning such a huge pot easily overcame that emotion.