After poker night felt like a penny from heaven

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I have told you about the advice I once got from my old friend Edward L. (now deceased): “Find a penny on the ground. Put it into your left shoe. It will bring you good luck the rest of the day.” I know it’s like an old wives’ tale, but it has seemed to work for me.

The other night, I was getting ready to play $4-$8 limit hold’em with ½-Kill, at my favorite casino. As I got to my seat, there was a dime on the floor, shining up at me. Naturally, I quickly picked it up and quietly placed it into my left shoe. Then I got seated at the table, pleased with my good fortune. If a Lucky Penny brings good luck, then a Lucky Dime should be 10 times better.

Instead of a steady stream of great starting hands, I was greeted with a long series of the worst holecards you could imagine. My cards were literally very dead. I forced myself to be patient. I even changed seats. Admittedly, that was to grab a seat to the left of a very aggressive opponent. But my luck did not change.

Then, at last, about an hour after I had started playing, I looked down at pocket tens. In a middle position, I raised to thin the field, so my 10-10 would have a better chance of holding up. Four opponents called to see the flop.

Can you guess what happened? The flop was A-K-9 with two spades. That had to be the worst flop while holding pocket 10’s. The Small Blind bet out and was raised by the under-the-gun player. I assumed the flop had hit one or both of them. In that case, all I had was two outs. Of course, I mucked my hand. Where was my Good Luck?

As the game progressed, I did start to get some decent starting hands, and even won a few. Nevertheless, by the time for my dinner break, I was well behind, having bought in for more chips three times.

Even if you don’t get decent starting hands, the blinds do add up – $6 each orbit. Add that to the cost of the few hands I played, usually mucking before the river. It gets expensive.

After dinner, I continued to experience more than my fair share of unplayable starting hands. And, when I did stay to see the flop, never once did my hand improve enough to win a pot. I did manage to win a couple of hands by bluffing (thanks to the Esther Bluff tactic). I was quite a bit behind.

Perhaps, Edward’s Lucky Penny won’t work for a bigger coin.

It was almost time for me to leave, when I looked down at two black Kings in the hole. Wow! Maybe I could win back some of my losses for the evening. It was a ½-Kill hand, so there was likely to be a good-size pot.

When the betting got to me I raised to thin the field and build the pot. After a few callers, a late-position re-raised – a three-bet. With several callers, I decided to just call and see the flop. Maybe I could get lucky and catch a set of Kings. That didn’t happen; but, at least there was no Ace on the flop. I still had hope.

More betting on the turn. Unfortunately the turn card didn’t help me. Studying the board, there was a possible straight and a possible flush on the board. At least there were no pairs.

Now the bets were $12. I called. Then the late-position – a very aggressive and deceptive player – raised to $24. The pot was immense!

The river was a blank. Everyone checked to the late-position aggressor, who made the bet. Certainly, I called, along with three others. Maybe I would be lucky, but I was doubtful.

Hard to believe! No one could beat my pocket Kings! What a pot! It put me well ahead for the evening. I guess Edward’s Lucky Coin did work.

Thanks, Edward.

About the Author

George Epstein

A retired engineer, George Epstein is the author of “The Greatest Book of Poker for Winners!” and “Hold’em or Fold’em? – An Algorithm for Making the Key Decision.” He teaches poker courses and conducts a unique Poker Lab at the Claude Pepper Senior Center under the auspices of the City of Los Angeles Dept. of Recreation and Parks and at West Los Angeles College.

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