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It seems I often find myself awakening in the early morning hours after dreaming about poker. This one seemed so unique I wasted little time in getting up out of bed and making my way to my trusty computer so I could share it with you.

It was my usual Texas hold’em limit game at Larry Flynt’s Hustler Casino in Gardena, Calif. (Years ago, it became my favorite place to play poker. But that’s another story.) I was in the Under-the-Gun (UTG) position as I peeked down at my holecards and saw an absolutely beautiful starting-hand: Qh-Jh

I called to see the flop along with several other players. Actually, that’s not so unusual as a starting-hand to write about, but the flop – following along with these holecards – that was another matter: Ah-9h-7h.

I had flopped second-nut flush! To beat my hand, an opponent would have to hold two hearts, including the King of hearts – or make a full-boat or quads. Luckily, I had caught a monster; and that was quite unique!

That was when I awoke. While still in bed, I thought about possible outcomes of such a hand, and how best to play it. Of course, my goal at that point would have been to build the pot size – to win as many chips as possible. With the turn and river to come, I had two opportunities – two rounds of betting – to do so.

Considering the two cards yet to be dealt on the board, here are some of the pertinent possible situations I thought about:

(1) If neither the turn nor the river are scare cards, my flush almost certainly would take the pot. In this case, however, were I to bet for value, I would risk chasing out most of my opponents. That’s not the way to build “my” pot. Furthermore, with an Ace on the board, it is likely an opponent has an Ace in the hole – giving him top pair on the board. So, I figured it would be best to let him do the betting for me after the flop, while I planned to check-raise on the turn.

(2) It is quite possible the turn will pair the board – a second 7 or 9 or an Ace. Sure, with a pair on the board, there is the danger an opponent could catch a full-boat; then my big flush would be a big loser. But the odds are much against that happening. So, let’s build that pot – and hope I’m right.

(3) If the turn brings a fourth heart, there is a good chance one or more of my opponents has filled his flush. Almost for certain, my second-nut flush is still the best hand. I open the betting, and am not at all surprised when an opponent raises me. Most likely he has a heart flush, but second-best – a loser to my second-nut flush. I reraise to get more of his chips into the pot – betting for value. But what if he then raises back at me? At that point, if I can’t discern an appropriate tell, I simply call his re-raise – hoping he does not have the King of hearts.

Well, it was only a dream – but so realistic and, yes, quite unique. For that matter, with over 2,500,000 possible five-card hands in a 52-card deck, there are bound to be lots of unique hands.

We all dream from time to time. Some more often than others. Have you ever had a poker dream? If so, drop me a line and tell me about it. Those I choose to write about will be rewarded with a copy of my book, “Hold’em or Fold’em? – An Algorithm for Making the KEY Decision.”

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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