Big Blind play depends on the table

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In parts I and II we discussed (1) certain A-rag hands as exceptions to the Hold’em Algorithm starting-hand criteria, provided the Hold’em Caveat was satisfied; (2) playing at a loose-passive table; and (3) on the Button in an unraised “family pot.”

A fourth exception

This time, you are the Big Blind in a limit game, with a marginal hand you would be prone to fold, especially from an early position. What’s more, there is a raise preflop by the player to your immediate left, in the under-the-gun (UTG) position. Unlike the previous exceptions, in this case, the Hold’em Caveat would be violated by the preflop raise.

For this exception, there must be at least five opponents calling the raised bet to see the flop. (So, if/when you connect on the flop, you can expect a decent-size pot as your reward.) Also, by being seated just to the right of the raiser, your call of his raise would close the preflop betting; no further raises can be made on that round.

Having already posted a full bet before the hand began, it only costs you one more bet to see the flop against a large number of opponents. (When the flop is placed on the board, you will have seen over 70% of your final hand.)

Violating the rule

In the Big Blind, you hold 6-5 connectors offsuit. According to the Hold’em Algorithm, your score is only 18 points (6 + 5 + 7 for the connector bonus); whereas, the Algorithm requires at least 25 points from an early position. By calling the raise, you are definitely violating the scoring-point criteria. Of course, you are hoping for a great flop to help you gain the lead in this hand.

A recent experience

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In the Big Blind, I held 2-3 suited. The player to my left – the UTG – raised the bet. Fully prepared to muck my holecards, in accord with the Hold’em Algorithm, I observed player after player call the raise. With seven opponents staying to see the flop, I was getting pot odds of 15-to-1: lots to gain and little to lose – just one small bet to call the raise, as I closed the round of betting. How could I refuse this opportunity!

I could hardly believe my eyes. The flop came down 2-2-3 with two spades. I focused on avoiding giving any tells. With a full-house, I was anxious to try to build the pot. So, I checked my hand, hoping the UTG player would continuation bet. He was a loose player, so I was confident he would comply. He did. Almost all the others called his bet until the cut-off position (just before the Button), who raised. I calmly called the raised bet, as did all the others in the pot. The pot was growing huge!

The turn was a third spade. That pleased me no end, as I hoped someone would catch the spade flush and likely bet it, perhaps even raise. My deuces-full-of treys looked so good! Sure, I did not have the nuts; an opponent certainly could catch a bigger full-house. But it had to be a very longshot. The poker gods were smiling down on me!

The river was a blank. Knowing I almost certainly held the best hand, I check-raised to further build the pot. It was a monster pot! Showdown: As I turned up my deuces-full, I could hear some of my opponents moan. “Oh, no!” one shouted aloud, as he angrily mucked his hand. I never saw what the others held, but it didn’t really matter. I filled over two spade racks with chips and smiled. Wow!

“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].

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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