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I was playing $4-$8 limit with ½ Kill at the beautiful Hustler Casino in Gardena, California.

In case you are not familiar with the Kill concept: If a player wins two hands in a row, before the cards are dealt, he puts up 1½ bets to serve as his opening blind bet. Thus, in this $4-$8 game, he puts $6 (that is 1½ x $4, the big blind) alongside of the “kill button” that was placed in front of him. All call bets then start from there.

The player can also raise (to $12, in this case) when the betting gets to him. (At some casinos, there are games with a full Kill; the player who has won two hands in a row, puts up $8 before the cards are dealt.)

Sure, the Kill can make for much bigger pots – but not necessarily so, since fewer players often stay to see the flop. By the same token, it becomes more expensive to play drawing hands.

I played one hand with ½ Kill that stood out from all the others. In a late position, I was dealt pocket Kings. A super starting hand! There was a raise by an early-position to $12 followed by three callers before me. I re-raised to $18 for value and to thin the playing field so my pocket Kings would have a better chance of holding up even if it didn’t improve.

All five of us saw the flop, which was K-A-9 rainbow.

A set of Kings for me. Wow!

The original early-position raiser opened the betting at $6. Based on his having raised before the flop, and knowing he was aggressive, I figured he probably had caught a pair of Aces. After three calls to me, I pondered: “With my set of Kings, should I re-raise again to build the pot?” Instead, being in a late position, I slow-played so as to be able to build the pot on the turn and/or river when the bets were doubled.

Also, were I to re-raise on the flop, it would likely “encourage” some opponents to muck their hands, and not be available to contribute to “my pot” during the turn and river betting rounds.

On the turn, the dealer gently dropped a second 9 on the board. My Kings-full-of-9s is a super monster hand! An opponent would need pocket Aces to beat my hand – a very long shot. Again, the early-position opened the betting, unhesitatingly tossing 12 chips in front of the pot, representing a strong hand.

That was fine with me; after all, I held Kings-full! After two callers, I raised it up – piling 24 chips in front of the pot. The early-position and only one other opponent called my re-raise.

The river was a blank. Again, the early-position made the opening bet of $12. The next player folded. I considered my best option: I reraised to $24. But then, I had to stop and think when my opponent quickly raised it up to $36.

The only way he could beat my Kings-full would be to hold pocket Aces – a very long shot (well over 200-to-1 against). Much more likely, I reasoned, he held a big Ace in the hole for two pair, Aces and 9s. Another possibility, he could have a set of 9s. I knew he was an aggressive player and not afraid to raise, as he often did with any strong hand. I felt certain my Kings-full was the best hand. So I re-raised.

I expected him to just call that raise. Instead, he raised again, going all-in! (When it’s heads-up, there is no limit on the number of raises allowed.) Of course, I called – optimistic that my Kings-full would take that monster pot. He tabled pocket Aces beating my Kings-full! I was devastated.

Did I goof? Yes, I could have avoided all the raises on the river by just calling his bet. But, certainly, I had good reason to believe I held the best hand – the winning hand, but it wasn’t. I thought I was betting (raising) for value.

“The Engineer,” a noted author and teacher in Greater Los Angeles, is a member of the Seniors Poker Hall of Fame. Email: [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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