Hand to remember!

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In every session of poker, there may be one hand that stands out among the rest – a hand worth remembering. Hopefully it was not a bad beat, but rather a hand that was a big winner for you.

Playing in a $3-$6 game at the new Normandie Casino in Gardena (that elegant casino that goes way back in poker history), seated in the under-the-gun position, I was dealt K-J off-suit. It was a lively game with lots of loose players (some aggressive on occasion, and a few tight ones too), sporadic raises preflop and some bluffing now and then.

That’s a great table texture when you flop a strong hand – one that could take the pot on the river without further improvement. A multi-way pot (three or more opponents staying to see the flop) promises high implied pot odds – a good-size pot at the showdown to reward you.

With my K-J in an early position, I called to see the flop, as did most of the other players – a small “family pot.” The flop was great for me (Kd, 3d, Js).

With top two-pair on the flop, I decided to check-call so as not to reveal any info about the strength of my hand. The less information my opponents have about my hand, the more edge I have over them. Besides, I was sure that at least one opponent would make the bet for me. The player to my left obliged, making the bet on the flop; several called, as did I. No raises.

The turn was a third king, giving me kings-full-of-jacks – the nuts. Wow! There was no doubt that this pot was mine. Now my thoughts transitioned to how best to build up the pot as much as possible.

Knowing there were loose, aggressive players behind me, I decided to just check and see how many opponents I could get to stay to see the river. Perhaps I might check-raise.

The gent to my left again obliged and made the bet on the turn. After a call, a middle-position player raised him. I asked myself: “What could he have?” Perhaps he too held a king, or pocket jacks. No matter, I was in the lead with my full-boat. There was one call before it reached me. I decided to reraise this time, hoping for callers. I was not disappointed; two opponents called my reraise. The pot was huge – probably the biggest pot of the night!

The river was a third diamond, putting a possible flush on the board. I thought to myself: “It would be great if an opponent had connected with a big flush against my full-boat.”

I was certain that I held the nuts. There was no way anyone could possibly beat my hand! Having already “announced” my hand by raising on the turn, I bet out. To my surprise, the player across the table raised me, going all-in. Too bad he didn’t have any more chips, I mused as I called his raise. He turned up his hand: A –K suited – a great hand. Fortunately (for me) the Jack was in my hand, giving me the full-boat against his trip Kings-with-Ace-kicker. He had a powerful hand; but mine was so much better!.

Yes, that was a hand to remember.

Do you have “A Hand to Rememmmmber” that you would like to share with our readers? But no bad beats, please. A copy of my Hold’em Algorithm (it’s powerful!) to the best one submitted. E-mail to [email protected]. You can send comments there as well.

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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