Learn from the WSOP

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I think most serious poker players will agree that the WSOP doesn’t necessarily have the best players competing for the championship. In fact, the WSOP is an equal-opportunity competition. Even weak players are welcome.

I don’t mean to berate the WSOP in any way. It is well organized and presented to the TV audience, and it does include some of the top players in the world. Because luck is a factor, the best players don’t always win. Besides, it’s a no-limit game so great hold’em limit players generally are not represented.

I was watching the replays of the 2009 WSOP on my TV while the following hand was played. I will not reveal the players involved; and I have changed some of the details to protect those players.

Besides, I admit that I don’t remember all of the details. (At my advanced age, I have the perfect excuse. Every cloud has a silver lining!) This hand could just as well have been played in your local casino.

How would you have played the accompanying poker hand if you were Player B?

There were just two players to see the flop. Player A had raised; Player B called from a late position. Everyone else folded.

Both players had flopped a flush! The odds against this are huge, but it did occur. (I’ve seen it happen; you may have too.) Having hit the second-nut flush, Player A was sitting in the catbird seat. Not quite the nuts, but close enough. Player B was in the undeniably horrible situation of having second-best hand. Only he didn’t know it! Beyond any doubt to those of us watching, it would take a miracle for him to win that pot…

Then to add insult to injury for Player B, the board paired with a second deuce. Now a full-house also was possible.

I don’t recall how the betting went; the river card didn’t change anything. Player A (who later made it to the 2009 WSOP final table) played it well to get the most profit he could from his big flush.

The question is why Player B got into that situation.

To start with why did Player B call a preflop raise with 6-4 suited? Two small cards, not even connected, is hardly a calling hand. Being suited adds just a few percent to the value of the hand. It was more likely that he would pair up than make a draw to a flush or straight. For all practical purposes, he was wasting his chips by calling preflop… With only two players in the pot, Player B could hope to win only chips put into the pot by Player A – far from optimum pot odds.

With such small holecards, after the Flop gave him a flush, Player B should have considered the likelihood of a higher flush against him – especially when Player A, a fairly tight player, came out with a big bet. It is possible that Player B put his opponent on a pair of aces or a set, and never considered the possibility of a flush. Then, when a second deuce hit the board on the turn, Player B should have considered a possible full-house against him. On the river, Player B went all in, was called – and was out of the tournament.

Bottom Line: Player B had no business investing in that hand in the first place!

Do you agree with my analysis?

Comments? George “The Engineer” Epstein can be contacted at: [email protected]

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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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