‘Luck’ in Poker results in winning hand

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When we speak about luck, we usually really mean the good variety – wanting to avoid the bad if at all possible. Of course, we all realize your good luck is someone else’s bad luck… and vice versa.

I look upon luck as a form of chance or probability. The greater the probability against catching the card you need to become a winner, the luckier you are when it happens.

Here’s a hand I was lucky to get the other night at a local casino in a lively $3-$6 low-limit game. (I prefer to play limit games.) I was in a late position with A-4, both clubs. That’s a very marginal drawing hand that is likely to become a badly dominated hand.

You might improve on the flop – say an ace – enough to keep you paying off all the way to the river. Then you lose to a better kicker. A-rag suited is playable as an exception to our Hold’em Algorithm.

You’re hoping to make the nut flush. If two more clubs fall on the flop, the odds are less than 2-1 against making the flush on the turn or the river. The problem is the odds of flopping two cards of your suit are a longshot – over 8-1 against.

But it’s OK to call preflop if you can get to see it cheaply (i.e., no raises) in a multi-way pot (three or more opponents staying in). The implied pot odds are likely to be attractive.

To say the least, it was a fascinating flop: No clubs, but I caught two-pair, aces and fours. An early-position player made the bet on the flop and was called by three others. I raised, hoping my two-pair was the best hand.

Two hearts fell on the flop to make it expensive for anyone who might be drawing to the heart flush.

The button and the other four opponents called my raise. The pot was growing. The turn brought the 8-s. It was checked to me. I made the big bet. Surprise; the button raised me.

I tried to figure out what he might be holding: He was fairly loose, somewhat aggressive, but wouldn’t raise me with a drawing hand at this point – not after my raise on the flop. Perhaps he had a set of jacks, a two-pair, aces and jacks. Two other opponents called the raise. I too called, and prayed to the poker gods for another ace or four on the river.

I could hardly believe my eyes when the dealer turned up the 4-d on the river. Now I had a full-boat, fours full of aces. The betting was checked to me; I decided to go for a check-raise, expecting the button to make the bet on the river. His bet was called by one other opponnent.

Figuring I was a favorite to win this pot, I completed the check-raise and was called by both opponents. I would have been worried if either had re-raised me. My fours-full-of-aces beat the button’s aces and jacks. The other player just mucked his cards.

In hindsight, the only card that would have helped me on the river was another four. If the river had been another ace, my hand would have been second-best to the button’s hand. So I actually had just two outs going to the river. The card odds were over 20-1 against me.

No, I didn’t make the nut club flush as I had hoped before the flop, but I did catch the winning full-house and a super-size pot. Guess I got lucky.

Comments? “The Engineer” can be reached 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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