Nightmares to explore

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Lately, I find myself dreaming of poker more often than I would like. Most of the time, my dream has been about Bad Beats. Perhaps that’s because I seem to suffer so many of them as I play for real. (Note: In a future column, we plan to explore Bad Beats and how you might reduce their frequency and impact.)

This morning, I was awakened by a “poker nightmare.” I looked at the clock on the night stand beside my bed. It was 4:13 a.m. After lying in bed for a few minutes contemplating my bad dream, I decided to get up and write this column – to share this dream with you. But selfishly, I must admit, I wanted also to get it off my chest.

It was a $4-$8 limit hold’em game at my favorite local casino, Larry Flynt’s Hustler Casino in Gardena, Calif. Shortly after being seated, in the Big Blind, I was dealt 10h-2d. That’s a hand I would normally muck, but I was getting to see the flop for “free” – no raises. Never refuse a “free” card. In that regard, it was not that long ago when I saw the flop for free, holding 2-3 offsuit in the hole. The flop brought two more 3’s and another deuce, giving me a full-boat!

Besides, 10-2 is purported to be the favorite hand of Texas Dolly, the nickname of Doyle Brunson, a poker celebrity whom I admire. Even so, I would have folded without a second thought had anyone raised pre-flop.

The flop came down 10s-2s-2h, giving me a full-boat – deuces full of 10’s. Wow! A small miracle. Remember, this is all part of my nightmare; although it seemed so real.

Hoping to build the pot with my monster hand, I decided to slow-play on the flop. After I checked, the Under-the-Gun (UTG) player, without any hesitation, opened the betting. He seemed so confident as to the strength of his hand. That pleased me no end. Four other opponents and I called.

The turn was a rag. Needless to say that very much pleased me. My deuces-full looked so good. This time, I decided to check-raise to build the size of the pot. Again, after I checked the UTG opened the betting – $8 in chips. I wasn’t at all surprised; he was a fairly loose-aggressive player. His bet was called by two others. It was my turn to act. I thought for a few moments: What kind of hands might they be holding? Perhaps a big pair, or two-pair, I figured.

Anything higher – like three-of-a-kind – undoubtedly would have been raised. I was quite sure my deuces-full was far in the lead. Pausing a few moments, I announced: “Raise,” slowly shoving $16 into the pot. That gave me such a warm, pleasant feeling. As I completed my check-raise, I was careful not to give any tells. The UTG and two others called my raise. The pot was growing so well.

Unfortunately, the river put a second Queen on the board – a horrible scare card as far as I was concerned. An opponent holding a Queen in the hole would now have Queens-full-of- deuces, making mincemeat of my smaller full-house. After I checked, the UTG bet out. He also gave me a couple of tells: He sat straight up in his chair, and a big smile splashed across his face. I didn’t think he was bluffing. Nevertheless, I had to call, hoping my deuces-full would hold up.

Splashing a big smile, UTG turned up his holecards: Qs-Jd. His Queens-full slaughtered my deuces-full. I had been rivered and it was a Bad Beat since he had only two outs at that point.

Thanks for reading my tale of woe. Glad it was only a dream – a nightmare! Now that I got this off my chest, let’s hope for happier moments at the casino.

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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