Poker mistake

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Miscue is the final in series on ‘mistakes’

Connectors – two cards in sequence – are always pretty to behold. They have a better chance to make a straight than starting hands with a gap; the bigger the gap, the less desirable are the hole cards – unless they are honor cards. Connectors are even more of an eye-catcher when suited, adding the opportunity to make a flush. GamingToday reader Robin Diffner of Los Angeles suggests that you can go too far with that approach.

All suited connectors not alike

To prove his point, Robin poses a fairly common situation: You hold low/middle diamonds connectors – for example 7¨-8¨. “If you miss on the flop, you can toss them in the muck and it only cost you one bet.” (I would caution that betting position is an important factor here that should be considered. Calling from an early position might cost you an extra bet if the pot is raised by a player to your left – especially since the odds are against improving your hand on the flop.)

“Frequently,” Robin says, “you will connect with two diamonds (on the flop) and then you’re stuck until the river. The river brings the third diamond to complete your flush – only to get beat by a higher flush.” Aw shucks… Yes, it does happen! As they say, that’s poker…

Here’s another frequent case that Robin pointed to: “Playing middle or small connectors, and flop a pair (it will happen one out of three times); now you pay to see the turn and it’s a ‘brick.’ (So) now you muck your lousy pair” when an opponent comes out betting.

Robin goes one step further: “If you flop two-pair. You are stuck to the river, trying to fill up and miss. Rarely does two small pair win in limit hold’em.” (Note: Robin is correct; statistically, a small two-pair loses more often than it wins.)

How to avoid this mistake? Here’s Robin’s advice; it’s pretty simple and quite straightforward: “Do not play suited connectors unless they are ‘paint’ (face cards).”

In this regard, I teach my students that being suited adds only a few percentage points to the value of your hole cards; much more important is how high the cards are. So we agree.

However, there is benefit in sometimes playing middle connectors, even if not suited, especially from a late position (where there is less chance of being raised) and in an un-raised multi-way pot. Aside from possibly connecting on the flop and winning the hand (you were lucky!), your opponents will observe that you play with a wide range of hole cards so they will give you more action when you connect to make a monster on the flop, on the turn or even on the river. Furthermore, it also will make it more difficult for opponents to “read” you, and easier for you to steal the pot on the flop.

As his reward, Robin Diffner will receive a copy of the Hold’em Algorithm.

This concludes our series on Mistakes we make at the poker table. Our next column will sum it all up and introduce you to the “Dirty Dozen.” Meanwhile try to remember the words of wisdom from Israel Zangwill – as applied to the game of poker:

“If you find faults (in your game), you should correct them.

When you find none, you should try even harder.”

– Israel Zangwill (1864-1926; famed English humorist, novelist, playwright)

Comments? George “The Engineer” Epstein can be contacted 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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