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If you play much Texas hold’em, undoubtedly you have been the victim of an “Oh no!” experience, perhaps several.

The other night I was in a loose-aggressive game of $4-$8 limit hold’em at the Hustler Casino in Gardena, Calif. It had been a rough session for me thus far, and I was quite a bit behind – hoping “to get lucky.” (I’m sure you have heard that term before. I call it “the loser’s lament.”) I had found myself rivered too many times. Perhaps I should have long before sought a more appropriate table, more to my liking; i.e., not so aggressive and somewhat less loose.

I bought another rack of chips, hoping to catch up and, perhaps, go ahead. Hoping to turn things around, there was still plenty of time before I would have to call it a day. The very next hand I was in the Big Blind and looked down at pocket sixes. Almost everyone stayed to see the flop; and, so did I. The flop: 6c-5s-5c.

I had to look twice to reassure myself. With my pocket sixes, I had caught 6’s-full-of-5’s on the flop. A full-house! Wow! It was easily the very best hand I’d had all day. I thought how I ought to play it, certain I held the very best hand, and was bound to win this pot at the showdown.

Of course, under these circumstances, especially with so many loose-aggressive players at the table, it should be easy to build a huge pot. Perhaps, I thought, this hand could actually put me ahead for the session. Not wanting to force out any “contributors” to “my pot,” on the flop, I checked from the BB, fully expecting others to make the bet for me.

The Under-the-Gun (UTG) opponent did not disappoint me. His bet was called by five or six other players. With so many in the pot, I decided to check-raise at this point. I knew that most, if not all who had called the opening bet were sure to call my raise; they were all so loose. Indeed, every one of them called my raise; and the pot was beginning to blossom.

The turn was the Qh. This time, I decided to open the betting. The UTG raised! I was not surprised; he was an extremely aggressive player and, I suspected, also quite deceptive. Four opponents called his raise. My turn to act. Of course, I re-raised. The chips were piling up and over-flowing on the board as they all called my bet. With so much money in the pot, how could they not call?

The river was the 8c. It looked like another blank to me. My 6’s-full-of-5’s sure looked good! I decided to bet out again – a value bet. I wasn’t too surprised when the UTG raised me again. Two others called his raise. I was about to reraise when I stopped to think: If he holds pocket 5’s, 8’s or Q’s in the hole, he will have my hand beat. So I just called.

Showdown: You probably guessed it. He turned up a pair of 8’s for eights-full-of-fives, making mincemeat of my smaller full-house – and taking the pot I had worked so hard to build! “Oh no,” I shouted aloud. Others commiserated with me. Boy, was I ever frustrated!

At that point, on the river, the UTG had just two outs; the odds were over 20-to-1 against him. But, without realizing it, he defied the odds to kill my hopes for getting even or, perhaps, going ahead for the session! And, what’s more, with just two outs, he had put a Bad Beat for me. I repeat: “Oh No!”

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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