Playing limit hold’em at a full table of nine players, the game is loose-passive – lots of opponents staying to see the flop, with little raising before and after the flop. You have been dealt Q-clubs and J-clubs, a decent starting-hand, playable in any position according to the Hold’em Algotithm (see ad elsewhere in GT). And, what’s more, you have a big edge over your opponents because you are in a late position.
Calling to see the flop along with four opponents, Q-diamonds, 5-clubs, A-clubs stares back at you. You have flopped a pair of Queens – top pair on the board. At first glance, it looks great. But look again; there is an Ace out there. Could an opponent have flopped a pair of Aces?
Pause and think a few seconds. Since you don’t have an Ace in the hole, it is all the more likely one of your eight opponents does. This will happen about 80% of the time. Chances are your Q-Q is second-best, and needs to improve if you are to win the pot. You have only two outs to make trip Queens – a very long shot.
Hey, wait a minute! Notice that you also have four-to-the-second-nut-club-flush. That gives you nine more outs – 11 in all. Very significant!
An opponent bets out. Using the 4-2 Rule to estimate your card odds, with two cards to come (the turn and the river), multiply your 11 outs by 4 (11 x 4 = 44). About 44% of the time, you will connect. Hence, your approximate card odds (100 – 44, ÷ 44) are 1.3-to-1 against. Since the pot odds are much higher, by all means, you should call your opponent’s bet. You have a Positive Expectation; it will be a good investment.
Seated in late position and being last to act, you can observe your opponents’ actions before you must declare. A big advantage! If three or more call the bet to see the turn, consider making a raise. You are getting 3-to-1 immediate money odds.
Note: Once they have called the first bet, they are prone to call your raise – only one more small bet. The money odds are substantially higher than your card odds (1.3-to-1 against) – a good investment even if an opponent did flop a pair of Aces.
You have a good chance of catching a big flush or a set; and, chances are very slim he will improve his hand to trip Aces or better.
Position is important
Realize you raised here only because you fully expected three or more callers. That was possible because of your late position. You could not have done that from an early position. Late position has its benefits – especially the button.
What if the flop does not include those two clubs? In that case, you have just two good outs – the remaining Queens, presumed to still be in play. True, you could pair your kicker, the Jack, for two-pair. Problem is any pair on the board – other than Queens – gives your opponent with A-A, a bigger two-pair; or he could pair his own kicker, or catch a third Ace. So, it’s best not to give much weight to the chance of pairing your Jack kicker.
Using the 4-2 Rule, you have only about 2 x 4 = 8% probability of connecting for trip Queens on the turn or river. Even if you considered the problematic three outs for pairing your Jack kicker, the card odds against you would still be high. Muck your hand; you are probably saving lots of chips. If you did call with so few good outs, you would be chasing – hoping to make a very long shot. Chasing is a poor investment. Chasers are losers.
“The Engineer,” a noted author and teacher in Greater Los Angeles, is a member of the Seniors Poker Hall of Fame. Email: [email protected].