Quite a few readers had comments to my query in “Wondering whether I made a big mistake” in the Aug. 30 issue of GamingToday. Two of these were outstanding.
Recall: In a $4-$8 limit hold’em game, I was in the Big Blind with 7-2 in the hole (the worst possible starting hand). There were no raises, so I got to see the flop without any further investment. It was a multi-way pot. Three deuces fell on the flop. Amazing! Even more so, I had caught quad deuces – the absolute nuts!
Now I had to decide what would be the best way to play this hand. Holding the nuts, my goal was to build as big a pot as possible.
In the Big Blind, after deliberating as much as I felt time would allow, I elected to bet out – hoping some of my opponents would think I was trying to steal the pot with the three deuces on the board. After all, I reasoned, I had earned an image of being somewhat deceptive as well as fairly aggressive. And, if I could get some more chips into the pot, others would be more inclined to call my subsequent bets, especially when the bets doubled on the turn and river. They might even raise.
So I opened with the $4 bet on the flop, and then I watched in horror as, one after the other, all my opponents tossed their cards into the muck. Instead of building a huge pot, I won a very small one – with my four-of-a-kind. I don’t have to tell you how very disappointed I was. Those hands happen so rarely – almost never! I had to ask myself: Did I make a big mistake? So, I invited readers to comment.
Frank Avellino of Las Vegas wrote, “I think you made a mistake by betting because the only way someone would call you is if they were holding an Ace. By checking you could hope someone would bet to try to steal the pot; and, if not, then you could still get lucky and have someone catch a pair on the river card. Then you could bet and someone would surely call or raise you.” (Note: Frank plays poker both online and in a local card room.)
Richard Blyth of Los Angeles emailed: “Regarding your quad twos – I would have checked from your position (Big Blind). The reason is twofold: First is that I have watched a lot of hands in which at some point the board contained three of the same card (rank). It surprises me how often people will bet into this if they turn up a good pair or even if they have an Ace or King. Suppose the turn was a King and one of the players had a King in his hand. This would give him a pretty good full-house, and you might get some action.
“The second, and more important reason I would not bet my quads immediately after the flop is most players know that the Big Blind usually has a ‘crummy’ hand, so there is a good chance that he had the other deuce, probably a better chance than any other player at the table. There are few hands containing a deuce that a good player will play. I would only play an Ace-deuce suited and discard any other hand containing a deuce. (But) even checking your quad deuces is no guarantee of getting a bigger pot.” (Richard is a long-time member of our Claude Pepper Seniors’ Poker Group, and a very good player.)
As their reward, both Frank and Richard have been sent signed copies of my book, “Hold’em or Fold’em? – An Algorithm for Making the Key Decision.”