‘Trouble’ and ‘Danger’ words to avoid

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There are all sorts of poker hands. Recently, I had the misfortune to learn the hard way about “trouble hands” and “danger hands” (I believe I coined those expressions). It was unexpected, and it was a costly lesson. And I have since given a lot of thought to them.

Listen carefully to what I tell you in this column, and learn what might give you a big boost in your poker results.

Have you ever heard of this concept? Very simply, a trouble hand is one which may look good at first glance, but is actually a loser. It has few, if any outs to improve. It may be the result of an error or mistake on your part, an error of omission or neglect, or a failure to focus on the poker game like watching the basketball game being shown on the big-screen TV mounted on the wall

On the other hand, a danger hand is one that is far superior to any that your opponent’s hold — practically unbeatable. You might regard it as the “nuts.” It could be just a matter of chance or good luck.

For example: playing limit hold’em, in the Cut-Off position, I looked down at Jc-10h in the hole. It was a full table with some really

I called to see the flop. Several players limped in before me. I decided to limp along. Then, the Button raised it up. We all called his raise. It was going to be a good-size pot. The flop came down: 10d-Js-As. I had flopped two-pair, Jacks and 10’s. Looked good!

Little did I realize at that point that I held a trouble hand. I should have known.

An early-position opened the betting on the flop. After several callers, it was my turn to act. I reminded myself that there was a good chance one or more of my opponents held a matching Ace in the hole. But I was optimistic that my two pair was the best hand, so I raised, making it a 2-bet, hoping to thin the field. Then, with fewer opponents remaining in the hand, my two pair would have a better chance of holding up to the end.

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Four of us saw the turn. It was the 5c which most likely did not help anyone. The betting was checked to me. I opened the betting, only to be promptly raised by the Button. I knew he was a loose-aggressive player, and put him on a pair of Aces — still second-best to my two pair. I gave little thought to the fact that the raiser could very well hold Aces-up or even a set of Aces.

As it turned out, I was the one with the trouble hand — and it was all my own fault for disregarding his full range of hands. The Button held the danger hand. He had flopped a set of Aces which shattered my two pair.

My suggestion is go back to the beginning of this column and reread it, contemplating the message to be sure you understand what you have learned. Learn from my experience so that you will not have to spend your own chips to find out. That is surely not the way to go home a big winner.

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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