What are the odds of flopping full boat only to lose

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Hard to believe… Can you imagine flopping a full-house, only to lose on the river? Sure, it is possible, but what are the odds?

It was a $4-$8 limit game with ½ kill; and the kill was in effect, so essentially it was a $6-$12 limit game. In the Big Blind with pocket fours, for only two more chips, I got to see the flop along with several opponents – no raises. And what a flop it was! The kind you dream about: 4-3-3.

I could hardly believe my eyes! I concentrated on keeping my cool. No tells from me. The only hand that could beat my full boat was pocket threes; and the odds were about 30-to-1 against any of the other players holding that hand. I had the nuts for all practical purposes, I assured myself. (Actually, at this point in the hand it was the second nuts.)

I had just sat down at the table a few minutes earlier. What a way to start out on this poker session. It doesn’t happen very often; so enjoy it when you can. And, with due confidence in my hand, I was ready to do so.

Build “your” pot! This is the kind of flop you want to “milk” for as many chips as possible. You are confident you will win this hand; you feel so certain of victory. And who can blame you when you hold a full boat – in this case, fours-full-of-treys. Sure, it was a small full boat, but any full house is a huge favorite at any point in any poker game.

In the Big Blind, I knew I wanted to keep as many opponents as possible in the pot. “The more the merrier.” The bigger the pot the better for me. So, on the flop I let my opponents do the betting for me. It was a muti-way pot with four or five opponents calling a bet by a middle-position player who was somewhat aggressive. I figured him for a middle pair; he probably would have raised preflop with a higher pair in the hole. I called, too.

The turn was a black Jack. Now there was a possible draw to a spade flush; that would be super, with me holding the full house! Again I checked. The middle-position bet out.

After a few callers, the Button raised. Perhaps the Jack had helped him. I had never played against him before, so I knew little about his playing traits. My best guess was the Button had paired a Jack in the hole. In any case, I was well in the lead. I decided this was the time to reraise. Four opponents called my big bet; and the pot was HUGE!

On the River. Ah, the River. With just this one card to come, I felt quite confidant – until the dealer delicately placed the river card on the board. It was another Jack! Now my fours-full-of-treys full boat was threatened by a possible bigger full boat, Jacks-full. I debated whether to bet out. With two Jacks on the board (runner-runner), it was best to be cautious. So I checked.

It was no surprise when he bet out. Of course, I had to call, hoping my hand was still good. My confidence was shattered, but the pot was much too big to give up on it. Sure enough, he showed down Jack-Ten. His Jacks-full-of-fours scooped a monster pot – a pot that was mine until the River.

Oh, by the way, the original bettor in middle position, turned over pocket eights. Too bad for me he didn’t raise preflop. Then, I would have folded with my small pocket pair – and saved myself a lot of chips.

“The Engineer,” a noted author and teacher in Greater Los Angeles, is a member of the Seniors Poker Hall of Fame. Contact George at [email protected].

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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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