Starting cards can mean a lot

Oct 9, 2006 4:25 AM

Lets talk today about a couple of oddities of poker.

First, if you are playing Limit or No Limit Hold’em and your two personal cards are a 10 and 5, and assuming the hand will be played to completion with a flop and a turn and river card (for a total of five common cards), what straight would be impossible for you to make?

Now, I sometimes make you wait until next week for the answer, but one of my good friends told me that he hates to wait for the answers.

So, to my friend Hollis and the rest of you folks who want an instant answer, this one time I’ll break precedence of requesting you send me an email for the answer and simply state that the correct answer is at the bottom of the column.

Now, here is another question for you folks. Assuming I am dealt AcAs (American Airlines) for my two personal cards in Limit or No Limit Hold’em, what would you pick as your best pair as a starting hands to go against me?

Assume that there will be no more betting and that we are both all-in and that it will be a showdown race between you and me. Moreover, I will bar the other two aces (AhAd), which would be a tie except for a flush.

I will give a little hint: the answer is not a pair of kings.

Now here are the answers:

1. You cannot make a 9-high straight. The reason for this is that if you hold the 5 only, it would be possible to make a nine high straight, but as you also hold the 10, your hand would have to be a 10 high straight. Thus, it is impossible when holding both the 10 and 5 as your personal cards to make a 9-high straight.

2. Now the other answer. The bestpair ofcards you may select to defeat my two black aces are the 6h6d.

The reason for this is if you choose a big pair from K,Q,J,10,9, and if you are lucky and make a set (three of a kind) I could make a straight using one of your cards, and you would snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

In order for you to defeat my AcAs, you must make a set or better. It is just as easy mathematically to catch a 6 as it is a K,Q,J,10 or 9.

So, with a pair of 6s, if you are lucky enough to catch one it will not help me make a straight. It is a safe set for you; I can never use a 6 unless it is black and I catch three other blacks of the same suit.

But the reason that I choose for you a pair of red 6s is that if you run off four hearts or four diamonds, you will defeat my two black aces and if you make a little straight using 9 as your top card, you will defeat my two aces.

Yes, there are other small considerations, but they are minor and can be disregarded for this fun question.

If you are a math buff you may email me with the fine points, such as if you make a straight with a 6 on board by catching both a set of 6s and making a 10 high straight, which would be a tie.

But you would still not lose the hand, which makes a pair of red 6s still the bestpair to hold against my two black aces.

OK-J Poker Tip of the Week

Game and seat selection are very important when you are playing poker.

Always select a game of poker that is one thatyou know all the rules and is of the correct limits for your bankroll; do not play in a game that the limits orwagering isgreater than you are comfortable with.

Always select a seat whereaggressive players are seated to the left of you and the weak or timid players are on your right.

When in a tight game always be aggressive or quit.

When in a lose game, play tight and quit as soon as you are the winner.

Until next time remember tostay lucky.