Don’t ‘trip’ over your
next ‘set’ of aces

Feb 19, 2007 6:54 AM

Carol, I know that you and our daughter "Oklahoma Sarah" have been playing a lot of no limit hold’em poker the past several weeks. And I want to help you and the folks who read GamingToday with a couple of good rules to follow.

First, I do not think it is best for you girls and the folks to ever play in an un-raised pot in no limit hold’em. Of course there are a few of exceptions to this good rule.

They include:

”¡ If you are in the blinds and you have trash — such as 4c 9h — and the pot is not raised, go ahead and see the flop but dump it quickly if you do not hit at least two pair.

”¡ If you have a big hand in early position (AA, KK or AK) and you want to slow play and expect one of the players behind you to raise. This is a great play if your plan works and you do get raised, but you may just get called in several positions. Play carefully — it may be hard for you to win this hand.

”¡ If you are in a tournament and do not have enough chips to command respect you may just "gipsy" in (gipsy is not raising) and take the flop and see if you can get lucky and win a great number of tournament chips.

”¡ If you are known as a "rock" (very tight) you may once in a great while try to trick the other players and not raise. But this is very risky, and the lambs may eat up the wolf.

Always remember it is hard to go hunting when the rabbits have the gun. And if you get tricky the rabbit may hit two pair or just about anything and you will have a big problem in knowing what to do.

Secondly, let’s talk about the difference in holding a "set" and holding "trips" — three of a kind in both cases, but there is a world of difference between the two.

You make a set when you have a pair in your hand and the third card comes on the flop. For example, you hold two 10’s as your personal (hole) cards and a third 10 come as part of the three card flop. Thus, you’ve made a set.

You make trips when you hold, say, one 10 and a different card (a Q for instance) as your personal cards and the flop comes 10h10c5d — you would then hold trip 10’s with a Q kicker.

There is a vast difference in playing a set versus playing trips. And it’s not just that the kicker can and sometimes does make the difference in who ultimately wins the pot.

You have to play trips the same way porcupines make love ”¦ very, very carefully! The obvious concern is the strength of the kicker. If your opponent holds a 10 and an ace, you could lose a big pot and even go broke in a tournament.

Another consideration is that an opponent may also hold a set — even a weaker set than your own, such as three 6’s. But, coupled with the two 10s on the board, his full house would beat your trip 10s.

You must make a book on the players and observe all the cards possible. This will give you the texture of the hands that the other players will play. In the end, this will be a lot of help in playing trips!

These are the kinds of things that change the game from luck to skill. An unskillful player will believe trips have the same value as a set. You know better and will play better as a result.

OK-J’s Poker Tip of the Week

A rose may seem to be a rose by any other name and may smell as sweet. But if you observe carefully you will smell the difference when holding trips versus holding a set.

If you learn to smell the difference, you can take the money home and count it there!

Until next time remember to stay lucky!