Don’t fret over poker losses

Sep 1, 2009 5:07 PM
by George “The Engineer” Epstein |

Bad beats simply part of the game

Thanks to all the readers who sent in questions. Let me respond to some of your queries. First of all to Kevan regarding the Esther Bluff: The Esther Bluff is actually quite simple and straight-forward: When bluffing, bet with confidence and self-assurance – as if you KNOW that you have the best hand – a monster hand. That message seems to reach your opponent…

The Richard B "reverse tell" is to lean forward in your seat as you make your bluff bet. But don’t bluff too often or your opponents will wise up. It also helps if you have a tight image.

And it does work in Low-Limit games despite what most "experts" say.

Now, don’t tell anyone else or you will spoil it for the rest of us who know this "secret."

Here’s a note I recently received with my response to follow:

I read your columns and there must be a way in low limit play 3-6 or 4-8 to avoid getting beat on the river.

I was playing last night in a 3-6 game (Texas Hold-em) in which the table was average, not too tight, and I was about $30 ahead in the first half hour. A new player sat to my right as a hand was dealt. I had pocket fours; two players acted before the new player and he called, so did I so there were four of us in the hand.

The flop was 2-J-4 rainbow giving me trips; the player to my left went first with a $3 bet; the second player to his left raised, the new player to my right called and I re-raised. One player folded and two of them called, including the new player to my right.

The turn was a Jack. I now had a full house, the one player to my left checked and the new player to my right checked. I bet the $6, one folded and the new player called.

I felt I had him good; the river was a 7, he checked and I bet $6 – he raised me.

I simply called and he announced a full house showing J-7.

I could not believe my luck!

Do you think there is nothing that can be done in cases like that? In no limit or tourney play should it be played differently? What I really want to know if there’s something that can be done. Please help.

– Senior Player.

You played your hand perfectly but got rivered by the J-7. He should not have been calling to see the flop with only J-7 in the hole (violates our Hold’em Algorithm!) – unless he was in the big blind so it didn’t cost him to see the flop: 2-J-4 rainbow.

On the flop, he had top pair. You can’t blame him for calling the raise before him, and then calling your re-raise – especially since the pot odds were pretty high at that point.

At that point he might have put you on a set; in that case he had only two outs (another Jack). So his card odds were about 11-to-1 against him. To make this a Positive Expectation bet for him, there would have to be at least $33 in the pot to call your re-raise. But even if it were a little less, I teach my students to consider the "implied" pot odds – how much more money will go into the pot before the showdown.

But, in the heat of battle, who actually takes the time to make such a calculation – even if he knows how. In any case, you can’t fault him for calling the raises on the flop while holding top pair. And then he was just plain lucky to catch a third J on the turn and then the 7 on the river. The Poker Gods smiled wide and loud for him!

The only fault I find with his play was calling to see the flop (unless he was in the blind and there were no raises). After the turn, he was bound to be in all the way after he caught the third J.

From your standpoint, on the turn he had 7 outs that could beat you, giving him 6-to-1 card odds. The pot odds were so much higher that it was a very "Positive Expectation" bet for him to call you on the turn. So it wasn’t a bad beat for you. He was just lucky to catch a 7!