03 February 2004

Double Gut Buster

I have a tendency to correct people when they make dumb mistakes. It's a very annoying tendency that at least one ex-girlfriend really hates. Anyway, I'm trying to be better about it and there is one place where it pays big to keep my mouth shut: at the poker table.

I was playing 5-10 yesterday evening after dinner and I picked up 89 suited in the big blind. Somebody raised and there had already been a couple of limpers, so I called the $5. We took the flop 5 handed and it came down QJ5, which left me with an inside straight draw. It got checked to the raiser who bet, which meant there was $55 in the pot and $5 to me. Now, the pot was laying me 11:1 right there, which is enough to draw to the 10 on the next card alone. Add in the fact that there were two cards to come (granted I'd probably have to pay a big bet to see the river) and that there were 3 more people who might call the flop and I threw in the red chip.

Two more people called and the turn card was a 6. So now I'm holding 89 and the board is QJ56 with no flush possible. This means I've got what's known as a "double gut buster" straight draw. Either a 7 or a 10 will give me a straight, so in essence I've got an open ender made up of two inside draws. This gives me 8 outs to win with 46 cards in the deck, or a little better than 5:1 against. Again it gets checked to the raiser and he bets $10, which means the $80 pot is laying me 8:1 odds to call, which makes calling the obvious choice. It happened to end up getting checkraised by one of the other dudes, but there was nothing I could do about that.

River card is a 7, giving me the nuts. Early guy bets, preflop raiser calls and I raise wtih only the raiser calling. I scoop the pot (which was nearly $200) and heave a sigh. I check the hand history to see what the other guy had. Turns out he had pocket queens and flopped a set. Tough break for him.

So this joker, VeryTnA, says "Are you really that bad?" and then, "Chase for an inside sucker str8."

I just reply, "I guess you answered your own question."

He says, "nh [nice hand] I need the action. Keep playing"

I said nothing and just kept playing. A couple hours later I nailed him again by catching a Q on the river to beat his A-high bluff (I had been calling with KQ of spades on the two spade flop). He's still pissed about the straight and says, "What would you do without the river?"

I said nothing and checked out of the game a few minutes later, significantly to the good. My point in all this is that he got all heated and started making calls at me without even really thinking about it. First of all, why ever encourage someone who is playing like a dunce to be better? His comment drove me to rethink my way through the hand to see if I made a mistake. After deciding I had played it fine I made it a point to have my A-Game polished and ready to go for future concepts against this jackass. Second, and more important, if he had been paying attention he would've realized the pot odds justified both calls (big size relative to the bet on the flop, and picking up the extra outs on the turn) — he got me to tighten up when I was already playing a strong game!

As my Dad says (quoting somebody else), the only two things you should ever say at a poker table are "Raise" and "Seat open."

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