Thursday, December 20, 2012

Two Different Ways to Win With Kings

This blog is filled with tales of woe regarding the Hold’em starting hand of pocket Kings (see here and skip past this post, which should be the first one there).  There’s a reason that I have a label called “The Dreaded Pocket Kings” and that it has over 30 posts.

On back to back nights recently, I won with them, in very different, rather unusual ways.
First up was a game at BSC where we had just opened a table.  There had only been a few hands dealt, I hadn’t played a one, when the big blind came to me.  After the first card was dealt to me, I peaked at it, a silly habit I have.  I was slow to take my hands away from the card, which was a King.  So slow that the second card hit my hands and “flashed.”  It didn’t turn face up, but anyone to my right who was looking would have been able to see it.  The dealer immediately instructed me to flip it face up, and I didn’t object at all, knowing someone likely had seen it.
Of course, it was another King.  Well that would have been my first time getting the dreaded hand this particular trip.  So perhaps I had just dodged a bullet?
The replacement card was a 9 of a different suit and I lost interest in the hand.  As it turned out, however, there were a number of limpers but no one raised, so I got to see the flop for free.
Again, I lost interest.  It missed me completely and I checked….but so did everyone else.  So I got to look at the turn for free.
The turn card got my interest.  It was a King.  No one had shown any interest in the hand to that point, and suddenly I found myself with top pair (but weak kicker).  So of course I bet, about the size of the pot.  No one called and I won with a set of Kings that wasn’t really a set of Kings.
Ordinarily I don’t show my cards, but under the circumstances I felt I should.  I flipped up my hand as the dealer pushed me the small pot and I made it clear that the first card he had dealt me was the King.  He nodded and said, “of course.”
I said that there was no harm done; based on the action, I wouldn’t have likely won a lot more money if the card had not flashed.  My preflop raise might not have gotten any callers, and no one who did call would have called my flop bet.  Besides, it was my fault the card flashed, not the dealer’s.  I explained that that was why I was going to let the dealer live and he laughed.
The very next night I decided to check out the new location of Bally’s poker room.  I had learned through my day job that they had just moved the day before.  The new location is roomier and less noisy than the old one.  It is closer to food—it’s right next to The Nosh—but farther from any bar.  Despite this, the cocktail service was better than I remember it being.
Anyway, I was having a pretty unmemorable session, and my stack was down to about $140, when I found myself with pocket Kings in late position.  There were a bunch of limpers so I made it $14.  Two callers, both in earlier position than me, called.
The flop was King-Queen-6, rainbow, which I found quite pleasing, as you might imagine. Both players checked and I had last action.  In the past, I would have been tempted to slow-play this and check, but no more.  Too many times I’ve been burned slow-playing a set.  So I put out a bet of $20 to see if anyone still wanted to play.
To my delight, the first guy check-raised me to $60!  Nice.  The other guy folded and I thought for a few seconds about my move there.  The guy had a similar stack to mine, give or take a few bucks.
Clearly if I raised there, it could only be a shove.  I didn’t see any point in waiting.  If the guy liked his hand enough to check-raise me, I figured he’d call a shove; he’d put almost half his stack in play already.  I should point out here that I couldn’t recall this guy (an older gentleman) making a preflop raise before, and in fact, I couldn’t recall him raising on any street since I’d been there.  He wasn’t a very active player.  I had to assume this was likely a “set over set” situation.  Or perhaps he had two pair (KQ?).  Maybe he’d do that with AQ, too.
So I shoved. He snap called, but I was unconcerned, having the nuts at that moment. I decided to show my set of Kings but he kept his hand a secret.  I got a little ill when the turn card was another Queen. True, I now had a full house.  But one of the hands I put him on was pocket Queens, so I had to wonder if he had just seen his set of Queens turn into quads?
The river card made me even sicker.  It was yet another Queen!  Now if that guy had AQ he had just rivered quads to take the pot.
But he hesitated a bit and then flipped his hand over.  He showed Ace-Ace! Wow, that was a pleasant surprise, I really didn’t see that coming.  I was very relieved as I took in the pot.  The guy immediately left the table. (Note for those of you not so familiar with poker:  His actual hand there at the end was a full house, Queens full of Aces.  My hand was better, Kings full of Queens)
So it was one of those Aces vs. Kings situations that seem to happen a lot more often than the law of averages would suggest.  And I lucked out by hitting my set.  And dodged the case Queen.  I figure I’ve more than used up all my luck with Kings for this trip and from here on out, I should just fold them immediately.
The rest of us talked a bit about the guy’s play.  He limped with Aces.  And then, when I raised, he didn’t re-raise me.  That would seem to me the best reason to limp with Aces—expecting someone else to raise so you can three-bet.  But he failed to do so.
Of course, in this case, if he had raised, either first or after my raise, it probably wouldn’t have changed anything.  Despite my history with them, I’m not good enough to fold Kings. *** So if he had raised first, I would have three-bet and he would have shoved and I would have called—or would I have?  I knew he was a tight player, I knew I couldn’t remember him raising before, perhaps I would have been able to put him on the one hand I was behind to and folded.
But we’ll never know.  He sure made it easy for me by letting me get my set of Kings before putting it all in.
***-Actually, I did fold Kings preflop once, a story I told here.


  1. With respect to the hand at Bally's . . . worked out well for you .... Dude should have made a relatively easy lay down when you shove. If I'm him, there's really not a hand my aces are beating on that flop. Unless, of course, you just look like a gentlemen who LOVES to overplay AK !!! Some people just can't fold AA!

    Anyway, how's the new room compare to the old?

  2. Thanks, Pete. Definitely the guy misplayed his hand badly. Of course, as I pointed out in the post, he had two chances to raise preflop, which was clearly the right play, and did not. That would have led to us both getting it all in before the flop, and the result would have been the same. But based on his play, I'm not sure he was an observant enough player to realize how unlikely it was that I didn't have him beat on the flop. There were other guys at the table who might have shoved the flop with TPTK.....but I wasn't one of them, especially against him. Oh well, they do say you make most of your money at poker capitalizing on other people's mistakes, right?

    I like the new room at Bally''s a lot roomier and a lot less noisy. Although it's still a work in progress--they are planning on adding four more tables when the rest of the construction is done.

    That said, it is a bit off the beaten path, in the corner there, and will lose the walk by traffic that the other location got. Interestingly, two other rooms--Harrahs & Treasure Island--just moved their rooms to more highly trafficked areas. We'll see which way works out best.

  3. Cool. I'll be getting out to vegas in March during the NCAA tournament and will have to check it out . . .