Friday, May 17, 2013

What If?

This particular hand goes under the category of “what if” or “it might have been” (see here).  Like the hand I just linked to, had I called the pre flop raise I would have had the winning hand. But this time I would've only chopped a nice pot in all probability, instead of winning a huge pot as in that post.  The other thing this post will illustrate Is the danger of waiting for a check-raise. 

One guy had already limped in when the next guy raised to $12. Another guy called but I didn't think it wise to call a raise (even on the button) with 10-9 offsuit, so I folded.  The big blind and the limper also called.
The flop was 6-7-8, two diamonds. So I would have flopped the nut straight. To my surprise, no one bet the flop. Nobody liked that flop, huh, I thought? Well I sure would have, had I stayed in. 
Turn was a 3 of diamonds, putting a flush out there.  Now things got interesting.  Player 1 bet and  Player 2 raised. Sorry I can't recall the amounts, I didn't put that on my notes since I wasn't in the hand. Player 3, the preflop raiser, folded. Player 4 re-raised, I think it was a little more than double the bet to him. Player 1 shoved. His shove was around double the amount Player 4 had made it.
Helluva lot of betting action considering no one seemed to have liked the flop very much. 
Player 2 went in the tank. Although Player 1 was all in, but he and Player 4 both had big stacks left (at least $150 each).  At this point he had to figure his entire stack was in play.  So, facing a raise and a re-raise, he eventually and very reluctantly folded. Player 4 took his time too, and Player 2 took to pointing out to him that there was both a straight and a flush out there.  Interesting.  But Player 4 did indeed call.
The river was a blank. Player 4 showed his pocket 3's for a set. Player 2 turned to Player 1, expecting him to show us a flush.   But instead, he mucked, and Player 2 turned a sickly shade of green.  He said he had folded the best hand and asked what the guy who mucked had. He said he had 2 pair as he took off, choosing not to rebuy.
Player 2 said he had 10-9 and had flopped the nut straight--10 high.  That got my interest and I told him I folded the same hand preflop. If he heard me, he didn't react. 
But he did respond to my question.  Because of my own hand, I remembered clearly that no one had bet the flop. So I asked him why he didn't bet his flopped straight, especially with two diamonds out there.
"I was waiting for one of those guys to bet," pointing to the side of the table where players 3 and 4 were sitting. 
I didn't think about his reasoning too much at first. I was too busy thinking that there were actually two players who folded the best hand—Player 2 and me.  But I at least didn't lose any money on the hand; he lost quite a bit.
Player 2 couldn't let it go.  He kept pissing and moaning about folding the best hand. And he kept saying over and over again that he had to assume that at least one of her other two guys had to have the flush based on the action.  I think he wanted affirmation from the other players that he made the right play at the time.  He did get some of that.
But his continual harping on it got me thinking about how differently the hand would have played out if I had called the $12 raise. With two players already in for $12, and two possible limpers who might call—and would be even more likely to call if I did—and having position, it wouldn't have been the worst possible play on my part.  Maybe it was even the right play?
So if I had called, presumably everything would have been the same as it was until the action came to me on the flop. Of course I would have bet it; it looked like no one liked the flop and a bet there might have taken down the pot right there. But having flopped the nut straight, that wouldn't exactly be a steal. And no way am I going to slow play a straight, especially with those two diamonds out there. 
OK, so I bet.  Player 1, who presumably was waiting for a check-raise, would have called or more likely raised (after all, in reality, he shoved on the turn when the board was even more dangerous to his two pair, which he must have flopped).  Player 2 isn’t going anywhere with the nuts, is he?  Unless he’s so scared of the potential flush that he would lay down the nuts at that point—not too likely—he raises himself (either me or Player 1 if he raised).
No reason to think Player 3, preflop raiser, doesn’t fold there, as he did on the turn.  But Player 4?  Well, he doesn’t have his set of 3’s yet.  He’s sitting there with a lousy pair of 3’s and a bunch of betting maniacs in front of him, so he insta-folds.
There’s probably at least one raise back to me and maybe two, so I raise back, most likely a shove.  I had the biggest stack of the three of us.  Player 1 calls if he hasn’t already shoved and Player 2 calls my shove if he can’t raise.  Thus the three of us are all in on the flop, and the last two cards won’t change anything.  Player 2 and I split the pot, which includes $60 preflop and whatever Player 1’s stack was.
The point of this is not for me to complain about missing the pot, it never struck me anything close to the situation in the quad 10’s hand I linked at the beginning of this post.  The point is that I thought it was an interesting hand to play out in the alternate universe, because it would have deeply affected two other players.
Player 3 loses $12 for set mining with a pair of three’s, no big deal.  Except he’ll never know that he would have won a huge pot if only I had folded preflop.  At showdown, he’ll see that the set of 3’s he would have turned would only have cost him a lot of money.  At least he’ll think that, never knowing that he would have gotten the hand that crushed his set to fold.
Now that I think about it, I regret not asking Player 3 for at least a share of his big pot.  I made that hand for him!
Meanwhile Player 2 chops a decent pot, instead of losing money.  More importantly, he never has the angst he had over folding the best hand.  And I think he would have valued that more than the actual difference in money.
But in reality, Player 2 has only himself to blame.  The mistake he made (assuming you don’t think his preflop call was a mistake) was going for the check-raise.  Post flop action at this table hadn’t been particularly wild (one reason the action on the turn was so notable).  He was assuming that Player 3, the preflop raiser, would make a continuation bet.  I hadn’t seen enough preflop raises from him to have judged his postflop play myself.  But the thing is, in a four handed pot, even players likely to c-bet with one or two others in the hand are usually more reserved.  Assuming he doesn’t have a big pocket pair, he’s likely to think at least one player liked the flop enough to call him (especially in this case, with the flush and straight draws there).  So it’s pretty easy for him to just check his Ace-King or Ace-Queen and not risk anything more than the twelve bucks he’s already put in.
So, in a four handed pot, hoping to pull the check-raise was high risk and it cost him.  If he bet there, Player 3 still folds and in all likelihood, Player 4, with just a pair of 3’s, folds as well.  If Player 1 comes over the top, it’s an easy call or shove for Player 2, seeing as how he has the nuts.  And he takes down the whole pot.  He cost himself big there going for the check-raise.
Oh, and my decision to fold preflop affected me as well.  If I had called, I would have chopped a decent pot.  But I wouldn’t have had this blog post.
(Note:  Just want to say that this post was composed via three different methods.  My chronic back problems have resurfaced and forced me lie flat on my back most of the past three days.  As such, I started composing this post on my celphone (or, my cell phone) and at first I tried using the talk-to-text feature that Google provides.  This proved way too frustrating.  Too many misinterpretations, plus it kept cutting me off just as I was getting started.  So I did the bulk of it just tapping it out on my virtual keyboard with my thumb.  Only slightly less frustrating.  Cleaned it up and finished it at the old desktop.  Hopefully I’ll be back to regular blogging soon.)


  1. i always have the same problem trying to use talk to text

    1. Thanks, Tony. Yes, it's a science that needs a lot of work.

  2. ah, the land of ifs, buts & maybes .... pretty sure that's in the top 10 of The Road To Ruination of A Poker Player.

    and only applies to astute online players, the rest of us donkeys are onto our next if, but, maybe before the first one registers, lol

    1. Thanks, dD. I know you could do this for every hand of poker dealt, but I did find this one more interesting than usual because the guy kept crying about the way it played out and my participation could have saved him. But ultimately, he had only himself to blame.