Friday, December 05, 2008

Update on the deuce-four

At the Rio tonight I was two off of the button and joined a few others limping in with my 2-4 of diamonds. Yes, it is indeed a weaker version of my favorite hand, because it can only make one flush. But you've gotta play what you're dealt. The big blind raised, but he did this at the drop of a hat, so it didn't mean much. Everybody called.

The flop was A-K-5 rainbow. Surprisingly, everybody checked. The turn was 7 of the fourth suit. To my amazement, it got checked around again. The force was strong with the deuce-four tonight, and those two cards in my hand called forth a 3 from the deck--kind of like Yoda elevating a crashed spaceship out of the swamp--and the dealer put it out as the last card on the board, giving me the second nuts. I was not worried about anybody having 4-6, the only hand that would beat me. The UTG player bet $10. I raised to $30. He called after everybody else folded. I won. Thanks for the two free cards, everybody!

Now, I know this is going to come as a shock to my faithful readers, but the 2-4 does occasionally lose. This is, after all, a game of chance, and freakish incidents do occur contrary to all statistical probability.

For example, on Sunday night I was playing down the last hour or so that the Tropicana poker room would be open (about which I will have more to say soon, when I have time to write a longish story). About three hands from the 10:00 p.m. closing time, I picked up the ol' 2-4. Again, it was suited, thus weakening its potential, like Superman a little too close to the lump of green Kryptonite. Worse, I was out of position. But it was surely going to be my last chance at some 2-4 glory in this room, so I decided to take a chance. Besides, it was a $2-4 limit game because there wasn't a no-limit game going, and what better place to play the 2-4 than in a $2-4 game?!

To make a long story short, I hit two pair, but lost a big pot to a flopped set. I know what you're thinking--the odds against that must be astronomical. It is surely so. I'll spare you the math, but just take my word for it: 2-4 being taken out by a flopped set is about a 1 in 3 billion chance. Really!

Even more astonishing was the horrible beat taken by Ivan Demidov's 2-4 on the final hand of the World Series of Poker Main Event. You can read the blow-by-blow account from F-Train, live blogging for PokerNews, here, as well as watch the hand animated.

The probability of the mighty 2-4 hitting two pair and yet being beaten by a straight is, astonishingly, even lower than it hitting two pair and being beaten by a set. I ran out of decimal places on my calculator, but with some fancy logarithmic shortcuts I was able to estimate the odds at a mind-blowing 117 trillion to 1.

So the deuce-four is not for the faint of heart. If you play it every time you get it, there may conceivably come a point in your life in which is loses the pot. You have to be prepared for that theoretical possibility and steel yourself against it.


kg_bettor said...

Did you know that the awesome power of the 2-4 played a key part in the seminal poker movie, "Rounders"?

Near the end of the movie, Mike McD is playing Teddy KGB heads up. The board reads A-3-5, and Mike is about to bet, when he notices Teddy's Oreo tell. Instead, he folds his hand face up: A-5, top two pair, saying that Teddy has the 2-4 and he doesn't want to play against a made hand.

Teddy had revealed the awesome power of the 2-4 by eating his Oreo.

2-4 FTW!!

Rakewell said...

No, I hadn't seen the movie again since having discovered the might of the 2-4. Excellent observation!

Gargamello said...

It's been a while since I read the biography of Stu Ungar, but the final hand from the last time he won the world series of poker was something awful like a deuce four. It might have been deuce six. Anyway he hit an inside straight and won his third wsop bracelet. And subsequently overdosed as his demons caught up with him.