Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Live by the 2-4, die by the 2-4

I have noted often here that not only has the Mighty Deuce-Four* been good to me in terms of profit, but I have never lost a big pot to somebody else playing it against me. I have frequently thought that sooner or later it was going to happen. Last night it finally did.

I was at Caesars Palace. My first 2-4 hand went perfectly. I was up against a pretty good player, a young woman who looked and sounded almost exactly like Vanessa Rousso, complete with designer shades. I limped in from early position with 2c-4d, then called her button raise to $10. The flop was 3-5-10 with two hearts, giving me an open-ended straight draw. I check-called $15. She was an aggressive player (mostly appropriately so, not maniacally), and always made continuation bets, so I didn't necessarily put her on much. The turn was a 4, giving me a pair and therefore more outs to win even if she had an overpair. She bet again. She and I had been involved in two pots before, both of which had gone exactly the same way: Me on a draw, check-call the flop, miss the turn, check-fold to her second bet. So I was not surprised that she bet again. That history made me decide to call again ($40), because she could easily think that I had nothing but a flush draw and would fold as I had in our prior clashes, when she priced me out of continuing to chase. River was the 4h, giving me trip fours. I had about $115 left and the pot was about $130. I shoved. She tanked. She asked, "Did you really call me down with the heart draw?" She eventually concluded out loud that I had not done so (good read, so far as it went...) and called, showing A-A. I win. I had her covered by just a few bucks. She and her friend both left the game, muttering epithets about the idiot who had played 2-4 that way.

That broke up the table, which had already lost three players in rapid succession before. I was moved to a new table. Unfortunately, I ended up to the right of a classic drunk maniac, who was raising nearly every hand, betting every flop, turn, and river. He was getting ridiculously lucky and winning with the most amazing trash when called down, and successfully bluffing when not called (and giddily showing it every time). He was sitting on $600+ when I arrived.

In such situations, absent some strong physical tell, you pretty much just have to pick a spot that looks good and go with it, recognizing that he might have something that beats you that you can't possibly put him on. Well, long story short, I ended up in a monster pot against both him and a player between us whom I correctly read for a flush draw that didn't get there. I had no clue what the maniac had been raising and betting with, but my 9-9 seemed likely to be good on an all-baby board. Unfortunately, the flop had been 4-4-8, and this time he was playing the Mighty Deuce-Four. I lost about $200 on that hand, after check-raising his flop bet, then calling him on the safe-looking turn and river. The trapped third player, of course, swelled the pot and made calling even more irresistible.

Prior to that, I had already lost back my day's profit on this new table. That hand reduced me to about $90 of my original $300 buy-in. Fortunately, I recovered quickly. Just four or five hands later I saw A-A, limped in and got the expected big raise from the maniac--to $25. The guy to my right called, and looked to me as if he had been planning the limp-reraise trap of the maniac just as I had been. I shoved, the maniac called, and the guy to my right called for a little less than I had. He had A-K. Maniac never showed. A-A held up, and I was back to about my original buy-in.

My friend F-Train arrived soon after this and I told him the tale in brief. He said that such things were to be expected; if 2-4 is a good hand, it's good for everybody, not just me. I disagree. I certainly don't mind other people learning of its power and making money with it--I'm not selfish here--but I think that my discovery of the hand should give me immunity against it. It should be kind of like when you sell somebody a property in Monopoly with the proviso that they give you free rent when you land on it for the rest of the game. Other people are welcome to fatten their poker bankrolls with the 2-4, but I should get "free rent" against the it for life as my reward for unveiling it to the poker world.

It seems only fair.

*See here for a recent story of somebody other than me referring to the 2-4 this way. But do not read if you are weak of heart: the most powerful hand in poker lost there.

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