Saturday, February 20, 2016

Poker quiz from Mike Caro

Question on his Facebook page:

Okay, so you're playing hold 'em and all cards have been dealt. As you begin the final betting round, you realize that you have the lowest-ranking hand that can't possibly be beat or even tied. What's on the board and what cards do you hold?

See here for his answer and explanation. But try to work it out for yourself first. It's a worthwhile brain exercise.

(I got it right. Did you?)

Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!

Today I went to Harrah's Cherokee today. Got a seat right away in a $1/2 NLHE game at one of the PokerPro electronic tables. I bought in for $200.

On my third or fourth hand, I had 3d-6d one off the button. I raised to $8, because The Spanish Inquisition is awesome. The button called (sitting on $450 or so), as did the big blind (short stack).

Flop: 3s-7c-3c. Yahtzee! BB checked. I bet $12. Button called. Big blind check-raised all-in for $22. It wasn't enough to reopen the betting, so I could only call. Button called, too.

Turn: Qh. The pot was about $90. I bet $60. I was surprised when the button called. I didn't think most people would call that with a flush draw. I thought his most likely holding was a medium pair--something between 8s and jacks. If so, he was calling only as a bluff-catcher.

River: 7d. This was problematic. If the button had called me on the flop and turn because he had a 7, he had just backed into a bigger full house than mine. But I decided that was relatively unlikely, and I should stick with my read that he thought I was bluffing with something like A-K, and therefore might call again. The pot was now about $210, so I threw my last $110 at it. Sure enough, the button called, though not as quickly or eagerly as I thought he would have if he had a 7.

I was sort of right: He had been slow-playing pocket aces. Ouch! Sorry, sir, but your three pair do not beat my treys full.

The BB had As-5s, so he was just going for the flush draw.

I think it's safe to conclude that neither of them expected The Spanish Inquisition.

I kept getting hit by the deck. I raised with 7h-8h, and got a 7-7-10 flop. I raised with Q-K off, and got a Q-Q-J flop. Won them both with a continuation bet. In fact, during this session I won every single hand in which I put in money on the flop and/or turn.

The final example of the poker gods' kindness to me today was this one: I raised to $9 from the button with Qc-9c. Two callers. Flop: 7-8-J rainbow. Checked around. My only hope was really a 10 for the straight. Turn: 10 of the fourth suit! Nutterific! First guy bet $10. Next guy raised to $25. He immediately became my target, because if he's raising here, with me still to act, he might be willing to get it all in while I'm holding the nuts. Besides, I don't want to have to make a horribly difficult decision if the river pairs the board. He had about $115 left. I shoved. First guy folded, second guy called. He had J-8. He had flopped top two pair, and was probably planning a check-raise on the flop, which got foiled when I checked behind. He was springing his trap one street too late. River was a deuce, I think. I'll take that virtual stack of chips you were playing, sir, thankyouverymuch.

I folded a couple more hands, then logged out. I was up $395 in 35 minutes, and it kind of felt like I had used up more than my fair share of good luck, so I took the money and ran.

That turned out to be the shortest session I've ever played at Harrah's Cherokee.

Monday, February 15, 2016

PokerNews article #100

This two-part article (Part One now, Part Two next week) is one I've had in mind to write for a year or more. But it was a daunting challenge. Bayes' Theorem is a difficult mathematical concept for people to grasp, because it often leads to counterintuitive results. But I finally spent enough time over the last few days to put together what I hope is a reasonably user-friendly introduction to the subject. Next week we get to how it applies to poker.