I was on the button with . If it had checked around to me, I’d probably have raised against this group, but Gatorhater raised from UTG. Wiseacre (sitting UTG+1) cold-called and I called as well. Both the blinds -- including the solid player -- folded, so three of us went to the flop. There was $3.75 in the pot.
The flop came . . . not too exciting for yours truly. A gutshot and backdoor flush draw. Gatorhater led out and Wiseacre called. I paused a beat and called as well. Even if I’m only going to see the turn, a quick calculation of poker odds shows I’m not too off-base here chasing the gutshot, especially with position. Four outs means it was about 11-to-1 to hit my straight. Since there was $4.75 in the pot, that made the pot odds 9.5-to-1, although the implied odds in this case were surely better than that. So it didn’t take much for me to make the call. The pot was $5.25.
The turn brought the , probably the only card other than a six that could genuinely heighten my interest in the hand. A check from Gatorhater doubled my curiosity. Wiseacre checked behind him. I now had a double-gutshot plus a flush draw -- 15 outs, most of which appeared clean. I bet and both players called. The pot had reached $8.25.
I watched the river card come down, hoping for that diamond or six or ten. Alas, it was the . Both Gatorhater and Wiseacre checked. What's my play? What would you do?
Here’s one of those hands where I cannot possibly win the hand by checking -- no way is my nine-high good. However, in a lot of those situations where checking is a sure loser, betting isn't always necessarily a good idea, either. In this case, I can bet, but I have two opponents, and if either calls he’s taking the pot. Now Sklansky would use math to justify the bluff here. I’ve got a $1 chip with which to try to take that $8.25 in the middle. If I try this move, say, eight times and only win once, I’m actually making a profit -- I’d lose $7, but win $8.25 the one time it worked. I can’t say I really was thinking of math at the time, but the check-calls on the turn from both players made me think neither probably had an ace or jack, so I bet. To my delight, both Gatorhater and Wiseacre instafolded, and I took it down.
Having the draw (and position) persuaded me to take control with that turn bet here, and it worked out. Like I said, this sort of thing rarely works so well in these low limit games. It was probably 50-50 that Wisacre had a seven (or even a five or three) and would make the call, but a coin flip is well worth taking if you only need $1 to shoot for $8. And that's not even counting the added satisfaction of winning a relatively-large pot in low limit hold ’em with what was likely the third-best hand.
By the way, I’ve noticed PokerStars has recently altered their rake structure. Previously there was no rake on pots below $5.00, a quarter on $5.00-$9.75 pots, fifty cents on $10.00-$14.75 pots, and so forth. Now they appear to be taking a nickel on every dollar, with a maximum rake of $0.50. They are continuing the “no flop no drop” policy -- i.e., there’s no rake if the hand concludes preflop. (Such a rake structure is identical to the one Full Tilt Poker uses.) Looking at Poker Tracker, I see the average pot size in my $0.50/$1.00 games is just under $5.00 -- meaning that under the former structure, the average hand on PokerStars had no rake taken; now they’ll get around $0.20 per hand. In this particular hand, PokerStars took $0.40 (whereas formerly they would’ve taken only $0.25).
We’ll see if this new structure amounts to a big difference or not. Still probably better than the punishing structure Party Poker employs ($0.50 for every $5.00 in the pot). Talk about the power of the draw . . . .