6-max limit, $0.50/$1.00 (as usual). I had played about thirty hands or so at this particular table and was sitting about even. There had been a lot of preflop raising, although on this particular hand it was one of the less active players, Powell, who started the action by preraising from UTG. I’m next to act and see I’ve been dealt . Presto! I decided to reraise. I figured if I got loose calls, I’d cash in should the set arrive, and if I didn’t I’d have isolated Powell at least. The cutoff, MyrnaLoy, did indeed call the three bets, then it folded back to Powell who capped it. Didn’t feel like Powell had just two overs anymore, but I did make the call, of course, to see that flop. MyrnaLoy also called and we were three-handed with a pot of $6.75.
The flop came and Powell bet out as expected. Hoping to confirm once and for all what my opponents were holding, I went ahead and raised it. Both called. What did I conclude? Figured Powell might hold a middle pair and didn’t care for that board much (esp. being out of position as he was). He could have flopped a set himself and was being cute, but that seemed unlikely. MyrnaLoy, meanwhile, likely had hit a jack or ten, or might be drawing. In any event, I was just about dead certain I wouldn’t be running my wired fives through this here board.
The turn was the and UTG checked. If I had been at all unsure before, I was now thoroughly finished with the hand and checked behind. Myrna Loy also checked (perhaps fearing that king, I thought). The river was one of those seductive “dangerous dame”-types shamuses know often look too good to be true -- the , giving me my set but also potentially making someone a flush.
Powell bet, giving me pause. Ace-queen would make sense here, I thought, if not for that third diamond. Thinking back, his capping preflop also made ace-queen less likely. I decided my set was likely going to beat whatever Powell held. As for MyrnaLoy, she could well be holding two diamonds here. Calling two bets cold after the flop did represent the behavior of a person on a draw. And cold-calling three bets before the flop did smell like something suited . . . perhaps . . . .
What would you do here?
I decided to raise. I was convinced I had Powell beat. I was 50-50 that I had MyrnaLoy beat. Someone smarter than me could explain this better, but I’m thinking that with a pot this big (we were up to $10.75 after Powell put in his river bet), no one was folding. That meant I’d be getting two-to-one on every dollar that I put in the pot from this point forward. And if I’m feeling like I’ve got half a chance at winning this sucker, then two-to-one on my money is pretty darn good.
(Someone smarter than me might also be able to explain why raising is not a good idea here. If so, I’m listening . . . .)
MyrnaLoy called my raise, as did Powell. A second later the chips slid across the screen and into my stack -- a $15.25 pot all told. And a $10.25 net profit for me. I quickly clicked on the “last hand” button to see what hands had been mucked -- Powell’s and MyrnaLoy’s .
Like I said, a funny hand. Where do we draw the line between luck and skill here? I win on a two-outer, but both of my opponents clearly made mistakes for that happen. Powell made at least one (checking the turn). MyrnaLoy arguably made three (not reraising preflop, just calling the flop, and checking the turn). (I’m not claiming to be above making similar mistakes -- I described myself making a similar goof just a couple of posts back.) Anybody plays back at me on that flop, I’m out. Any bet at all on that turn, I’m out. Sure, it took a 22-to-1 shot to come through for it to happen, but I think the best-played hand won.
Some who witness frequent suck-outs like this online -- players hitting their one- or two-outers to take down big pots -- want to question the integrity of the shuffling programs. Can’t happen so often, they say. Never see this in live play. I don’t think the difference is in the way the cards are shuffled, though. It is in how the cards are played. Players making mistakes -- either by chasing too much or by failing adequately to protect their big hands -- make it more likely for such river “miracles” to occur.
So says the luckbox river rat. Don’t you just hate him?
Image: A PartyPoker card (adapted).