Friday, October 12, 2007

A Thirty-Big-Bet Limit Hold ’em Hand

Big ol' stack of chipsIn Small Stakes Hold ’em, Miller/Sklansky/Malmuth make a somewhat rudimentary distinction between “loose” and “tight” tables. The authors describe a “tight” game as one in which 3-5 players are usually staying to see the flop, and a “loose” one as having 6-8 players hanging around for the flop. Of course, how folks play after the flop also helps define the relative “tightness” or “looseness” of the table, but the distinction is nevertheless descriptive enough.

The authors are surely speaking of live games here. I don’t know what your experience is, but I almost never see 6-8 players going to the flop in my 1/2 LHE games online. They come around every once in awhile, though. I found myself at one of those rare tables a couple of days ago, and subsequently got involved in one of the biggest limit Hold ’em hands I can remember ever playing.

I had been at the table for only an orbit or so, but had already determined most of my opponents were of the loose, passive variety Miller/Sklansky/Malmuth are really teaching us to exploit in their book. I was already up about eight bucks, having just won a modest pot on the previous hand with QQ. For this hand, a late position player who had been sitting out, BrigidS, posted an additional blind. I was on the button where I was dealt 4c5c. Two early position players called, then JoelCairo raised it. The player to JoelCairo’s left, Gutman, cold-called the two bets, and BrigidS also called. A decent scenario for my small suited connectors. I also call the two bets, the SB folds, and the BB and early position players all call as well. Seven players altogether to see the flop. The pot is $15.

Flop comes 7c2h6c -- a straight flush draw for me. The first player to act bets and gets called, then JoelCairo raises it to two bucks. Gutman calls, then BrigidS three bets. I hesitate for a moment, then go ahead and cap the betting from the button. I figure I might drive out at least one or two of those early players. I’m also thinking since I’m going to call the fourth bet anyhow, I might as well raise to obscure the fact I’ve got nothing as yet.

Indeed, those early position players both fold, JoelCairo calls, Gutman calls, and BrigidS also calls. Four players remain. The pot is already up to $33, or 16.5 big bets.

I’m pretty sure at this point I don’t want my flush to come -- unless, of course, it’s the straight flush. The turn card -- 4d -- improves my hand, technically speaking (I now have a pair). But I know I’m still drawing. JoelCairo surprisingly checks, as does Gutman. BrigidS bets out, I call, and JoelCairo check-raises us. Gutman cold-calls the two big bets, then BrigidS three-bets it. I’m going nowhere, though capping seems a bit foolhardy this time so I call the three bets. JoelCairo just calls, too, as does Gutman. There are still four of us in the hand. The pot is up to a whopping $57, or 28.5 big bets.

The river is the 3d, giving me my straight, and when it checks around to me I’m pretty sure I’m golden. JoelCairo calls, and the other two players both fold! JoelCairo mucks his pocket rockets, and I scoop $59.50 all told (after a buck is taken for the rake).

What could Gutman and BrigidS have had to fold getting 30-to-1? Both had to have been drawing, too, and both had to have ended the hand without having paired their overcards. After the hand, one of the early position players typed “nice raises lol” and BrigidS quickly responded “i had too and he had too,” confirming, I suppose, that she, like me, was on a draw. JoelCairo’s check-raise on the turn was valiant, but by that point the pot had grown too damn big for him to knock out anyone.

A bizarre, perfect-stormy hand, really. I netted $45.50 all told. A final pot of thirty-plus big bets, and the betting only gets capped once (on the flop). And the guy who capped it (me) had five-high at the time.

Puts me in mind a little bit of that “Godot hand” I wrote about some months back. That was the one where I ended up calling a lot of bets with 43-suited from the big blind, finally hitting my flush on the end only to lose to a bigger flush. I called it a “Godot hand” because it begged the question, “What the hell were you waiting for, Shamus?”

A couple of differences, here, though. One is the fact that in that hand I end up chasing a flush without having any real straight possibilities. (Obviously the straight is preferable with the baby connectors.)

The other, bigger difference? Position. Changes everything. Playing from the button, I almost always knew (or had a good idea) what I was in for with my investment on each street.

Should be a while before I see a table like that again, I would think. Or a hand that big.



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