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Pot Limit & No Limit Poker : Play Poker

PROBABILITY CONCEPTS

“Don’t Believe Everything You Have Read”

    Here I am talking about the odds of winning or losing money in a given hand. Always keep in mind that we keep score in poker not by the number of winning poker hands we make but by counting our money at the end of the session.

IMPLIED ODDS

    You face a pot of $100 in a $100 pot. Now, you are receiving 2-1 for your money and the pot stands at $200. In seven card stud poker, it is sixth street, or there is one card to come in Omaha. In both the scenarios, it would be about 4-1 against your making a flush. Therefore, you should not call heads-up.

    However, many books advice that if there are poker players who are yet to come, then you can include the implication that they will call if you do. Therefore, you will have 4-1 for your money if you think that two are going to call. This is very foolish. You do not know what is in the rival poker player’s mind. He might either call, or pass or raise.

    The amount of extra money which is already in the pot which you might win if you make your draw is termed as “implied odds”. Following is a good example from Omaha. Your hand is A♥-10♠-2♥-2♠. The board is K♥-Q♠-7♥-2♦. It means that you have hit the mystery trips on fourth street. The pot is $1000, you are last poker player to speak, and the only other poker player bets $1000, having led out on the flop.

    You will certainly not lose the pot with a jack and will win with eight hearts and one deuce. Therefore, you will have 12 outs. You will win with only 12 cards in 42 cards as you can only see eight cards and are assuming that the rival poker player has three kings. This scenario is worse than 2 to 1; in fact 2.5 to 1. You cannot expect to be paid off if a flush comes.

    You might split the pot if a jack comes. If you don’t there is a fair chance that he will come out betting or check and call your bet, thinking that you are betting. If the fourth deuce comes, not only is he going to come out betting but also he going to stand a raise and might even reraised. It would be foolish to pass this hand.

    From your perspective it is better if he has trips than two pair if you intend to pass a bet at the river if the board blanks. The reason for this is because you have a much better chance of being paid off if you hit the nuts. Do not assume that your trips are winning and automatically bet if the board blanks or pairs and the rival poker player checks. He might be laying out a trap.

    Let us take another example. You have 10♥-8♥ in hold’em poker. The board is 9♥-6♣-2♥-K♠. You have three nut outs and a further nine hearts which might also be winning. You must assess the chances of yourself being called if you make the hand while you are facing a near pot size bet. Obviously, the odds are not sufficient.

    If you act last in such cases, you will generally have an advantage over your rival poker players. If you are last to speak, you are more likely to get called. If a heart arrives at the river and the rival poker player bets out, what are you going to do? Your flush is not the biggest.

    On certain occasions you must play smartly after all the cards have been dealt in order to receive the implied odds you imagined existed. For e.g. at Omaha, you hold A♥-Q♥-Q-10 and the flop comes J♥-6♥-2♣. John is to speak before you and Ann after you. The pot stands at $100. John checks, you bet the pot with an overpair and the nut flush draw.

    Both John and Ann call. The board now brings (J♥-6♥-2♣) 8♠. The pot is $400. John checks, you bet $300 and Ann raises $1000. John calls. Do you have value for a call? John’s holding is a mystery. However, Ann presumably has trips. To win $3300, you must pay $1000. There are very less chances of neither of them having any of your cards and obviously you might not win the pot with a queen.

    It might prove to be a trouble card. If a non pairing flush arrives, they will probably pass. If a nine comes up, you might have to do things very nicely. The last card is (J♥-6♥-2♣-8♠) 9♦ making you the nut straight. Here, John bets $2000. This small amount of money is very disappointing. In such a scenario, calling is the correct thing to do.

    As Ann knows that she can gain $8300 out there for just $2000, she might call without straight. It is irrelevant whether the trips are worthless or not. If you raise, John- an intelligent poker player who might be bluffing will only call if he is sharing the pot or possibly if he has the under straight. Generally, you should be satisfied with $2000. In such situations, I have seen many poker players raise.

    I still do not understand what they gain out of this. It is better to come out betting rather than to trap if you are in John’s position. If the next poker player has the same straight and is doing his job, he will just smooth call and hope to gain money from losing poker players. If you check and the second poker player bets, the middle poker player fearing the possibility of a raise from you is more likely to pass.

    Sometimes you can make a reasonable assessment how a poker player who is yet to act will behave. This will be illustrated by the following hand I played in Las Vegas in February, 1994. At pot-limit poker, the first poker player bet, the second poker player raised the pot and I called with 9♥-8♠-7♥-5♣. Three more poker players called. Now, the first poker player raised the pot all-in for $2000.

    The second poker player called for $500. None of these three poker players had more than $2000 left whereas I had bundles left. I assumed that the first poker player had aces which proved to be correct. I did not know whether I had sufficient odds or not. I thought that if I called, they would follow the suit. I had my implied odds. Therefore, I called and the other poker players went all-in and I won the pot.

    I still wonder that if another poker player would have scooped the pot then would the hand have been so memorable?

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