It was a typically beautiful early spring evening in L.A. when my engineering society Board of Directors’ meeting ended early at a restaurant near LAX. With a refreshing nip in the night air, I decided to drive to nearby Hollywood Park Casino to play a few hours of $3-$6 limit hold’em.
There were only two tables in play, with a long waiting list. But I made good use of my waiting time by observing the players at both tables which, conveniently, were positioned next to each other. By the time I was called to a vacated seat, I knew quite a bit about the opponents I would be facing.
My diligence was rewarded. Almost from the start, I won some good-size pots, and was well ahead with huge stacks of chips on the table in front of me. That’s when an especially interesting hand occurred – one I expect to never forget. Perhaps my success up to that point clouded my thinking process. Perhaps I was over-confident…
In a middle position, with K-10 suited in the hole, the flop brought three more of my suit, including the ace. I had flopped the nut flush plus a draw to a royal flush. Wow! To get max value out of my hand, I decided to slow-play and let the others do the betting and raising.
I just calmly called the bets on the flop. With six of us in the hand, it was already a good-size pot. Then the turn paired the board so I decided it would be best to raise when the betting got to me, and was called by three opponents.
The river appeared to be a "brick," not likely to help anyone. The early-position player checked to me, and I made the big bet. The button called. Then the early-position player raised the pot. He had check-raised!
That alone should have given me reason for caution. But I was so enamored of my nut-flush-on-the-flop (who could fault me?), I was sure I held the winning hand. Promptly, I re-raised – in my mind, certain I held the winning hand.
Now it was just the two of us. He re-raised. Playing heads-up there is no limit on raises, just the chips on the table in front of you. Without pausing to think (my error!), I re-raised again. Quickly he responded with yet another raise.
Finally, I paused to think about the hand. We all know that with a pair on the board it is possible for someone to make a full-house or better. What’s more, my opponent was not prone to bluff. Certainly he held a good hand. With the piles of chips in the pot, I had to call.
As you probably suspected, he had flopped a set of fives, and then made a full-boat when the board paired. My nut flush was second-best – "chopped liver," so to speak. That pot really cut into to my winnings. But, at least I was still well ahead. A bit later, I did manage to go home a winner!
For comments and questions, George "The Engineer" can be reached at email@example.com.
FINDING the EDGE
Poker players who want to stand the test of time need to find an edge. This ability to find and exploit an edge is the main factor in who makes it and who doesn’t. The following story illustrates how you can have both earning power and an edge at the same time. I was heads-up with a player named Mike Harthcock in the last satellite for the World Series of Poker Main Event.
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