My brother Russ, who is a profitable $1/$2 cash player, recounted a hand to me last weekend in Vegas which prompted this entry. It belongs in a category of hands that only occasionally comes up, but is still worth exploring. Here’s what I heard him say*: “So there are a bunch of limpers, and I limp behind on the button with pocket fives. There are seven or eight players to the A75 flop. It checks to a guy in early position, who bets slightly more than the pot. A woman in mid-position flats. I reraise, and it folds around the early position bettor, who flats. The woman in mid position calls behind. The turn is a 7. The early position guy bets out…”

I had a visceral reaction, and I thought of that line from Jaws when Roy Scheider, playing the mayor of Amity, first sees the shark.

You’re going to need a bigger boat.

I thought: that guy’s going to stack my brother. Because that series of actions, from a reasonable player who is betting for value, is almost certainly a two pair combo that has now become a full house — and all those combinations beat Russ.

As it happened, the situation was a bit more complicated than that, which I will detail in a minute. And at $1/$2, not everyone is going to play reasonably. But if the early position bettor were a fairly conservative player who I’d been observing for a while, I would strongly consider folding this hand, because, from such a person, the bet indicates that he longer cares what anybody else has.

I only bring this up because there have been several times in tournaments when I failed to fold a full house in a very clear foldable situation against a nitty opponent, and while people tried to comfort me afterward by saying it was a bad beat, it really wasn’t. It was my own fault, because I got greedy and switched into non-thinking I-want-your-chips mode preemptively. The hand reading part of my brain completely shut down. And I got stacked.

All I’m saying is, devote at least a little part of your brain to what the other person has until you at least have quads. 🙂

As it happens, as we discussed the details of the hand, I don’t think it would have been a good fold for Russ, which shows you how rare a good full house fold really is. Here’s the hand:

There are seven or eight limpers to the flop, and Russ limps on the button with pocket fives. Flop comes As 7x 5s (two spades). Early position guy bets $20 into a $16 bet, woman in mid position flats, and Russ repops to $85 (and now has $165 behind). Both of them flat, early position guy covers Russ and woman is shorter with only $135 behind. The turn is a seven. Early position bets out $45 (into a $271 pot!), mid position woman flats (with only $90 behind) and Russ ships the rest of his stack. Both players call.

Given that there were two spades on the flop and that turn bet is so tiny (a blocking bet from top pair/nut flush draw or a big ace turned two pair is possible) I think the dynamic of this hand changes considerably, and the situation is much, much murkier. The woman is very likely on a flush draw or some other weak hand. Though bigger full houses are still a part of early position guy’s range, I think it’s totally fine for Russ to get it in here, especially since any draws are not going to pay you off on a blank river.

This doesn’t mean it’s ever right to ignore the initial instincts of your big sister, however. Because in the end, my brother still got stacked.

 

*Some details were either omitted by him in his first retelling or I just wasn’t listening too closely.

 

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