[Editor’s Note: Poker Player Newspaper is glad to welcome back Tony Guerrera to its pages on a part time basis, beginning this issue. —Lou Krieger]
Very early on March 26, 2005, cash game action on the Party Poker Million IV cruise was reaching its end. Holland America’s Oosterdam was approaching the San Diego waters from which it had departed a week earlier. I was playing in a $2-$5 no-limit hold’em game. The action was fast and furious as it had been all week, but things were about to go into overdrive…
I was UTG+3 at a full handed table with approximately $800 in front of me, and was dealt A-A. Chaos ensued. UTG opened to $25. UTG+1 flatted. UTG+2 re-raised to $75. I four-bet to $150. Four or five players cold-called—I’m pretty sure it was five, but this hand happened a long time ago, so forgive me if it was only four.
UTG+1, the initial raiser before the flop, tanked for about a minute before shoving all-in to about $1,250. Action folded to me. I called. Action folded to the final $150 cold-caller. Then he tanked for about a minute before calling off his remaining $350.
In total, the pot contained about $800 + $800 + $500 + 4($150) = $2,700, or 540 big blinds, if that’s the way you like to keep score. Winning this pot outright would bring me a nice $1,900 profit (380 big blinds).
We all showed our hands. UTG had K-K. The other player had 2-2! Given the effective stacks and the non-negligible chance of being in a set-over-set scenario post flop, cold calling $150 with 2-2 was quite poor. However, the final $350 call was correct. Against two players on KK+, 2-2 has 15.660 percent equity. The player with 2-2 only needed about 12.963 percent equity for his final $350 call to be +$EV—more on this in my next article.
I ended up winning the pot. I remember absolutely annihilating some opponents online at Party Poker and possibly being in some pots that contained more big blinds and in which I profited more big blinds (That was pre-UIGEA, when US players could play on Party Poker). However, this hand really stands out as one of the most interesting hands of poker I’ve ever played. This hand isn’t interesting because I made $1,900 from it. It also isn’t interesting from a strategic perspective, although the hand pretty much played itself. But it is interesting because what could four or five players be cold-calling my 4-bet with, given that most of them started the hand with about $400-$500?
This hand is also interesting because of it’s a relic from a different poker era. I’ll admit that it was wild even for 2005 standards. However, in today’s playing climate, I can’t imagine seeing anything close to this hand—even in an online $.01-$.02 no-limit hold’em game! In only 6 years, the game has evolved to the point where the average player has become much tougher.
Since poker is a negative sum game, it’s impossible for everybody to be a long-term winner. In fact, depending on how well everybody plays, it’s possible for everybody to be a long-term loser. The game isn’t in the “everyone loses” state yet, but who knows what the future holds? As a result, understanding your motivations for playing is important. Understanding why others play is also important. And even though we all bring different motivations to the table, hopefully, “having fun” can be a shared motivation on everybody’s list.
Tony Guerrera is the author of several poker books, and he hosts the popular poker podcast, Killer Poker Analysis. For more about Tony, visit his website, KillerEV.com, where he blogs about decision optimization on and off the felt.