By George “The Engineer” Epstein
Playing in a $4-$8 limit hold’em game at a local casino, it had not been a good night for me. I was quite a bit behind; and it was getting close to time for me to head home. As the game had progressed, it had become more aggressive, with frequent raises and reraises before the flop. A young man joined our table, two seats before me, and proceeded to raise almost every hand. Probably a “maniac,” I concluded. Fortunately, I had position over him for most of the hands dealt.
The pots had grown substantially. If I could win a couple of these big pots, I might yet go home a winner. . .
In the Big Blind, I looked down at pocket tens. Several called to see the flop; and then the aggressive young man – seated on the Button – raised it up. Considering my poor position, I decided not to reraise with my 10-10 in the hole. Then, after I called, a player to my left made it a three-bet. Almost for certain, some of my opponents held bigger honor cards than my tens. Five of us saw the flop.
The flop came down: 7-9-2 rainbow. My pocket tens may very well be in the lead, I thought hopefully, albeit quite vulnerable. From the Big Blind, I opened the betting, hoping some of my opponents would muck their hands. Then my pocket tens would have a better chance of holding up to the showdown. Two opponents called – the young-aggressor on the Button and a middle-position player.
The turn was the 3 of diamonds – not likely to have helped anyone, I reasoned. I might still be in the lead, so once again, I opened the betting. The same two opponents called to see the river – no raises. I felt quite hopeful about my prospects. If I could get past the river, I would win a good size pot – one that could make me about even or perhaps a little ahead for the evening. So, I wished. . .
As I focused my attention on the dealer’s hands, he carefully turned up the river card. It was the Ace of hearts. “Darn,” I said to myself, knowing that these players like to stay in with any-Ace. (I don’t think I gave anyone a tell.)
With that horrible Ace on the board, I checked on the river, hoping it would also be checked by my remaining two opponents. No way! The aggressive Button made the bet. The other player and I both called to see the showdown. The Button turned up A-7 offsuit for two-pair. He had actually raised on the flop with just a pair of 7’s. My pocket-tens had me well ahead of him all the way until the river. . . The other player showed his Ace in the hole as he mucked his hand.
With both opponents holding an Ace in the hole, there were only two Aces left unseen in the deck. The odds that an Ace would come down on the river were about 20-to-1 against. Yes, the Button also had two more outs with his pair of 7’s. Even so, with only four outs, the odds were over 10-to-1 against him. I was a huge favorite to win that pot – until the river. I would say that this was a Bad Beat for me. . .
George “The Engineer” Epstein is the author of The Greatest Book of Poker for Winners!; Hold’em or Fold’em? – An Algorithm for Making the Key Decision; and The Art of Bluffing. He has taught poker at the Claude Pepper Senior Center, at West L.A. College, and to elderly war veterans at the CalVet facility in the VA/West L.A. George created and organized the Claude Pepper Seniors Poker Group. He was awarded the Senior Citizen Volunteer-of-the-Year Award, in large part for his activities on behalf of senior citizens, and has been elected to the Seniors’ Poker Hall of Fame.