Killer Babies – Straight Skinny

Every night after supper, Fred plays no-limit hold’em for low-stakes. Because he read somewhere that Doyle Brunson’s favorite hand was 5-3 suited, he e-mailed us beaucoup questions about playing suited wheel cards, the 24 double tons of ranks five, four, three, and two, shown here:

skinny straights - poker

You need to know the chance of making a five-card flush by the river when starting with a suited hand equals 5.8 percent, about 16-to-1 against. You should know by now that even in a ten-handed game your five-card flush prevails 76 percent of the time. Of course, with four or more trumps among the community cards, your baby flush has little or no chance.

Your chances for a straight depend on which double ton you hold. The 5-4 double ton can make a straight four ways; the 5-3 and 4-3 doubletons three ways; and the others two ways. The chance of a straight by the river equals 13.1 percent, 9.8 percent, and 6.5 percent, respectively, for those doubletons.

Similar to flushes, if you have a five-card straight, then even in a ten-handed game you have a 71 percent chance of prevailing against any hand a straight can beat. Of course with a four-straight among the community cards, your chances with babies shrink towards nil.

At deep-stack, no limit hold’em, we really want to make a wheel with our baby cards. We yearn for an ace and another wheel card on the flop, because then we have a chance, if all goes well, of stacking our opponent.

The chance of making a wheel by the river for all six killer babies equals 3.2 percent, about 30-to-1 against. Still, if you can see the flop for the cost of a big blind, or even a small raise in a frisky game, then those suited wheel cards just might show a long-term profit.

Suppose you saw a small raise with 5d-2d and the dealer flopped Aa-Kf-4d. Ignoring the backdoor flush draw, you have four outs for the inside straight draw, or about an 8.5 percent chance to make a wheel on the turn. Just as important, you probably have a customer! Someone with A-K, A-x, or K-Q might very well commit her whole stack after that innocuous little trey hits the table.

Before you call that post-flop bet, you need to look at the stacks. You need 12-to-1 odds to proceed, so your opponent must have a stack a dozen or more times that bet, and so do you! These plays bomb when either of you have a short stack because you can’t obtain the correct implied odds.

If you fail to connect on the turn, then to call the next bet you both need to have twelve or more times that bet in your stacks to draw again to the inside straight. If a trump turned, then you had more outs; but if another trump hits the river, then it freezes the action, so you win a smaller pot. Stick with the stacks equal twelve-times-bet requirement for the wheel draw and cross your fingers.

The chance that you hit an ace and a wheel card on the flop equals 8*32*C(4,1)/C(50,3), or 5.2 percent, about one time in 19. Of course, you always have the chances of flopping a flush draw, two pairs, trips, or better, for a combined 19.2 percent. You can expect the flop to hit you about one time in five when holding those killer babies.

When the flop misses you, then you can easily muck those babies and wait for better hands. Good hunting.

Mark Brown
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