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playing poker and teaching science: When a hand comes together.
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Location: Indiana, United States

I'm a middle school science teacher, wrestling coach, poker player, scuba diver, aikido black belt, amateur writer, and student of life. In the past I have tried to give back a little by volunteering at a children's home in Belmopan, Belize, Central America. I also love Frosted Flakes. I have taken a year sabbatical from my teaching position in order to sail the Caribbean. Does that sound crazy to you?

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

When a hand comes together.

Overcards.

When the flop hits and misses you completely but you have overcards to the board, how do you play it? I think it depends a lot on the read you have on other players and the manner in which the hand has progressed and a recent live hand I experienced makes for a good example to analyze.

I was playing $2-$6 spread Hold Em at the President Casino in St. Louis and on the button when dealt a suited AQ. There are two limpers ahead of me and I raise to $6 and lose everyone except the big blind and the player to my right. My read on him at this point was that he had been playing fairly good hands, but could have any two suited cards.

The flop falls J 10 7 rainbow. The big blind checks and the player ahead of me bets the minimum, $2.

What to do? From the way he has been playing I think the flop hit him in some way, but if it was top pair I think he would have bet the maximum. My read was that he hit the bottom pair and wanted to know where he was but didn’t actually bet enough to find out. I had two overcards against a random hand to my left and I may be behind in the hand, but have 10 cards left that will improve my hand.

I raise to $6. Not the maximum raise because I still don’t know about the BB behind me, but I find out quickly when he folds. I get called by the bettor, which I expected no matter what he held.

The next card is a blank and it is checked to me. I now have the option of betting my overcards. Why bet? I know that this player rarely folds when he has a piece of the flop and any 7, 10, or Jack beats me and I just got a free card. Check.

The river is a King. Broadway. It’s again checked to me and I bet, he calls, I win.

His response, “You rivered me,” and shows 67 suited.

Did I river him? Technically, yes, but he played a marginal hand given the fact that there wasn’t enough money in the pot to call my raise after all but the BB folded. He then called another raise with bottom pair. I think he was asking for trouble by overplaying bottom pair.

My raise gave me a lot of chances to win the hand. I could have drawn an overcard, forced a fold, or bought a free card. So I had many ways to make more than 3 to 1 on my money and a third of the available cards left that would improve my hand.

I don’t think that betting or raising with overcards is always the best option, but a good read on opponents makes them a lot easier to play. They are also easier to play in limit Hold Em as opposed to No Limit because you are not going to go broke in one hand.

Finally, according to my spellcheck, “overcard” is not a word. But then neither is spellcheck.

Thanks for reading.

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