Poker Beat: Bluffing in Black Hawk

Wednesday, July 07, 2010


By Mark Lasser

This week we’re going to cover a great hand played at the Lodge, and, in the adjoining piece, I’m also going to cover some poker etiquette that should be reviewed once in awhile by even the best players.

Before I get into the hand, players should be aware that as of our deadline, bad beat jackpots are in the six figures at both Golden Gates as well as the Lodge, and over $300,000 at Ameristar. Check in with the casinos before you decide where to play if you like chasing these contests. For those of you who are new to poker, bad beats are events where someone (usually with at least aces-full-of-jacks or better) gets their hand beat.

It’s often the case that a player with quads will get beat by a straight flush. Typically, the losing player gets 50 percent of the jackpot, the winner gets 25 percent and the table or sometimes the entire poker room splits the rest. Every poker room has different rules and splits, but this is generally the idea. If any of my readers has won one and would like to tell the story of your hand, shoot me an e-mail.

OK, on to the hand. This week I witnessed some really well-played cards. I’m a pretty good reader of players but I had no idea what was happening in this scenario until I chased down the winning player and he agreed to tell me what he had. The winning player was Michael Ivy from Englewood and the table was 1-2-100 spread limit Texas Hold’em. Michael was in middle position and raised the blinds from $2 to $17. The next three players folded and an experienced player who had been playing respectfully well all night called. We’ll call him Mr. Confused. The flop came A-s 8-h 5-h. Not a bad flop for an AK, 8-8 or 5-5 but I didn’t figure either player had a set based on their reactions.

Michael seemed pretty relaxed and Mr. Confused didn’t look happy. Both players checked the flop. The turn was a 6-d. So I’m looking at the board figuring no one has AK or AQ unless they’re slow playing, which is unlikely since there are flush and straight draw hazards on the flop. Michael acts first and bets $40 and Mr. Confused thinks about it and calls. Before the river is dealt, Michael calls out loud for a 7 of hearts and a 7-s hits giving him the 7, but not the hearts. So, the flush cannot be made. Either player holding a 9 or a 4 would have a straight. Was Michael requesting the card he really wanted or was he using reverse psychology to keep Mr. Confused, well … confused?

Michael bets out $85 on the river and Mr. Confused shows the table his pocket Queens. He struggles with a decision for a good five minutes. I’m trying to figure out what I would do, and frankly I have no idea. I didn’t think Michael made the Aces, yet it seemed like such a long shot to make a gut shot straight draw. I also didn’t think he was on a flush draw or a semi bluff, but I wasn’t sure about any of it. As Mr. Confused sweats, Michael looks pretty cool. Eventually Mr. Confused folds and as the dealer pushes the pot to Michael, he turns over one card. A 6-h. Huh? What did that mean? A set of sixes on the turn? Two pair? A flush draw not made? A 6-9 or 6-4? If so, why not show both cards. Mr. Confused seemed pretty darn sure he had made a straight. In actuality, Michael’s second card was a K of hearts and he was trying to make the flush. He basically bluffed at the river, thinking Mr. Confused did not have the straight and it worked, netting him a decent sized pot. Congratulations Michael on a well-executed and gutsy hand.

Poker Etiquette Tips

In the spirit of improving our games here in Colorado, I wanted to add some etiquette tips. Here are some five things that drive poker dealers crazy, are against house rules, yet happen everyday. So if you do these things, do the dealers and your fellow players a favor and try your best to chill.

- Act in turn. Please don’t bet before it’s your turn to act at the table. It’s unfair to everyone in the hand.

- Please do not coach other players. You may mean well, but it’s unacceptable and unfair. Besides, why are you so sure you’re giving them good advice?

- Do not talk about the cards on the board. Yelling out that you would have flopped a full house is unfair to the players remaining in the hand and gives an advantage to some players over others. This is especially true if the flop has just been bet and the next player is trying to decide whether or not to call.

- No abusive talk. We all occasionally wish horrible things to happen to the opponent who beat our Aces with 7-2 off suit, but it’s not cool to actually tell them. Dealers will tolerate a short outburst, especially if you regain control of yourself and apologize, but don’t push them or you’ll find yourself out the door.

- Never ever ever throw your cards at the dealer. If you want to know the fastest way to get booted from the card room, this is it. Happens on occasion and dealers have zero tolerance.

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