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Bad Beats, Part 2

16 June 2006

Okay, one more column on bad beats, and then I'll give it a rest.

Last week, I wrote about the bad beat I had experienced at the beginning of my poker-playing career. I had been dealt a pair of queens; the board flopped a third queen and a pair of 8s. Even though I had a full house, I lost to another player holding a pair of 8s. I learned three lessons from that experience. First, learn to read the board and consider which hands could beat yours. Second, beware of callers.

The third lesson that I absolutely had to incorporate into my playing style was to not have a playing style. You gotta' mix it up. Because I played mostly against the same regular players at the Copa's Poker Room, they all knew that I played only medium to high pairs and face cards, usually suited. When the dealer flopped a queen and a pair of 8s, and when I bet, the whole table knew that at least one of us had the pocket queens and the other had pocket 8s.

Of course, my opponent knew who had what.

In Get the Edge at Low-Limit Texas Hold'em, Bill Burton advises, "Developing a table image is the art of deception, which will help confuse your opponents about the type of player that you are. You may want to give the appearance of being loose or tight, but then mix it up and change gears. . . . If you establish a tight image it is easy to occasionally play a little looser and deceive other players who are used to your style."

David Sklansky, one of the most respected poker authors, even suggests playing crazy hands once in a while and deliberately getting caught at it. He says it's good for your image.

A big disadvantage to always starting with only the best hands is that if the flop brings more high cards and you bet, then most other players will fold. You won't be getting enough money in the pot. And poker's not about winning pots but about winning money.

Burton advises newbies to play their first 50 hours very tightly and then, after that, to start playing more of the generally recommended hands. Well, my first 50 hours had been long gone, but I was still having difficulty playing more hands. I had to force myself to play less than the absolute highest starting hands, but eventually I learned to play even an unsuited 7/2. But only occasionally. Watch out, guys.

I've thought of maybe a fourth lesson I've learned. Ever since that particular bad beat of my queens-full-of-8s being beat by four 8s, I've been gun shy. Whenever I've had a strong, winning hand, I've just been checking on the river, not betting or raising. Sometimes, I don't even start out betting pre-flop; I just check or call. But, like a dealer told me, I've got to get past that bad beat. I won't always have the "nuts" (best possible hand). I can't foresee the future, and it is possible to win with second-best hand, third best, and often nothing at all.

Yes, you still need to consider the possibility that you can be beat with a good hand, but if the size of the pot justifies it, go for it.

Last week, I misstated certain odds. I said that the odds of being dealt a pair of anything are 220-to-1 against it. I should have said that the odds of being dealt a specific pair are 220-to-1. As soon as he read last week's column, a friend, C.H., e-mailed me and referred me to Doyle Brunson's Super/System, A Course in Power Poker, page 572, Appendix XVIII. Starting with any pair in the pocket is actually only 16-to-1. Of course, the odds that I needed to worry about were my opponent's odds of being dealt that specific pair, 8s (220-to-1).

Until next week, aces and faces to you.

Linda Mabry

Low Roller Linda Mabry lives and gambles on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. She writes a weekly, general gambling advice column for the Biloxi Sun Herald, and may be contacted through her e-mail address, lnmabry@cableone.net or her web site www.thelowroller.com
Linda Mabry
Low Roller Linda Mabry lives and gambles on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. She writes a weekly, general gambling advice column for the Biloxi Sun Herald, and may be contacted through her e-mail address, lnmabry@cableone.net or her web site www.thelowroller.com