Thursday, October 06, 2005

The worst kinds of bad beats

Although anyone will tell you (myself being first on this list) that ANY kind of bad beat is just awful, in my view some bad beats are just inherently worse than others.
Yes, sure, we've all lost countless hands when someone with a 35% flush draw after the flop filled it on the turn or river, or worse yet, made that same 17% flush draw after the turn card was out. Yes we've all seen an opponent hit a miracle inside straight card on the river after a turn bet that by all rights he or she had no business whatsoever even entertaining the thought of. But I'm talking about the beats that *really* stick with you -- the ones that you're not only thinking about days later, but also that have you literally fearing the worst every time you're all-in with the best hand in a similar situation for weeks to come. Typically these are often the ones which just "feel" the worst, and warrant the most repeating and explanation with friends. Following are descriptions of some of those such beats:

1. The obnoxious two-pair kicker suckout. This is where you limp in to a pot or call a small raise with, say, two connecting cards, or just any two less-than-premium cards for whatever reason. Say you limp in to a 4-way pot with A-7 diamonds. The flop comes A-J-7 rainbow, and someone leads at the pot, obviously with a decent Ace but not likely with much more. After some action on the flop, you and he end up as the only two players left after the flop, all-in, when he flips exactly what you thought -- say, A-Q. Your two pair are looking good here, and due to your excellent play on the flop, you've got this guy dead to rights with about a 3 to 1 dog with just two cards to come. Your odds get even better when the turn rags off, bringing no help to either player. At this point your opponent has less than a 15% chance of winning the hand, but since you know this is a discussion of bad beats, he is going to get his card. Only that is precisely what makes this particular type of bad beat so very bad -- he *doesn't* actually get "his" card to suck out on you. The river comes, and it's a jack, pairing the board, and giving your opponent the absurd win with two pair, As and Js, with a Queen kicker to outdo your 7 kicker. The guy got outplayed on the flop, made a bad call and got all his money in with maybe a 25% dog hand, and then gets bailed out by the board pairing on the river. One of the most frustrating types of beats there can be in holdem, no-limit especially where it can cost you all your chips.

2. The infamous runner-runner draw. I don't know about you, but whenever someone asks me to about the worst beats I've seen, invariably I tend to focus on the two-card beats, requiring one of just a few cards on each of the turn and the river, rather than almost *any* one-card suckout of which we all have seen (and been on the shite end of) a great many. Bottom line is this -- don't tell me that your opponent pulling an ace to get two pair on the river is the worst beat you've ever seen, until you've induced an all-in bet from an opponent with, say, AQ to your AK with a board of A-10-10 (no flush possible), and then the dealer flips a Jack on the turn, and the inevitable King on the river, making a straight for your opponent which needed BOTH of those last two cards to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. If it were up to me, anyone on the receiving end of a true two-card runner-runner suckout should be entitled to an automatic rebuy in any tournament in which this occurs. At least during the first few rounds where a rebuy of the buyin amount still makes sense. Two-card suckouts always leave the victim feeling dizzy, almost disoriented, invariably asking those around them "What just happened?" and "Did you see that shite?" Not good.

3. The roller coaster bad beat. Although all types of bad beats are frustrating to happen to you, this last one, although rare, has got to be one of my personal (least) favorites, mostly because of the process by which it occurs, and the roller coaster ride it creates for the victim. This one happens most often when you get all-in against someone pre-flop who turns out to have a higher pocket pair than you, say it's your 99 against his AA. With you knowing that you are just a 20% chance at this point, the flop hits with, say, K-6-2. No help for anyone (thus helping him, the prohibitive favorite before the flop). Just as you're putting on your jacket and thinking about what could have been for you in the tournament, the miracle turn falls, a 9. No straights, no flushes, just your set against his high pair with just one card to come. Suddenly you've skyrocketed from a 10% dog to a 95% favorite on one card, and youre counting your chips in your head. You look up to see how much further until you're in the money in the tournament. In your head, you're already doubling your stack and making a quick look around the other tournament tables to try to ascertain how close to the chip leader you are now, and you're telling anyone who will listen how you deserve a break after the beats you've been taking recently, and how you just "had a feeling" about the 9s and that the poker gods told you in a dream last night they were going to smile on you today, etc. The dealer then flips the river card (as a formality of course), and there it is staring right at you, another Ace, giving your opponent trip Aces to beat your trip 9s. Yes I know that in this example the better hand before the flop ended up winning, I wouldn't try to deny that, but what kills me about this particular kind of beat is that you go from seeing a fairly good hand in the pocket for you (pre-flop), to the agony of knowing that you are dominated 4-1 going into the flop, and the further suffering of being a 9-to-1 dog after the flop, to the ecstasy of being an almost shoe-in with just one card to play, and then back down to the lows with the river card sinking your ship once and for all. Blech.


Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Poker Championship

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