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An Expert Play

Excellent players tend to disparage solid but unimaginative player who simply "grinds out" a balanced profit. Without intuition, card sense, and heart, these methodical players will never come up with enough innovative plays to be successful against tougher rivals. However, a serious poker student of poker can learn to recognize opportunities to make what appear to be innovative plays by pure reasoning rather than intuitional card sense. Let's take an example which occurred in a $75-$150 seven-card stud game. Seven players anted $15. A deuce "brought it in" for $25. A 10 showing raised to $75. The 6 called. I called with

Everyone folds. On fourth street the 10 caught the 5 , the 6caught the 7 and I caught the 3 . The 10-5 showing bet and we both called. On fifth street the 10-5 caught a 4 , the 6 -7 caught the 8 and I caught 4 . Our hands now looked like

Hand 1

Hand 2

My hand

Hand 1 checked and the 6- 7- 8 now bet. I raised! Hand 1 folded and the other hand called. I went on to win the hand with nines up, though I think two nines alone would have been good. While my raise on fifth poker street would seem like a world-class play, almost all very good players would have made it, either because of their intuitive or their logic. In fact, any other play would be worse. All those of you who don't see this cannot blame it on your lack of card sense. Though the raise may look creative, pure science should lead you the same move. There are three indications that a raise may be right in this hand:

•  With so many hearts, fives and nines out, it is unlikely that Player 2 has a straight or flush. (However, this isn't as obvious to the rivals as it is to you as you have the Q and 9 in the hole.)

•  Player 2 will bet almost any hand when his upcard seems so strong compared to his rivals' upcards.

•  If you raise, you are not only raising a hand that you have beat but also possibly raising out a hand that almost definitely beats yours. If only two of these three factors are favorable, a raise would still be right, but it is possible that book player might miss it.

Extra Out

When determining whether to play mediocre hand for at least one more card in seven-card stud or hold'em, the good player's final decision may turn on whether he has "extra outs." Extra outs mean a small extra possibility of coming up with the best hand other than through the obvious method. For instance, a three-flush on fifth street in seven-card stud is virtually never worth playing on its own value. But if you add this three-flush combined with your chances of helping your pair may very well make it worth seeing sixth pker street .

Unknowingly, it appears that only very good or very bad players correctly value the strength of these extra outs. The careful, good but not great player doesn't want to base his hope on a 20-to-1 shot when he is only getting 5-to-1 pot odds. Only a sucker can do. It occurs often that this extra 20-to-1 chance, when added to more obvious chances, can make unplayable hand playable. It has bigger effect than you might think.

Suppose if your "main hand" is a 5-to-1 underdog to improve but you also have an 11-to-1 chance of making a different hand (as you might with three-card straight and flush draw) what do you think this would bring down your chances to? The simple way to answer is by changing the odds to percentages. 5-to-1 is 1/6 which 16.67 percent.

16.67 = 1/6 * 100

11-to-1 is 1/12 which is 8.33 percent.

•  = 1/12 * 100

By adding these percentages it will give 25 percent.

25 = 16.67 + 8.33

Twenty five percent is 3-to-1! Your extra outs have reduced your odds of improving from 5-to-1 to 3-to-1.

You can make use of this concept in following typical situations:

1. Third-street - seven-card stud . A hand like two 5s and a 10, three different suits should be folded. But a hand like two 5s and a 4 with a two flush such as

is worth playing because of your extra chances for a straight or flush.

2. Third-street - seven-card stud . A three flush like

is not worth to play while


can be. In the first situation this is true because of your extra chances of pairing a high card; in the second situation because of your chances of making a straight.

3. The flop - hold'em . A three-flush on the flop containing a small pair may be worth playing even if you are sure someone has a higher pair. It depends on your pot odds. It is better if your "kicker" is higher than your rival's pair in case you both make two pair.

4. The flop - hold'em . A three-card flush containing with an inside straight draw preferably with an over card. Combining these chances make a perfect call. The next day, I called a bet and a raise cold with just a hand because of the size of the pot. The pot has been raised before the flop and seven players called. I called with:

The flop came:

Someone bet and someone raised. My cold call astonished many people. The possibility of catching a 4, an ace or two "running clubs," however any one of which I thought would possibly win for me made it worth it.

5. Fifth street - seven-card stud . A three-card flush combined with a small pair may make it worth chasing a rival's higher pair. It is better if you have a three-card straight as well and better still if you have some kickers greater than his pair.

6. Draw poker - before-the-draw . The extra outs concept mostly applies to seven-card stud and hold'em and not to lowball and razz, there is one function to draw poker, especially jacks-or-better. The example arises when you are dealt a pair of jacks along with a four-card flush in an early position. The jacks by themselves are not generally good enough to open. It is worth with a four-flush. You might steal he antes but now if you don't you can draw to the flush if you are called or raised.

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