General concepts

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An Expert Play

Great poker players tend to have disdain for the solid, but unimaginative player who simply “grinds out” a steady profit. 

Without instinct, card sense, and heart, these methodical players will never come up with enough creative plays to be successful against tougher opponents. 

I think there is some truth to this philosophy. However, I believe that a serious learning of poker rules can learn to recognize opportunities to make what appears to be instinctual card sense. 

Here is personal example that occurred in a $ 75-$ 150 seven-card stud game at The Mirage. Seven players anted $ 15. A deuce “brought it in” for $ 25. A 10 showing raised to $ 75.  The 6 called. I also called with:

Everyone else folded. On fourth street the 10 caught the 5, the 6 caught the 7 and I caught the 3 . The 10-5 showing bet, and we both calle d. On fifth street the 10-5 caught a 4 , the 6 -7 caught the 8 and I caught the 4. Our hands now looked like this:

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 might seem like a world-class play, almost all very good players would have made it, either because of their instinct or their logic.  In fact, any other play is horrible. 

All those of you who don’t see this cannot blame it on your lack of card sense. Though the raise may appear artistic, pure science should lead you to the same move. There are three clear-cut indications that a raise may be right in this hand:

  1. 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 opponents as it is to you since you have the Q ♥ and 9♥ in the hole.)
  2. Player 2 will bet virtually any hand when his upcards appear so strong compared to his opponents’ upcards.
  3.  If you raise, you are not only raising a hand that you probably have beat but also probably raising out a hand that almost certainly beats yours.  If only two of these three factors were present, a raise would still probably be right, but I could see where a book player might miss it.  But if you missed it with all three factors present, you are not one of my students.

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