Tales from the Hard Rock, Vol. 3: Playable hands for the right price

Hard Rock guitarOn a random night after work, with nothing to lose and a little change in my pocket going jing-a-ling-a-ling, I found myself with a hankering to play some cards.  Next stop: Hard Rock Casino poker room.

I no longer profess to be the poker whiz of old when I was frequenting rather profitable house games three to four nights a week.  A steady job has made an honest man out of me… but don’t be confused.  I can still hold my own on the felt.

This particular Friday night, I sat down with $100 worth of chips at the only $1-$2 cash table available, low stakes for anyone you would normally take poker advice from, however, this particular hand is worth discussing.

Three hands into my session, I became the big blind.  I was dealt the 4-8 of spades, ordinarily a crap hand but playable for the right price.  The first three players to my left folded… and then came the raises.  One player directly across from me bet ten dollars with two others after him calling.  Since I had just sat down and was feeling a little frisky, I decided to call the eight bucks.  Had fewer people called, I probably would not have reciprocated but the thirty in the pot, plus my blind already posted, gave me a nice enough number to at least see the flop.

It was a good thing I did.  The flop came out 8C, 6S, 2S, giving me top pair (eights) and a flush draw, albeit low (spades).  At worst, I was against a higher pocket pair or a better flush draw.  Since action fell first to me, I decided to test the waters and weed out the riff-raff.

I bet twelve dollars.

The initial bettor tossed in fifty-five bucks, giving me the impression he had that higher pocket pair and wanted to set a healthy price for me to wait out that flush.  He had considerably more chips than I did.  The two players behind him folded which left me with $43 to call.

How confident did I feel about his hand, my hand, landing that fifth spade with two cards to come and whether that spade would even help me?  I put him on that high pocket pair, certainly good enough to beat my eights if the flush didn’t hit.  I figured he wouldn’t have bet so high were he also on a draw.  I decided to call.

8 4 spadesThe next card came: a king of hearts, no help to me.  With odds of winning the hand considerably less in my favor, but still pot-committed and not going anywhere, I pushed in the rest of my chips.  He quickly called.

The river came: a spade.  He turned over trip kings but knew he was toast.  “If you have a flush, you’re good,” he said.  I turned over the 8-4.  Eyes on the table lit up, my beautiful big blind special.  I acted like I had been there before, gathering my chips without a word.  Four hands into my session I had doubled my chip stack, set an opponent on tilt and made the rest of the table aware that I wasn’t going to be pushed around.  Some might find that move unorthodox, others routine, but to me, playing that hand the way I played it made perfect sense, win or lose.  That side of the table went on to murmur about the hand for the next twenty minutes or so, upset about the outcome but also acknowledging I had made the right calls.

So, poker stars, what’s to be learned here?

Any hand is playable for the right price.  Forget top pair.  My eights were obviously beatable.  Had I not hit four to the flush on the flop, I would have dumped the hand and cut my losses but I also knew going in that I was prepared to see that hand all the way through to the river, particularly once the spades hit.  I used my table position to set the tone.

Playing, and more importantly winning, a hand like that shrewdly and aggressively will establish a table reputation you’ll want to take advantage of.  Just be cautious when doing so.  Calculate your risk/reward.  In the long run, you’ll find it to be well worth it.

18 thoughts on “Tales from the Hard Rock, Vol. 3: Playable hands for the right price

  1. Pingback: Tales from the Hard Rock, Vol. 3: Playable hands for the right price - BallHyped Blog Network, Other Sports | BallHyped Sports Blogs

  2. I played my share of poker when I was younger. Not much hold’em so I’m probably better off keeping my money in my pocket. Sounds like fun though.

  3. Doyle(Dolly) Brunson wudda been proud. My poker is/was limited to the ‘net. Too emotional in live game. As Dirty Harry would say, “you gotta know your limitations.”

  4. Aer….

    I caught into the hold ‘em craze when it first hit years back but I took learning the game seriously.

    Don’t get me wrong. I like to play cards and have fun like the rest of ‘em but if I can decimate a few opponents and earn a couple hundo while doing so, then deal me in.

  5. Bets….

    I’m generally pretty even keel at the poker table although something did happen the other night that set me off. It’ll be explained in an upcoming Tales From The Hard Rock once I get my thoughts together. It’s okay though. I still came out ahead.

    And I initially learned how to play the game online but quickly realized the difference between playing in front of people and playing on my laptop with some kid in China. It only takes a few times of going home with empty pockets to get one to shape up and take the game a little more seriously.

  6. Ever play in the local poker tournaments? When in Washington there was a nice Indian Casino in the area that had twice weekly Texas Hold-’em tournaments that were a lot of fun. Now that I’m in Prescott Arizona I’m looking forward to getting to know the local Indian Casinos and of course Las Vegas is 4 hours away… I’m grinning in case you can’t tell… :)

  7. Dwin…

    Did you move there for good or just visiting?

    And I haven’t played tournament style in a while so my chops are probably a bit off. I’ve been strictly cash games for a while now.

    That’s not to say I wouldn’t jump in a multi-table if given the opportunity.

  8. Chris I’m back in the west to stay… It was around 90 degrees today, I worked outside all day and barely broke a sweat… After Florida, this is a dream! If you’re ever out this way let me know, you’ll have a place to land while you look around!

  9. There’s 2 Cup races in Phoenix each season and I hope to become a regular. I’ve spent time in Arizona in the past so not a stranger. Have friends down in Yuma that I went to school with and will make more here in Prescott…

  10. God dammit I miss Vegas….when’s this fucking recession finally going to be over?

  11. Pingback: Sports Chump » Tales from the Hard Rock, Vol. 4: Calling time at the poker table

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