Two underpair versus an overpair

My favorite hand of the night at my last game at the Factory was in fact one I lost, but I loved it, and it caused me to do some analysis that shows what a great opportunity it is. 

The host of the game (who reads this blog) and I were in a hand together.  He raised to $3 before the flop in early position and I did the standard evaluation of his possible range of hands.  We’ve played about 4-5 hours together recently, and I know he can raise here with any pair from 66 to AA, and any Ace or King with a kicker down to Jack.  I called with 64s, knowing that:

  1. I could win the pot by bluffing at an overcard if he had a lower pair or missed the flop entirely.  I’ve also got a good read on his bad habit of bluff-betting AK to the river when it misses entirely, so I could smell that too.
  2. I could easily fold the hand if I completely missed the flop because 64s is a crap hand.
  3. I might catch something (trips, a flush, straight, or their draws, or even two pair).

The pot is now $6.25.

Depending on what I had and how he bet the flop (I had position on him) I had a lot of opportunities to win the hand.  The flop came 6c4cKd.  He made a strong bet of $5.  Combined with his body language, I smelled AK, not a set Kings or AA or QQ.  I thought about the two pair I had, and his attitude, and concluded that not only did I have the best hand, but he couldn’t lay his hand down.  My math is not good enough to compute exactly how much of a favorite I was on the spot, but I knew I had an edge.  Did I have big edge?  Enough to shove $40 into an $11 pot?  Wasn’t that Bradley’s mistake that I just castigated him about?

Actually, since I’m playing at extremely low stakes, I didn’t care.  The volatility won’t cause me to tilt and post about it on my blog calling myself a donkey.  What’s more I was an overwhelming favorite at 71% v 28%, not the small edge like 1-2% in Bradley’s situation.  I pushed, he predictably called.  He was unhappy to see my better hand, but he hit a King to draw out on me and stacked my chips.

I did not tilt, I rebought and played smartly, eliminating the last chips from two players and ending the night up $20.

The stakes are low enough, and we’re both friendly enough that the obvious thing to do was to immediately pull up and do the analysis.  I knew I was an underdog before the hand and that I was a favorite after the flop, but how big?  The 71% to 28% favorite was the surprise.   60% vs 40% I would have guessed, but that’s not big enough. 

Later on, that opportunity came up again, and I played it similarly against another player and won most of his stack.  The thing to remember about this situation for future exploitation is that the range of hands can easily include a set on the part of the other player, and if he has a set, I might be entirely drawing dead.  Against really tough players, the two underpair will need to be laid down or not played at all.


  1. Bradley on March 18, 2006 at 10:50 am

    You’ve said now across multiple posts that I “made a mistake” based on a short side comment from my blog that you analyzed while lacking any context, before the details were posted. If you are going to keep chastising me here for this same “mistake” (a question I actually believe the jury is still out on, anyway), why not at least write a response to the actual details instead of the vague summary?

    Meanwhile, regarding your hand above, you’re in a situation here where a set is more possible, because you felt 66 was one of the preflop possibilities. However, I actually think you can completely eliminate a set if you know him to never bet out with middle set or top set, which means you can be pretty confident that your hand is good. The texture of the board does adds a minor problem for your hand. He could have AcKc which leaves bottom two pair as an slight underdog. I generally believe that fearing that kind of hand regularly in HE is looking too much under the bed for monsters, but it should be part of the analysis.

    I thus think you were utterly right to try to get all the chips in on the flop. The only possible problem that I see with the hand is the preflop situation. Do you believe (preflop) that if he makes one pair that he’ll pay off two pair (and better) holdings most of the time? I think you have to believe this is true preflop to play the hand at all (i.e., you must be really sure about your implied odds situation). I like your hand a lot preflop with position, but only if you think you get paid off enough with a made hand, and/or you can make a successful semi-bluff or bluff on the flop against him. You said during your flop description that you felt he couldn’t lay down his hand, but did you know this preflop, or only once the flop was dealt?

    But these are mostly concerns to think about to help make the proper implied odds analysis on future preflop situations. In this case, I think you more than likely made the right play on every street.

    BTW, I think the attitude of “the stakes don’t matter so I don’t really care” is generally weak cop-out to excuse bad play (even though you seem to have no bad play to excuse here). Either you are focused on being a good player or you aren’t. Both approaches are fine (some see poker money as an entertainment budget), but be honest about which approach you’re taking. If you goal is to play for stakes that don’t matter to just have fun, then why pretend to be serious about poker analysis and chastise others when they screw it up? if you are serious, then why make comments like “I don’t care because I can afford it”?

  2. Chad Day on March 20, 2006 at 7:32 am

    I could easily fold the hand if I completely missed the flop because 64s is a crap hand.

    I don’t like this logic at all.

    You’re calling a raise preflop, no one else is in the pot, with a crap hand.

    You can use this same logic to call ANY bet. i.e. I’ll call with 72, I know he has AA or KK, but if I hit 772 on the flop I’ll crush him!

    If there are more people in the pot, I can maybe see calling with it. But calling a raise heads up?

    This being said, Hold’em isn’t my game.