I buy a lot of poker books, as you can tell from my Amazon wishlist. I actually often buy books that are ahead of where I am in poker skills. I don’t mean that I don’t understand them. On an intellectual level I do. But experience counts for a lot in poker. And for me, not until I’ve actually physically experienced the event that I’m reading about does it really click.
And so it was that I had my best hand this weekend at the Big Game. I call it the best not because I won the most money, but because I think I played it really well, applying lessons I’ve learned from book study into a live game.
The game was $2/$5 NL hold’em, three-handed. I’m sitting on a stack of about $1,000, and Hip Hop Guy on my left has about $600. I’m on the button and he’s the small blind. I’m first to act and make it $15 to go. Hip Hop Guy calls and the big blind folds. I’ve got Ace-Six unsuited.
The flop comes Ace-Queen-Two, all different suits. If I’ve got the only Ace I’m doing pretty well. I bet out $20 and Hip Hop Guy thinks for a moment and calls. I realize he’s probably got an Ace with an unpaired kicker just like me.
The dealer puts out the fourth card, a two, which pairs the twos on the board. I think about it for a second and realize my Six kicker won’t play if we both have Aces. Then I realize that unless he has a King, Queen, or Two, neither will his! If my read is right, we’re headed to a chopped pot. So, armed with the knowledge that I’ve got a hand that will at least chop, I decide to bet big to see if I can steal. I bet $60 expecting to fold if I get re-raised. Hip Hop Guy looks at his cards wistfully and tosses them. He might have had a Queen, he might have had an Ace, but he folded either way.
The Two is what many poker authors call a "hidden out". It’s a card which basically counterfeits the kicker card in both hands without actually matching any card in either hand. I’ve read about it, but this is the first time I’ve actively noticed and exploited it.
Sadly, I didn’t get to crow about it at the table, so only you will know.