It Doesn’t Matter How

Mindfulness and poker

You get to the river and the villain puts in a big raise.  Suppose the hand went like this (which it did):

You are in the big blind with T 5♣.  No one raises.  The flop is 9♠ 5♠ 5 with two spades.  You bet 1/2 pot and get two callers.  The turn is a 7 (not spades).  You bet again, closer to 2/3 pot and get one caller.  The river is another 7 (also not spades).  You bet again, not too much, trying to squeeze the last drops of value from his 9x type of hands and now he raises 5x your bet amount.


For purposes of this blog, I’ll call the villain “Tony.”  You’ve played with Tony a lot, and it’s unfathomable that he makes this raise without a full house.  It’s also unfathomable that he didn’t raise earlier if he also held a 5.  Did he get there with 97?  While you are pondering his raise, Tony offers to show you one card and turns over the ace of clubs.  That rules out 97.

This makes your head spin.

You stare at the board.  Yeah, Tony has a history of making some unconventional moves, but would he really float a 955 flop with A7?  If so, as preposterous at that seems, he must have the seven of spades and thought that in some strange universe his backdoor straight flush draw has some non-zero value.  His equity is less than 6% against your open trips.

Yet there you are, sitting in the second part of the title to Jon Kabat-Zinn’s essential book on mindfulness.

It’s obvious to everyone else at the table that Tony’s remaining unknown card is a seven.  You know it too.

It doesn’t matter how– it only matter THAT he got there.  Now he’s there.

Look at the board again:  9♠ 5♠ 5 – 7♥ – 7♣.  Look at your cards again:  T♣ 5.  Look at the single hole card Tony has voluntarily shown you:  A♣.  Look at Tony’s betting actions:  Limp, call, call, big raise.  He has it.  Try to convince yourself he might have A5 and the river card actually saved you.  Look at his betting actions again:  He would have raised on the flop or turn.  Look at the pot size:  Your aren’t getting odds, you’re actually laying better than 3:2 just to chop this pot.

How does he get away with calling any bet on that flop with A7?  It doesn’t matter how.  How does he think this has any chance of working out?  It doesn’t matter how.  How are you going to fold this hand you had every intention of winning once the flop flopped?  It doesn’t matter how.

You have to fold and you know it.

So, of course, you call, and of course Tony has the 7♠.  They always have it.


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  1. incredible. quite the float.

    On Mon, Apr 9, 2018 at 1:41 PM, KKing David’s poker blog wrote:

    > KKing David posted: “You get to the river and the villain puts in a big > raise. Suppose the hand went like this (which it did): You are in the big > blind with T5o. No one raises. The flop is 955 with two spades. You bet > 1/2 pot and get two callers. The turn is a 7 (not ” >

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