Straight to Jail

It’s a private $1/2 game. With AJo in middle position after one player limps in, I raise to $11. Somebody calls, the small blind calls and the limper also calls.

The flop is KQT with two hearts. This is as good as it gets!

The small blind leads out for $20. For purposes of this blog, I’ll call him “Todd.” Then the early position player who limp/called pre-flop goes all-in for $78. For purposes of this blog, I’ll call him “Chad.”

It gets even better.

I consider shoving here, to get all my chips in with the nuts. If Chad has a flush draw, he’s going to see both the turn and river cards, as he’s all-in already. Nothing to gain there by shoving. Todd seems to like his hand. While he might have outs to improve to a flush or full house, I think it’s best to try to keep him around and evaluate the turn card. Blowing him off the pot now isn’t the way to get maximum value from the nuts. If I call and Todd also calls… well now, there’s more for me to win.

So I call and Todd does too.

The turn is another T. Now the board is KQT-T, still with two hearts. Todd leads out again, this time for $75. I have about $260 behind and Todd covers.

Rational side of brain (thoughts): Hmmm, that’s not a great card for me. If Todd had two pair on the flop–

Emotional side of brain (feelings): Goddammit! I flopped the nuts and that pot is supposed to be mine.

My mouth (spoken words): I’m all-in!

Rational brain: WFT, who said that!?!? I wasn’t finished with the analysis… Todd seems to really like his hand. He could have a full house. 

Todd (very quickly): CALL!

Mouth: Uh-oh…

Emotional brain: Yeah, uh-oh. Sorry.

Rational brain: Yeah, you fucked up bro.

Todd tables KK. In a flash, I went from the nut straight to poker jail as Todd scoops in a huge pot, leaving me to spend the rest of the session complaining to the other inmates that I was framed.

The next morning, I recall the idiom “pigs get fat, hogs get slaughtered.” Let’s say we replay the hand, but this time I go all-in on the flop after Chad shoved his much smaller stack. It’s unlikely that Todd folds top set. But the side pot alone will be over $500. This being a private game, Todd and I might agree to run it twice or three times after seeing each other’s cards.

Running it three times would make the most sense. Both of us would prefer to reduce the variance as it’s still early in the session. A 65% favorite for the side pot. He wins the first, which means he would also win the main pot. If I won one of the next runouts, I’d get about $170, nearly half of my original stack. If I won both, I’d essentially break-even on this hand. That would have been my Get-Out-of-Jail-Free card.


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  1. My only issue is that I never want to agree to how many times to run it ‘after’ seeing someone’s hand, or them seeing mine. I prefer to agree to it prior.

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