March 29, 2011
Saturday evening I made my first sojourn to the Meadows ATM since returning from IMOP-VI in Vegas. I've been on an extended "rungood" streak this year, and I was hoping that my statistical variance box abilities would translate into winning the record $147,000+ bad beat jackpot (Aces full of Yaks or better beaten by quads or better qualifies). Although my dreams of a quick hit fortune were ultimately dashed, I did get to witness a couple of truly curious hands.
A couple of hours into my session, College Kid to my left limped UTG. A loose EP player raised to $17, a bit high for the table, but not particularly extraordinary, either. Predictably, there were four callers back to College Kid. He thought, then mucked. The flop came out A-5-5 with two spades. There was a bet, two all-ins, and a call by original bettor for a monster three-way pot of over $700. Turns out it was AQ vs. AK vs. a flush draw, and the AK held for a monsterpotten. College Kid was visibly upset, and I immediately knew what he had done. "Folded pocket 5s, eh?" College Kid nodded morosely. Now it takes roughly 7:1 odds to set mine, and College Kid was getting 4:1 express odds with plenty of implied odds (look at all the money that went in the pot with just top pair or a draw). Factor in the remote but not negligible shot at a monster bad beat jackpot, and the preflop fold of a pocket pair for a mere $15 seems a bit ... irrational.
An hour or so later, an even more curious case of poker origami occurred. A tight player to my right, UFC Dude, limp-3-bet preflop to $45, and got a mere four callers. Yup, the table was that awesome. Anyway, the flop came out coordinated like Derek Jeter: KdJd9d. UFC Dude bet out $50, rather weak given the preflop action, unless of course he had AdQd for the stone cold nuts. Next guy to act folds. Next guy pushes all-in for about $250. Next guy pushes all-in for about $250 (no, that is not an error or double post). Next guy pushes all-in for over $400. UFC Dude has about $200 behind. UFC Dude thinks about 10 seconds and mucks face up:
Yes, UFC dude folded Cowboys, laying down top set. He laid down a monster*.
Alrighty then. Let's assume worst case scenarios. Kings are dead only to a straight flush (QdTd), but still have one out to ~$73K for the bad beat jackpot. Kings are ahead of a set or two pair, and are drawing very live against a flush and/or straight. Kings are getting roughly 4:1 odds with two cards to come. Even against a spread of flush, straight, and set, Kings are just over 25% to boat up for the win, meaning a call is +EV. Against the actual hands of QsTs (straight), AdXx (nut flush draw), and 7d6d (flopped flush), Kings improve to have over 32% equity, again plenty good to call. In other words, even if the other hands are turned face up, Kings have to call based on math alone. But even stranger, even if one opponent rolls over the dreaded QdTd, with two cards to come Kings have ~4% odds of hitting quads for the bad beat jackpot (assuming there is no sign the fourth King has been folded). This gives UFC Guy an additional equity in the pot of ~$2,920 (4% x the $73,000 losing hand share). In other words, UFC Guy can only correctly fold here if he knows both that he is up against a straight flush and that the fourth King is not in play.
Yes, even today, there are still idiots donating money to poker games. Praise be the poker gods!
(Origami and photo by "antzpantz" on Flickr).
POSTSCRIPT (29 March 2011): JT88Keys raises a good point in the comments. Although the ultimate outcome of the hand is irrelevant to analyzing the proper play, there is a certain narrative closure provided by knowing what happened.
Mouths gaped and players gasped. I think I actually said, "You're kidding me." The dealer peeled off the turn: Yak, pairing the board (and boating up anyone holding, say, a set). UFC Guy looked like someone kicked his puppy. Dealer peeled off the river: 9, double pairing the board, leaving Kings as the best full house possible. UFC Guy looked like he was throwing up in his mouth as the monsterpotten was pushed to a player holding—in a three way hand on a double-paired board—a non-nut flush.
Crazy game, eh?
* I just noticed for the first time that Teddy KGB flopped the nut straight with the mighty Deuce-Four, a/k/a "Das Grump". Figures that Hollywood would shoot a scene with such an improbably strong hand. Friggin' dramatic license.