Don’t get upset if you make the right fold preflop and then happen to flop the nuts
I was watching an old WSOP episode from 2005 the other night and saw Scott Lazar appear to fall apart after he folded A5os preflop from the blind. The board ended up coming out with three aces in it making him quads. He then burned off the rest of his chips with K9s and then QTos, all-in preflop. In his post bust out interview he said that the would be quads hand put him on tilt.
I have always had the luxury of having decent mental game. I never get too upset over getting bad beats and I realize that I cannot control the way the cards come out. Last week I was playing in a $5-$10NL game and something happened that made me take a rare step back, away from the table. I was in a very good game and all of the stacks were fairly deep. There were a lot of loose players wildly putting chips in the pot and I was looking for an excuse to play hands against them in position. A solid player opened from UTG1 to $40 and a mid position player called. I looked down at A♦ 7♦ and also called from the button. This brought the small blind in and the big blind, one of the whales at the table, reraised to $300. The original raiser then folded, but the mid position player called, quite surprisingly. Even though the big blind was one of the guys I thought I could extract money from easily, I knew that his three betting range was extremely tight and figured him for QQ, KK or AA. Against that range it would be very difficult to make a lot of money with A♦ 7♦ so I folded.
The flop came out K♦ 5♦ 2♦ and I was literally sick to my stomach. The big blind quickly bet out $600. The player in middle position then moved all-in and the big blind snap called! The board ran out 3♣ 9♣ and the hands were revealed as top set of kings for the big blind and a set of fives for the mid position player. “Damn!” I said to myself. I knew that if I had called the extra $240 that I would have just won over $4000 in the pot. I had to take a step away from the table but my disappointment was very short lived.
I knew that my fold preflop fold was 100% correct to that sizing given my assumption about the big blind’s range. I do not know that the odds are of someone flopping top set vs a flopped flush, but they have to be very very small. With a hand like A♦ 7♦ I am trying to get into the pot cheaply and I am trying to usually make at least forty times the raise size in order to call for the implied odds value of the hand. Both of those conditions were not met so what difference did it make that I flopped the nuts?
On that topic it always amazes me how people do not realize that poker has randomness as a part of the game, so that there can be a game. Chess is not a game that is gambled on for high stakes money because you literally can almost never win against someone that has superior skill. There is no element of luck involved. In poker, the bad players at least have to have a chance to win or we could not gamble on the game. That is why I find it very peculiar that some professional players get upset about the order of the cards possibly being compromised if something screwy happens with the deck.
I had a friend of mine tell me about a recent hand that he played at the Hustler Casino in a tournament. To make a long story short he got a guy all-in with pocket fives versus AJ on a KT5A board for all of his chips. Apparently the dealer did not realize that the all-in action was on the turn and thought that the hand was over so he dropped the deck. When the players indicated that the river card had to be put out instead of picking up the deck and trying to reconstruct the cards in order he simply went into the card pile, burned a card and then revealed the river. Of course, the Q♦ fell and my buddy lost the hand. He ended up then calling over the floorman and protested that the deck was not in the correct order. No one at the table could confirm or deny that the cards that were taken where correct or incorrect so the floorman let the action stand which I think was the right decision as the objection did not happen before the river was revealed.
If we take a step back and assume that nothing shady was going on and the dealer made an honest mistake, does it matter that the river may not have actually been the original river? I say of course not, so long as if a queen had not come out my friend would have won the hand. The cards are just a way to add randomness to the game. It makes no difference if someone were to decide to choose the river from the middle of the deck or the top of the deck (again so long as nothing shady was going on). So why do people get upset when they fold a close to playable hand that makes the nuts?