hands are not always big money makers, and that's often
frustrating. This is particularly true in split pot games
like Seven-Card Stud Eight-or-Better High-Low Split, and
Omaha High-Low Split (mercifully abbreviated as 7-stud/8,
and Omaha/8, respectively).
these games, where the high and low hands split the pot
as long as there is a qualifying low hand, it's possible
to make very big hands that don't win very much money. Imagine
being dealt three kings in 7-stud/8, catching a fourth king
on the next card against one opponent who is obviously drawing
for low. You can bet and raise at every opportunity and
if your opponent makes a low hand, all you'll wind up with
is half of the antes as your net profit.
scenarios like this are more common in split-pot games than
in games where th high hand wins it all, you see examples
of it all the time in 7-card stud and Hold'em games too.
Sometimes you have such a big hand that nobody else has
a prayer. An example of this might be a flop of AcAd4s with
our hero holding AsKs. There are no flush or straight possibilities
on the flop, and our man's flopped top set with the best
possible kicker and a backdoor flush draw to boot.
someone bets you can raise, or just call quietly, planning
to checkraise on the turn - when the betting limits double.
But you're not likely to get much action. After all, there's
not much out there that anyone else could have. While it's
possible that an opponent could be holding a pair of fours
and was fortunate enough to flop a full house, that's not
too likely. And even if he has, a running pair, the fourth
ace, or any of the three remaining kings on the turn or
river will make quick work of him.
let's forget about the slim chance that your opponent flopped
a full house. Most of the time your opponents will fold
when you bet. If you are really fortunate, one of your opponents
might try to steal the pot on the turn if everyone checks
the flop, and when you raise, he will probably fold. This,
of course, allows you to gain a bet because your opponent
- unaware that you flopped a huge hand - has tried to steal
But if none of your opponents try to get aggressive, you're
likely to be the one who bets and wins a small pot because
no one else has enough of a hand - or even enough of a draw
- to call.
what's the lesson here? Aside from the realization that
big hands do not necessarily lead to big pots, there are
a number of things worth bearing in mind. First and foremost,
it's important to realize that in poker - as in so much
of life - all is relative. You don't have to have a huge
hand to win, just a hand that's better than any your opponent's
are holding. Determining when you have the best hand is
often as much an art as a science, and is one of the skills
that top players have plenty of, and lesser players seem
to lack altogether.
players are mesmerized whenever they make a good hand, even
if they know deep in their heart that it's not the best
hand and ought to be released. While it should be obvious
to all that a bet saved is worth just as much as a bet won,
it seems difficult for many players to release losing hands,
so they make costly crying calls again and again.
also a major source of frustration for many players. After
all, one does not get all that many big hands in a session,
and when those big hands garner meager pots, it can be very
frustrating. Not only that, but the frustration is inevitably
exacerbated when someone wins a fairly big pot on the next
deal or the one after that, and does so with a relatively
I've seen players win a small pot with a big hand and become
so unnerved because the payoff doesn't match what they believed
they should have won, that they go on tilt and give it all
back and more.
you flop a very big hand and do get some callers, you can
probably bet the river with impunity as long as that last
card does not portend a flush, straight or full house. If
an opponent is going to raise, chances are he'll do it on
the turn. If you've got a big hand and your opponent simply
calls on the turn, you can bet and expect a simple call
on the river unless it happens to be a real miracle card,
or a card that makes a straight or flush a distinct possibility.
don't have this latitude with smaller hands, like one pair.
You might suspect yours is the best hand, but frequently
you're just not sure. As a result, checking the river becomes
the preferred course of action.
make money with a big hand, your opponents have to have
something too. That something might be a set, top two pair,
or a draw to a straight or flush. If you flop or turn a
big hand and get action, you have to do more than revel
in the glory of whatever you might be holding. You have
to determine whether you have the best hand. It's shocking
how many players never look beyond their own hands, and
that can be a very costly mistake. If you are driving a
hand when your feet ought to be firmly planted on the brakes,
it can cost three or four bets that you could have saved
by considering the relative merit of your hand - rather
than its absolute value.
time you find yourself holding a big hand, count your blessings
if you win the pot, and if you find that you're getting
a bit more action than you expected, take it for what it
is: a flashing yellow light that says "Caution, danger ahead."