A Week of Strang Hands

by Lou on May 20, 2005

Things always seem to run in cycles, and this has been a week of really unusual hands for me. In an online Omaha/8 game, I raised before the flop with A-A-2-5 and was called in two places. The flop was A-Q-9, giving me a set of aces. One player checked, the other bet, and I raised. The third player folded and I was reraised by the intitial better. I capped it at four bets. Why not? I had the best hand and there were no apparent draws. The turn was another ace, giving me four aces and eliminating any worries about someone backing into a low hand to snatch half the pot out from under my nose. I had all of this baby, and my only thoughs now were concerned with how to maximize my win. Turns out I didn’t have to think too long or hard about that either.

We went four bets again on the turn, and four more on the river. The best he could have been holding was a pair of queens in his hand for a full house, but even queens full could have been beaten by aces full or quads, and with me going four bets on every betting round, at some point he should have put me on a hand that might, just might, have been better than his. But he never did and I loved the action.

I also caught pocket aces back-to-back in a tournament last week. In other games I made a straight flush and I also ran into a straight flush on the river to beat my ace-high flush and take a nice pot away from me.

In another Omaha/8 game, I was dealt T-T-T-T and had to fold those beautiful looking but absolutely worthless quads. Talk about redundancy. All I really had was a pocket pair of tens, with no draws, no hopes for improvement, and my chances of winning an Omaha/8 pot with that holding were pretty close to nil.

But not all quads are redundant. I called from late position with four callers already in the pot with 8-8, only to have the button fire in a raise. We all called. We all prayed, and I was miraculously rewarded with the best of all possible flops: 8-8-A. I was in hog heaven. Someone had an ace, surely; and the fact that two of the board cards were hearts had me hoping for a flush draw or two as well. What was really nice about this hand is that the big blind came out betting, was called by two others, and I called too. The button hesitated and finally just called. I wasn’t sure whether his hesitation meant he was pondering whether to call or decideing whether to call now and raise on the turn or to fire a raise at the pot right now.

The turn card was a queen and once again the big blind bet out. One player called. I was ready to raise, but decided against it, because I was hoping that the button actually held a raising hand and was preparing to pull the trigger. He didn’t disappoint and both the big blind and the other active player called his raised. Now I reraised, and was called in three places. I bet the river but only the button looked me up. I’ll never know what he had because he mucked and I won a big pot for my quads.

Sometimes you don’t win much at all with a hand that good because you have so much of the flop that there’s not much left in the feeding trough for your opponents. But I was lucky. As I said, it was a strange week for hands. The odds against pocket aces back-to-back are astonishingly high, and some of the other hands I was dealt were very unusual too.

All of my poker this week was online because I’m housebound, diligently working on my new book. My coauthor on this book is Sheree Bykofsky, who is also my literary agent. Sherry is a good torunament poker player, a terrific scrabble player, and the author of 17 other books, including one that every writer has, or should have, in his or her library: The Idiot’s Guide to Getting Published.

We’re on the first draft of this book, and at 68,700 words. We’re aiming at approximately 80,000 words, and when we reach that total, we’ll probably sit back, take an editing pass at our first draft, and then do whatever reorganization of material seems necessary before we add, supplement, and fill in whatever gaps we discover in the original manuscript.

Once all that’s done, off it goes to the publisher, and the process of responding to “editorial queries” begins. It’s usaully a process of editing, making poker terminology clear to non-poker readers, and responding to the suggestions of the publisher’s editorial staff. Some of the suggestions will be spot-on, and we’ll gladly address them. Others we’ll discuss and probably reach a compromise, while a few will make us stand our ground on and make no changes. At some point the publisher notifies us that they are going with the manuscript in hand, going to produce an index, and then going to production. Other than responding to their cover suggestions, it’s out of our hands at that point and all we do is await our final advance payments and delivery of however many free copies we’re entitled to according to our contract with the publisher.

That’s the way books are published. It’s a pretty logical, straightforward sequence, and if you’re dealing with a competent editorial staff it can be a pleasure.

The weather bureau is calling for record high temperatures this weekend in the desert, and it may get up as high as 113, which is quite high for this time of year, and much more typical of August than late May. When it gets that high, the tops go up on convertabiles, not down, and most folks will spend the heat of the day lining up to see the final epsisode of Star Wars. I’ll either stay inside oand work on this book, or go to the casino and play some poker.

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