It seemed fitting that I should receive an earful after a bad beat this week, just after a month of articles about the effects of ‘luck' in poker. With a number of pleas specifically about not giving an earful to your dealer should you get a bad beat. Clearly, he disagreed with my opinion.
Today I'm going to look back at the hand, in an attempt to find out just why he called, and what I would have done in this situation. Dissecting the hand, I can understand why he did what he did to a certain degree, but I obviously have some qualms with how he reacted to it.
There are two main players in this hand, the Button and the Big Blind, and it was clear that they have some history together. Throughout the session they are talking to each other animatedly, reminding each other of old hands, comparing recent big payouts and swapping insults. A dynamic that undoubtedly came into play later on.
It is the last hand before the break, about the time many players are either away from the table already, or ready to fold everything bar premium hands.
Everyone folds until the Button raises. Small blind folds and the Big Blind re-raises a sizable amount. The Button four-bets for two-thirds of his stack and all the talk stops. To call, the Big Blind would have to put in around half his above-average stack.
At this point the break has already started, and the rest of the table seems to be having trouble choosing whether to go for a smoke or watch the hand.
No talk for a few minutes, just some swift chip riffling. Riffle riffle riffle, glare. Riffle riffle riffle, glare. Eventually he asks the Button if he's really got it, which isn't answered. Riffle riffle riffle, glare some more.
I'll skip to the end a bit here, and tell you that The Big Blind has pocket seven's here, and the Button has Ace-King. Spoilers, I know, but I just wanted to point that out for my first criticism of the hand.
As an outsider, I would always look to fold pocket sevens in this situation for a number of reasons. The first being the range of potential hands that I would be up against. Most times I would only be a slight favourite to win at best.
Someone who not only raises, but then four-bets for the majority of his stack ususally does not have a small pair or two picture cards; the only kinds of cards that pocket sevens would beat.
Throughout the time I've worked as a poker dealer, I've learned that I am not a gambler, and a 55%/45% is simply not enough to make me gamble with half my stack. Small ballers and general nits will probably agree with me as well, but it might be enough for those with a little more belief and confidence than me. Like the Big Blind.
I say all of this is an outsider, though. Like I said earlier, these two players have seen each other play a huge range of hands over the many years they've been playing together. Maybe he had a read on the situation which I hadn't, but from as someone fresh to both of these players, my gut instinct is that sevens are either slightly ahead, or dominated in this spot.
My second problem with the hand, though, is what happened next. Facing a raise for around half his stack, and with his opponent with only a fraction of his stack left behind, the Big Blind calls. The worst option he could have taken, in my opinion.
This spot makes sense when a player has a hand like Ace-King or suited connectors, so you can instantly fold should you not hit anything on the flop.
With pocket sevens though, the only card he could hit to improve is another seven, at best a two-outer. If it came down Four-Five-Six, would he then call another bet on the straight draw? Maybe, but probably not.
Going into the flop, the Big Blind should have known that an all-in shove from the Button was going to happen. There's no other way for the hand to progress, as he only has left around half of what's already in the pot.
By checking what's left of your opponents stack, and thinking ahead to what the eventual pot size will be, you can get a decent enough idea of whether or not your opponent will shove all-in on the flop regardless of what comes down.
The flop could be Ace-Ace-Ace, but by the time your opponent shoves all-in, you'll essentially be priced into calling due to how much you've committed to the pot already. This is where pocket Sevens starts to look smaller and smaller and smaller, and in my eyes, calling becomes a less and less profitable decision.
The other option is to raise all-in, and forgo any kind of shove-insta call on the flop. This would make the most of the tiny percentage that you're ahead, and in some situations may even scare your opponent of the hand.
This technique relies on confidence in your play, which the Big Blind obviously hand, and a modicum of luck; something that he unfortunately lacked.
Yes, the Ace came on the river. It had to, it just had to. The fact that he had got to the river and could be beat by one of only six cards to hit hints that he either had a read on the situation that I didn't, or that calling was the correct decision after all.
However, this play does rely heavily on your opponent not hitting their cards, something which I believe you should never gamble a large portion of your stack on.
Or at least you make these kind of plays, I hope you also try not to blame your dealer at the end of it. Believe or not, we don't like to see Bad Beats just as much you do.
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