People often ask me write about the way I feel a certain hand should have been played. Well, it’s easy to play a great hand, a monster. Anyone can tell you how to play a hand that just seems to be the best hand on every street. But what about a not-so-great hand? A hand that maybe you shouldn’t have played in the first place? There are many reasons why you might need to play that hand. It could be that you are making up missed blinds. You could be in the big blind yourself. Or maybe you were playing online and had a misclick moment (this happened to me last night for the first time in many years. I had K3o UTG late in a tournament and accidentally hit all-in when I was typing on another window at the precise moment the tournament screen popped back up. Luckily no one called).
So if a great hand plays itself, how do you play a not-so-great hand? How you play it will be a deciding factor in whether or not you are a winning player. This is something to think about. Definitely think more deeply about these situations than hands that virtually play themselves. Here is my take:
Poker Stars $10/$20 Limit Stud Hi/Lo $1 Ante – 8 players
3rd Street: (0.8 SB)
Hero: 4 Q J___Hero calls___Hero calls
Seat 2: xx xx 9____Seat 2 calls____Seat 2 calls
Seat 3: xx xx 8____Seat 3 folds
Seat 4: xx xx 7____Seat 4 calls____Seat 4 calls
Seat 5: xx xx 8____Seat 5 folds
Seat 6: xx xx 5____Seat 6 completes
Seat 7: xx xx 2____Seat 7 brings in for $3____Seat 7 folds
Seat 8: xx xx 3____Seat 8 calls____Seat 8 calls
4th Street: (6.1 SB) (5 players)
Hero: 4 Q J K___Hero checks___Hero calls
Seat 2: xx xx 9 T____Seat 2 checks____Seat 2 calls
Seat 4: xx xx 7 9____Seat 4 checks____Seat 4 calls
Seat 6: xx xx 5 K____Seat 6 bets
Seat 8: xx xx 3 2____Seat 8 calls
5th Street: (5.55 BB) (5 players)
Hero: 4 Q J K Q___Hero calls___Hero calls___Hero calls
Seat 2: xx xx 9 T 8____Seat 2 raises____Seat 2 caps!
Seat 4: xx xx 7 9 9____Seat 4 checks____Seat 4 folds
Seat 6: xx xx 5 K 7____Seat 6 bets____Seat 6 3-bets____Seat 6 calls
Seat 8: xx xx 3 2 Q____Seat 8 calls____Seat 8 calls____Seat 8 calls
6th Street: (21.55 BB) (4 players)
Hero: 4 Q J K Q 4___Hero checks___Hero calls
Seat 2: xx xx 9 T 8 K____Seat 2 bets
Seat 6: xx xx 5 K 7 J____Seat 6 calls
Seat 8: xx xx 3 2 Q 3____Seat 8 checks____Seat 8 calls
7th Street: (25.55 BB) (4 players)
Hero: 4 Q J K Q 4 J___Hero checks___Hero calls
Seat 2: xx xx 9 T 8 K xx____Seat 2 bets
Seat 6: xx xx 5 K 7 J xx____Seat 6 calls
Seat 8: xx xx 3 2 Q 3 xx____Seat 8 checks____Seat 8 folds
I’m going to try to do a different take on this hand, just for the sake of debate. I pretty much agree with what everyone else told you, insta-fold on 3rd (low ante, dupe hand, low scoop potential, etc).
Third Street: say you are forced in whatever reason (making up blinds/misclick/whatever). I see Seat 7 brings it in with a deuce for $3. Seat 8 with a trey calls. You are next with your dupe three-flush. Your hand plays better without that nine behind and even more low draws, so you complete. Drive out seat 2 with his raggedy nine (assuming straight draw here). Drive out seat 3 with his rough eight (assuming low draw). Drive out seat 4 with his seven. Seat 6 is going to fold anyway (eight showing; maybe the only smart low guy here beside Mr. Five and the BI). Heck, seat 6, Mr. Five, might even make it three and then you will cut down the field. Yes, I know that flush draws usually play well with a bigger field in Stud. But this is Stud 8, not Stud High. You really have better scooping potential driving out others. Especially with other high hand potential (highest door card, live queens, jacks, straight/flush cards above nine).
So maybe now after the betting on 3rd street it is down to Seat 6 (Mr. Five), Seat 8 (Mr. Trey) and Hero, Seat One (you, Mr. Jack). I think your hand plays better three-way, at least at this point, than five-way.
Fourth Street: now on 4th you have caught your perfect dream card. Bet it up, dude. The two low draws may not go anywhere, but make them pay to draw. Mr. Five blanked up, and yeah, he may have started with aces under, or rolled up, but he also may have started with a wheel draw and just major blanked. So make him pay. Mr. Trey caught a deuce and is coming along no matter what. Hopefully you are three-way by this time, but if not, make those other two monkeys pay, pay, pay. Especially Seat 4, Mr. Seven, who just blanked out with a nine.
(I remember a Stud incident once when someone was rolled up and I had a pair with an ace kicker. I made my kicker on fourth or fifth, so aces up. But HE was rolled up and told me so (LL “fun” game for a forum get together). He said why bother betting when I was going to keep chasing him with my aces up? I said because YOU HAVE TO MAKE ME PAY TO CATCH YOU. That is key. Make them pay. Maybe as an analogy think of it this way: Some crazed lunatic is trying to rape your wife. He may succeed. But do you just let him go for it? Do you just turn away from your wife, screaming and begging? Just because he MAY succeed? MAKE HIM PAY.)
Fifth Street: You catch a queen. Great. So does Seat 8, Mr. Trey, which initially may look like a bad thing, but not necessarily. It blanks him, too. He can’t have a made low yet. Seat 6, Mr. Five, caught good, too, but MAKE THEM PAY! The bets are doubled, get it in while you have a chance of getting one of them out. Especially if maybe one of them paired instead of having that good low draw. Your hand plays so much better HU.
Sixth Street: The paired four doesn’t hurt your hand and may hurt theirs. Now you have queens up, four flush. Many ways to scoop. If you couldn’t get Seat 8, Mr. Trey out on fifth when the bets doubled and he blanked, you might not be able to get him out now. But maybe you did, and now you are HU against Seat 6, Mr. Five, who just blanked from hell. Pump it up, MAKE HIM PAY.
Seventh Street: So another pair, but at least another high pair. The pot is too big to even think about folding here. You make the crying call. Hopefully Seat 6, Mr. Five is your only opponent by this point and never bettered his one pair or completed his low draw. Or maybe you drove him out already and are left with Seat 8, Mr. Trey. He might only have a low, might not have made his low, maybe double paired two small pair, etc. You might not be able to bet, but you might just scoop. Obviously this is all assuming many things; Raggedy Nine never played in the first place, nor did Seven draw. You were able to get one or both of the others out sometime in the hand.
I’m saying all of this before I do any sims at all. Just based on the hypothesis that you were forced in somehow on third street, that you completed yourself, then bet right out on fourth when you caught perfect. That you continued on fifth when the bets doubled, etc. Obviously a huge fantasy, but hey, everyone else stated the obvious, so I’m going for the fantasy hypothesis here.