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Home > Poker Pros > Articles > Michael Wiesenberg

Articles - Michael Wiesenberg

by Michael Wiesenberg

I recently wrote about the draw poker game I’ve been playing at a popular online gaming site.

Do players go on tilt online? I think so. I caught a player on tilt for two hands, and profited thereby.

The game was eighthanded. In this hand, I was in fifth position with two pair, eights and sixes. No one opened to me, so I opened. The button, a player whose handle is FullHouse, called. I find his name appropriate, because he is the tightest player I have seen in these games. He does not raise before the draw with less than three of a kind, and even then, they must be high — say, three tens or better. He sometimes calls to draw to straights and flushes, but if he opens and draws one card, he definitely has two high pair or trips. His call didn’t particularly worry me. He might well already have me beat, but that only meant I would get a free draw. That is, with some of the hands he might currently be holding, other players might raise and I would have to decide what to do. Two players backed in under the gun. Since you can check and then call if anyone opens, this happens a lot. If you have a good hand with which you were planning on check-raising, you still get to draw to the hand even if no one opens. There’s no danger of the pot being passed out, as there was in the pass-and-back-in draw games that used to be common in the cardrooms of California, particularly Gardena, up until the ‘80s. These first two players did not check-raise after having initially passed, so it was unlikely they had me beat at this point.

Gadzooks, in first position, drew three cards. Leach, in second position, also took three. Since neither player had opened to begin with, I thought it unlikely that either had aces or kings. I took one card, discarding a useless ace from my hand, and FullHouse took one. My hope at this point was that the first two players would pass, I would pass unless I filled up, and I knew that FullHouse would not bet unless he made a complete hand. If either of the first two players bet, I would fold, because it was unlikely they would bet a bluff into two one-card draws; thus, any bet should indicate better than my two medium pair.

The card I drew was another 8. Now, I hoped one of the first two players would bet, so I could raise. But, they both passed. I bet. I knew that if FullHouse made a straight or flush, he would only call. Most players would raise with an ace-high flush in that situation, but not FullHouse. If he raised, it would be with only a full house. He could not have quads already, or he would have raised with three players in the pot. I would call his raise if he made one, of course, but not reraise, because my hand would have only about a 50 percent chance of being better than his. The more likely event occurred: FullHouse folded.

Now, I was hoping for a call from either Gadzooks or Leach.

Gadzooks called.

Then, a surprise: Leach raised! What could he have to be raising at this point? If he had made a miracle draw — that is, a full house or four of a kind — he probably would have bet it on his turn after the draw. He would be afraid that unless I completed my hand, I would not bet into the one-card draw behind me, and anyone who knew FullHouse wouldn’t count on him betting. I remembered that Leach had lost a few hands prior to this, and might be steaming. More important, though, I said to myself, “OK, it’s unlikely this guy has made a complete hand, and even if he has, my full house is better than more than half of the hands he could have made, particularly since he probably backed in to draw to a small pair.” I know several fearful regulars in this game who would only call in this situation, afraid that the opponent had indeed made a miracle draw, but I had just made an 11-to-1 shot, a pretty rare occurrence. I wasn’t about to back down on it. I reraised immediately. If Leach had made one of those 73-to-1 shots, more power to him, and let him cap the betting.

Gadzooks folded, no surprise there. He had made something like two pair and was hoping I was betting a worse two pair, but he could not call two more bets cold with the hand.

I wish I could have been sitting in a live game with Leach at that point. All I could do was visualize in my mind his unhappy look. He hesitated for a moment, and then called. He had made three fives. He had been hoping that I was betting two pair and he could make a clever play by raising with his trips. He hadn’t counted on my making a five-card hand.

I had just won five small bets — the antes added up to two bets — plus four big bets.

The very next hand, Leach was under the gun and passed. The next two players passed. I was pleased to see that my hand was three eights. I didn’t attach any significance to the fact that my previous winning hand had involved three eights; nonetheless, I did note the coincidence. Quicksilver called right behind me. Gadzooks, now on the button, called. Leach immediately raised. I thought, “This guy is steaming from that last beat. He wants to get back at me, but how likely is it that he has better than three eights on the very next hand after what he considers a bad beat?” (I wouldn’t term it that. He had had no business in the previous pot, backing in to draw to a pair of fives.) Again without hesitating, I reraised. I wanted to play this pot head up, but just in case the others wanted in, I was going to make it expensive for them.

Quicksilver called two more bets, and that brought Gadzooks. Leach hesitated. I was again envisioning a sour look on his face. He called.

Leach drew three! He probably had a pair of aces and was trying to get cute again. This pleased me immensely, because I had an ace and a 7 along with my three eights. If he really had two aces, and this was probably the only hand that he would check-raise and then draw three to, there was only one ace left for him to catch. If he got it, fine, but I was still better than a 15-to-1 favorite against him.

It never even occurred to me to draw anything but two cards at this point. For one thing, I wanted the best chance of improving. The only reason to draw one would be to disguise my hand so as to get called after the draw, but I wasn’t likely to fool anyone by taking one card at this point. The most likely hand for a player to have when drawing cards after having put in three bets was trips. For still another, there was no real need to disguise my hand, anyway. Players would call based on their cards or because they felt a need to keep me honest, regardless of how many I drew. So, I might as well give myself the best shot of making a five-card hand.

Quicksilver drew one card and good old Gadzooks took three.

After the draw, Leach showed some sense and checked. He had likely not improved and knew he would get called if he bet. Perhaps he had made trips and planned on a check-raise, but I wasn’t worried about that.

My slight worry was Quicksilver. If he was drawing to a straight or flush, there was less than a 1-in-5 chance he would make the hand. Gadzooks could, of course, also make trips, but unlike some players, I do not see monsters under every bed. I bet.

Quicksilver and Gadzooks both called. Leach showed further sense and folded. If he had made trips, fine, he was going to win a big pot.

On the showdown, my three eights held up. Quicksilver had had two pair all along, jacks and deuces, and Gadzooks had made two pair, kings and nines. Do these people think that two pair beats three of a kind? I don’t know, and I don’t ever ask.

This time, I won 11 small bets — again including antes — plus two big bets.

And that’s why I love a player who’s on tilt.


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