Sometimes a river card is perfect for you, even when it misses your
hand completely. I was reminded of this during my first live cash game in six
weeks (a lucrative night overall; poker has a way of welcoming you back, like
the Hotel California). A serious young Asian fellow, whom I hadn't met before,
raised in middle position and I gave him a spin with Hearts J and Hearts 9 in
the cut-off. The flop came Clubs K, Diamonds Q and Diamonds 3. The chap bet
£30 and I called. What the hell; I hadn't played in a while, I was
feeling skittish, and I always think I can outplay people I haven't met
The turn came Spades 10. Hello! No need to outplay him now: a
beautiful shiny middle pin. My opponent bet £100 and I made it
£300. He thought a while and called.
The river was Diamonds K. Dammit, with a
pair and a flush on board it was now too risky to bet the farm. When the fellow
threw in £250, I flat called. And you know what he turned over? AJ off
suit! That turn card was his own middle pin for the nuts. If the river had been
a blank, we'd have both shovelled our money in and I'd have done my brains.
That Diamonds K saved me.
It was actually a perfect raising card, had I
known his hand. If I'd been holding J-10 rather than J-9 (and known that I
couldn't take the pot just by showing my cards) I would certainly have raised
on the end and he would have passed. A great player of my acquaintance says
that if he puts his opponent on a made hand, he always counts flushing cards as
outs to win the pot, even if he doesn't have a flush himself. He actually
factors them into his pot odds when facing a bet. It's a beautiful theory, but
apply with care.