Editor's Note: The following column was originally published in 2007.
Flopping a full house in a home game was exciting for Kurt of Moline, Ill., but things got even better on the next card. Let's consider how the hand was played.
Hey, LuckyDog: I had pocket queens the other night in my limit hold 'em home game, raised and got three callers. The flop came K-K-Q, giving me a full house! Someone bet, but I just smooth-called to keep everyone in. The turn card was another queen! Again I just called a guy's bet along with everyone else. I raised after the last card and got two calls, winning a very nice pot. Pretty sweet, huh? — Kurt
Well done, Kurt! Bet your blood was pumping when that fourth queen hit the board!
This is one of those hands in which you had good options on every betting round. Raising pre-flop almost certainly was correct, and I like your smooth-call on the flop. You don't want to lose anyone, and besides, one of your opponents could have been holding K-Q for a bigger full house at that point.
Another option on the turn, when you made quad queens, would have been to raise rather than just calling again. You correctly determined that one or two opponents held a king, and that the other player was on a big flush draw. The drawing hand was going to fold anyway, with such a scary board and all of that betting.
The only risk in raising on the turn was if an opponent held K-K in the pocket and had flopped quad kings. It was much more likely that each of them held a king, possibly with an ace side card.
I think you made a good play by just calling on the turn, even though I'm sure both opponents would have called a raise there, especially if one or both held A-K. With "big slick," they would have stayed in trying to catch an ace on the river, giving them kings full of aces. That would have meant some raising at the end — good news for you!
As it was, the river was a rag and you got your raise in at the end. Definitely sweet!
I used to love getting A-K in the pocket and almost always would raise with it. But lately, I've been losing with it like crazy. How should I play "big slick"? — Steve G. in Minneapolis
How to play A-K depends on a lot of things, Steve. Are you playing limit or no-limit? What's your betting position? How many players are in the hand? Has there been a raise? What's your chip position?
In limit hold 'em, I like to raise with A-K in early position to drive out weaker hands, such as gapped connectors (J-9 or 8-6, for example). I'll raise from late position, too, if no more than one player has limped in when the betting gets to me. That should drive out the blinds. If someone re-raises, I'll call.
From late position with several players already in the pot, I usually just limp in, too. Raising won't get anyone out (except perhaps the blinds). Building a bigger pot in this situation isn't a horrible play because if you catch a great flop, you can win more chips. With a handful of opponents, however, remember you're not a big favorite before the flop.
In a no-limit cash game, A-K almost always is a raising hand if you're the first to enter a pot voluntarily. In a no-limit tournament with a short chip stack, just move all-in and try to double-up against a lone opponent. With a tall stack, be more careful unless you only have to beat a short-stacked player who can't hurt you.
It's important to not overvalue A-K. If you miss the flop completely and an opponent shows strength, it's usually best to just muck your hand. You're drawing to make a single pair, and even that might not win.
Just an update, LuckyDog: After five weeks at PokerStars, my little bankroll is on the plus side. I have not played in a tournament there yet, though. Good luck at Tunica! — Bob B., Manitowoc, Wis.
You're doing the right thing, Bob. Stick to the lower limits and be satisfied, for now, with small gains to your bankroll. When you have tripled or quadrupled your starting deposit, move up a notch and see what happens. Take it a step at a time, and don't be too proud to drop back a level if you feel uncomfortable.
Thanks for the good-luck wish. My tournament partner, Scotty, and I will be at the World Series of Poker Circuit Event in Tunica this month, so watch for news of that tournament in this column and on my Website, www.luckydogpoker.com.
E-mail your poker questions and comments to [email protected] for use in future columns. To find out more about Russ Scott and read previous LuckyDog Poker columns, visit www.creators.com or www.luckydogpoker.com.