Pros believe they can take a chunk of their less skilled opponents chips based on their ability to read the texture of the board and bet it accordingly, whether its limit or no-limit hold em, cash games or tournaments.
Even if they are playing 2-4 offsuit. No lie. Thats the hand that aggressive pro Chip Jett showed down during a limit hold em event during the 2005 World Series of Poker at the Rio Hotel in Las Vegas. From under the gun, no less.
"Id been playing to see about 95 percent of the flops," Jett said. "Somebody raised me, it was three-handed, and I called."
The flop came 2-4-jack. Jett bet out with bottom two. The two other players called.
"Obviously," Jett said, "Im praying a jack doesnt come off on the turn."
The turn came an 8 of spades, eliminating flush draws. Jett bet out again. Both opponents called. The river came a king. Jett bet out again.
One player raised. The other opponent called.
"I just called because it looks like it could be pocket kings or K-J," Jett said.
"One guy had K-Q. They were playing bad against me. I mean, Im playing bad. Im playing bad cards, but he called me with K-Q. He was drawing dead, and luckily for me, he got there."
But playing 2-4 offsuit from early position?
"I play almost every hand from every position," Jett said. "In limit hold em, I feel I play better than most people after the flop."
Jett said he knew his hand was good on the turn based on his opponents betting patterns.
"The bad thing about playing deuce-four when the flop comes J-deuce-four and an eight comes on the turn ... now if a jack or eight comes on the river, youre dead," Jett cautioned.
"Your hand is completely counterfeited. You cant possibly win. Any pocket pair beats you, or a jack or an eight. What you have to avoid is the board pairing. As long as youre aware of that going in ... youre OK. I was under $1,000 and over $10,000 four different times that day."
But understand that this is strictly a limit hold em play, not something you can usually pull off in no-limit.
"I lost a lot of big pots that day in limit hold em," Jett said. "In no-limit, if you lose one big pot, youre gone. In limit, mistakes dont kill you."
Bottom two: Hole cards that pair the two lowest-ranking cards on the board.
(Steve Rosenbloom is a sports columnist for the Chicago Tribune and the author of the new book The Best Hand I Ever Played, now available in bookstores. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
© 2005, Chicago Tribune.
Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.