Look at your hand and know which cards you’re holding – know their rank and know their suits. Yeah, it seems pretty basic, but even former world champions can misread their own holdings. Happily so, it can turn out.
Dan Harrington, who won the 1995 World Series of Poker main event, was one of
10 players left in the 2004 World Series championship. The next person eliminated
would miss the final table. So, this is a pretty important time to know your own
Harrington, the courtly New Englander known for wearing the green Boston Red Sox
ballcap at the table, sat in middle position and found the ace of clubs and the
jack of diamonds. Except he didnt know it.
"I quickly looked at the cards, and I thought I had the ace of spades and
the jack of diamonds," Harrington said.
Either way, at this point, Harrington raised. Marcel Luske called. The flop came
Q-8-6, all clubs.
"I didnt like that," said Harrington, thinking he held a spade
and a diamond. "I check. Marcel thought a long time and pushed his chips
to the center of the pot (a $700,000 all-in move).
"So, I took a quick look at my cards before I was going to throw it away,
and lo and behold, the ace of spades turned out to be the ace of clubs."
Lo and behold, that changes a lot of things.
Suddenly, Harrington had the nut-flush draw and an overcard to the board.
"At this point, Im pretty sure Im beat," said Harrington,
co-author of two Harrington on Hold em volumes, "but I also know he
has a small pair because of the way the hand was played.
"Irrespective of the money in the center of the pot, I know I have good drawing
odds. First of all, I have the nine clubs. I count these cards: I think the ace
is probably going to win for me, too, so thats 12. I thought a jack would
win for me, too, so thats 15 outs. Even if the ace or jack doesnt
win for me, its an easy call because of the pot odds. I was getting over
2-1 on my money."
Harrington called. Luske showed a pair of 4s, which ranked below the three board
"Thats extremely important," Harrington said. "That gives
me additional outs. For instance, if any of the cards on the flop pair, it gives
me another six outs to win with all the high cards."
The turn came the jack of hearts, the river the 8 of spades. Harrington won the
pot with his pair of jacks and busted Luske to set the final table, none of which
wouldve happened if he indeed held the ace of spades instead of the ace
"If I had the ace of spades, I wouldve raised for a couple hundred
thousand, Marcel wouldve hemmed and hawed and thrown his hand away, and
we wouldve gone on to the next hand," Harrington said. "But because
I made that mistake, I had a beautiful set-up play."
Middle position: In a nine-handed game, they are the spots that are fourth, fifth
and sixth from the dealer button.
(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.
Gaming: Poker [Reading Your Cards]
Reading your Cards: The Importance of Examining Your Hand
By Steve Rosenbloom