Poker Overcards

Playing overcards on the flop isn’t that hard to justify, as long as the action is only one small bet. It gets more debatable on the turn if you don’t hit. In the last chapter, we held A-K and saw the flop shown in the next figure.


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Notice that A-K has no chance of making either a flush or a straight. Trips would be the best we could do with one pair being the most likely. Remember from the last chapter that you could be drawing dead if you are against A9 and/or K9, because what gives you one pair would give those hands two pair. Against both A9 and K9, you would have no way to win. Against one of them, you will only win about 13.2 percent of all money. Just for the sake of argument, let’s assume you are not reverse dominated but are against two playable but not incredible hands like Q-9 and J-9.

In this case, you stand half a chance because any Ace or King will put you ahead, forcing them to draw for another Nine, Queen, or Jack. First, let’s see what happens when all the turn accomplishes is to give someone else a flush draw. In this case it needs to be a diamond, so the 3 will suffi ce. But what happens if you hit an overcard and make top pair going to the river? If the turn is the K, you are now looking good. Table 10.6 shows where you are in these hands.

Hold ’Em Hand Results

Hand Percentage of Money Won
Flop (9♣-5-2) Turn (3) Turn (K)
A-K 22.5% 19.1% 83.5%
Q9 65.0% 76.1% 9.5%
J-9 12.5% 4.8% 7.1%

The real trick here, as we mentioned in the last chapter, is to be able to fi gure out if you’re up against two pair or not. Knowing how your opponents play is one way. Betting for information is another, possibly more expensive, way. One good clue would be the action before and on the flop. If there hasn’t yet been a raise, you may well have the best hand. Calling one bet would be good here, but it becomes marginal if there is a raise. If you think they’re semi-bluffing with a Nine or with a King with kicker issues compared to your Ace, get on in the pot, but raise with extreme caution.

Poker Flush Draws and Straight Draws

These were talked about by themselves in the last chapter, but they have been covered quite extensively in our discussions of other types of hands earlier in the chapter. To see where you are with these draws, we ask that you place yourself in the role of the opponents in those hands.


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