I’m still amazed by hand ranges in cash games

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In a recent $2-$5 no-limit hold’em game, I was amazed by the range of starting hands played at my table.

Having done this for more than 35 years, little surprises me in cash games. I can’t understand why players are willing to gamble large dollar amounts preflop and play for big pots with such poor starting hands.

I’ll cite a hand so you may judge for yourself, and find a reason to play the hand.

After several hours of play, I saw a player call a raise (followed by a call) for $40 preflop. Usually a player calling a raiser and a caller will have a good hand.

The flop was {a-Clubs}{3-Diamonds}{6-Diamonds}. The player who raised preflop bet $100, the next player folded and our player called.

The turn was the {k-Diamonds}. The preflop raiser bet $100 and our player raised to $200; he was quickly called.

The river was the {2-Spades}. The preflop raiser said all-in for $167 and was called by our player who had $123.

The preflop raiser turned over {a-Diamonds}{k-Clubs} for top two pair. Our hero turned over {k-Spades}{3-Spades}. The following explanation from our hero was; “I love suited cards and since I hit the board I had to see the turn, and once I hit the king and had two pair I was pot-committed.”

I can find no reason to play this hand preflop for any price. With two suited cards, it’s 118-1 against flopping a flush.

KS-3S isn’t connected so the straight draw is improbable. Since 60 percent of all flops contain two suited cards, when you hold suited cards you have an 11 percent chance of flopping the same suit.
Last, if you flop two of the same suit you only have a 35 percent chance of making the flush by the river, or 2-1 against you. You will, however, have to call two bets (turn and river) with your draw, which won’t be the nut flush if you do hit (if the ace isn’t on the board).
The final comment by our hero was, “I’ll always call to see the flop with suited cards.” My feelings: Please do!

— Antonio Pinzari has been playing professionally since the ’70s. He’s the creator of 23 Poker and Wild Tallahassee Poker, which you can learn more about at WildTallahasseePoker.com.