World Series of Poker Europe

Stud Poker Strategy: Quads Redux

Stud Poker Strategy: Quads Redux 0001

It was a hand for the ages. Literally one week after my last column on how to play quads on the first four cards in stud, I was dealt quads on the first four cards. This is how it happened.

  • I was dealt ({j-Clubs} {j-Spades}) {j-Hearts}.
  • The player on my right showed the {2-Clubs}.
  • The player on my immediate left showed the {q-Diamonds}.
  • The player next to him showed the {9-Hearts}.
  • A fifth player showed the {k-Clubs}.
  • The other cards were irrelevant. No hearts, no clubs, no Jacks.

The {2-Clubs} brought it in, in this $20/40 game, for the full $20. He had been the bring-in a few times, had lost a few hands in a row, and seemed to be faking that he was steaming. It was the type of amateur acting move that I might make. I figured he was strong – probably a pocket pair.

  • So I was first to act after him. I decided to slow-play the trips. I just called.
  • The three other players above also called.
  • On fourth street the {2-Clubs} to my right hit the {10-Clubs}. The {q-Diamonds} to my left hit the {4-Clubs}.
  • The next player added a {7-Hearts} to go with his {9-Hearts}. And the {k-Clubs} received the {9-Spades}.
  • I was dealt the {j-Diamonds}.

That's right: Quad Jacks on fourth street! I was right out of my recent article on Poker News.

I did not make the mistake of betting them. Though I knew it would look highly suspicious, I checked. The hands were checked around to the man on my right with the {2-Clubs} {10-Clubs}. I was convinced that it would be checked around. It wasn't. He bet $40. I figured either he was betting his wired pair – guessing it was probably pretty high – maybe Aces – or else perhaps he started with pocket tens and just made trips.

I was grateful for the bet, happy to get more money in the pot without looking strong, and so just called him. The player showing {q-Diamonds} {4-Clubs} and the player to his left showing the {7-Hearts} {9-Hearts} both called. The other player folded.

  • Four of us saw fifth street. There was about $280 in the pot.

On fifth street, the hands were as follows:

  • (x x) {2-Clubs} {10-Clubs} {6-Clubs}
  • ({j-Clubs} {j-Spades}) {j-Hearts} {j-Diamonds} {8-Spades}
  • (x x) {q-Diamonds} {4-Clubs} {10-Spades}
  • (x x) {7-Hearts} {9-Hearts} {a-Spades}

I was still high with my exposed pair of Jacks. I thought about a check-raise. But I figured I'd make more money by just betting directly – perhaps getting one or both of the loose players to my left to call. I bet $40. As hoped, the next two players called me. The guy to my right, with the three clubs, raised me. This was a surprise... but a pleasant one. I did not put him on three clubs to start – since he came out with the full bet and then bet fourth street. But maybe he was overplaying trip tens. Even so, I was pleased with the extra bet. Maybe indicating to him and everyone else that I only had a pair of Jacks or two pair, I smooth-called him, again hoping maybe I'd get a third or fourth player to also call. No such luck. The other two players folded. Even so, the pot was enormous: $520 as we headed into sixth street heads up.

  • My opponent hit another club, the {9-Clubs}. I hit the {7-Diamonds}.

We showed the following:

  • HE: (x x) {2-Clubs} {10-Clubs} {6-Clubs} {9-Clubs}
  • ME: ({j-Clubs} {j-Spades}) {j-Spades} {j-Hearts} {8-Spades} {7-Diamonds}

I was high and bet $40.

He raised to $80. I liked this re-raise from him. He was clearly steaming with trips or maybe he caught that flush, I figured. He put me on trip Jacks and was just going to bet until the river. There was no point in slow-playing any more. I re-raised to $120. He re-re-raised me to $160. That gave me pause. He might not have been great. He might have been steaming. Maybe he was just going to put in all of his chips no matter what. But I was a pretty tight player. He must have read me for at least a full house when I re-raised him to $120. Why the extra re-raise? Could he have a straight flush? Could he have come out for $20 with {7-Clubs} {8-Clubs} {2-Clubs}? It struck me as highly unlikely. Maybe he was just screwing around. Players do that. But still… So I just called. He had about $100 left. There was $840 in the pot.

On the river I paired the irrelevant {7-Diamonds} with the {7-Spades}. I figured that he didn't have the straight flush and that I'd miss a bet if I just checked. So I bet $40. He raised to $80, with $20 more left in his stack. So I re-raised him his final $20. He called, all in, and eagerly flipped over his cards.

Sure enough, he turned over the {7-Clubs} and the {8-Clubs} for a straight flush! He won $1040.00. Not a bad pot for a $20/40 game with only heads-up action on sixth and seventh street.

It would have been nice if there had been a bad-beat jackpot. There wasn't. It did provide a good lesson about poker and probability.

I figured out the odds of being dealt quads in four cards and my opponent having a straight flush in six cards. Roughly, the odds of the former are 18,500:1 against while the odds of the latter are 10,000:1 against. To determine the odds of both rare events happening at the same time I simply multiplied. The odds of one opponent hitting a straight flush on the same hand I am dealt quads in four cards is 185,000,000:1 against. One hundred and eighty-five million to one against! If I take into consideration that I had six opponents in the hand, and calculate the odds of any one of them hitting that hand against me, it's still 31,000,000:1 against. Looked at another way, this event is going to occur, on average, about once every one million hours – assuming 30 hands an hour. That's about once every 300 years or so for someone who plays ten hours every single day of the year.

Improbable though it was, statistically it happened.

As my opponent was laughing and raking in the enormous pot, I had to chuckle to myself. I thought of the remarks of a more seasoned poker buddy of mine – a guy who never read a poker book or article. He likes to say, "I don't care about the odds when I'm thinking about calling. When it comes right down to it, it's always a 50:50 possibility. Either he got it or he don't got it!"

My opponent did indeed "got it." My only consolation was that I'd have an interesting story to share.

What do you think?

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