So I was checking out this study done about what hands poker players most often bust out of tournaments on and it dawned on me how undiscriminating and ruthless the game of poker truly is. Apparently, the top 5 hands which players bust out most often with in tournaments are:

1. Ace – King
2. Queen – Queen
3. Ace – Queen
4. King – King
5. Ace – Ace

Tournament poker is a fickle mistress. If you played your cards perfectly five times, if you got every last chip into the pot and were in a position to double up holding pocket rockets on 5 separate occasionsover the course of a single tournament – you’d be mathematically lucky to survive and win all 5 (polynomial equations hurt my head, but if you’d like to take a look at the math involved look at our Poker Odds section.)

So it is in this context of the unending cruelty of poker that I have the privilege of launching Righteous Poker.

Righteous Poker will be a monthly look at some of the nastiest beats and silliest plays that have occurred on the real money tables of Party Poker over the past month (I don’t care if you lost with Aces to 9 – 7 offsuit on a play money table.) We’ll take a look at a real hand played on Party Poker, either at the cash tables or in the weekly $300,000 tournament that illustrates an egregious example of bad play finding good luck.

at the end of this article and as a sidenote: If you are unfamiliar with requesting hand histories, you are missing out on a huge resource to grow your poker game. To request a hand history, click on the Game Rules and Option tab in the Party Poker lobby then scroll down to Instant Hand History. This is an invaluable tool for online players and if you aren’t using them, you should be.

On to the hand itself: with less than 20 players remaining in the 1,465 entrant $215 buy-in NL Hold’em tournament, Canadian player and eventual 7th place finisher (for which he made $7,950 instead of the $2,100 he would’ve made for a 15th place finish had he been eliminated then and there,) fokker44 makes an ill-advised play against eventual 5th place finisher never2lucky (for which he made $13,800.)

First everyone posts antes and blinds – with the stakes at 10,000/20,000 + 500 and 8 players at the table, that spelled out a pot of 34,000 before a single card was dealt.

Table folds around to the chip leader, never2lucky who bets 50,000 of his 637,832 chips holding a legitimate hand in the form of AK off-suit. With the 34,000 already in the pot, never2lucky’s raise to 50,000 makes the pot 84,000.

The table folds around to the wittily named fokker44 on the button who looks at the 7 – 8 of Clubs. fokker44 has 116,637 in chips so with the blinds at 10K/20K he’s got a little less than 6 Big Blinds –he’s getting seriously short-stacked and needs to make a play. So fokker44 goes all-in over the top of the chip leader’s 50K bet for an additional 66,137 thereby making the pot almost exactly 200,000.

fokker44 cannot think that the 7-8 of Clubs is the best hand; even if he put never2lucky on a stone cold bluff, he could’ve easily been bluffing with something like 9-5 in which case fokker44 would’ve been an underdog (9-5 is about a 3 to 2 or 60% favorite over 8-7.) And if never2lucky was not bluffing (as in fact, he was not) then fokker44 would’ve been a significant dog.

Whatever, fokker44 put him on a bluff, that’s his read – we’ve all made plenty of incorrect reads over the years.

But beyond an incorrect read, what fokker44 was failing to look at were the pot odds that he was presenting the then chip leader with: even with his all-in re-raise, never2lucky was looking at a 66,137 call into a pot of 200,000 giving him pot odds of 66,137:200,000 or about 3:1. If never2lucky was going to make a mathematically sound decision, he had to make sure that he was calling a bet where he would have a greater than 25% chance of victory (briefly, this is because 3 to 1 odds would mean that never2lucky has to win 1 out of every 4 such hands to break even over the long haul… if this is still killing you check out the aforementioned Poker Odds section.)

There are very very few situations in poker where a player is worse than 25% to win: the only such situations are when a player is outkicked (AK v. A7 which is between a 23 – 29% dog depending on how the suits line up) or up against an overpair (QQ v. KK which is between an 18 -22% dog.) One of the very worst possible pre-flop scenarios is AA v. 7-2 where an Ace is of the some suit as the 7-2, and it still provides the 7-2 with about an 11% chance of victory (the worst is AA v. A6 which provides a 6% chance of victory to the A6.)

Basically, if you are looking at a call where you are getting 3 to 1 on your money, you should almost always do it. Especially when you have a bunch of chips like never2lucky had and are late in a tournament looking to knock people out. And to top it all off, never2lucky had an eminently legitimate hand in the form of AK – this was a no-brainer call with any two cards much less Big Slick.

fokker44 made two cardinal tournament poker sins in this hand – he got involved with a stack that could eliminate him and he failed to recognize the pot odds that he was presenting his opponent with. Two important guidelines for making money in tournament poker are: 1, stay away from big stacks who can put you at risk of elimination without putting much of their own stack at risk and 2, always be aware of the pot odds that your potential bet would present to your opponent. If you are trying to steal a pot, you better be damned sure that you are not giving someone 3 to 1 odds to stop you from doing it.

After all that, fokker44 had left himself a 33% chance of survival against a premium pre-flop hand in a tournament that was ultimately worth $60,000 for the winner… so naturally the flop came the 7 of Spades, Jack of Diamonds and the 2 of Diamonds, with neither player having a Diamond. After the turn had come the 5 of Diamonds and the river, the 6 of Clubs, as a player named fokker44 was being awarded 266,274 digital chips for a terrible play against a player named never2lucky, I asked myself, ‘I wonder if fokker44 understands how unbelievably lucky he just got?’

But then in the long run it’s better for the rest of us who actually know what’s going on for players who have no idea to continue playing in their erratic, unsound way – after all, that’s how we make money.

So if you have a hand that you'd like examined in an upcoming Righteous Poker, follow this link and let us know:

Righteous Poker

Hand History for Hand 7340658217

10000/20000 Tourney Texas Hold'em Game Table (NL) (MTT Tournament 41781305)-Sun Aug 31 18:55:19 EDT 2008
Table 467912 (Real Money) — Seat 2 is the button
Total number of players : 8
Seat 1: torkolort2 (332266)
Seat 2: fokker44 (116637)
Seat 4: MySweetCaro (313498)
Seat 5: tottigoal10 (179488)
Seat 6: paakallo (448527)
Seat 7: themasterd2 (221222)
Seat 8: greddd (519587)
Seat 10:
never2lucky (637832)
torkolort2posts ante (500)
fokker44posts ante (500)
MySweetCaroposts ante (500)
tottigoal10posts ante (500)
paakalloposts ante (500)
themasterd2posts ante (500)
gredddposts ante (500)
never2luckyposts ante (500)
MySweetCaroposts small blind (10000)
tottigoal10posts big blind (20000)
** Dealing down cards **
paakallo folds
themasterd2 folds
greddd folds
never2lucky raises (50000) to 50000
torkolort2 folds
fokker44 raises (116137) to 116137
fokker44 is all-In.
MySweetCaro folds
tottigoal10 folds
never2lucky calls (66137)
** Dealing Flop ** :[ 7s, Jd, 2d ]
** Dealing Turn ** :[ 5d ]
** Dealing River ** :[ 6c ]
Creating Main Pot with $266274 with fokker44
** Summary **
Main Pot: 266274
Board: [ 7s Jd 2d 5d 6c]
torkolort2 balance 331766, lost 500 (folded)
fokker44 balance 266274, bet 116637, collected 266274, net +149637 [ 7c 8c ] [ a pair of Sevens — Jd,8c,7c,7s,6c ]
MySweetCaro balance 302998, lost 10500 (folded)
tottigoal10 balance 158988, lost 20500 (folded)
paakallo balance 448027, lost 500 (folded)
themasterd2 balance 220722, lost 500 (folded)
greddd balance 519087, lost 500 (folded)
never2lucky balance 521195, lost 116637 [ As Kc ] [ high card Ace — As,Kc,Jd,7s,6c ]

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