Poker: Finding comfort in times of trouble

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The Independent Culture
WHEN you get badly outdrawn, it helps soothe the fevered brow to remember hands when you were lucky enough to win on an outrageously flukey outdraw yourself. One such hand which comforts Stewart Reuben in time of stress was an outdraw he made at Seven Card Stud.

It was a high-stakes pot- limit game. On card 6, Stewart was showing Q-2 and had another Q-2 in the hole. The only problem with this hand was that two queens and a deuce had already fallen in other players' cards. The chances of improving were about as good as returning serve from Pete Sampras.

Stewart's opponent was a complete stranger. He was showing two 4s, one of which was his 'door card', or first up-card. (The most likely one to have paired at the start of a Seven Card Stud hand.) It certainly suggested he had a third 4 tucked away.

The man bet the pot. Stewart called him for an odd reason; as a stranger in the game, he had no idea how the man played, so he stuck his money in to see. (Such calls dissuade a player from trying to roll over you in later hands.)

And, undeservedly or courageously, whichever way you look at it, Stewart hit the case deuce for a full house. In fact, besides trip 4s, his opponent had an up and down straight draw. The chances of Stewart catching the only card to save him, and his opponent not improving, were about 50-1.

The biggest possible outdraw at Seven Card Stud, according to Stewart, would be as follows. In a three-handed game, you have four 9s made on card 4. The player against you shows Ac 5c. You assume (correctly) that he has three aces. Luckily, you do not have to worry about the possibility of his catching a fourth ace, because the third player folded an ace at the start.

How can you lose? Your opponent catches 2c-3c on the next two up-cards, and comes out betting after the seventh and final card in the hole. What did he catch?

(As Ad) Ac 5c 2c 3c (4c)

The odds of a straight flush coming up from the situation at card 4, says Stewart, are 12,340 to 1. If this kind of outdraw should ever hit you when you have made four of a kind, it is reasonable to conclude you have been cheated.