Excalibur Bad Beat... Your Thoughts please

Strategy & Advice by Jimmy Chips Posted

In early July 2015 I sat down at a 1-2 NLH game at The Excalibur. I had heard that it was a great place to find fun, inexperienced players and my quick observations while waiting for my seat confirmed this. There was one name on the list ahead of me when I arrived and as I watched the table play for a minute I immediately saw that there were some seriously weak players at the table that were not just shoving chips in everyone's direction, they were doing so with big smiles on their faces... they simply didn't care that they were losing.

So, my name got called, I bought $300 in chips (that is the table max for 1-2 NLH at Excalibur) and sat down. I played TAG poker for about an hour and a half. I was following an ABC strategy that had netted me about $250. I had never come this close to doubling up in such a short time at the tables. This was insane. I wasn't even getting that great of hands, I just kept knocking players off their hands with well played aggression. I had won one pot that was over $100 with top pair top kicker against a maniac fish who thought it was hilarious that he called my bet with ace high... OK, Buddy... laugh it up.


At this point I am on the BB and I'm dealt 7 7 (my best hand so far, BTW). Two middle position players limp as does the cut off and the button. SB folds and it gets to me. I raise to $12. it folds around to the button and after a few moments he calls. I should point out that the button is one of those people at the table that has been care free with his chips and since I've been at the table he has reloaded with $100 at least three times. But through some equally bad play on a fellow maniacs part and some great luck he is now sitting behind about $600+ in chips, a fact that is not lost on me. The flop comes 5 K 7 . I flop a set of 7's, I'm first to act and fire a second bullet and bet $60. The button thinks for a few seconds and calls. At this point I put him on pocket fives, I know he doesn't have KK cause if he did he would've shoved for sure. The turn comes 10 , I check just to see what the button will do, and he checks as well. At this point I feel I have him beat for sure. River is K , I just made my full house 7's full of K's. I'm first to act and I shove ALL IN!!! He snap calls and flips K 5 showing me his bigger boat K's full of 5's. Before the river I was 95% to win, with him having only 2 outs in the 2 remaining K's and he rivered me.

As earlier stated, by some bizarre set of circumstances this guy who has been playing some of the worst poker I have ever seen has me covered. He is either bathing in dumb stupid luck, or he was specifically hunting for that one situation to play one brilliant hand of cards to finish my night and rake a huge pot. Regardless, I say good bye to one of the biggest heads up 1-2 NLH pots I've ever seen at a casino. That pot was a little over $1100 by my reckoning. And as I make it a rule to never lose more than one buy in a night while on vacation, I push myself away from the table and sulked back to my room.

In retrospect, I feel like I played that hand pretty well. If I could go back and change anything about how I played that hand, the only thing I think might have changed the outcome would have been to bet big on the turn ( 10 helped neither of us and I should have been able to see that by his earlier play) and forced him to fold. But, hind sight being 20/20 and my lack of a crystal ball at that table, I feel like if I faced that same situation again, I would play it the same way.

I'd love to hear some feed back.


  1. Jimmy. Tough beat. Good story, and thanks for providing the details.

    Let me try to answer the question as best as a I can. You played the hand only way you could. 100% no better way to play it. If you shove flop, he's calling. If you shove turn, he's calling.

    Not everyone at the 1/2 level has as deep thinking as a player at 5/10nl or even 2/5 DS.

    Other hands to consider in his range given this story, the raise, and the 1/2 Level, and the size of the raise $12, isn't much. Think about it. Even though $12 with respect to stack sizes seems like a good size bet; IT REALLY ISN'T. Considering you are going to play OOP at these stakes, why take a change. Fire $25 and see if that pig is ready to GAMBOL. Don't worry about the money. Only worry about EV, and trust me. You're rarely going to flop an over pair with 7/s and you're only flopping a set 11% of the time. 89% of the time you are going to see an ugly flop. Just take it down pre and move onto the next one.
    But back to possible hands:
    - K10
    - 6 8
    - 10 10

    Let's go through the possible scenarios - King 10 is a hand most amateurs love to play in position because they love (as myself) love to see the sneaky two pairs. Once he flops a King with (what he thinks is a good kicker), he is just going to call all bets as long as the board texture helps them improve. Bottom line, King 10 makes more sense than king 5, and guess what, you're still going to lose at the river. Happens everyday.

    6 8 obviously if he flops an open ender with a flush draw he is also going to call you're $12 preflop raise in position. (WHO WOULDN'T?) I certainly would! Imagine bad players at the 1-2 level. Of course they are going to play this hand. Granted you would still win at the river when the king hits you need to figure at this point what is the absolute worst hand he is calling your $60 flop raise with. You HAVE to bet turn. If you are going to lose on the river to a bigger boat, you're going to lose anyways. Fire $250 on the turn. Take it down. If he has king 10 or king 5 YOU WILL STILL LOSE ANYWAYS.

    - 10 10
    Ahhhh. The sneaky Turned set. Trust me. ALOT of amateurs don't like folding to one bet when an overcard hits the board. Myself included. You can't fold kings everytime an ace hits the flop. Given your dynamic of people herocalling ace high as well. It makes sense that he will call your $60 on flop with 10's just hoping to hero call you on the river. Well, as it will turn out, if he had 10's (or I did) I would call the $60 on flop with 10's. Looks too desperate that you are trying to buy the pot with just a flush draw or an Ace Jack, Ace Queen type of hand.

    Granted, my advice is biased, and I have learned from the school of hard knocks. I play at Bay 101 and Casino M8trix... Biggest Shark Filled Casinos probably in the USA. Silicon Valley allows even the most Casual amateurs to have bankrolls of $100K or more in engineering and tech money makes for FEARLESS play preflop. I have seen amateurs call a $100 preflop raise at 1-2 with Jack 3 looking to flop Jack33. To some people, the money doesn't mean anything.

    In my mind, the only mistake you made was leaving. If you are getting someone to put the money in 95% favorite until the river, you are going to be a winner long run obviously. Don't let it tilt you. These plays and players and outcomes happen everyday. only the strong survive. Re-buy, and get that money back. Anyways. Hope this helps. I know it probably won't.

  2. Thanks for the insight Johnny_gobbs. I really appreciate the critique.

  3. hi jimmy chips/ let me tell u what I think. 1st off let me say 1ve turned $40 in to $over $2500 in a fixed limit 2-4 $ blinds in 6 hrs and walked, turned $4100 in to 18k in 15 minutes . I should tell u all yje players had between 12k_48k $100-200 blinds I was in bb with 6-k flop came 8 k with 2 diamonds so I checked fearing I didn't have enough 2 push them off a flushdraw. sothey check-I hurss happy to see a draw 4 free 6 diam came on turn filling me up -and 1 hitting aflushwhile the other had a-9off I shoved and was called I tripped up cashed out because it was to much high stakes for me I also was on vacation and it paid for it I also play the wsop , most circuit event preelims never won but made final 9 final tables best was a $685 buy in with over 450 entries and I fin 3rd 3 handed in 2nd 4k behnd chip leader, my pp A-A beat by his pp 9-9 , what I think is u were playing so bad a players , I think he thought he was ahead the whole time Ithink he woulda called you all in when he flopped 2 pair, never even giving pause 2 consider u might have trips, I think u played right , he was gonna call you no matter what! id bet he was not even considering what u might have and it was just bad luck you got 2 outed, @ low stakes and bad players. sometimes I truly believe its harder to not get donked, id say by your description. u were observant played correctly and u woulda won that hand 98% by being 95% fav and 3% other times when a good player woulda got off of his hand on the turn- but I think this guy thought he was slow rolling you checking, and you just got super unlucky and he got super lucky, I gtd ya he lost all that $ and a few more $100 rebuys lost them and probably doesn't know what a roi is and thinks himself good! don't doubt yourself, and yes do the same thing u will be a $ making player, but don't get me started on bb and 2 and even 1 outs it happens , a lucky chump beat a much better player=you its over, know that you played well, I believe he calls if u shove after flop turn whenever believing himself ahead, prob think himself better than you so u just got 2 lol but yea playing better players for a lil more $ u coulda pushed him off if you shoved after the turn, but you did 100/00 right don't doubt yourself and no this dude is not a master player who set u up-unless he can see through a deck and see he was rivering a king-check me out and my picts on fb I haven't played in 1 yr and half live my wife is getting over cancer-she is fine now I am alan rogers if you can try to come to the wsop national wsop circuit event in Cherokee n.c july 23 till aug 2?-3? look it up , take care
    oh also the flop in the bif stake no limit the flop was 6-k-3 not 8-k-3

  4. ALANROGERSwsop, thanks for the analysis. Unfortunately my job doesn't allow me to travel except on holidays in the summer. But maybe we'll bump into each other in a wsop event sometime as I do truly hope to play in one some day.

    I'm glad your wife has beaten her illness and I commend you for the suport you must have shown her during her fight... good man.

  5. Hey bud I feel for you but with weaker players you have to take the good with the bad. The guy did have two pair on the flop so in my eyes he had every reason to continue with what most people would consider the best hand at the time. I would have played exactly the way you did he draws out and them the breaks.

  6. Thanks for all the input and feed back... keep it coming. I hope we can all use my experience as a teaching tool.

    As I'm sure you know... I have been replaying this hand in my mind over and over to see if I could have done anything better, or just different to change the out come.

    As I have revisited this hand I have come to a realization that I think merits my attention and exceptance.

    It has occurred to me that part of the shock I felt was not just seeing his full house was larger than mine... but I was also surprised he called my all in bet. This tells me that "all in" was the wrong bet to make, for a couple of reasons. I "knew" I had the best hand and I did not expect him to call me all in. Which means, I was not doing a good job of getting maximum value for my hand. Add to that, if I had made a smaller "value bet" I would have still lost but not been felted by my opponent. I could have continued and probably left the table profitably as opposed to broke.

    I still think I played it well. But I violated the rule of value over safety. I bet all in to end the contest and take the pot... not to Win the biggest pot I could.

    Your thoughts?

  7. @Jimmy Chips You really can't do anything different. I probably would have bet the turn but it wouldn't have mattered. He's calling no matter what. Just the breaks of poker.

  8. I like the way you played it. But i might have check raised the flop. Im guessin he woulda taken a stab at it. Maybe even get fancy and ask him what hes got. Assume hes got two pair or a set of 5s like you say. Tell him what you think hes got before u raise. You dont even have to be right. Tell him u think he has a set of 5s and raise him. He might just ask himself if ur raising a set of fives u must have better. If he calls shove on the turn. Just a thought. Let me know what yall think.

  9. Seems to me you tried to play "small ball" and got burned. It happens. As a rule, I don't concern myself with a players mannerisms, how well he takes it when he loses or his skill level. Focus on your game! Your post is well written.

  10. Not that it would change the outcome much, but you should bet turn for value. The board is drawy and checking turn is just giving free cards to draws to get your set beat. If you check turn concerned V has the unlikely KK, then you should just check-call river also instead of shoving. If V has only one K, he should bet river for value, then you can either call or raise small for value, and fold if he reraise all-in.

    The shove on the river is kinda unnecessary. You have a fullhouse, but it's an under full. On a non-flush non-straight board, not much can call your large shove other than other fullhouses.

    Sorry about the cooler, had something similar happen a couple months ago.

  11. I strongly disagree with a lot of the advice in this thread and I thought this hand was played very badly. Bet big on the turn and hope he calls. Then if a favorable card comes which will happen a very high percentage of the time, bet bigger on the river and hope he calls. This is how you make money from whales when you flop sets.

  12. A tough cooler hand no doubt but overall I did not like how you played it, particularly your bet sizing. A few things to think about:

    Preflop - Why raise? What was your intent? I dont mind it necessarily, but does it fit into your overall game? You said you were playing TAG. I like this play better if you are playing fast and LAG. Typically out of position I am usually not a fan of building pots. However, given that you are crushing the villain's range, a small raise is fine. What was your plan if you didnt flop a set? Flop texture matters, but are you prepared to bet the flop and possibly the turn vs. overs if you didnt hit your set?

    Flop - So you flopped a set. Let's look at bet sizing, which I thought was horrible. By my calculation there is $27 in the pot (+2 rake). Why bet $60? It is so much in relation to the pot that the most likely calls are from a set of K's, 5's, combo flush/straight draw. By betting less I think you get other hands to call that are weaker and gain value from those calls. I think a bet of 20-30 is more appropriate. Also, dont discount KK just because he didnt raise. Obviously this is player dependent, but I hate statements like, I know he....because he....1.5 hours is rarely enough time to eliminate any plays at 1-2, especially from a bad player. But of course I want there and hadnt seen it so I understand the idea.

    Turn - brick 10. Right now there is about 145 in the pot. 95+% of the time it doesnt change anything. I hate the check here. With 145 in the pot and a little more than 450 in your stack, you want to bet enough to make a flush draw a bad call and give him a chance to raise his 2 pair and set of 5's after you bet. By playing it "sneaky" and checking, he can take a free card to hit his flush, check behind to control pot size with a worse hand, or bet. Were you planning on check raising him? Let's look at that play. You check, he bets 100 into the pot, you raise to 250, 300, or move all in? For me in a 1-2 game this would scream a set of KK's or 10's. It is a very strong play and not likely to be pulled with a flush draw or bluff by a TAG player. I would fold 2 pair and strongly consider folding bottom set, all things you want him to call you with. If he only had 200 in his stack, ok. But by check raising he can fold and still leave himself with 400. Let's say you are the one who bets though. I would bet between 100-150. If villain has an open ended flush draw such as 4d6d or 6d8d, he is 30% to win. Even with a pot sized bet he gets the right pure implied odds (assuming he gets all your stack if he hits) to call. If he has just a flush draw, he is 16%, if a set of 5's 2%, K5 5% and it is a terrible call. By betting between 100-150, you leave yourself with 300ish. If he has a set of 5's or he thinks his 2 pair is good, you might get a raise. If he makes a raise to 300 and leaves himself with 150, he might feel pot committed when you reraise all in. With 900+ in the pot it is hard to fold for the last 150 with a card to come, even if the person suspects they are crushed. Most people will not fold. If he calls on the turn, now the pot is around 400. You can evaluate the river and make a bet of 200-all in and it is not a huge overbet of the pot.

    River - Let's review his hand range. set of 5's, flush draw, 2 pair. River is a K. There is 145 in the pot and you have 450 left. Why push all in? What calls you? Of the hands he could have flush draw, 57 definitely dont call. A set of 5's is 60-40 to call, maybe higher. K10, K5, KK, 1010, K7, all call and get your money. I just dont think there is enough value there.

    If you bet 80-150 you get calls from 5's almost 100% of the time, you can fold to a huge raise, or you could call a small raise. Is there a chance he bluff raises you with a busted flush and you fold? Sure. I would have to have a good reason to think a 1-2 player like him has that in the playbook. Most of the time there if you call that raise hoping it was a bluff, you getting shown the winning hand.

    Could you check? I am usually not in favor of checking, but the board texture might make it a good play. If you check, lets look at the possible hands the villain may bet.

    Missed flush draw- definite possibility. You can call any river bet and snap him off. He def is not calling on the end with a missed flush draw. Positive.

    Bare K. He rivered trips. Definite bet trying to get value on the end vs your perceived AA, QQ,JJ, etc.

    You hand strength is undervalued so betting trips is likely.
    Set of 5's. Definite bet. You call on end and win.

    KK, K10, 1010, K5, K7. Bet, call, lose. Not much you are going to do there. Some hands you are going to be 2nd best and lose. Hopefully you minimize the amount.

    It's always tough to lose a huge pot in that game. I actually like your decision to walk away, at least for a little bit. Even though the game might be good, sometimes losing a pot like that can negatively affect your game. If anything, get up for a few minutes, compose yourself, and closely monitor your play. Good luck!

  13. @brian36lefty Thanks for the detailed analysis. Having time to reflect... I tend to agree. One of my poker short comings (and its a big one) is going "beat" blind. Meaning I catch a strong hand on a large growing pot and I lose sight of the total number of hands that can beat mine. I've held big sets and bet strong not noticing that the board was showing 4 hearts... guess what my opponent had... Heart!

    I would assume this is a common issue with fledgling profit seeking poker players and again thank you for illustrating the point to me.

    When push comes to shove (pun, totally intended) I let confidence, impatience and arrogance handle this hand and that is never a good combination of player traits.

    But, as a former science teacher I always told my students "Any failure that you can learn something from, must ultimately be viewed as a successful experiment." So, did I learn something from this hand? YES.

  14. Do you coach?

  15. @MGLA does who coach?

  16. @Jimmy Chips I thought I had directed the question to brian36lefty, but it was listed as a response to @Jimmy Chips. Thanks for posting the hand, by the way.

  17. I would have played the hand slightly different, but the real question is this.....is there any way you or he is folding before getting to the river? Would you do anything there but put it all in, or would he do anything there but put it all in? You stated he was a loose amateur player on a lucky streak. No matter what you bet on the turn, I think he is calling with his two pair. It's a cooler. That's all. You both are getting it in. So brush it off and rebuy. Good luck at the tables.

  18. @KingKelley Small Ball? Maybe on the turn by checking, but the $60 bet on the flop is no where near small ball. Disagree?

  19. @MGLA Sorry about the late reply. I was actually in Vegas for a week and am just catching up with things at home. I do not coach poker but I play and think about the game quite bit. I play 1-2 and 2-5 live and when online poker was thriving played 3-6 nl regularly. IRL I am a math teacher. I hope you continue to learn and think about the game. I know I still have alot to learn.

  20. @Jimmy Chips i remember one night super late at a table in immokalee florida i was playing. I had an incredible table presence and i was up about 800 bucks. 1/2 table.

    I flopped a nut flush in spades..i had been showing the nuts all night long. This particular room is usually full of well....horrible players. Like really bad.
    Long story short i bet out 40. The one guy at the table who had me covered raises over the top of me to 400. I had been watching him do this to numerous people and i figured i had finally caught him. I instantly shove and he stands up and runs his fingers through his hair and takes a deep breath. After what seemed like an eternity and some table talk between us he says... "Well, i came here to gamble" and calls. He flips over 7, 5...he too aslo made his flush. The board went runner runner to make him a straight flush.

    Its poker. It happens. Bad beats are going to come.
    In both our cases its easy to see why the person was in the hand. And even if they know they are beat they will still chase...

    In the long run over time....youll make money off these people...dont give up.

  21. Jimmy,

    You are going broke here no matter what but that does not mean you played the hand right.

    You flopped a big hand against a loose opponent. Your read is that you flopped set over set. Why check the turn? If your read is correct V will call an all in on the turn. There is absolutely no reason to get creative here. By checking the turn you risk a scare card on the river and your trapped v will shut down.

  22. As bad beat stories go this one is rather unremarkable. Player is ahead, gets sucked out on the river by an inferior opponent. Will happen a thousand times at 1-2 tables around the country in the next 24 hrs.