This hand was taken from the OFC Tournament on 7/19 at the Palms Casino. They are down to the Final Four players (out of 20 entrants), and the Top 2 will be paid. This post serves as the abridged, and admittedly far more reasonable version of my full, exhaustive, and most likely way over-analyzed/TL;DR version that can be found here (Part 1): http://vegasofc.com/2013/07/25/ofc-complete-hand-video-1-w-part-1-of-the-exhaustive-breakdown-and-analysis/ and here (Part 2): http://vegasofc.com/2013/07/25/ofc-complete-hand-video-1-w-part-2-of-the-exhaustive-breakdown-and-analysis/
The video for this hand:
Pauly is the “loquacious” player on the far left – people may know him as @WPTSEUSS on Twitter. To his left is Dan (@Nutcicles), then Jon Turner (@PearlJammed) is the guy in the middle so addicted to OFC he’s playing someone on his iPad while playing at the final table of this tournament. On the far right is Mark, I’m not sure if he has a Twitter handle, so if someone knows it, please contact me and I will edit this post. Note: FantasyLand was not in play for this tournament.
So let’s begin the breakdown. Pauly was 1st to act. He lets us know this, and reiterates that “it’s a huge disadvantage”.
Pauly: K♣, 7♣, 7♥, 8♥, T♠. Pauly plays the 7s in the back with the King as his kicker. It’s the most standard line to take in this spot. I guess you could argue for 87♥♥ in the back because it leaves open both a flush and a straight as an option, but it’s a tough sell to argue to break up a pair of 7s for just a 2-flush/2-straight combination. If the 7s were dead, maybe, but since Pauly’s first to act, we don’t yet know what cards will be dead or live.
The only real question is in the Kicker. All three are equally live (since we’re first to act and have no other information). Since all three are overs (and thereby present the problem of whichever one he choses, the other two overs will go in the middle and if one of them pairs first, he’ll be at risk of fouling if he plays the card in the middle), he can either go highest of the three (which leaves open potential two-pair/two-pair in case he ends up hitting all 3), or go the lowest of the three (which leaves open the chance for the best possible one-pair hand in the middle, while killing the two-pair/two-pair chance). I personally think I’d rather go 778, because I value having Kings or Tens in the middle and am less concerned about two-pair/two-pair, but given that there’s not “that” much difference between the three as one-pair hands, leaving open the two-pair/two-pair runout is entirely reasonable too, and fairly standard.
Dan: Dan’s dealt J♥, 5♣, 5♠, T♦, 7♠. He too has no 3-flush or 3-straight combinations, but has a live pair and one fully live kicker. Yes, heads-up players may not like putting 5s in the the back since Pauly has 7s in the back, but he doesn’t have too many other realistic options. His 7 is mostly dead (only 1 out left), there’s also a T already out there, so putting 5s in the middle and high cards in the back means he’s only got one fully live card (the Jack) to draw for. Further, this is a 4-handed game, so we can’t just worry about Pauly’s hand, we also have to play the most optimal strategy against the two unseen hands, and breaking up 5s or putting them in the middle makes zero sense against the two unseen hands. Finally, we hold a blocker for Pauly’s hand here, and our 5s are fully live, so even if it was just heads-up it wouldn’t be a bad play.
Even more clear is what card to place alongside the 5s – unlike Pauly’s hand, here the answer is entirely simple – the 7s are mostly dead, the T is partially dead, and the J is fully live – in addition to being the highest card, it’s the ONLY live card amongst the three, so J55 in the back is pretty much the only realistic play. Dan then puts the T in the middle and the 7 up top. The T in the middle is standard. The 7 up top, he’s placing it there because it’s mostly dead. I personally don’t like putting a card up top (besides Q-A as high-card and for FL reasons) unless it’s entirely dead, but playing it up top because it’s already mostly dead (only one left) is certainly a fair play too.
Jon – Jon’s hand is a little uglier than the previous two. Q♦, 9♠, 5♥, 4♥, 3♣. It’s tough to argue for his one flush draw (54hh) because there are three hearts already out there (giving him only a 22% chance of hitting 3 more hearts), so the question then becomes whether to just revert to the default of two livest cards in the back, or play his 3-straight in the back. Given that there are no 2s and no 6s out, and no As out, even with 7s being mostly dead, I personally would much rather play a mostly live 3-straight as opposed to simply 2 live big cards – the 2 highest live cards is the “if there’s no other option” set-up, and in this case there is another option – a fairly live 3-straight draw. Further, the 4 and 3 are fully live, leaving open a backup plan of 2-pair in the back, and Queens or Nines in the middle; such a fall-back plan is still a fairly decent hand all things considered.
Mark – Mark takes an interesting line here. It’s certainly the most noteworthy play of the four initial set-ups. He’s dealt T♣, 9♣, 8♦, 2♦, 2♥. The T is mostly dead, the 9 and 8 still have 2 more left in the deck, and the 2s are fully live. However, they’re still a pair of deuces, and playing them in the back would mean he’s starting behind Dan and Pauly. On the other hand, there is only one 7 and only one 5 left, whereas there are both deuces left in the deck, meaning he’d have the only fully live pair in the back. The other two players are 25% to catch trips in the back, he’s 44% to catch a 3rd Deuce.
He elects to play T98 in the back and 22 in the middle. I understand the play – if your deuces don’t improve you’re in a very bad spot as you’re starting way behind two other players, and T98 not only is a 3-straight combination, it also has a backup plan (pairing any of the three cards) that jumps Pauly and Dan’s current hand (7s and 5s respectively). On the other hand, I always try to have a live royalty draw in the back, and there is only one 7 left (although 6s are fully live, Jacks are mostly live, and Queens are mostly live), so I don’t know if I can consider the straight draw here very live. In general, if I start 3 to a straight I want to be able to see it through for a few streets, and I don’t know if I would be willing to do that here given the scarcity of 7s left. So I’d go 229 in the back (the live pair and the higher of the 2 somewhat live cards), T8 in the middle.
One option he could have considered was 82♦♦ in the back – diamonds are pretty damn live (9 left in the deck); he’d be 40% to complete the flush. However, the back-up plan isn’t particularly strong – if diamonds don’t come, he’s got to pair the 8 or the 2, and if he pairs the deuce first, he’s looking at a middle of high cards only since the T is fairly dead, and he’d have a dead deuce in the middle as well. If you’re willing to gamboool it up, it’s not a bad play to set diamonds in the back, but you’re pretty much committing yourself to diamonds-or-bust; if you don’t hit the flush, you have a very significant chance of fouling.
So all three options – Diamonds in the back, deuces with a kicker (and note that none of his kickers would be fully live, at best you’d have a 2-outer kicker with the 9), or 3-straight in the back have their strengths, but also come with significant warts. I’d personally chose the 229 route, but it’s certainly got its own weaknesses as well, and Mark’s play here has its own strengths and weaknesses as well.
So before we continue, let’s visualize where we’re at:
No hand here really jumps out as being in either great or horrible shape – Pauly and Dan have fairly live two-pair/boat draws but both only have 1-out for trips. Jon’s probably in the best overall shape with a fairly live straight draw in the back and live big pair cards in the middle. If Mark does complete his straight he’s in great shape, but he may end up abandoning the straight draw before it even has a chance because he’s got to make sure he covers the 2s.
So let’s get to the runout, which starts right around 0:47 of the video.
Pauly: He gets the 4♣. No reason to abandon the full-house draw, and it’s a live card under his back-pair and 4s aren’t a royalty so it’s got no value up top. Snap play it in the middle.
Dan: 8♣. He’s already played one mostly dead card up top, you don’t want to play another up there without developing a middle first, because you’ll severely hamper your ability to maneuver the Top/Middle sub-hands. later on, as now you’ve only got one spot left up top. So although this is a fairly dead card, it makes sense to play it in the middle, which he does.
Jon: 4♠. This is where I differ from a lot of people, Jon included. He puts it in back to pair his 4s, with the idea of going two-pair in the back, Queens or Nines in the middle and smaller pair (or Ace-High) up top. It’s not a horrible plan, but to me, and maybe I’m more gambooly than most, or maybe I’m more used to 4-handed games where you have full information and thus can see if you’re still fairly live for whatever royalty draw you set up, if you set up three to a straight, and nothing significant has changed, I don’t see why you want to abandon it so early for just a pair of 4s – it doesn’t even take the lead in back.I go into more detail in the full analysis post, but certainly a case can be made either way, but with 6s fully live, 2 2’s left, and all the aces, I just don’t see why you abandon the draw so quickly. I’d play it in the middle.
Mark: T♥. Somewhat similar situation here, but, Mark was nowhere near as live for his straight as Jon is in the back, with 7s being mostly dead, so abandoning this straight draw makes a lot more sense to me. It’s also why I wouldn’t have played the straight draw in the back initially. Given his set-up, I agree pairing the back is the right play here as I am worried about the straight draw given the scarcity of 7s.
Paul: 3♦. An annoying card because it’s still fairly live, meaning that if you play it up top you may end up getting another 3 before you pair the middle, but at the same time, most players, myself included, do not like to commit a 4th card in the middle (leaving only one spot left) before playing a single card up top (again, it has to do with being able to maneuver, when you get down to one spot left in a row, your maneuverability is severely hampered). Either play is “icky”, but ultimately I think Pauly’s play is correct.
Dan: K♦. You could argue throwing it up top and hoping that one of the four aces will come to “cover” it in the middle, but that seems foolish to me because K-high may not be that useful up top with those same aces potentially available to other players to make A-high up top. Plus, the K is live and if you throw it up top you could potentially pick up another K and then again have another tough spot. Just like the 8, this goes in the middle, which is what Dan does.
Jon: 5♦. Obviously once you’ve abandoned the straight draw in the back, which he did, it makes sense to also play this card in the back for 2-pair.
Mark: 6♦. With his current hand, the middle makes the most sense as it’s still a fairly live card, and you can pair it safely since you’ve got Tens in the back.
So after 7th street, here’s where we’re at:
Pauly: 2♠. Another annoying card for Pauly, as now he either has to play a fairly dead card in the middle as his 4th card (drastically limiting his options for the remainder of the hand), or commit to 3-2 up top with one card to go. Further complicating the situation is that Tens are now entirely dead, there’s only one 8 left, and only one 4 left, meaning for him to pair the middle, he likely needs a live card to go in the next slot and then pair that card to close the hand out. This card essentially destroys either your middle or your top – but since there’s still a glimmer of hope for the Top because of the live Aces, I like Pauly’s putting it up top.
Dan: 6♣. Another live card, so he’s got the same dilemna he’s had with each previous card. I agree with playing it up top, the theory being if you do pair the Jack (which is still entirely live), you can hit a pair of 8s or Ks in the middle and then 7s or 6s up top for the royalty. Either way you bank on hitting a live Jack, but at some point, you’ve got to have faith that your live cards will come.
Jon: Q♣. Given that the whole point of abandoning the straight draw so quickly was to get 2-pair in the back and then a big pair in the middle (because your Q and 9 were very live), do I have to say anything other than that this is the Jenga-card for him?
Mark: 9♦. As played, he snap plays it in the back (it’s not like you even can try to wait for 3 of a kind, the Tens are fully dead). No analysis needed.
Pauly: A♣. I think Pauly briefly entertains the idea of playing it up top and hoping another Ace will come in the middle; it’s not a horrible play, you’d have 3 outs (any Ace), plus if you hit 2-pair in the back, you’d have the 8. However, it’s also a risky play, one that doesn’t offer much of a reward because A-high in the middle doesn’t beat 2 of the players (Jon and Mark each have a pair in the middle), and likely won’t beat Dan either (very live pair cards). You’re taking on a risk of fouling for the upside of winning 2 out of 3 from people (Top and Bottom). If the risk offered the reward of scooping players, it may be worth it, but that’s not teh case here. Instead, it makes more sense in the middle, and maybe you can bink another Ace to take a commanding lead up top and look to win 2 out of 3 from players.
Dan: Q♥. The “nit” play here would be to throw it up top and lock up Q-high. But it’s live, and with all the Jacks live, he could easily envision hitting two pair+ in the back and Queens in the middle. I tend to agree.
Jon: 6♥. Competing points here. On the one hand, there is one 6 left, so it’s not a bad card to play up top, as you can then pair it if you get the last 6, and end up with a 1pt royalty up top (and likely win the top from everyone). On the other hand, you need to close up the middle, because you can’t hit two-pair without fouling (Queens Up > Fives Up). Ideally we’d play a fully dead card, but Jon has to play the cards he’s dealt, and it’s mostly dead, and it’s only a 1-pt royatly up top (so he wants to hold out for a better pair like Jacks).
Mark: 7♦. That’s a comical card since it would have hit his 1-out gutshot had he played it as such. But with his current set-up, it makes sense to go up top – he’s got more room (3 open slots in the top versus only 2 in the middle) up top and it’s an entirely dead card at this point.
Paul: K♥. I don’t think I’ve ever seen Pauly play a card faster in my life.
Dan: 8♠. A classic example of having to trust in your live cards. Here, breaking up the boat draw when all 3 jacks are STILL live is foolish, and giving up the top by playing the 8 there for 8-high is equally foolish. Pair the middle, and just hope a Jack comes. There are 3 of them left. You are 55% to hit a Jack at this point (not to mention you can still go running Aces as well). Yeah, it’s a gamble, but the other alternatives suck. Risk the foul and just have faith your live cards will come. Dan sees it the same way I do.
Jon: J♦. This is pretty much the best card for his hand – now he’s got two outs to a 6pt Royalty up top. Easiest. Play. Ever.
Mark: 4♦. It’s a dead card. Outside of running 3s, there’s no way for Mark to improve his middle without “jumping” his back and fouling his hand. So he’s pretty much stuck at Tens Up in the Back, and 2s in the middle. You’ve got two free spots in both the middle and the top, but you also do have to consider that there is one Deuce left in the deck, and that CANNOT go in the middle, so since either way you’re just going to be killing one spot, might as well give the edge to the non-insignificant chance that you hit another deuce and HAVE to play it up top – therefore, use up one of your middle slots here.
We’ve now finished 10th street, so let’s take a look at the hands:
Dan’s got the riskiest hand – he needs a Jack not to foul. But he also can develop the best hand; live trips, live two pair, live boat draw in back, live 6s up top, can play A-high up top, etc…it just goes to show you the variance in this game – Dan can realistically end up fouling, and realistically end up with a monster (full house + scooping 2 players), and there’s only 3 cards left.
Pauly: 3♥. The agony of this card is either beautiful or painful to listen to. If you’ve got a way to adequately describe Pauly’s scream here, please let me and Pauly (@WPTSEUSS) know. It’s both incredibly painful and incredibly beautiful to listen to. He either has to gamble with 3s up top (hoping to hit an Ace, as the other cards in the middle are dead), or surrender his middle as Ace-high, or break up his boat draw. None of the options are particularly good, but given that he’s not being scooped (unless Dan goes runner-runner boat in the back) by any player, I don’t think he should risk the foul; surrender the middle and continue crying. I think Pauly would agree that if this was a royalty pair, such as Jacks, he’d gamble for it with 2 Aces left, but 3s on their own just probably aren’t worth it, even if it’s a likely scoop.
Dan: 3♠. Well this card sucks. You can’t play it in the back because it’s dead and doesn’t do anything to help you there, it actually kills your small chance at a full house in the back. But up top you’ve now got 7-high, which is pretty much guaranteed to lose. Ugh. Dan knows this card sucks. But he has to just grit it and play it up top for the monster 7-high.
Jon: A♥. I will admit this play seemed quite peculiar to me at first, because I’d normally think you snap play this up top and take a commanding lead of the top hands from everyone else with A-J high. This will be the only analysis I don’t cut any part of from the full version to the cliff notes, because thankfully Jon doesn’t do that, because he realizes that doing so opens up a whole host of potential backdoor fouls – there’s still a Queen left (which can’t go in the middle for Trips), there’s still a 6 left (which also can’t go in the middle for a better 2 pair than his back), and an Ace left (which can’t go up top since Aces > Queens). So if he plays the Ace up top, he’s now got 3 cards out of 9 remaining that HAVE to be played in the other spot, and if he gets one of them, let’s say the 6, which he has to play up top, then he still needs to avoid the final Queen not to foul. And if he hits his Jack next, he still has to be afraid of the Q/6 foul combination. On the other hand, while wasting the strength of being an Ace, playing it in the middle and locking up Queens guarantees the only way he can foul is to go runner-runner Jacks up top, he still can get just one Jack for the royalty and kill everyone point wise, and he still has one more Ace to play up top. So while I would have played the Ace up top without thinking about it, Jon’s more measured approach clearly works out as he makes the better play by playing it in the middle. I would have absolutely rushed to play the card up top and made the mistake – it’s not a huge mistake, but it does leave the door open much wider for a potential backdoor foul.
Mark: 2♣. Well that’s the card he has to avoid, and why he kept 2 spots open up top. Easy play; if you put it in the middle you foul, so it goes up top.
Pauly: 9♥. Before he peels the card, he knows he’s looking for one of the remaining Aces or other high cards to go up top (so he can keep his full house draw in-tact). I don’t think he was envisioning a 9 as “something to go up top”, but as he points out, 9-high does beat Dan’s 7-high, so he blocks the scoop there, and he’s already blocked the scoop from the other two players. It’s not pretty but it works.
Dan: J♣. Sometimes you just have to have faith in your live cards. Binks the Jack, snap play it in the back and now hope you pick up the last one for the boat.
Jon: Q♠: And that’s why he played the Ace in the middle – because if he played it up top, he’d now HAVE to play the Queen up top, which kills his chance at Jacks up top for the royalty, and also exposes his hand to a backdoor foul with a 6 on 13th street for two pair in the middle. Instead, it goes up top, he still has a shot at Jacks up top, and he can’t foul his hand now. Had he played it my way, he’d now be sweating a potential foul card on the river instead of sweating a potential 6pt royalty.
Mark: A♦. The main value of playing 2s in the middle is so you can comfortably play an Ace up top. Yes, I’m sure Mark didn’t expect to have to wait until 12th street, but he still can play the A up top and now ensure he wins the top hand against two of the 3 players (Dan and Pauly) who already have locked up 9-high and 7-high respectively.
And that brings us to 13th Street…
Both Jon and Dan would get a 6pt royatly with the case Jack. Pauly could get a 6pt royalty with the case King. Also, the case Ace could give Jon a 2 out of 3 (as opposed to 1 out of 3) against Mark. Lots of potential!
Pauly: 6♠. Fail. No full house. Further, it’s not a Jack, meaning that there’s now a 66% chance that Pauly will have to payout a 6pt royalty to someone. Hence why he starts chanting “No Jack” as both Dan and Jon peel their cards.
Dan: K♥ Fail. No full house.
Jon: A♠. Fail. No Jacks up Top. Does switch his result to 2 out of 3 from Mark as opposed to losing 2 out of 3. And note that he did hit one of the cards he was worried about when he closed up Queens three streets ago. Pauly’s sigh of relief can be heard throughout the poker room.
Mark: J♣. Does nothing for his hand either way. Another complete blank.
Compare my suggested start for Mark (229 in the back) with my suggested play for Jon (hold onto the straight draw on 6th street). If Mark listened to me, he would have had a boat in the back, Tens in the Middle, Ace-High up top for a Monster. If Jon had listened to me, he would have fouled as the straight never came.
It just goes to show you how complex Open Face Chinese hands can be, particularly 4-handed, and how different set-ups can lead to drastically different results. This run-out, Mark’s hand would have been more profitable to take the riskier line. But if he didn’t hit a Deuce or a 9, he would have fouled and had to pay out 18 points instead of just 1. But Jon’s hand is flip side of playing the riskier line and hoping the live cards will come, but if they don’t come, you end up with true crap or fouling.
They both took reasonable, safer, lines, and the plays made sense. I just would have played it differently, and one hand I would have run-out a monster that scooped everyone, and another I would have fouled. Higher Risk, Higher Reward. Maybe “Fortune favors the bold”, or maybe I’ve got “more guts than brains”.
So let’s finish up. The final hands look like this:
|Bottom||K♣||7♣||7♥||K♠||6♠||Kings & Sevens|
|Middle||T♦||8♣||K♦||Q♥||8♠||Pair of Eights|
|Bottom||J♥||5♣||5♠||J♣||K♥||Jacks & Fives|
|Jon (Seat 3)||Top||J♦||Q♠||A♠||Ace-Queen High|
|Middle||Q♦||9♠||Q♣||6♥||A♥||Pair of Queens|
|Bottom||5♥||4♥||3♣||4♠||5♦||Fives & Fours|
|Mark (Seat 4)||Top||7♦||2♣||A♦||Ace-Seven High|
|Middle||2♦||2♥||6♣||4♣||J♠||Pair of Twos|
|Bottom||T♣||9♣||8♦||T♥||9♦||Tens and Nines|
Pauly wins 2 out of 3 from Dan (Pauly wins Top and Bottom), so Dan owes Pauly 1 point.
Pauly loses 2 out of 3 to Jon (Jon wins Top and Middle), so Pauly owes Jon 1 point.
Pauly loses 2 out of 3 to Mark (Mark wins Top and Middle), so Pauly owes Mark 1 point. Pauly loses 1 point in total.
Dan loses 2 out of 3 to Jon (Jon wins Top and Middle), so Dan owes Jon 1 point.
Dan wins 2 out of 3 from Mark (Dan wins Middle and Bottom), so Mark owes Dan 1 point. Dan loses 1 point in total.
Jon wins 2 out of 3 from Mark (Jon wins Top and Middle), so Mark owes Jon 1 point. Jon wins 3 points in total.
Mark loses 1 point in total
Thank you for reading this. I plan to do a lot more of these. If you have any suggestions or comments, please feel free to e-mail me or respond in this thread.