Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Pocket Tens

Good morning everyone.  It seems like I just posted...  :)  Before I get to today's topic, let me throw out some miscellaneous tidbits that I wouldn't have been able to hit you with yesterday.  I forgot my weekly Monday fantasy baseball update, which has the Bikini Hill Giants sitting in 9th place in a 10-team league.  What I wouldn't have been able to tell you yesterday morning is that last night, my team (boasting a "stellar" .233 batting average for the month of April), hit .415, scored 8 runs, and had 4 stolen bases...  Hitting their stride in May?  Hopefully...  There is also some buzz now that my alma mater will be joining the Sun Belt Conference after they compete in the WAC for only one year (which begins this fall).

The subject of today's poker post is my least favorite hand to play, pocket tens.  Since I wrote about the 'evil hand' recently, I thought that I might as well address this particular hand now.  I promise that in the near future I will write about a poker outing where I actually won some money...  If you believe Phil Hellmuth's list of 'Top 10 Hands', you pretty much have to play pocket tens, as they are his 6th-ranked hand (AA, KK, AK, QQ, JJ, 10 10)...  I no longer have the particular poker book that I read this in, so I don't remember if Phil created this list or if he just passed along the findings of a group of anonymous poker scientists somewhere...  Anyway, the first thing that I don't like about 10's is that there is a group of 4 overcards that can appear on the board (A, K, Q, J - okay, hopefully you knew the 4 overcards).  If you are facing multiple opponents and one of those cards show up, pfffttt...

The second thing that I don't like about the tens is the potential straight disaster that you can face if you hit your set.  I did not consciously recognize this next fact until I read it in a poker book.  If someone would have quizzed me on it, I am sure that I would have been able to figure it out, and it's like a little lightbulb came on when I read it.  To make a straight, it is NECESSARY to have either one of these two cards?  Think about it for a second - avoid the temptation the scan down in the text - in Texas Hold 'Em, either in your hand or on the board, you HAVE TO HAVE 1 of these 2 cards to make a straight.  It's impossible to do so without having either a ___ or a ___ in your hand or on the board...  (that is 'Jeopardy' music that you hear in the background...).  Okay, you have to have either a 5 or a 10 in your hand or on the board to make a straight in Texas Hold 'Em.  (If you didn't know that already, try to make a straight in your head without those cards - c'mon, I know you want to...).  So your ten hits the board, giving you a set - yippee...  If your hand doesn't fill up, the board doesn't pair giving you a full house, there are going to be all kinds of straight possibilities out there.  The one time that sticks out in my mind occurred during a 1/2 NL session at the Red Rock Casino (Red Rock was my favorite Station's Casino for accumulating freeroll hours in the desert).  We had a donk at the table.  Let me tell you right now that if there is a donk at the table, he will eventually hit a hand against me (it's about the same odds as having an ace show up on the flop if you hold pocket kings).  Anyway, I'm up for the session after grinding for multiple hours, and I still ended up winning for the session, but I flop a set of 10's.  There might be three of us after the flop, and the turn card makes a possible GUTSHOT straight...  I bet, he raises all-in.  He was short-stacked, and I had the odds (or really close) to call even if he did make the miracle straight, because I still have ten outs to make my full house in the worst-case scenario.  I called, hoping my read was wrong, but OF COURSE he hit his four-outer and I didn't catch on the river...  GRRRRRR...

The third thing that I don't like about pocket tens is that they will hurt me if somebody else is holding them.  This is the most memorable hand that I've lost playing at the Winstar Casino in Oklahoma.  For you Vegas junkies, this place has a 46-table poker room.  It's not Foxwoods, but it's still pretty impressive, and if Oklahoma had sports betting, I might be moving closer to the Oklahoma border (Winstar is LITERALLY located off of Exit 1 when you cross the Red River from Texas - YES, EXIT ONE).  Anyway, in a 1/2 NL game, I have A Q, and the flop come K J 10 (not bad)...  I'm in with two other opponents.  My opponents go nuts (well, for having about 100 each in chips), and the only reason that they both don't get all-in is that one makes a mistake in poker protocol (he tries to raise all-in, but makes a string bet).  I know his intentions, and am mentally BEGGING the board not to pair.  Turn card, another 10.  This second opponent gets his chips all-in and I proceed to fold my nut straight, face up...  My opponents flip over J J and 10 10...  PFFFTTT...  The table is AMAZED that I could fold my straight there - I told them that based on the action, someone SURELY had AT LEAST J 10, let alone...  Yeah...

In summary, pocket tens are worse than the evil hand...  :)  I hope that you have a great day and I will see you again on Friday.



  1. I know I don't play pocket 10s well, but is there a good way to play them?

  2. You're the tournament guru - I just did a whole post on my disdain for them... :)

  3. Actually, I probably dislike J-J a little more since the paint seems to make one think they are better than they are -- just one step above 10-10.

    Late congrats on #100. Of course, your being a sports guy, we would expect that milestones are celebrated here. But you don't get a new car or anything?

  4. I began playing poker being cautious with J J just because of what I had read about that hand (that's a popular least favorite hand). If I'm cashing winning sportsbook tickets this fall, I won't care about a new car... :)