Theoretical V Actual Nuts

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Fushicho

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We had an interesting hand in our home game (online) last night.

The board was 7762K
So the theoretical nuts was 77.
But one of the players was holding A7 so he knew the other play could not have 77.

So to him (and only him) the theoretical nuts was KK.

Just saying
 
Phoenix Wright

Phoenix Wright

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Yup, welcome to the power of "blockers" in poker :)

A "blocker" is a card that you hold that blocks out likely combinations the opponent may have otherwise held. This is one of many reasons a set (three of a kind with a pocket pair) is more sought after (and deceptive) than trips (three of a kind with two cards on the board matching one in your hand).

Let us imagine a Flop of:

Kh 9d 9c

Now what if someone held the hole cards of 9x for trips? Maybe a hand like 9s8s. They have three of a kind, but it is also possible (although unlikely) that an opponent also has a three of a kind with a better kicker and therefore a better hand. An opponent could perhaps have Ah9h and have the stronger three of a kind.

This is not a concern for someone holding a set. On this same Flop, what if we instead held Kd Ks? Okay yes, that is a Full House in this exact example, but notice that the 9 9 on the board doesn't change this a ton. Pocket Kings is also a three of a kind, but the opponent(s) can never hold the same but better kicker!

I could change the second 9 for illustrative purposes if it isn't clear. A Flop of:

Kh 9d 2c

with us holding Kd Ks is the best possible hand right now!

By us holding a King in the hand, it also means the opponent can't have that same King; this "blocks" combinations. There are two Kings in our hand, one on the board and so only one King unaccounted from our perspective. With only four Kings in the deck, the opponent shouldn't be holding two Kings (4th and 5th) because if they are, then question the fairness of this game :D

A more practical example is a blocker blocking Flush combos.

Say the final board is:

Kd Qd 7c 6s 3d

We hold Ad Ks. We have the coveted Ace-King and it is top pair with top kicker - a nice hand indeed. Sadly, for us (or maybe not) the Flush in diamonds has got there. Someone holding two diamonds might now have a Flush and beat us. If they bet the River, then do we fold? Obviously many factors come into that decision-making process (earlier betting action, table images, player play styles etc.), but we can be sure of one thing...the opponent does NOT hold the best possible Flush! The nut flush (Ace-high Flush) is "blocked" because we hold the Ace of diamonds they would need. Depending on the situation and player tendencies, this useful information only you know might incentivize us to bluff our opponent off of a weaker Flush or call the River bet. There is assurance they probably wouldn't fold an Ace-High Flush here, but we know they can't have it; from their perspective, they might believe we hold the Ace-High Flush; to them, the Ace of diamonds is unaccounted for :)
 
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CSLysander

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The best way to think about it is what is the actual percentage of someone getting the better hand. Some people have garbage luck, like myself. I tend towards being more cautious because I seem to tilt at windmills all too often because cards want to be mean a lot, lol.

So, after realizing the percentages, especially when it comes to 4 of a kind or full house. Realize that sets are normally very nice, but if a pair is on the board, there are far more likely. That does not mean you should not battle for the pot.
 
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