Poker Tips By George: Quads on the Flop

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It has been a long time since I last dreamed of a poker hand. This time it was something special – very rare and highly contested. I recall it vividly. See if you agree with my strategies and tactics. Would you have played it differently?
We had a full table of nine players; the game was $4-$8 limit hold’em. We had been playing for about an hour, during which I got to know several opponents by name.
Before looking at my hole cards, I always look for tells my opponents might offer without realizing it. This is similar to looking for a nice offer on before you start playing games on the site; you never know what special goodies you might get! Anyhow, on this hand, several of them – more than usual – were picking up chips, preparing to bet or raise. They all called to see the flop; no raises. Some sat up straight in their chairs. I knew then that this hand was going to have lots of action. It could be a good-size pot. I peeked at my own hole cards: 4d-4c – pocket fours. I was in the cutoff position. Now, I think you will agree, that was not a very exciting starting hand for me. In an earlier position, I would have folded my hand; but since no one had raised and five of us stayed to see the flop, this was bound to be a multi-way pot. My thoughts: If my hand improved to a set of fours, I would have a good chance to take down a good-size pot. I called.
Then, a small miracle happened. I was hoping to catch a third 4 on the flop. That would give me a set of fours. The odds were about 8-to-1 against me, but the implied pot odds would almost certainly be much higher. So. I called to see the flop, intending to muck my cards if I did not improve on the flop. And what a flop it was: 4s-4h-5h. I hope my excitement didn’t give any of my opponents a tell; I tried to remain calm. I had flopped quad fours! I was convinced I held the nuts. WOW!

At that point, my goal was to build the pot. The Big Blind opened the betting and was called by two others when Mary Jane raised it to $8. I had played against her several times and knew her to be on the tight side. Trying to read her hand, I figured her for a big pair, and possibly two honor cards in the hole. It was also possible, of course, that she had flopped a draw to a flush or a set of fives. In any case, I was well in the lead…
Should I re-raise to build the pot? It could also give my opponents a good read of my hand and warn them off if they did not improve substantially on the turn. Better to slow-play my hand at this point, planning to raise on the turn and/or the river, which would send even more money into the pot. Nevertheless, even without my raise, it was a good pot.
I focused my attention on the other players as the dealer placed the turn card on the board. The 7d; I was sure it was a rag for everyone. My hand still was the nuts – quad fours!
The Big Blind opened the betting – $8; two opponents called. And then Mary Jane raised it to $16. I decided that this was the time for me to 3-bet and build “my” pot.
Unfortunately, I cannot tell you how it played out. I awoke from my dream…
What do you think of how I elected to play this hand? Would you have acted differently?
Let me know:

About George EpsteinAfter a long and productive career as a leader in the aerospace industry, upon his retirement in the 1990s, George Epstein chose poker as his “second career.”
George has been widely recognized for his many significant accomplishments and contributions to our society. These include pioneering and innovations in various materials, testing and manufacturing technologies for our defense and space programs; teaching specialized engineering courses at UCLA, other colleges, and at seven NASA centers; introducing advanced composites into Air Force space systems; and creating the Air Force Manufacturing Problem Prevention Program (has helped avoid costly failures and anomalies for space systems),
He has authored many engineering reports and books; and is listed in American Men of Science; Leaders in American Science; Who’s Who in the West; Dictionary of International Biography; and Personalities in the West and Midwest.
Since “joining” the poker world, George “The Engineer” Epstein has written three poker books – most recently, Hold’em or Fold’em?– An Algorithm for Making the Key Decision and The Art of Bluffing.
George has organized poker groups at two senior centers, at West L.A. College, and at the VA/West Los Angeles, including teaching poker classes.He is a columnist for several poker and gaming publications.
George has been elected to the Seniors Poker Hall of Fame, and was named Man-of-the-Year by the Westside Optimists, primarily for his efforts in encouraging retirees to learn and enjoy the game of poker.
He firmly believes that playing poker will help to keep seniors/retirees mentally and physically healthy.

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