Today’s discussion is on counterfeiting as it pertains to poker. No, it doesn’t mean that you will be illegally making chips in order to add them to your stack during tournament play or using a printing press in your basement to make counterfeit hundred dollar bills. Although poker counterfeiting is usually a bad thing unless you’re the player who happens to benefit from an opponent being counterfeited, it is not illegal.
You should be cognizant of counterfeiting and be able to deal with it when the situation arises. It occurs when a card appears on the board that takes away the usefulness of one or both of your hole cards.
Let me explain with an example and I am sure that if you have been playing poker for a while, you will remember being counterfeited. Let’s assume you are in the big blind holding and two other players call without raising. So you get to see the flop with poor cards for the price of your blind. Lo and behold, the flop comes showing . You have managed to flop two pair despite a poor starting hand. As the first player to act, you bet for value by wagering about 3/4 the size of the pot with your mid-to-low two pair. The next player to act folds, while the last remaining player in the hand calls your bet. You put him on a Queen for top pair. The turn card is the . You’re pretty sure you still have the best hand and again bet 3/4 the pot, only to see your opponent again make the call. The river card arrives to show , pairing up the board. Now, your two pair is in jeopardy if indeed your opponent is holding a Queen, as the pairing up of tens on the board would give him a higher two pair, rendering your lower pairs as useless. You check, to which your opponent makes a nice-sized bet. You call and see him flip over . Just as you suspected, he has a Queen and you’ve been counterfeited on the river when the pair of tens gave your opponent a better two pair. Very frustrating? Of course. Part of the game? Unfortunately, yes.
You also still have two pair, but your pairs are 10′s and 7′s, rendering your pair of 5′s as useless. Your pair of 5′s is the counterfeited pair. If the board had not paired up and your opponent didn’t catch another 9 to go with his other hole card, you could have taken down a decent pot, as he was calling all the way with top pair. Instead, you end up losing a good chunk of change.
Counterfeiting happens in other ways, shapes and forms as well, such as straight counterfeiting. You can be holding and thanking the poker Gods above when the flop reveals , giving you the nut straight. However, the turn card of may have you cursing the poker Gods, as any player holding a King will now split the pot with you. The value of your hand has not changed with an Ace-high straight, but your pay-off may very well have changed in having to chop the pot with one or more of your opponents. Again, you’ve been counterfeited, making one of your hole cards useless.
Of course, there are more ways to be counterfeited, such as flush counterfeiting and full house counterfeiting. If you’ve played hold’em any length of time, I’m sure you have been flush counterfeited. Perhaps you have held suited connecters such as and are excited to see that you’ve flopped a flush when the board reveals . Then the turn and river make your hearts useless and allow everyone still involved in the hand to win a share of the pot, even if they are not holding a heart.
A full house counterfeiting scenario can include holding and seeing a flop come . You’re looking good with your two pair as long as other players aren’t holding a higher pair in the hole or another 6. A turn of gives you a full house, sixes over nines, and now you’re reasonably certain that no other players have the last 6. You know why your opponents don’t have the remaining 6? Because it appears on the river, the , rendering your pocket 9′s virtually useless, as long as an opponent is holding any one of 20 possible outs–a 10, J Q, K or Ace to out-kick you, with quad sixes.
Counterfeiting, when it happens to you, can be extremely frustrating. There is nothing you can do to prevent it. The key is knowing that it sometimes happens and to not let it affect your game by causing you to go on tilt. Amateur players often tend to not want to believe what they are seeing. They become attached to their hands and will put money into the pot anyway, even though their once probable winning hand has been counterfeited and is no longer the winning hand that it may have been prior to all the community cards being revealed or played.
Although counterfeiting may sometimes seem unfair, it is the way the cards fall occasionally and has to be accepted. The proper way to play is to take and evaluate your hand’s current strength at all stages of the hand for what it is, and bet, raise or fold according to the information that you have. Remain focused, and if you happen to be counterfeited, accept it as part of the game of poker. If it’s any consolation, you should also benefit from counterfeiting from time to time, as well.