The Most Revered Move in Hold'em: The Trifecta

13 April 2008, Created By: Daniel Skolovy
Today I had one goal and one goal alone: To successfully complete a trifecta - the most highly revered move in all of Hold'em.

The trifecta is of course completing a check-raise on all three streets in the same hand. Difficult? Nay, practically impossible.

It's so rarely pulled off that when completed it often elevates the hero to mythical, almost Patrik Antonius-like status.

It is really only possible in min-bet poker. To date I have never ever heard of anyone successfully completing a trifecta in no-max-bet Hold'em. If someone did we can only assume that they would become the new god of BBV.

What makes the trifecta so impossible and yet so undeniably awesome when pulled off is that several conditions must be met:

First, and easiest of all, is you need a hand that can win at showdown.

Secondly, you need a villain so inept or possessed of such insatiable greed that he thinks his river bet will somehow win the pot for him despite being check-raised on the previous two streets.

When I set out this morning to complete my trifecta challenge I sat down at the most extreme of all tables: 5¢/10¢ min-bet. Yes; the storied realm where tens of cents change hands every hand.

I was dealing with real pros. I knew from the second I sat down that this would be no easy feat. Time and time again I would check-raise the flop, pull off the second check-raise on the turn, and come up short on the final street.

I was wondering if I just didn't have what it took to pull off a trifecta. The first two streets were child's play, but that elusive glory street always slipped from my grasp. Then:

Near-Miss #1
Limit Hold'em ring game, six players
Limit: 5¢/10¢

Pre-flop: (6 players) Hero is BB with 9 A

UTG calls, UTG+1, folds, CO (poster) checks, Button calls, SB folds, Hero (poster) checks.

OK. This is one of the tricks. You have to play hands out of position for the maximum amount of time. To check-raise, you must be out of position!

Flop: K A Q (4.4SB, 4 players)

Success! Perfect flop. Top pair NFD!!!

Hero checks, UTG bets, 2 folds, Hero raises, UTG 3-bets, Hero caps, UTG calls.

Turn: 3 (6.2BB, 2 players)

Hero checks, UTG bets, Hero raises, UTG 3-bets, Hero calls.

I think I should almost get bonus points for capping, then check-raising!!!

River: 7 (12.2BB, 2 players)

Hero checks, UTG checks.

Three-bets then checks through? Somehow the $1.20 pot does nothing to soothe the very real pain of having the rug pulled out from under my dreams.


Final pot: 12.2BB

UTG somehow shows A 6 and my A 9 is goot.

Heartbreak. So close. Now I know how the Red Sox felt in '86. Who knows if I will ever get that close again? I will spend my whole life ruing that river check, so close to Internet infamy... yet so far away from it.

However I mustn't let that get me down on my quest. No; my determination has no bounds. I continue fighting toward my goal.

Like a degenerate trying to get even, I decide that opening more tables will help. While I'm looking for new games to play, the hand below comes up.

Now this is not for the faint of heart. In this hand I have it, but I screw it all up. I haven't bet a single flop and yet while trying to get new tables going I accidentally slip into autopilot and flop top pair and... bet it? WTF?!

For this I will never forgive myself. As you can see by the rest of the hand it would have been an easy success. However, my biggest leak comes back to bite me, costing me Internet fame and the ensuing fortune.

Near-Miss #2
Limit Hold'em ring game, six players
Limit: 5¢/10¢

Pre-flop: (6 players) Hero is SB with T J

3 folds, Button calls, Hero calls, BB checks.

Flop: T 3 4 (3SB, 3 players)

Hero bets???, BB raises, Button calls, Hero calls.

Success. Flops top pair. Time to check raise... oh wait!? What a blunder.

Turn: T (4.5BB, 3 players)

Hero checks, BB bets, Button calls, Hero raises, BB calls, Button calls.

Turn success.

River: 3s (10.5BB, 3 players)

Hero checks, BB bets, Button folds, Hero raises, BB 3-bets, Hero caps, BB calls.

River? Success.


Final pot: 18.5BB

But wait - surely you chopped the pot?

No; the BB proudly showed 3 6.

After around 12 minutes of inconsolable crying I decide I owe it to all the kids out there who have dreamed of pulling a trifecta to stick it out until I succeed. I know there must be some kid in lying in bed, clutching his card protector, praying I do. It is for you, kid whom I've never met, that I will continue!

Patrik Antonius
Can our young hero reach Patrik Antonius-like status with a trifecta? Probably not. His jaw is less chiseled; his jowls more pronounced. But small victories are what keep us alive.

After what seems like hours of penny grinding I have an epiphany. I've been going about this all wrong! I've been playing six-max tables when obviously full ring would be far better suited to this type of thing.

Luckily I have no problem tracking down a few full-ring tables with 75% viewed-flop percentages. You know the old adage - move down in stakes where they don't respect your raises!

It hits me somewhere in the middle of check-raising my fifth seen flop in a row. Holy s**t, I am not only playing min-bet poker, it is for micro stakes, and holy s**t x2... it's full ring!!!

This is the absolute bottom of the barrel. Actually this is below the bottom of the barrel, if there is such a thing. These poker players (if you can call them that - more like bingo playerz lolz am i rite?) are the perfect marks.

I know the end justifies the means and I will quickly forget that I've wasted hours of my day playing full-ring min-bet once I hit that trifecta and the crowd goes wild and I am showered with confetti and naked ladies hosing me down with champagne.

Finally after 650 hands this gem comes up. This is what we've been waiting for, folks.

The Trifecta
Limit Hold'em ring game, nine players
Limit: 5¢/10¢

Pre-flop: (9 players) Hero is BB with 4 6

UTG raises, UTG+1 calls, MP1 calls, MP2 calls, 2 folds, Button calls, SB calls, Hero calls.

Nice. Obviously I am calling the raise with an offsuit one-gap. I am out of position! The strongest position for the trifecta!

Flop: 4 6 5 (14SB, 7 players)

SB checks, Hero checks, UTG, folds, UTG+1 checks, MP1 checks, MP2 bets, Button calls, SB calls, Hero raises, UTG+1 calls, MP1 folds, MP2 calls, Button calls, SB calls.

Zomg, two pair - this is it for sure. Success. One street down, two to go.

Turn: 9 (12BB, 5 players)

SB checks, Hero checks, UTG+1 checks, MP2 bets, Button calls, SB calls, Hero raises, UTG+1 calls, MP2 calls, Button calls, SB calls.

HAHAH two streets, time to bring it all home!!!

River: T (22BB, 5 players)

SB checks, Hero checks, UTG+1 checks, MP2 checks, Button bets, SB folds, Hero raises, UTG+1 folds, MP2 calls, Button calls.



Final pot: 28BB
Hero showed 4 6
Magnificently played sir!
MP2 mucks K K
Uhh thanks for not three-betting the flop and screwing everything up.
Button shows Q 9
Without you it wouldn't have been possible! A thank you a thank you!

There you have it. I can finally die a happy man. My life's work is complete. I just hope that I have given some young poker players a goal to shoot for. I will be signing autographs in the back for the next hour. Get there before the lineup forms!

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