Poison Anchors

Avast small stakes scurvy dogs! Overcard draws are leadin ya off the plank matey!

No, it's not the scourge of the seven seas, it's something you'll run into time and time again in loose low limit hold 'em games.  We use the term poison anchor to refer to low flopped pairs of your opponents that make your overcards worthless.

For example, you are in a pot with two other people and you all see the flop:

Your Cards First Opponent Second Opponent
Ace of Clubs King of Clubs
Hole Cards
Ace of Hearts Five of Spades
Hole Cards
King of Diamonds Nine of Diamonds
Hole Cards

the flop comes...

Two of Clubs Nine of Spades Five of Hearts

Now the person holding K9 bets and the A5 calls and you are third to act.  With a flop like this it can be pretty tempting to call waiting for an overcard--maybe you even believe you may have the best hand.  Certainly before the flop you had a great hand but you are drawing entirely dead on the overcard aspect of your hand in this example!  No single ace or king will let you win, your only chance are two clubs in a row (about 20 to 1 against) or a running ace and king (about 500 to 1 against).  While it is not typical that both of your overcards are dead on a flop like this it is VERY common that at least one of them is, and sometimes both.  While having six outs is not a very good draw having three is much worse and of course having none is a dream come true for your opponents!

As we mentioned in another article (This Flop brought to you by Satan) proceeding past the flop with only overcards is often a mistake in a hold 'em game where people will play any two cards and you have several opponents on the flop. If you can take advantage of your opponents making this mistake and avoid it yourself your profit rate will increase!