Wiesenberg (s098 poker): Sophie plays online

Note: Not at the old Poker1 site. A version of this entry was first published in Card Player. This entry in the "Aunt Sophie" series covers poker.

Michael Wiesenberg index.

Black and white photo of Michael Wiesenberg

Michael Wiesenberg

Aunt Sophie plays online

The door to my favorite aunt’s condo was open, but Aunt Sophie was not visible. She had phoned earlier and invited me over for dinner.

Dollink, in here,” said Aunt Sophie. “Here” appeared to be her bedroom, which I entered, to discover her seated at a computer table set up beside the bed. On the monitor was a familiar view, the playing surface of a popular online poker site. “Sit,” she commanded, and sit I did, on the only free surface, the edge of her immaculately made bed.


She was playing $4-$8 lowball. Not only had she taken my advice to use her new computer to play a little small-stakes poker, but she had sought out the lowball I had mentioned as being so full of live ones. I could see that it was her big blind. Her online alias on this Web site was SophieNeny, Hungarian for “Aunt Sophie.” The cards made a staccato clicking sound as everyone quickly received five. Everyone folded up to the button, leftwing2, who opened for a raise. Aunt Sophie’s cards were A-2-6-7-K, an excellent hand to have on the big blind when someone comes in who seems to want to play the hand.

Aunt Sophie raised. A lot of lowball players, both those on the Internet and in live games, do not raise with anything less than a pat hand or a draw to a 6 or better. Aunt Sophie understood that when everyone passed to the button and that player came in for a raise, he could have anything from a middling draw to a good draw, from a rough pat hand to a good pat hand. The average hand of a player who would come in for a raise with any of those hands was worse than hers, and thus hers warranted a raise. Leftwing2 immediately reraised, capping the betting.

“Uh oh,” I interjected.

“Not to worry, tsatskeleh,” she replied. “On any good draw he caps. If he’s drawing, he’s probably ahead of me, but not necessarily.” She called.

Aunt Sophie had already clicked one at a time on all the cards in her hand except for the king. A red H — for hold — appeared beneath each of the cards she would be keeping. A small dialog box appeared in the middle of the window. It read, “Discard 1 card?” She clicked, and the king was quickly replaced by an 8. Leftwing2 also drew one card. A triple dialog then appeared, offering her the choice to fold, check, or bet $8. After a pause of only about two seconds, she clicked the bet choice.

“Why would anyone fold when he could just check?” I wondered aloud.

“Often I see it,” she returned. “I guess they got a hopeless hand and just want to save time and get on with the next hand.”

“And you wouldn’t check your eight?” I asked.

“Not into this player,” she responded. “He doesn’t bet nines after the draw, but he calls with them.”

Leftwing2 seemed to be thinking for a moment, and then chips indicating his call moved from his stack to the center of the table, while the pot size indicator displayed $32. The house had gotten the extra $2 represented by the little blind. Just as quickly, the two hands were shown down. Aunt Sophie’s 8-7-6-2-A was beaten by leftwing2’s 7-6-5-4-3.

“Too bad,” I commiserated; “but at least he didn’t raise.”

“Not him!” she snorted. “The seven I’m sure he caught. He wouldn’t raise unless he made the six. He caps whenever he’s drawing good, but a raise after the draw he makes only with a monster.”

A few hands later, a player named DICKe was under the gun and opened for a raise. Aunt Sophie had an excellent hand, a pat 7-5. She raised. No one but DICKe called. He drew one card, and, when prompted, Sophie naturally clicked the Play These button.

After the draw, DICKe hesitated for what seemed the tiniest moment, and then checked. Aunt Sophie of course bet. DICKe paused again, and then check-raised.

Aunt Sophie sighed, and clicked on the Call $8 prompt. When the cards were shown, it was revealed that DICKe had passed a wheel so that he could check-raise.

“Oops,” I commiserated.

“That’s okay,” she philosophized. “He likes to do that, the monsters he passes for the check-raise. But I can’t throw away a hand as good as 7-5. All the time players I have seen many times check-raise with worse. Not DICKe, but, you never know. He always passes the big hands, but he also calls a lot, so of course my betting hands I still gotta bet. If an eight I had, I wouldn’t call.”

Two rounds went by without Aunt Sophie having much playable, and then again it was her blind and again leftwing2’s button. Everyone passed to the button. Leftwing2 limped. The little blind folded. Aunt Sophie had A-2-6-7-K, a seeming replay of the previous situation. Again she raised. This time leftwing2 just called.

As before, Aunt Sophie indicated to draw one card. Leftwing2 also drew one.

The king was replaced by a 7.

“Now what?” I queried.

“Bet,” she rasped defiantly. “Isn’t that about game theory what you told me?”

I didn’t have time to agree aloud before her bet was already out there. Leftwing2 would likely call, but as long as he folded in this exact situation at least 1 time in 4, she had positive expectation. Since he would probably fold any pair and might not call with a king or even a queen, out of 47 unseen cards, perhaps 12 paired him and somewhere between 4 and 8 were face cards that he wouldn’t call with. Anywhere from 12 out of 47 to 19 out of 47 times he would not call, definitely more than 1 time in 4.

Leftwing2 paused for a long time. Aunt Sophie seemed resigned to losing the pot, because surely he would call. Then, a surprise! He raised.


Now it was her turn to think, but not for very long. After maybe three seconds, she reraised. This time Leftwing2 did not think at all. He immediately folded, and the very nice $64 pot was added to Aunt Sophie’s stack.

“Bravo!” I exclaimed. “Well played!”

Aunt Sophie seemed pleased with herself. “I knew,” she explained, “that he didn’t have much of a hand when only to begin with he limped. Even more I knew when he just called my raise. He drew one, so he had to be drawing to a bad hand, not something he could raise with. If just a 9 or 10 he had made or whatever he was drawing to, he would just have called. So what could he have to raise? A pair, that’s what. But when I reraised, on his bluff he had to give up.”

Half a round later, DICKe opened. Aunt Sophie had 2-4-5-6-Q, another very nice drawing hand. She raised. No one else came in for the bet, and DICKe called. They each drew one card. Sophie’s card was a 7, not the best catch, since it made her a very rough 7, but much better than average.

After the draw, DICKe bet. Aunt Sophie was discussing her play aloud as she made it. “The monsters,” she elaborated, “always he passes, so a big hand he don’t have. So my seven got to have him beat. I raise!” She clicked the appropriate box, and $16 moved from her stack to the center.

Another surprise! DICKe reraised.

Sophie continued with her vocal ruminations. “Hmm. Always he slips the nuts,” she reasoned. “So if he bets, he can’t have a monster. I don’t like it, but I gotta call.”

The showdown revealed an 8-6 for DICKe, confirming her original assessment, and rewarding her with a $76 pot. (This included the big blind, but not the little blind, which had gone for the drop, $2 being the maximum in this game.)

I leaped off the bed. “Yesss!” I yelled. “Good for you!”

“With my feelings,” she confirmed, “I went.”

“And now,” she continued, “dinner. Your favorite, brisket, I made, and some of that nice Duckhorn Merlot you got me we’ll have it with.”

She clicked the Leave button. And we headed for the dining room.

Next: 099 Aunt Sophie wonders about game theory


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