QotD 2017-0504: The One Where I Defer to the Master

In case you ever suspected that I analyze this stuff too much, please allow me to point to an exhaustively researched post by someone detailing the senior officers' poker game from "Lower Decks"(TNG).  With this, I hereby abdicate any potential claim to any title which in any way resembles "He of Excessively-Detailed Analysis":

"Lower Decks is a good poker episode because it has two separate games going at the same time and is one of the few (only?) episodes to show a poker game played exclusively by guest stars. The back and forth editing between the Senior and Junior officer's game makes it slightly tricky to follow the action, so I replayed the scenes several dozen times in order to sort everything out. So here is my detailed breakdown of the Senior Officer’s poker game in “Lower Decks”. I hope nobody has done this before because it was kind of a big waste of time.

I will do a Part 2 that covers the horrible play of the Junior Officers later.

In a circle we have Laforge dealing to Riker, Worf, Crusher, and Troi in that order. Each player has one card up, one card down. See [chart](http://i.imgur.com/xO687xx.jpg). EDIT:
 [Thanks for correcting my error](https://www.reddit.com/r/DaystromInstitute/comments/6841dm/poker_in_the_lower_decks_geordis_drunk_worf_is_a/dgvrp0a/).  Silver chips are worth 10, copper chips 25. Worf (high card J♥) opens with 20. Crusher (10♠), Troi (4♦), Geordi (8♣), and Riker (8♦) call. Nice, easy action. A perfect normal and acceptable round of poker. So far so good.

Next card dealt, and Troi (4♦4♠) opens with 20, showing way too much of her hole card in the process. Watch your hole card girl! Crusher is showing some iteration of 10 and 2 (I will get into the continuity error later), Worf J♥ 5♠ and Riker has 8♦4♦ (with 7♦ in the hole… the only hole card we see in this hand). Anyway, everyone calls. And this is where it starts to get stupid.

First off, Laforge has no business calling here. He’s showing 8♣6♥. Maybe his hole card is a 7 to have him drawing to a weak straight, but that would be horrible play on his part. We never see his hole card, but we know he doesn’t have a 6 or 8 in the hole because he didn't hit the full house. Staying in for no reason and catching those running 6’s didn’t do Laforge any favors either, given Riker got lucky and hit his flush. Laforge should never have been in this hand and it cost him.

Of course, all of this can be easily explained if we consider that Geordi is probably drunk. More on that another time maybe.

We also know that Crusher doesn’t have a 10 or 2 in the hole, and we know Troi doesn’t have a J or a 4, since if they did they would have had hit a full house on 5th street and won the hand.

Worf, of course, has nothing. Worf is never an aggressive player, so nobody should expect a strong play like a raise. If he were a better player, he could raise it up and try to buy the pot. After all, Worf lead off the first round of betting and wasn’t raised, so he could be representing a pair. A true warrior might have gone with a big raise here even after picking up a 5♠. But Worf limps in almost every hand. For all his pretensions, he is not an aggressive poker player. Weak.

Anyway, Troi’s bet is good, and I can easily see Riker calling it on a draw, but Laforge and Worf should have all folded right here. In other words, against good players this hand probably would have been heads up Troi and Riker, and *maybe* Crusher.

Next card! There was an off-screen bet of 25. Worf J♥ 5♠ K♣, Crusher 10♠2♣10♣, and Troi 4♦4♠Q♠ have all called. Then Laforge 8♣6♥6♣ slurs his word: “fwifty” like a gobshite.

Hold on… who opened the betting? Crusher would have been first to act with top pair, but she must have checked because Laforge wouldn’t have had the opportunity to raise to 50 if everyone just called. What this means is that Crusher might have opened with an extremely small bet of 10 (possibly too small at this point to be legal, depending on rule variants), followed by a smooth call by Laforge, a raise to 25 by Riker which is called by Worf, Crusher, and Troi, then followed inexplicably by a re-raise from a drunken Laforge. Or maybe Crusher and Laforge checked it to Riker, who is then check-raised by Laforge (more on that later). Regardless, Laforge couldn’t have started the betting, because then he would have raised his own bet, and even Worf knows not to bet here. So I think it’s pretty conclusive that the betting was checked to Riker, who bet 25.

Still with me?

Anyway that’s a bad play by Crusher, who should have been able to take this down with a big bet. The only hands that could beat her at this stage is if Troi is holding a third 4 in the hole or two pair (no), or if Worf’s hole card pairs his J or K (of course not), or if Laforge has a six in the hole (he doesn’t). Riker is only drawing at this stage. If Crusher had another 10 in the hole, she might consider checking to set a trap (usually a mistake), but we know her hole card is worthless because she doesn't hit the full house. Since she isn’t strong enough to be setting a trap, Crusher should be betting aggressively right here.

At a key moment, Crusher muses “You’re bluffing”. But is Riker bluffing? If so, WTF is he bluffing about? Taking a chance on a flush draw? Having what, at best, two aces? So what? No wonder Riker doesn’t respect her.

And what about Riker’s chances on the draw? There are 6 diamonds showing: Riker’s 8♦ 4♦ A♦ 10♦, Troy’s 4♦ and (I think) Worf’s 6♦… It’s kinda hard to see on my laptop. That means there’s 7 diamonds still out there, making up 21.87% of the deck even with 6 diamonds showing.

So anyway, the betting finally gets to Geordi and he slurs “50” in Riker’s direction. The implication here is that he is doubling Riker’s bet of 25. Now. if it was Riker who opened with 25, it is an interesting bet for a few reasons.

Riker is showing a diamond flush draw, but is also representing possibly an Ace in the hole. Riker is the only player with an Ace on the board, and he was just calling the whole way until he got that A♦. Did he pair up? There are still 3 aces in the 37 cards in the deck that we don’t see, which means about 8% of the deck are Aces (very slightly above the average distribution).

Riker might instead have another 8 or a 4. There are two 4s out (Troi) and one 8 (Laforge); if he is pairing up 8’s or 4’s, one might expect cautious play, which would explain the calls.  As for the draw, there are always exceptions but good players typically don’t open betting on a draw hand. They are more likely to hope it gets checked around while noting the strength of the draws out there.  Of course, Riker hasn’t in fact paired up. He has a 7♦ in the hole and is drawing for the diamond flush. His aggressive play on the draw suggests two things about Riker:

1.He firmly believes he will be lucky enough to hit his flush

2.He knows he is so fearsome that will be able to bully his opponents out of the pot even if he doesn’t hit his flush.

Either way, Riker should be expecting Laforge’s raise.

Back to Laforge. When he says “50”, it could mean he either wants to raise 50 (thereby putting in 75) or he is “seeing the 25 and raising 25, to 50”. There’s no way to know unless one were to count the chips already in the pot, but my laptop isn’t going to give me the resolution I need to do that. I’ll go on the assumption that he put two 25 chips in.  So Laforge is raising despite having the middle pair on the board (Crusher’s 10’s, Troi’s 4’s).  Why is he betting out of turn?  Is he holding or bluffing at a set of 6’s, or hiding another 8 to make two-pair, or just drunk?

Keep in mind, Laforge is check- raising Riker here. That’s pretty aggressive play. You can draw two conclusions from this:

A. Laforge is trying to bully Riker, or

B. Laforge doesn’t understand what he is doing

I don’t see Laforge bullying Riker, ever, but Riker responds as if his testicles have been threatened. "Here’s your 50, [pregnant pause] and 100 more,” he says. Smug, string-betting asshole.

This is a monster raise, very aggressive since Riker is still on a draw. In other words, it’s not just that Riker is betting big that he will be lucky enough to hit his flush. He is also betting big hoping to get everyone else to fold now even though he is showing the weakest hand (not counting Worf).

Depending on their hole card, all the other players could possibly hit a full house on the 5th card and beat Riker’s flush. And Riker has a bit better than 1 in 5 to hit that flush on 5th street.  His re-raise is a massive overbet value-wise. Even though he goes on to hit his flush, any one of his shipmates would have been justified in making a big re-raise here. If Riker is such a great player, he’d have to get off his draw eventually.

But despite how heated things just got, Troi keeps on blathering about the Junior officers (and quite literally talking out of turn, I might add). Hypnotised by her story, Worf calls the bet with only J♥5♠K♣. Terrible play by Worf, weak play by the others.

By the way, the pot is now 875 “credits”. I’ve assumed an ante of 10, the smallest chip value we see.

For the final card, a small continuity problem: Laforge announces that Crusher has “10s and Deuces” when he deals her a 10♠, with 10♣and 2♣ and 2♠ already showing. But she already had 10♠ 2♣ 10♣ on the last round of betting! Error! I bet I am the first person in history to notice that. Or maybe need new glasses.

So after the cards are dealt, Worf folds J♥5♠K♣6♠ immediately. He folds *before* his turn to act, mind you, even before anyone bets.  He ran from the battlefield. Such cowardice!

Riker 8♦4♦A♦10♦, who hit his flush, tries to lure Laforge 8♣6♥6♣6♠ into an obvious trap: “It looks like it’s just you and me. You going to go another 50?”  But wait, was that a bet?  With trip 6's, it's Laforge turn to act, so Riker might just be suggesting an amount for Geordi to open with.  Or maybe Riker is betting out of turn.  Geordi needs to think.    

While he is thinking, why are Crusher and Troi out of this hand anyway? When did they fold? They didn’t show that! They were dealt cards on 5th street, so they didn’t fold on the last round. Makes no sense. Did they also insta-fold right after Worf for no reason? I need a reason. Why? It’s true that Will hit his last card, but that was a lucky break.
  The correct play is to bet and he has it you pay him off; strong play would backfire here but pay off in the long run.  They should be betting, not folding! Bad play!  I'm not impressed by their folds AT ALL , especially because they folded out of turn, instantly, without speaking, not on camera, for no reason...

But I guess it’s just Riker and Laforge somehow.

And this is the part that gets me pissed. So at this point, everyone keeps talking about the Junior officers, but Worf changes the subject. TRIGGER WARNING! Worf blurts out: “I do not believe he is bluffing”.

WHAT THE HELL WORF??? How dare he comment on a hand he has already folded? This crap will get you warned in a casino. Epic foul. Makes me so mad. Worf is lucky Geordi didn’t follow his illegal advice, or else Will might have put him on the graveyard shift for two weeks.  That blunder by Worf almost cost Riker 50 meaningless chips!

So anyway Geordi "calls" the 50.  But Will didn't even bet.  None of this makes sense.

Anyway Riker shows the flush and everybody is surprised.

Bad poker.  But the Junior Officers are way worse.

The End."

Source:  "Billiam_Shartner" on Reddit

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