When discussing poker with my friends, one of the common themes that I bring up is trusting your reads. This requires two things: first you have to be decent at hand reading (or “structured hand analysis”); second you have to trust your reads and act on that trust.
Many recreational players will get involved in a clash of two big hands where the Villain goes all-in, and find themselves saying something like, “I know you’ve got me beat, but I have to see it anyway just to be sure.” And of course, you end up paying off the Villain.
So this happened last night, playing $1/2 NL Hold’em online:
Villain ($201.75) – cutoff
Hero ($210.15) – button, holding Ts Tc.
Preflop: UTG limps in and Villain raises to $8. I call. In retrospect, I’m not sure why I didn’t re-raise here, except for some concern about the UTG player slow playing a huge hand like AA or KK and coming back over the top. But that’s irrelevant to today’s lesson.
Flop ($21) – Ad Th Kc: Villain checks, and I bet $10.50. I’ve flopped bottom set and need to bet for value. If I’m going to have a chance to get his full stack, I need to start building the pot now. Hopefully he has AK or AQ and can’t get away from it.
Now he check-raises to $29. Hmmmm! Could he have AA or KK? QJ? Or just a silly check-raise bluff? I consider just calling, but decide to raise again to $59. I still have about $160 behind, so if he ships it all in here I can fold and keep playing. I cannot imagine another raise with a hand that is weaker than mine.
It should be noted that I know absolutely nothing about this Villain. He’s only been at the table for 4 or 5 hands and hasn’t done anything weird.
He 4-bets to $119.
Time for some hand reading. Really the only cards he can have are QJ, for a flopped straight. His bet isn’t big enough to be an effort to push me off the pot. He only has $75 behind, so he’s pot committed. I know all the poker pros say that you have to put your opponents on a range of hands and not try to guess their exact cards, but in this case, I cannot see him betting this way even with AA or KK. He has the nut straight.
I decide to fold.
Then I un-decide. I don’t know what came over me. I was thinking that if he has AA or KK, then I would only have one out in the deck, the last 10 to make quads. But if he has QJ, which I am now quite sure of, then I have 7 outs on the turn and 10 outs on the river to make a full house or quads, which gives me about 35% equity in the hand. (Note to self: 35% equity means you are BEHIND, NOT AHEAD, asshole!)
Some external force moves the mouse to the all-in button and clicks. Villain calls and shows Qs Js and goes on to win a $405 pot.
Gotta trust your reads!
Year-to-date and month-to-date online results: +$738