Trust Thy Reads

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


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