What Are They Thinking?

I’m going to reconstruct this hand as well as I remember it, from a private $1/2 game earlier this week.

I was the Big Blind. Hearing the dealer announce a $4 straddle, I noticed several players call $4. When the action got to me, no one had raised. I glanced to me left and noticed that player, who was under-the-gun, had $4 in the betting area, so it appeared that he was the straddler. For purposes of this blog, I’ll call him “Jason.” Makes sense, amiright?

With Q♠T♠ and what looks like six or seven players, this is an easy call.

Then the player UTG+1, two seats to my left, adds $2 more to complete his call of the straddle, and I clarified with the dealer that the actual straddler was UTG+2. For purposes of this blog, I’ll call UTG+1 “Mike” and UTG+2 “Sebastian.”

Um… I better clarify this. I now know that Sebastian was the actual straddler, Jason had called out of turn not realizing that I had not acted, and Mike’s call completed the pre-flop action. There definitely was not a raise.

Anyway, the flop is Q22, giving me top pair. With so many players, someone could have a queen with better kicker (although I would expect AQ and likely KQ to raise, so that really only leaves QJ and sometimes KQ), or could have a deuce (although other than A2s or Sebastian who straddled and could have any two cards, I’m not sure why). I bet $10, partly for information, partly to chase away random Ax and Kx hands that could draw out on me, partly to get value from pocket pairs lower than QQ who won’t want to give up yet.

This might not be the best reasoning in the world, but that’s what I did. And I got plenty of information, as Jason raised to $40, then Mike re-raised to $100 and Sebastian went all-in for slightly less. Bye-bye fellas!

There was no meaningful side pot, and I don’t recall the exact turn and river cards except to say that neither of them changed the outcome. Jason and Mike both checked the turn and also checked the river.

Jason showed QQ, for a flopped full house. Um… didn’t he just call the straddle after a series of calls and no raise? With QQ? Didn’t he just flop a full house, overcall a raise to $100, and check twice after the flop betting with one other live player?

Mike briefly flashed KK before mucking his hand. Um… wasn’t he the last player to call the straddle after a series of calls (including Jason) and no raise? WTF? With KK? I suppose after his re-raise to $100 on the flop gets called twice he suspects at least one of the villains has a deuce, so his checking on the turn and river makes a little bit more sense… except after Jason checked twice, why wouldn’t he think Sebastian is the one with the deuce?

As the straddler, Sebastian’s range is capped at literally any two non-strong cards. Lots of deuces there. If I were Mike, certainly on the river I’d try to get some value via a side pot with Jason after he checked twice.

After it was over, Jason said something to the effect of Yeah, I flopped a full house but after the other guys put so much money in the pot I had to worry about one of them having pocket deuces and beating me with quads.

I spent several minutes trying to replay this hand in my head and figure out what they were thinking pre-flop. Jason should raise! Mike should re-raise! Then I’d save ten bucks! And not have to use so many exclamation points!!

Lions and tigers and bears, oh my!


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  1. I think the guy with the full house was thinking: If I go all in, then who is going to call me? The board was dry. The only caller would been trips or an over pair or tptpk. Even then it is likely they would fold. Also, if you have the absolute nuts on a dry board if you raise, then everyone will fold. I always check hoping someone has a hand worth raising. I think most players would slow play quads. At this point you are hoping someone had a hand which is second nuts.

    1. OK, but… what were they thinking pre-flop, QQ calling but not raising a $4 straddle after multiple other callers? KK doing the same? After the turn goes check, check, the player with a full house can’t rely on his opponent to bet the river with no side pot. Yet he called $100 on the flop. He must have something that will call a river bet (which doesn’t have to be a shove… could be as small as 1/4 pot).

      1. I agree that the guys with queens and kings should have been more aggressive preflop. But once they limped in then they had to worry about a wide variety of hands. However, when your queens hit the flop and make a boat then you should at least bet the turn or river. Maybe there was a tell he picked up on. Somehow, the over pair also realized he was beat. It seems like players were going with their gut instinct. By the time you reach the river you often can get a feeling whether you are getting a bunch of folds or an all in reraise. I think the guy with the queens was either a genius or idiot. From the outside it looks like passive play.

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