Monday, May 19, 2008


In No Limit Hold'em, all of the great players have developed the instinct to pick up more of a ethereal part of the game that can't always be expressed succinctly after the fact. This is one of those masked qualities that tends to rise out in necessary situations in successful players. I have seen it come about in me at various times. The key is to realize when you have to trust it. Just right now I took a hard knocks lesson as to when to trust myself. A hand will illustrate what I am trying to say perfectly:

6am 5-10 NL game @ commerce casino. Game is fairly loose passive and I start the hand off with ~$750.

UTG limps, I limp in 2nd position with As6s, cutoff and button limp, SB completes and BB checks. 6 way $60 flop comes down Qc Js 2s. Checked to me and I bet out $45. Folded to SB who min raises to $100, BB calls and then folded to me and I call.

Now before I go on, I will say that I have not played with SB very long at all, maybe 10 hands max and I had not seen him win a hand or showdown a hand as he just moved to our table from a broken game with more $$ than me but I had the feeling he was very tight.

The turn card in the 3 way $360 pot came down the Qs for a board of Qc Qs Js 2s. I now have the nut flush. The SB is sweating and twiching now and bets out $100 and the BB calls $100. I decide to raise here for 2 reasons. First, off, I know the BB is a bad player and will pay me off with a worse flush, a bare Q, or maybe something worse. Secondly, I really felt like the SB had Q2. Everything in my gut told me he had Q2. So if he were to reraise me or call and then bet/push the river, I could be sure and easily fold. But, no. He just calls and unfortunately, the BB folds. Now the river comes the 3c. He checks while still being quite twitchy and agitated. Now I am super confused. Is he really pulling this move on me with me only having $350 left in a $900+. Is he really trapping here with me being pot committed and having to call his river value bet? (or so he should have thought)? I thought there was no way this could possibly be the case. Did he have AQ/KQ, a lower flush, a worse Q, J2? Somehow all this clouded my crystal clear read of 10 seconds prior that told me he had Q2. So, of course, this new found bungled thinking bewitched my hand into pushing my last $350 into the pot as a voluntary bet. And, yes, of course, he called and showed me Q2.

I sometimes have the instincts. Now I need to learn how to listen to them.


Rick said...

Kinda mixed about this one. A lot of possibilities for your opponent. One school of thought is to play it safe with your flush with the paired board, but on the other hand, most of the time your opponent is gonna play like this if he has a lower flush, in which case he'll probably call, right? So, it's a tough one.
It reminds me a little of how Harrington says that when he hears people talking about how they folded bottom set on the flop, because they just "knew" their opponent had to have them beat, Harrington thinks to himself "idiot." There's always a range of possibilities, and sometimes your hand is just too good to fold. Here, I guess maybe you could've checked the river, but if he had bet you'd have to call, despite your read. After all, you probably wouldn't hesitate to get your money in if you had 22 for a full house, and since you had the next best hand, I don't think you can fault yourself too much here for playing it strongly. Would've been a great check if you'd done it, but to me it seems more like you missed out on a potential unusual-but-great play, rather than an actual "mistake" on your part.

Reza said...

I'm with Rick here. With 75 BB's to start the hand with, there is no way you can get away from your nut flush. Just bad luck I guess.

Danyul said...

Just a small comment to Rick's post. If I had 22 then his range narrows quite a bit because Q2 or J2 are now very unlikely. In this spot, it is also highly unlikely that he would have JJ or QQ (although possible from a tight player) so the most realistic hand for him to have is precisely QJ for me to lose. So I would essentially NEVER be folding 22 here, whereas the hand as it played has a much greater differential in hand ranges as well as "read ranges".