Thursday, May 17, 2007

Follow the story

Every hand we witness at the poker table is a story told by multiple writers.

The writers are all the players sitting at the table.

Each player adds a line or two to the story by his or her actions.

The players who fold are basically saying "my hand wasn't that strong."

The players who stay in and especially those who raise are saying "I have a hand I want to play a bigger pot with."

If at any point during the hand someone's actions do not follow the story that is being told then it stands out like a sore thumb. (I was about to write it stands out like a "hackneyed cliche" but I think "sore thumb" says it just as well).

I limped into a hand yesterday in a cash game with queen 10 suited. No one raised preflop. Thus the story being told was that no one held a big hand. We all wanted to see a cheap flop.

Flop came queen jack 5.

An aggressive woman led out for 15 bucks. She had been leading out at alot of flops so this bet didn't mean too much to me. Two players called. I had position and called as well.

Turn was a rag.

Now she checked. All the other players checked too. So did I.

I don't have much invested in the pot and I don't want to play a big pot with this hand. If someone makes a decent sized bet here I would probably fold.

River was another rag.

Now she leads out for 50.

Everyone folds. I'm last to act.

Her bet here can mean two things. Either she's betting with nothing (a busted draw like 10 jack) and she's doing it because it's the only way she can win the pot.

Or of course she holds something good and was trapping on the turn hoping someone else bet.

Now I already mentioned she was aggressive. But as I'm sitting there deciding whether or not to call I stare at the queen jack that came out on the flop. If she really felt good about her hand and held at least something like king queen she wouldn't have checked the turn. She was giving too many hands a chance to make a straight with a free look the river.

No. Her story doesn't make sense. If she has a hand that can beat my top pair queen with 10 kicker, she would have bet it on the turn.

The only thing I really fear here is if she has a queen with an ugly rag kicker that just paired on the river giving her two pair.

But other than that her turn check and river bet makes no sense. Since no one else showed any aggression she thinks she can take the pot away here on the river. So she bets. And it almost works. The other players fold.

But I call.

She instantly throws her cards into the muck.

Like I said if she bets the turn I fold. I could believe that story. Just not this one.

An orbit later I raise it to 15 preflop. Two people call.

I'm purposely not telling you my cards because I want you to see the hand from the other player's point of view.

Flop is 4,4, jack.

Whether or not this has helped me I make the continuation bet and shove out 30. One guy calls me in position. It's unlikely that either of us holds a 4 here since the pot was raised preflop.

Now if I've missed this flop then as far as I'm concerned I'm done with the hand. I'm going to check the turn and give up.

The turn is a king. I check just like I say I would if I missed the flop. The other player fires out a half pot sized bet in position.

I call.

River is another king.

My story thus far makes it believable that I have a king. I raised preflop which can often mean ace king. And of course I also called the turn and didn't give up after the king came.

So I lead out and bet 100.

He starts to whine to me that he can't believe I hit runner runner kings. The runner runner part implies that he was ahead when the first king came on the turn. If true then perhaps he is holding pocket jacks or something like 4,5 suited. And my full house just passed his full house.

He folds and asks me if I had one king or two.

I giggle in the most annoying way possible.

I have nothing against this human being but as long as we're playing poker it serves me to have him dislike me.

Sometimes you can gain things at the poker table that at the moment aren't actually chips. What you gain is creating an image or belief about yourself in another player that will pay itself off later on down the road.

A few hands later he raises preflop to 15 and I look down in the small blind and see queens.

No need to reraise here. I'm out of position. And my hand is very well disguised. So I smooth call.

Flop is 7,7,8.

Now his story preflop was that he was strong. My story was that I had a hand worth calling a 15 dollar bet with.

I have to act first. So sticking with the story I check to him. We both know he's going to bet no matter what came out on the board. So I let him.

He bets 30 dollars.

I could get hurt on this hand if he has pocket aces or kings. But I REALLY don't think he has a 7 since he raised it preflop. (This hand by the way is a great example of why it's good to raise sometimes in early position with suited connectors. Because when it hits it becomes hard for your opponents to actually imagine you holding small cards. If he has raised preflop here with 7,8 suited I'm about to lose alot of money.)

I am going to reraise him here. I am going to represent the 7. I am in the small blind afterall.

Now the hard part is that he knows that I know that he probably doesn't have a 7.

He also knows that my reraise "looks" like a move. So if he actually does have aces or kings I'm probably getting called. I tell myself that I'm not only raising to try to win the pot. I'm also raising to gain information on his hand.

I reraise him to 90 dollars. 60 more.

Much to my chagrin he immediately declares himself all in. So much for gaining information about his hand. He's screaming trip 7's or aces. Or tilt.

I ask the dealer to count his chips. After matching my raise to 60 he has an additional 153 dollars behind the line.

So I have to call 153 to win approximately 355 dollars. Or to put it another way. I need to be right here (win this hand)1 time out of 3 to be ahead. The hard part is that I'm either way ahead or way behind in this spot.

Again I think through this story I've been watching. Yes I can't put him on a 7. If he's got that then good for him.

Sure I can put him on aces or kings. Everything he's done in the hand represents that. But he also won't get aces or kings that often. In other words, you can't play poker scared of them.

I've also seen him raise other pots preflop from early position with small pairs. So perhaps I should fear pocket 8's here. Then again if he was holding the nut full house maybe he'd call my raise to 90 so I can bet again on the turn.

Thinking through our time spent together I know he's frustrated with me from the other hand.

And here I just check raised him to 90 on the flop. He doesn't want to let me push him around.

He is also making this move having absolutely no idea how strong my hand is here. From where he sits I probably gotta fold to his all in reraise unless I have a 7. Because if I was holding really strong cards he assumes I'd have reraised him preflop.

We're playing this game of chicken regarding the paired board and I'm not going to back down. My hand is too good. The chances of him holding aces, kings or a 7 isn't good enough. As I wrote above I only need to win this hand 1 in 3 times to for the call to be correct. I think there is greater than a 33% chance I'm ahead. I call.

Neither of us turn over our cards.

The turn is another 7. This is good news. If I was already losing to trip sevens then quads makes no difference. But what I like about this 7 is it clinches my full house and means I won't lose if somehow he was on a straight or flush draw.

The river is a rag.

He has to show first. He turns his cards over. I can't see the bottom card as it's under the top card.

The top card is clearly the ace of diamonds. My heart drops.

The dealer pushes the ace to the side and reveals a queen underneath.

He has ace queen.

My queens are good.

Knowing what we know now I'm just amazed that an ace didn't come on the river.

1 comment:

Willy's World said...

Excellent.