I have played a lot at the Borgata with a regular who I consider to be a tough winning player. He often plays $10/$25 and has a good sense of how to manipulate people into making mistakes. This post is going to be a bit critical of him and a mistake I believe he made, but I believe his being so tough is a reason that he could have put me in a difficult situation and probably won the pot. When I don’t mention stacksizes in a blog, it is because they don’t play a role in the hand, as in this case, we were each $3000 deep.
I open raise KsJs in early position to $40. A weak player calls, the tough player mentioned above calls on the button, and the big blind calls as well.
The flop is a good looking Jd7c5s. Checked to me and I bet $115 into the $160 pot. The weak player folds, the tough player calls, and the big blind folds. This is not a great situation for me because the tough player can have a wide range of hands including a better top pair than mine(AJ), a set, any good draw or any pair that doesn’t believe me. He knows I play fairly tight and that I am unlikely to have better than one pair, and is also not afraid to put me in a difficult spot if a scary card comes (which is most of the deck, given that he can have a lot of hands).
The turn is the 4s giving me a flush draw to go with my top pair good kicker. I elect to check here because the tough player knows that I have a lot of hands that now cannot call a raise and could raise hands that I beat such as 98, as well as hands that I have decent equity and good implied odds against with my flush draw. He elects to bet $170 into the $360 pot and I know I am calling, but stop to think about what I believe he has.
My interpretation of what he has has a large impact on the decisions I will make on the river, so it is important to think about that before getting influenced by seeing the river. I believe he is capable of betting a smaller amount(relative to the pot) with both his stronger hands(86, 77) that will bet big on the river as well as with hands like Jx that will probably check behind on the river if his hand doesn’t improve. However I think he is more likely to bet a larger amount with a big hand(a set especially, since it is more likely to be outdrawn) with the hope that I will call and that he can make a large(r) river bet that might also be called. I think to myself that I will be in a tough situation if he bets a lot of money on the river. In any event, onto the river!
The river is the Tc, which is not a great card for me, since it puts a hand I was ahead of that everyone plays(JT) ahead of me. I check and he thinks for a bit about betting, gathers chips, and eventually elects to check behind. He says he has a Jack and I show my KJ and win.
This situation is one where he must bet on the river, and bet a lot! The way the hand played out, it is fairly unlikely that I have a hand that can call a large river bet, and he has many more strong hands in his range that will make a big bet hoping to be called. Most of my hands are not stronger than one pair because there are few hands that would check and call the turn that he can beat(7x of spades and the Ace high flush draw are about the only ones that come to mind). Many people would often continue to bet my hand as well as any hand that was two pair or better. Hence, he should “turn his hand into a bluff” and hope that I give him credit for a strong hand and fold. The fact that he thought for so long before checking indicated that he “knew” he should bet the river as a bluff. As it was, I was able to pick up a $700 potby playing the hand optimally, and without having to make a tough decision. That’s the way I like it!
I think most people would have checked the river in his shoes, but I think it is a sizeable mistake. The fact that he had a decent hand hindered him from making the correct decision by allowing him to hope that his hand would be good on its own. This is despite the fact that I would estimate that he wins only 10%-20% of the time on the river as the hand played out.
I feel that this type of thinking happens very often in people’s lives. They are faced with decision and instead of doing cold calculated analysis of the best possible solution and taking that route, they hope that things will change despite the small odds that it will happen in the way they envision. It does not matter how you got to the situation you are in or if you have been there before, all that matters is finding the best solution and using it.