Just a couple interesting spots from some recent hands where someone’s behavior played a role in my decision-making.
First one is from $1-2 NL. I had about $700 and the guy directly to my left had about $600. A couple limpers in front of me. I limp with 46 of diamonds. The guy directly to my left was an older guy who was “tricky”, and who liked to make small raises pre-flop as pot-builders in multi-way pots. The kind of thing somewhat skilled players like to do in passive games to build the pots and get paid off if they hit. I’d seen him do this a few times, whereas he’d raise bigger pre with legitimate hands.
He raises to $7, and I’m 95% sure he would make it more with a premium hand. There are like 4 callers, comes back around to me and I make it $45, thinking I’d probably take it down there, because most of the table was playing pretty tight. (This was kind of dumb in hindsight, because I didn’t know at that point how loose the villain was, and it’s probably only a move I should be making when I’ve got a good chance of making villain fold.)
After a few seconds, the villain calls and it’s heads-up to the flop. There’s like $120 in the pot and I feel quite certain in my initial read that he has a “pot-building” type of hand like suited connectors or TJ or something. Just not a big hand. Maybe a small to medium pair.
Flop comes 9d 6c 3d, giving me a pair and a flush draw. I bet $100. Here’s the interesting thing; he calls immediately. In the past in this blog I’ve talked about immediate calls being very meaningful as medium-strength hands, and in some cases I’ve talked about how the board texture (low-ish, two to a straight or flush) can make a draw more likely than a made hand. This is one of those cases where I felt like a flush draw was much more likely for him in this spot than any other hand. This is because with any overpair (TT+), he’s most likely going to at least consider raising. With any underpair or a lone pair of 9s, he’s going to consider his options a little bit, too. Should he raise? Fold? Call? With two pair or a set, he’s going to consider raising for at least a moment, even if he decides to slowplay. So, when he calls me immediately here, my immediate thought is he’s got a flush draw. A flush draw is one of the few hands on that flop where he could immediately find his hand worthy of calling a big bet while at the same time, because of my apparent strength, he could rule out a raise immediately.
Obviously I could be wrong and he could have had an overpair or set or whatever, but my point is that I think on certain board textures, an immediate call of a significant bet can tune you into a draw being much more likely than other hands. If the flop had come Ace high, and he called my bet immediately, that could make many other hands possible, like AQ, AJ, etc. Here’s the blog post where I talk more about immediate calls and board textures.
Turn comes a Queen of hearts. I think for a long time and eventually shove. He surprisingly calls and he does indeed have KJ of diamonds and my pair of 6s hold up for a big pot. I would not have felt nearly as good about shoving turn if it hadn’t been for his immediate call on the flop.
Another one, also from $1-2 NL. I had about $400, and the player to my left had about $350. He was the CO and I was the HJ. I have 89o. One limper in front of me, I’m considering raising but I see the player behind me reaching for his chips as if he wants to play. He’s doing this even before action gets to me. This usually clues me into a player who has a decent hand that he wants to play with, but not a premium hand. If he had AA, or KK, or QQ, or AKs or whatever, he wouldn’t make it so obvious that he wants to play and would hide the fact that he’s going to raise. I’d played with him a bit and I was quite certain this is what this meant for him in this situation. In this case, even though I felt like he was medium-strength, I thought he was going to call any normal raise from me, and the pot would most probably be multi-way, and I wouldn’t have position, so I changed my mind and just called.
The interesting thing was that he saw me getting ready to raise, and putting chips together, and then saw me change my mind and just call. I was quite certain he saw all this. So then he raised to $12, which I felt was in response to him seeing what he thought was my weakness. It folds around to me and I make it $37, thinking there’s a good chance I’d take it down at that point. But he calls.
Long story short; he had TJo. If I could do it over again, I’d make my raise a little bit bigger, considering he’d already shown a lot of willingness to call pre-flop, there was some money in the pot, and the fact that I was out of position. But the point was I was quite confident in my read that he had a hand like that and not any sort of premium hand.