A couple of interesting hands from $1-2 NL

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.

  • Alex

    Good analysis. Why did you shove turn in the first hand? What were you trying to accomplish? Wouldn’t it fold draws? Instead of just charging them a high price to see another card.

    • http://www.readingpokertells.com Zachary Elwood

      I thought it was quite probable he had a big draw, maybe even a straight and flush draw on the turn. Also thought I could be wrong and he could be on a big pair. In either case, considering how willingly he called the $100, I thought any lesser bet he was going to call, or shove it in if my bet was small. I guess you could say I was treating it as a semi-bluff since there was a chance he’d fold better and he could call me with a great flush draw. I don’t know; I don’t pretend to be the best theoretician when it comes to this stuff. If I could have known 100% what his cards were, what is mathematically the best play? I don’t know. I guess it depends on knowing how much he’s willing to call with that hand.

  • Harrison

    I like your play in the first hand, but the limp/3bet in the second is pretty FPS. Put yourself in villain’s shoes and try to construct a range for someone who limps the HJ then 3bets a CO raise – how much can we honestly say fits here?

    • http://www.readingpokertells.com Zachary Elwood

      Agree, but at $1-2, if I think someone’s a weak player I usually don’t worry about how they perceive my range if I think they don’t have a hand. Most weaker players aren’t thinking about ranges and if you bet big, no matter when, they generally give you more credit than you deserve. I wouldn’t do this against better players is what I’m saying. In this hand, as it played out, I flopped a full house and he turned a straight and it all went in on the turn. He was very surprised to see my hand, and said he thought I had a big hand because of the limp-3-bet.

  • YH

    The thing about most casual players, they are usually prepared to call a 3bet (usually 3-4x) with whatever hand they raise with. The reason is not that they think you’re ahead or behind, but they just want to see a flop. These exact same players also play fairly straight forwardly, calling many flop bets and folding to many turn and river bets. The tough part is when we try to do this OOP. The pressure is on for us then as the aggressor (limp re raiser preflop), to try and Cbet almost ANY flop to represent a big pair. Any really, on any “safe” turn card that didn’t change the flop texture, to double barrel again.

    One way is to use this strat when you are in position, esp button and hijack, so you can play this villain (small pot builder type), post flop with a great advantage. The strategic aim of making these plays occasionally, is to keep the villain in line, and make he feel as though he cannot have his way with “pot builder” type raises without risking someone making a move on him. Additionally if you take it down preflop or on the flop, it’s good to show the villain the bluff to manipulate his thought process. He might probably think you wouldn’t try that again the rest of the night but he can never be sure about the next time you do that.

    In the second scenario, there is not much you can do. Villain probably has a A7s-ATs, 33-77 type of hand that he won’t be folding to a 3bet, plus he will reason that he has position to justify making the call to see the flop. Does he put you on a. Big pair? Maybe. Is he going to fold because of that? Usually not.

    One sick play is to overcall a limped pot in the CO or HJ when you notice the reads that Zach did. (Otherwise be prepared to play AA KK v carefully postflop in a limped pot)
    If they do raise, you get the luxury of seeing what all the other limpers do first. If the raise is large and called by one other player with deep stacks. Just call and plan a C/R flop to get the villains stack. If the Villian who raised is 100-150bb, reraise at that point, to raise suspicions and have a likely chance of the villain shoving you based on your suspicios late position limp/reraise manouvre.