This isn’t related to poker tells or behavior in any way. Just a hand I played yesterday that I spent a lot of time thinking about so I thought I’d share it.
It was a $2-5 game. I only have $400 in front of me. I usually am significantly deeper and my shorter stack plays a role in this hand. This game can vary from super loose to mostly tight and it was in the mostly tight range yesterday. In this hand, UTG and UTG+1 both limp, as does a middle position player and the SB. I’m in the BB w/ TT and I check. So it’s 5-way to the flop of 67T rainbow.
SB, a tight middle-aged guy, bets $20. I call. UTG raises to $50. UTG is a guy who calls a lot but has been pretty snug for last few hours when it comes to betting and raising significant amounts. But after his raise he only has about $100 behind.
UTG+1 folds. Middle position guy, who we’ll call Jimmy, quickly shoves his entire $500 stack in the middle. SB thinks for a few seconds, seemingly finding it a little tough to fold his hand, but he does.
A little about the mid-position player, Jimmy; I’ve played with him maybe 10 times. He’s known for being very reckless, calling big bets without much, making weird raises that don’t make sense. Just generally strange. (An example: earlier, I’d rivered a flush w/ Qd 4d on a Qc Qs 9d Jd 5d river. He bets a very small $10 on the river, a player calls, I raise to $35, and Jimmy min-raises to $60, I call and he shows TJ.) So because Jimmy’s pretty reckless in general, and I was shorter than usual, and because I figured the UTG raiser was going to put in his last $100, I figured all of this added up to a call, even if Jimmy had the 89 a good portion of the time.
As it turned out, both Jimmy and UTG had the 89. And it turned out the SB folded 6T. And looking back at the hand a little more closely I could see that this was one spot I could have folded top set and felt pretty good about it.
For one, while Jimmy is kind of reckless when calling and when making smaller bets, he’s not a total lunatic. In a limped pot on a 67T flop, he’s not going to just shove his stack in with anything. He’s not going to do it w/ an overpair, he’s not going to do it w/ two pair, he’s not going to do it with a set of 6s or 7s. I could see him doing it w/ my hand; a set of tens, but that and 89 are the only hands in hindsight he’d be doing it with. He’s especially not going to do that when there’s been a bet from a tight guy, a call from me, and a raise to $50 in front of him. Sure, it was a little strange for him to just overbet/shove the pot, which made me think in the moment that this decreased his chances of having 89. But weirder players are capable of seeing action in front of them, seeing a decent pot, and just thinking “I got to protect my hand, let them call if they want to” and shoving. (And I saw Jimmy do this later when he flopped a flush; just overbet-shoved. So it’s a pattern I’ve got some history for now.)
So if you assume he’s only doing that w/ 89, and if you assume the UTG guy is putting in his last $100, that’s $615 in the pot for me to call for $375. Heads-up versus 89, my odds are 35%, so I’m not getting the right price.
On top of it being highly unlikely Jimmy’s shoving with anything less than 89, you also have to think about what the other two players in the hand have. The SB who bet $20 on the flop and who seemed like he didn’t like having to fold to the shove; what could he have had? The way it went down, it was very likely he’d flopped two pair w/ some random small blind hand, which is exactly what happened. I should have also been able to deduce that, too. He would probably have raised overpairs preflop, and with any one pair hand he would have tossed his hand immediately when Jimmy shoved; instead he kind of hemmed and hawed and seemed upset, which should have made it pretty clear to me that there were probably 2 of my outs to full houses gone right there. Also, the UTG guy who raised to $50; if he didn’t have the straight, then he had some of my full house outs, too.
Don’t get me wrong; I don’t often make a habit of folding sets, especially not top sets. But I think this was a clear case where I could have easily gotten away from it and felt good about it. In the moment, my only two thoughts were, “I’m shorter than usual and Jimmy’s pretty crazy” and I called pretty quickly. But it goes to show there’s always value in thinking a little bit more about a decision and not deciding so quickly. Making quick decisions is admittedly one of my major weaknesses.
Oh, there’s also the old Doyle Brunson adage: “Don’t go broke in an unraised pot.” That’s always in the back of my mind. While I’m sometimes of course willing to break that rule if the stars align and I think I’ve got an edge, that would also have been worth thinking about, too.