Thursday, February 03, 2005

Anatomy of a Hand

The sooner I can get that tourney report off the main page the better :)

With that, some strategy talk.

I want to give an example of a hand I played in where things really could have gone either way. It involves, at least from my perspective, some Level 3 thinking and decisions based on that thinking. Here's the setup:

Party Poker, $50NL Table - 10 handed

I'm in the BB and am dealt pocket Q's. MP1 limps for $1 and LP also limps. SB folds and I raise to $4. Both MP1 and LP call the raise. The flop is 7,9,T rainbow suits.

In early position with what I currently believe is the best hand, I simply check. Why? Information gathering. Betting out and getting called gives me no opportunity to put anybody on a hand and I'm not always comfortable betting into the unknown. Granted, I could have bet large and taken down the pot right away, but I'm not convinced yet that it would be the best play. Also by checking, I'm potentially giving out MISinformation about my hand. A check could lead my opponents to believe I had AK, AQ, or even AJ.

After I check, MP1 bets out $5 into a $13 pot and LP folds. I like the fold by LP here because my hand has a better chance of holding up in a headsup scenario. Here's where I lob my first salvo as I raise the bet to $15. MP1 smooth calls. Now, it a situation where I'm trying to steal the pot, I'd get a bit worried. But I'm not trying to steal in reality, but my check-raise could appear as just that.

The turn comes and pairs the board with a T. I'm not too pleased with that card, so I check again. MP1 bets $25 into the $43 pot and I begin to go a bit into the tank.

Obviously any hand with a T beats me. Did he limp w/AT suited or otherwise? My hunch is no, perhaps being first into the pot would warrant a raise here. I don't leave A,T out of the set of hands I'm working with just yet though. Also, I'm eliminating pocket 9's as well. I believe I would have been re-raised post flop if he flopped a set due to the potentially co-ordinated flop that could yield a potential straight draw if I'm holding A,J.

I end up calling the bet.

The river comes and it re-pairs the board by spiking a 2nd 7. With the board reading 7,9,T,T,7 I check again. There is $93 in the pot and MP1 goes all-in for $35 more. Here's where the various levels of thinking come in. Level 1, my hand, is two pair Q's and T's. Level 2 is what I think he has. Perhaps AT, 88 or JJ are the most likely cards he is holding. Level 3 is what I think he thinks I have. Here is where I'm convinced he thinks I have AK or AQ. So it was with Level 3 thinking that I made my decision to call.

Results of the hand are in the comments.

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