Thursday, August 6, 2009

An A-Ha Moment

Let's start with the hand that led to the "A-Ha"ing. As usual, the scene is a small buy in no limit hold em tournament. I am under the gun +1 with KQ and raise to 4x the big blind after the UTG player limps. The only caller is the player on my immediate left, so I will have to play the hand post flop out of position. I haven't noticed anything remarkable about this player with the exception of the fact that he has taken down several (3 or 4) pots lately by making bets when in position and checked to post flop. I don't recall seeing him check behind a lot in those situations which leads me to the conclusion that he is likely aware of making post flop steal plays if he senses weakness. The other observation I have of this player is that he's likely pretty loose preflop as he is playing a lot of hands.

On to the hand at issue, the flop comes Q 10 2 with a flush draw. I bet the pot and he calls. At this point I figure him for either a Q (almost certainly a weaker Q than mine as I think he would likely raise AQ), or a flush or broadway draw. The turn is a blank, and I again bet the pot and get a call. Draws are still possible, but for this player I was weighted more towards a weaker Q. The river is a J that does not complete the flush draw. Based on my read, this card is very likely to have helped his hand. Given that, I decide to check. V now goes all in which is a little more than 1/2 the size of the pot.

I'm now getting almost 3/1 on a call, calling and losing leaves me with some chips, but really in "chip and a chair" territory, so calling and losing is really bad for me. I tanked for a while and then finally called. The other player kind of quietly said two pair and turned over QJ for two pair.

While I was in the tank, I thought through V's possible holdings. I thought a straight was highly unlikely since hitting a straight would have meant a gutshot and I really think he would have folded the turn on a straight draw. I pretty much narrowed his range down to two pair or a bluff.

The thing is that my evaluation of him was that he was far more likely to have 2 pair there then the bluff. Sure I'd seen him make some bets before when other people showed weakness, but this was pretty different to go all in. I had him read really well, so why did I end up losing that hand.

I think I've identified a couple of reasons for this. First, I'm just not trusting my read enough. I'm letting the math and abstract statistics dictate my decisions to the exclusion of reads at the table. That's not good and I have to progress to the point of giving myself permission to play my "feels" in situations like this. Might it deviate from what the math might otherwise call for, sure, but judgment about people is too big a part of this game to just rely on the math. The other thing is that I think there's a part of my psychology that is super resistant to having a "move" put on me. At some point there in my tanking on this hand, and I think at an unconscious level, I decided that it was better to call when I would likely lose and at least know for sure I was not bluffed then to fold and leave the possibility of being bluffed out there. That kind of pride is just going to get too expensive, I need to let that go.

Trust your reads, if your read says fold, do it, and if someone just ran a bluff on you then well, they played well, it's OK.

No comments:

Post a Comment