Putting a Player on a Hand (Part II)


Continued from: Putting a Player on a Hand in Poker

You are now on fourth street in your game of Hold'em, a 5s hits the board, making the board 9c 7s 2s. Now it's even less likely that he's on the spades because there just aren't a lot of cards unaccounted for. But in any case where we've got the nuts, the question is do we bet it or do we check and let him catch up some? Well if he has three of a kind he'll probably have to pay us off, especially since we've bet on the come (before we made our hand), so it might be hard for him to put us on the flush. If he's got the second nut flush we could probably break him.

Hold'em Poker

I like a bet here. I think we should choose a bet size that will get paid off by trips or raised by an inferior flush; I think a bit less than half the size of the pot would accomplish that.

He calls. I think if he'd had the flush he'd have been inclined to raise in case we had four to a flush. I believe he's on a set. Now, on fifth street the board pairs sevens for a board of 9c 7s 2s 5s 7c - that's a scare card for sure. If we were correct, our opponent now has a full house or quads. Our opponent checks to us. I suspect a trap and check behind him. What if he had made a bet on the end? Let's suppose there'd been $60 in the pot and our opponent bet out say $20. Now what would we do with our ace high flush? Because we suspect he's got the full house, we'll need a second to think this out.

Could he be value betting his boat? Yeah, that is a definite possibility. In fact I think it's the most likely conclusion based on all the previous action. The problem is that we're getting 4 to 1 on our money, so the question is "how sure are we?" If we're right, we're making a really, really good fold. If we were wrong, we'd be making a disastrous mistake by folding here. What do we do?

The way I would approach this situation is to realize that if I call, hoping he's not on a boat and he's not, then I win 4 times what I wagered. So the call only has to be correct one time out of five for it to be a break even call. I'd have to be more than 80% sure he had the boat to fold here, and I'm just not that sure. He could have a few other holdings. The KQs still makes enough sense to be a possibility. He could even be on a stone cold bluff with a hand like AQ; even pocket tens up to kings somewhat make sense with the action, although it's a bit of a stretch. I think I'd have to make this call expecting to lose, but because I'm not 80% sure and that I'm getting 4 to 1, I'm just gonna have to pay him off.

Now if he moved all-in for say his last $150, depending on whom I'm up against, I'm usually gonna lay this one down, reluctantly. It's just too likely that he's got the boat or four of a kind - what else could he have? It's either the boat, quads or the flush, and I think the boat is much more consistent with the action. You've been out drawn; muck it and move on. Remember, in order to be a winner in Hold'em you must not be overly afraid to lay down the best hand.

Now we also have to know what kind of player we're against. Would he usually have checked the boat trying to trap, or value bet it? Is he usually bluffing when he moves all-in, or is he a total rock that never makes moves and only bets the nuts. All these things have to enter into our decision, but the point is that the way we have to decide whether or not to make that call at the end is to see what price we're getting on our money and compare that to what we think our chances are of having the best hand are. We can only do that by paying very good attention to every play our opponents are making, paying special attention to the sort of starting poker hands they'll play from various positions. We should be watching all the action in the hands. We're not in trying to figure out who bluffs often, who never bluffs, which players are tight which are loose, etc. A good practice to get into is to try to guess the exact two hole cards of all the players in a hand once you're out. With practice this will get easier.

For an amateur poker player I think it makes the most sense to pay the most attention to the player to your immediate left and right because most of the money you win in poker will come from your right. You also want to know if he's a loose player, and all your blind stealing attempts have to go right thru the player to your left, so you need to know if he defends his blinds or if he'll let them go without a fight. After you've got a good read on these two players, you should go on to one more player on each side, now your watching half the table, and that'll give you plenty to do for sure. It's a lot like work, but all this hard work that you're doing turns into positive EV (estimated value) in the long run, and if embraced properly I believe it actually makes the game of Hold'em a lot more fun and challenging.

♣ Continued at: Basic Poker Math & Statistics

♣ Back to the index of Dead Money's guide to hold'em strategy.