Attention paid to play around you can be helpful

The poker tables in the Trump Taj Mahal
Image via Wikipedia

I have been playing more No Limit Hold ‘Em cash games lately and I have taken the advice of a fellow poker player  and frequent blog commenter, Jack. He advises that I always go into a session with a full stack. When ever you go to a table you have the option of buying in at a minimum amount of cash, usually no lower than 40 times the big blind. The maximum buy in is usually 100 times the big blind. In the .05/.10 cents games that I was playing I was entering for a buy-in of $5.00. As a result of Jack’s advice, I now enter with $10.00

In No Limit cash games, the goal is to try to win money, either by winning small pots or large ones. When ever you have a strong hand there is always the possibility that you might end up winning someone else’s stack or losing your own. This is a game where you need to pay attention to what is happening around you so that you can get an idea of what your opponent’s hand might be. If you are certain that you have the best hand, you want to be aggressive and try to win the pot pre-flop by putting in a strong bet of at least five times the big blind. This should either win the pot right there or should eliminate most of the other players from the hand.

I joined a table and bought in at $10.oo. I played tight, getting into pots only with premium hands or great draws. If I limped into a pot but was raised, I would fold all but high suited connectors or pocket pairs. I was half watching television while playing which means I was not watching as carefully as I should the action around me. I had a general idea of who was trying to control the table and who might be making moves. There was one player that I thought was making plays but it turned out I was wrong. I was dealt pocket queens and I raised the pot by 5 times the big blind – I was the “under the gun”, UTG, to the immediate left of the big blind. There were three folds and the middle position player re-raised me by .85 cents. I called. The flop contained no high cards. Since this play showed strength, I decided to check or call him down. I suspected that he might have a lower pocket pair or an AK and was trying to force me to fold. I checked and he bet out a pot size bet. I called. The turn was a low card. I checked and he bet out a pot size bet again. I called and the river card was also another low card. At this point I was pot committed, I checked and he bet again and I called putting myself all in.

I turned over my pair of queens. He turned over his pair of kings and took down the pot and my stack.  I had misread the player entirely. I decided not to re-buy and to leave the table. It was an expensive lesson and one that I hope to remember. In the theory of poker, it takes a strong hand to raise under the gun. It tales a stronger hand to call a raise, let alone to re-raise. Had I given it more thought, I would have folded all but aces or kings.

Should I have called the re-raise with just pocket queens pre-flop? Should I have called a strong raise after the flop? Should I have called a strong raise after the turn? After the river? How would you have played this hand?

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9 thoughts on “Attention paid to play around you can be helpful

  1. 2 things. First, don't be so results oriented. Although you could have played the hand better, this is more of a cooler than anything imo. If you thought the guy was making moves, maybe calling down sometimes isn't a bad idea. Honestly for all you knew he could have JJ, TT, 99, AK, AQ, AJ.. whatever. There's a ton of hands you had beat there. Secondly.. I think you can't go wrong with this:4 bet pre, bet flop, hand plays its self :P. Really, I hate playing OOP and I hate playing without the lead into the flop. I only flat in your spot with a small PP looking to set mine and fold missed flops. QQ is a hand I want to take control of and get value from. Check calling down can be a good play sometimes, but alot of the times it leaves you in a vulnerable spot because you have underrepresented your hand. People love check/call stations and the reason is they never force tough decisions. There's two things that could have happened….You 4bet QQ and he folds (although he wouldn't do this with KK, he'll do this with most of his 3betting hands in late position so you make money from him folding in the longrun)You 4bet QQ and get 5bet.. now you can decide if you're beat or not without playing guessing games on the turn and river. Or you 4bet QQ, and get flatted… from there you WOULD lead flop and thus be pot committed to a shove post flop.. which you would call.. SO REALLY. It's a cooler.. and I think if it affects your game considerably, you should consider moving to a stake that won't affect you as much if things like this happen. The only way you were getting away from this hand with the low cards was if he 5 bet you pre and you folded.. Also, if you move down stakes, you'll be able to play more tables effectively. Hopefully you're at least 3 tabling.. it makes losses like this a bit easy to handle since you are playing more hands per hour. Personally once I move past 4-5 tables I have trouble though so.. don't multitable too much! :(NLHE is a tough game to play eh?

    • Jack, again good advice. NLHE is a challenge but one that I am begging to understand a bit better game to game. I am finding some of the people are becoming more familiar as I spend more time at this site. I have even flagged some that I would like to find and play with at their table. I really didn't get cooled so bad as I did decide that I was getting a little tired and questioning my judgment. I reviewed the hand history later and saw that for the most part my opponent did not make plays. In the 31 hands that I played with him, had pocket kings twice, one being in the hand that I was involved in.

  2. Pingback: Attention paid to play around you can be helpful : DadsPokerBlog

    • Also, I did not know there were poker tourneys that had .05 and .10 games. I mean, I know of those kind of games with online poker but didn’t think in-person games had that kind of play too. This is probably one reason I haven’t looked into real-life games of that kind because I can’t really afford $100+ buy-ins.

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