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?