Oct
14

More Missed Value — No Limit Holdem

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Since no-limit poker became legalized in San Jose recently the big no-limit game has been in flux.  It had been hosted for years in the Lucky Chances casino in Colma, but as soon as San Jose opened up, the regulars rushed south for the chance to play with new inexperienced players.  The game was expected to land at the Bay101 casino, but at this point in time, the Garden City casino is winning the battle.  Since I greatly prefer playing at Bay101 (it’s nicer), I have had to content myself lately with playing $5-10 blinds when I play no-limit holdem.

Here’s a hand I played at $5-10 no-limit recently where I had an interesting river decision:

Poker Game: $5-10 no-limit holdem, 9 players

Pre-flop: I am on the button with 74

Action: Several players limp in and I limp as well.  The blinds check.

Flop: J♠ 6♠ 5 (multiway)

Action: Everyone checks to me, I bet $40, one late position player calls, saying “I have to call my flush draw.”

Turn: A (two players, effective stacks $1500)

Action: My opponent donks $100 at me, I call.

River: 8♠

Action: My opponent bets $100, I call.  She shows A5 for two pair, I win with a straight.

Pre-flop in NLH, I will play almost any two cards on the button in an unraised pot, so 74 suited is practically the nuts!

The flop is a decent one to my hand, because I’ve got a tricky little straight draw.  I like betting here, because I’ve got a decent chance of taking down the $60 or so pot, and if I don’t, I don’t mind building the pot with a decent draw and position.  I am also willing to call a reasonable check-raise from any opponent who has a  decent stack (over $1,000), because I will likely bust them if I hit my straight on the turn. (If the pot were bigger or my draw worse, so that I couldn’t profitably call a check-raise, I would check this flop and take a free card trying to hit the nuts.)

My opponent was a woman whom I had previously raised out of a few pots.  I had her pegged as a passive and easily readable ABC player.  I had noticed that she thought about betting the flop herself, before checking. When she told me she was drawing to a flush, I immediately decided she was not. (Note: Do not speak while playing a poker hand with professionals, unless you know what you’re doing!)

On the turn, when she donked at me, I was certain that the Ace had helped her, and she had a real hand.  I now had a good hand as well, as I had picked up a back-door flush draw to go with my straight draw.  I felt a semi-bluff raise was pointless here though.  I don’t like trying to bluff amateur players off the nuts!

On the river I made my straight, but the river card was also a spade, which completed the flush draw.  My opponent again bet $100.  This was another significant tell, a bet-sizing tell.  Her bet was a “blocking bet”, a small bet intended to control the size of the pot, and another strong indication that she didn’t have a flush. She was afraid that I had made a flush.

I decided just to call her, for a couple of reasons.  First, I thought it highly likely that she wouldn’t call a raise unless she herself had a flush.  Secondly, I didn’t completely trust my read on her, because I had never played with her before: the thought entered my mind that she might have had an Ace high spade draw, leveled me on the flop, and bet the turn when she paired her Ace.

Probably a bad decision.  Players do make bad calls in no-limit, for all sorts of reasons.  And I had already forced her out of a few pots.  She might have gotten stubborn and decided to look me up here.

And, you have to trust your reads if you wish to excel in no-limit holdem.  If you don’t, you’ll just be playing like everyone else.  I dogged it here.

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