This was supposed to a post about a bad beat, about a horrific call my opponent made, and about his comment later that showed he didn’t understand that he made a horrific call.
Then I wrote the post. The entire time I had been thinking about this hand, for the past month, I never thought about the implied odds the guy had. When I wrote the post, it suddenly hit me that the implied odds might just change the way I thought about the play of the hand.
So now I’m a bit confused, much more so than before I wrote this.
Since I’m confused, I’m going put this out there and ask readers to let me know how they feel about the hand. So let me have it, good or bad…..
In my last post, I reminded you that I spent a lot of time playing limit hold’em (usually 2/4) before relatively recently switching to NL. While I think playing a lot of limit was very valuable for me in my poker education, I have to admit that I may have learned a few things that I had to unlearn when I started playing No Limit.
Specifically, I “learned” some things about NL from the limit players I was playing with. It seemed, more often than not, I’d find myself playing the limit game with players who had experience playing NL. And I can’t tell you how many times I heard a certain expression. It was after someone lost a pot where he or she was ahead and someone ended up hitting their draw to take it down. And the loser would say, “I couldn’t bet you off the hand.” Then they would add something to the effect that, if we were playing No Limit, he could indeed have bet enough to get the other person to fold their draw. There were variations of this, like players complaining they couldn’t “protect” their hand in limit.
No matter how much I read up and studying NL when I switched to it, I couldn’t get the idea that you had to “bet people off their hands” out of my mind.
And every time I’d get my Aces or Kings cracked by someone playing 9-4 offsuit, I’d think, well, I just didn’t bet enough. I should have bet more to get them off their hand. But no, when I told these stories or posted them on the blog, I would get the voice of reason as feedback. “You want them to call.” Of course that’s true. You want people to make bad calls. The odds are in your favor and most of the time you’ll win. But since there’s luck involved, sometimes you’ll lose. But as long as you always get the money in “good”—when you are the favorite—in the long run, you’ll win. So you don’t want to bet some huge amount to get people off their hand, to protect it. You want to bet enough so that your opponent has bad odds to make the call—and you hope they do make the call. You want them to call when they have bad odds, right? If they fold and you take down the pot, well, ok, you’ve won a small pot. But you win bigger pots when you give them bad odds to call and they do so anyway.
In the short term of course, that guy calling with bad odds may hit his hand. In the short run, that sucks. But you’ll come out ahead in the long run.
Of course, that reminds me of what the famed British economist John Maynard Keynes said a long time ago. “In the long run we’re all dead.”
Which brings me to this hand from last month, which is more interesting for the post-hand commentary than the hand itself, though it was sort of a brutal bad beat (everyone loves bad beat stories, right?).
I was playing my usual 1/2 game in my usual place. The guy on my immediate right was Norwegian and a fairly typical European aggro. I had about $240 in front of me (from my $200 buy-in). The Norwegian had me covered. An early position player raised to $10, there was a call, the Norwegian called and I called in late position with pocket 4’s. So there were four of us in the hand.
You could say I liked the flop; it was 10-10-4. I was disappointed that the preflop raiser didn’t c-bet. It checked to me, last to act. I decided to check. I had a monster, the flop didn’t seem to hit anyone, and I had to hope that somebody would like the turn card enough to give me some action.
The turn was some harmless looking card, an 8 or a 9, whatever. The first two players checked, but this time the Norwegian bet out $30. I took some time to consider my action. I had planned to bet this time if it checked to me—you have start trying to build a pot some time, right? But now that the Norwegian had led into me, what do I do?
I considered just calling. I really thought that, based on his play, he didn’t have much and was just trying to steal it. If I raised, I didn’t think he call. Perhaps I could induce another bluff if I just called?
But I did decide to raise. I made it $90. The other players folded immediately and the Norwegian tanked. He took a good long time to decide. I really thought he was going to fold. We’d been playing together for a couple of hours. He surely had noticed that I had been playing tight. He had to know I had a big hand if I was raising. Finally, after a long time, he called. I was certainly fine with that. I didn’t read his hesitation as deciding whether to call or shove with a bigger hand than mine. I was sure he came real close to folding which meant I was in great shape to pick up a nice pot.
The river was a 5 and he quickly moved all-in. I honestly didn’t think about it at all. I snap-called. I’m not folding a boat there. If he had slow-played quads until then, well, sucks to be me.
It did suck to me, but not because he had pocket 10’s. He flipped over pocket 5’s! Ouch! He totally sucked out on me, hitting his four-outer. I was in a bit of shock as I reached into my pocket to get another $200 to re-buy. I can’t recall if I managed to utter the totally insincere “Nice hand,” or not. But he did say to me the equally insincere, “Sorry.” Actually though, he was a pretty nice guy and to the extent that any poker player means it, he maybe might have.
But then he added, “But you didn’t bet enough. You should have shoved there. I wouldn’t have called a shove.”
I try not to explain my actions at the table—or give poker lessons—but I couldn’t help responding, “That would have been a horrible bet, shoving there.” He just shrugged and said, “I wouldn’t have called if you had shoved.”
Well that may be true, but that would have been a bad bet, not getting value for my monster. It would be like shoving preflop every time you get pocket Aces—that would really reduce your chances of getting them cracked.
I didn’t say anything else. But what I wanted to say was, “Sir, I wanted you to call there. You made a horrible call. You wouldn’t have called a shove? You shouldn’t have called for $60 more. I was a 90/10 favorite when you called. I wanted you to call…….I just didn’t want you to hit your four-outer.”
Instead, I took a walk to clear my head. When I came back, he patted me on the shoulder and apologized again—in his own way. “I’m sorry, man. You didn’t bet enough.”
I was now totally silent. But it wasn’t lost on me that the guy had tanked a long time before calling my turn raise. Was he calculating the odds? That’s would I would have thought. How did he calculate them? He must have known his 5’s were behind at that point. What hand that I would bet with was he beating? He had to know he had to hit something on the river to win. In fact, he could have been drawing dead—what if my pocket pair matched the turn card (an 8 or a 9)? The way the action was, it was totally logical for me to have a bigger boat than he was drawing to.
Not much later, talking about another hand where he had a nice catch, another player commented on it. And then said, “And you got lucky before when you got that full house.” And he replied, “Yes, but he didn’t bet enough.”
He was a nice guy, as I said, but this was annoying. I really did feel like telling him that I wanted him to call there.
Note: this is where, when doing the first-draft of this post, I started thinking of the implied odds. Because I did call his shove, And he won more than the $60 raise that he called. But….still I was making a value bet, I wanted him to call, and you know, how could I possibly fold a boat on the river, especially against this specific player?
Sigh. I paid him off. Was it a good play by him after all? Should I have shoved the turn? Note: I might have gotten out of this if I had bet the flop, but I don’t think he would have folded to any reasonable flop bet I would have made.
Poker is not an easy game.