I don’t usually write about my experiences playing poker anymore, mostly because I don’t question my plays as often as I used to. However, just the other night I was playing $5/$10 at the Bellagio and a unique hand came up.
My Hand: Kh 10h
In this particular hand, there were 8 players and I was fairly new to the table, having played perhaps two rounds at maximum. I was in the big blind, and after posting my $10 I looked down to see Kh 10h, a mediocre hand in just about any position for a game of these stakes. The two early position players folded, and a middle position player with an average-tight playing hand requirement made it just $30 to go. Another player folded, and two players, whom I thought to have looser hand requirements than the preflop raiser, called the $30 raise. So now there is my $10 in the pot, three players with $30 in the pot, and the $5 small blind, making the pot $105. I thought about it for a minute and realized that Kh 10h wasn’t a bad call for the 1:5.25 odds that I was getting. I made the $20 call and the pot was now $125.
Flop: 8h 9h 3c
The flop came 9h 8h 3c. Not having much of a hand at the time, I checked to see what the other players would do. The preflop raiser bet $80. Just as I was getting prepared to fold my cards, the two players behind the preflop raiser made the call for $80 as well, pumping the pot up to $365. After pausing for a second, I figured that 1:4.65 pot odds is worth a call and I put my $80 in.
At this point in the hand, I put the preflop raiser on pocket Queens or pocket Jacks, figuring that he would have raised to $50 or more preflop with Aces or Kings. Knowing this, I figured that I would make best hand with a King or the flush, giving me 12 outs to win the hand figuring out to just under 1:4 pot odds if I was correct.
Turn: 8h 9h 3c 10s
The turn card came the 10s, giving me top pair and more outs to possibly win the hand. I checked to the preflop raiser once again to see how he would bet, giving me a chance to get out if he put in $200 or more. Rather, he simply checked, and I almost immediately put him on AK suited rather than the Queens I originally did. The player directly after him bet $100 and the button folded. Now it was up to me to decide what to do. I thought about it for only a short period of time, and thought that this new bettor was simply taking a stab at the pot since the preflop raiser decided to play weak. With $545 in the pot now, I had to do something to figure out where I was in the hand. I decided to check raise the player another $100, making it $200 for the preflop raiser to call. The preflop raiser flicked his cards, swore, and layed them down. The $100 bettor called the $100 raise.
The pot is now $845 and I realized that I needed to improve in order to win the hand. Then, like magic, the river came the 10c and I had top set. I went all in and had the other player covered. He had about $225 behind him, and I thought that he was on a little flush draw or had something simple like JJ. He reached for his chips and stated “Well, I guess we’re splitting the pot now aren’t we?” and I knew as soon as he said that I had missed something important.
River: 8h 9h 3c 10s 10c
Now, when I go back through this hand, which I lost to 6d 7d, I realize that I was virtually a victim of my own hand’s improvement over the course of the hand. Each street allowed me just enough odds to call, and kept making my hand look better and better. I believe that the only mistake I made was playing passively on the turn when I raised to just $200. I know that he still would have made the call, but had he not had the straight, and rather some other hand like JJ, I would have gotten him off of that hand. With $745 in the pot, it would have been dumb of just about anybody with more than 5 outs to fold their hand.
Final No Limit Holdem Poker Strategy Thoughts
So what am I going to do next time I play a hand like this? I will probably play it nearly the same way actually. The only things that I would change is not to give players as much credit for their preflop starting hands when they make an overcall, and I would also play the turn more aggressively. What are the odds that a player will have 67 next time? If I played the hand the exact same way that I just did, but completed my flush, I would have looked like a genius rather than be sitting here writing an article about whether I played the hand well or not.