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Difference Between Average And Advanced Players in Their Thinking while Play

The Dreaded Four Straight

Overview: In a $10-$20 game, a player in the middle position has

A player in an early position limps in, another player folds, and our player raises. The big blind (normally weak player) and the limper call the raise. The flop comes:

The player in the big blind bets this time. The limper then calls. Our player raises. The player in the big blind here calls and the limper folds. The turn comes:

The big blind checks, our player bets and the big blind calls. The river is:

The big blind paused for few minutes and checks.

Average player's thoughts: What a dreadful card! Any ten would have given me a straight. In this case I will simply check.

Advanced player's thoughts: That the card games in the river that is queen can give me straight, but it is so obvious. He is not a very imaginary player but he knows that I see it. If he actually has the straight he would that if he tried for a check-raise I'd just check behind him. He will bet out if he did have that. I doubt that he is been calling on one pair, perhaps ace-little. His paused would have meant that he thought for a moment about trying to bet me off of my hand. But he likely decided there was too much risk of a raise, and he just wanted to show it down cheaply. My hand is good. I'll bet for value and probably make money on this hand.

Comments: We can figure of what your rival is thinking. As the example shows, average players don't do this enough. The average player plays his cards. He doesn't try to put any efforts to look into his rival's mind.
Observe that if the advanced player were playing against another advanced player he would have had to consider checking. This is fairly because he would reason, "He knows that I would expect him to bet if he did have the straight. And he knows that if he checks I may conclude he does not have it and may bet for value. So he may have it and might be going for a check-raise."

This was a hand I found in my old notes from past sessions. I played the hand not long after I had moved up from $6-$12 to $10-$20. Though I was not certainly bad advanced player, I did have an advanced thought future in my career.

A Multi-Purpose Semi-Bluff Raise

The game is $20-$40. Pre-flop, everyone passes to our player who is one off the button. He holds:

so he raises. The button, fairly weak-tight player calls cold. The small blind, a normally tight, conservative, straight forward player makes it three bets. The big blind folds and both active players call. Now the flop comes:

The small blind bets, our player calls, as does the button. The turn is

The small blind again bets out.

Average player's thoughts: That ten does not change much. Perhaps someone could have a straight, but it gives me some straight outs. I'm particularly trying for a flush. I'll call again and hope I get there.

Advanced player's thoughts: This pot is big enough. It is about to that point where I need to increase my chance of winning it, and that ten really changes things for me. From their pre-flop play, there is some reason to think that either of these players has an eight, so it is doubtful they may have a straight. But I can use this straight board to apply more pressure with a semi-bluff raise. Again, I have three extra outs now which will be good if they hit. That makes the semi-bluff more correct. As significant, if the player behind me has a jack for a gut shot draw, my raise might make him fold, giving me the full pot (instead of just half) if an eight comes on the river. Likewise, if he is calling with overcards and has an ace with a better kicker than mine, then if I can knock him out I'll be likely to win more if I only hit an ace on the river. Then I'll raise.

Comments: This is another example where the average player does not consider thinking about elements. Pot size, the surface of the flop, reading hands (not just the board), reading the other players' potential thoughts, and other factors inform the advanced player's decision. The more thoroughly you can think through a poker problem without wasting time on insignificant considerations, the more likely you are to come to the right conclusion.

This was the other hand removed from my notes. The result of the hand was that I caught an ace on the river to beat the small blind's

The player on the button argued that I had raised him off of

So the raise did make me win the pot.

Maximizing the Set

Overview: In this example, under the gun a player in a semi tough game holds

He raises and is re-raised by a tight but aggressive player immediately behind him. Everyone folds. The flop comes

Average player's thoughts: A set. I think I can slow-play it till the turn which might give me maximum profit.

Advanced player's thoughts: This player would three-bet me before the flop with AA, KK, QQ or AK. That figures he has one of the high pairs. I want to maximize what I make on the hand on those events that he does have the overpair. That's where the real profit potential is here. If I can get him to misread my hand and give excessive action with an overpair, then I can make more than if I were to slow-play and give away my hand. His aggression should let me to do that. The best playing many hands I think would be bet out, hoping that he will put me on a hand like:

or a draw like

Then if he raises, I will re-raise and he'll either raise again or maybe even just call, intriguing to raise me on the turn. If he raises again on the flop, I will only call, then later I can try to check-raise on the turn. If he just calls, (on the flop) I'll bet into him on the turn as he expects me to, so that he can raise and I can make it three bets.

Comments: A standard approach is used by the average player to the hand which, while not really bad, fails to achieve maximum profit. The advanced player adjusts to the individual player and situation he deals with, thinking about ways to extract more money from the hand. He would have selected some different approach, perhaps even the same as the average player selected, against a less aggressive rival, or with a different flop. The important thing is that he thinks ahead in more detail than the average poker player. He takes into account his rival's possible actions at various levels in the hand, planning further an order of actions made to exploit them.

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