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Thinking About What They're Thinking

I played a hand about which I noted down some few years ago. Recalling it, I found that it served to explain the essential part of thinking about what your rivals are thinking as you play. It was in a $15-$30 game in which many players and I were playing "overs" (hence it became $30-$60 game when only overs players were in the pot). A little earlier in that session, in which several rivals were occasional players who were not very familiar with my play, a hand had come up which would further encourage my play in the hand. I had picked up pocket kings in the big blinds. Many players were involved and there had been a re-raise by the time the action got to me. I restricted my betting at four bets. I then check-raised on the flop, was called down by one player, and won the pot in the showdown.

I was faced with

in the big blind. Two players limped, a third player raised, and three more players called the raise cold. (This does not seems to be a good game. The pre-flop play action in this and the previous hand had been something of an inconsistency.) Thinking that the limpers would possibly call two more bets cold, I choose to make it three bets.

I did this in the expectation of tying players onto the pot if I get my set and as variation in my play to keep the readers tilted. Every one called.
The flop came:

I considered betting out for one moment, trying to steal he pot by representing the strong hand (for example AA or AK) that my pre-flop re-raise had suggested. Though a case could be made for such a bet in some games, in my evaluation, against this particular lineup, it was terrible. There are many active rivals, some of whom were loose. Also with that many online poker players there was a strong chance someone held at least an ace or a big heart. As this was an overs pot I couldn't check and call either. The pot contributed about $320 (seven players in for three $15 bets pre-flop plus a part of the small blind deducting the house drop), but the bet on the flop would be $30, giving me only about 12-to-1 pot odds on a 23-to-1 shot, with one of my "outs" actually giving me only a draw.

After a little while, I realized however, that a check from me would look completely consistent with how I had played when I check raised with the two kings out of the small blind. Perhaps these players were "smart" enough to check along and avoid the check-raise that I appeared to be "planning" again. Then might be the free card I would get would be a lucky five. Though the five of hearts would give me only a draw that was a draw I wanted to have. Hence I checked, and to my contentment everyone did check along with me. The turn was:

Cut out the plan about a five:
I certainly knew if I checked again two things would happen:
1. The other players would decide I didn't have anything and
2. Someone would surely bet - there were some aggressive players in the game - forcing me to fold.

But everything was not lost. In addition to their fear of a check-raise, everyone checking on the flop also helped the possibility that no one has much of a hand. If now I bet, it would be fair with the high starting hand I suspected my rivals thought I had. If everyone was weak, I might just be able to steal this pot with my little low pair. As this was overs pot I had to bet $60 and so was getting only a little better than 5-to-1 pot odds. But the bigger bet would also be taken more seriously, and would likely shut out anyone who might otherwise think of calling with something less than an ace or a big heart I bet and got just one caller, little better than the average player who I put on the king or queen of hearts. The river was six, thankfully with a diamond. I bet again, and my rival thought a bit and folded, giving me the $440 pot.

Can I say for sure that it succeeded because I acted on the basis of what the other players were putting me on, and what they thought I was doing? No. Though I suspected that some of the players were paying attention to relate my play to the earlier hand with the pocket kings, others may have been unaware to such a history. It may be that they did not have anything. I might have been "bluffing with the best reading poker hands."

By considering what they were thinking, I invested my whole money for having maximum opportunity. If you invest in a good situation with good hands, instead of bad ones, you will be able to win a lot of money.

Continue Here: Out On The Edge

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