A really unusual tournament hand…

by Lou on January 13, 2007

I ran into a really rare betting pattern at the ESCARGOT fixed-limit hold’em tournament that’s held every January at the Bicycle Casino in Los Angeles.

I picked up pocket aces in early position and came in raising. The player to my immediate left reraised, making it three bets to go. I didn’t know him, and had no line on his game.

No one else called and I capped the wagering by making it four bets, and he called without hesitation.

The flop was J-T-9 of mixed suits, which didn’t exactly thrill me. I knew my hand was vulnerable to a straight. The good news was that I only had one opponent to worry about, not a whole gaggle of them.

Because my opponent reraised before the flop and called my last bet without any delay, it was hard to put him on two pair. I figured him for an overpair to the flop, or maybe A-K, though the former seemed more likely.

Q-Q was dangerous because it would give him a straight draw. Any eight, any king, or any of the two remaining queens would doom me. I also thought he might have K-K, and was hoping he did, because that left me in a dominating position. I don’t think T-T and 9-9 were likely hands since he probably would not have reraised before the flop with them. Nevertheless, because I had not played against this opponent before, I couldn’t completely discount the possibility.

I was not a happy camper, so I bet to get additional information about how my hand stacked up against his. He raised, and I called, although I considered junking my hand at that point.

I also wondered what he thought I was holding. Because I made it four bets to go before the flop, I was essentially playing my hand face up. His raise on the flop told me that he believed he could beat any hand I had, including A-A or K-K, which is what he would assume I was holding given my betting pattern before the flop.

If he had two pair, which I thought unlikely, I was still alive. To my way of thinking, all signs pointed to a pair of queens in his hand, which would give him an overpair and a straight draw.

If he had a pocket pair of queens, he raised as a semi-bluff, or thought I had A-K, A-Q or A-J and believed that he was ahead.

The next card was an eight, which sealed my fate. I checked and folded my aces when he bet. During this hand I capped the betting before the flop, raised the flop, and folded on the turn. You don’t see that betting pattern every day, but it seemed logical under the circumstances.

It turned out that my read was spot-on, because he showed me Q-Q while the pot was being pushed in his direction.

Things aren’t all that bad if you get off of a results-oriented perspective. After all, I raised the maximum during the two betting rounds that I held the best hand, and folded on the turn when I knew I was beaten and had no redraw to a better hand.

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