I was playing really well yesterday. Mixing between tight and loose play as the table dictated and reading hands about as well as I ever have. The following hand is an example of one of the best reads I have ever made. I want you the reader to try to put myself and my opponent on hands. I was playing a pretty average game, which means I’m probably playing slightly loose and raising about 15% of my hands. I am in middle position and raise my standard 4x the BB. The small blind is the only caller. No real reads on the small blind, I thought he seemed a little loose but haven’t been at the table long enough to be sure of that read (he could just be getting good hands). The flop came down
5D 5S 7D
He checks, I do a continuation bet, he raises, I re-raise, he pushes all-in and I call. Now what are the hands?
I have As Jh
He had Ad 3d
Odds: I win 38.59% and tie 15.45%. He wins 45.96% and ties 15.45%
One of the biggest skills a winning poker player has is putting his opponents on a range and trusting his read. Here I do that but am still losing when the money goes in! When he re-raised me I thought his most likely hands were 88-1010, 68 or 46(usually diamonds), a random 5, or Axdd. I was pretty sure with a third bet I was folding out 88-1010 (representing a larger overpair) and that a push meant he had a draw. If he flat-calls he is more likely to have a 5 or a non-flush straight draw.
So given what I knew was it a good play? Well if he shows up with Ad3d every-time it’s a fair play, balance that against the occasional 5 the occasional naked bluff and the occasional 88-1010 and it’s pretty close. Honestly I don’t know why I decided he had to have a draw here, but I was pretty sure and I was correct, the problem is I was still losing! I mean the pre-flop raise and the continuation bet were > 7% of my stack so I played +EV poker on this hand, but I still think it’s a really marginal play. I simultaneously love my read and hate that I’m willing to risk a buy-in where I am best-case a coin flip, worst case drawing almost dead. I pride myself on playing fearlessly but this is getting very close to playing recklessly.
I think while you need to trust you reads and go with them, you also need to sometimes fold even if you think you have the best hand. If you are either slightly ahead or way behind it may just be best to let the hand go. And yes he spiked a 3 on the turn and won the hand, but I hope I would be just as hard on myself if I won the hand.