What could he have?

During a live tournament recently I was involved in a hand after the rebuy period was over. I had somewhere near $15,000 chips, and the average was probably closer to $23,000. From the cutoff a ‘creative’ aggressive player opened for $1,600 with the blinds at $300-$600. I decided he could have a huge variety of hands, but thought it was unlucky he had AQ, AK, or a high pocket pair. He was more likely to have a hand from A4 and up, K8 and up, or something like QJ or 910. The button called and I called the extra $1000 from the big blind with KQ of diamonds.

The flop came out Q 4 A and I checked. It checked around, and the turn was another A. I checked again, hoping to induce a bet from one of my opponents. I knew the original raiser did not have an ace, as he would have most likely bet out on the flop. When he checked again on the turn I knew I had him beat. The button checked again and the river showed an 8, so the board was: Q A 4 A 8

I checked again, just hoping to pick off a small bluff or maybe a bet from an 8, and it checked the button who immediately bet out $5,000. The pot was right around $5,000 as well, but this was a pretty hefty bet for the hand being checked around, and I decided the button was either a) bluffing at the pot, b) betting out his pair of 8s or Qs, or c) finally betting his set of aces.

I quickly disregarded the first option. This player wasn’t prone to throwing out huge bluffs, and he certainly didn’t have enough chips to convince himself it was worth it. The second option didn’t seem likely either. Why would he bet so large last to act when he could simply check and see if his hand held up.

The best option seemed to be the ace. I thought back to the preflop action and it seemed all the more likely he would have an ace from the cold call he made of the original raiser’s bet. I looked at the button player and noticed how calm and relaxed he was, and he was actually talking to the player next to him, about nothing! Why did this stand out to me? When a player wants a call really badly, what does he do? He acts uninterested, and that’s exactly what he was doing to a tee. He had just thrown out $5,000 chips and was talking about nonsense with his friend.

I thought about it and then did my last analysis: my own chip stack. I had around $13,000 left, and a $5,000 call would seriously hurt if he did have the ace, and it didn’t seem worth it risk/reward-wise. I finally folded and the original raiser went into the tank. He eventually folded, face up, the same hand I had! I respect that player’s game, and I imagine he came the same conclusion as me when he folded KQ.

Lastly, as the winner was scooping the pot he looked at both cards again, almost longingly, and showed one: the 10 of spades… When a player looks at his cards again after a hand that people folded he is usually wishing he had gotten called. And showing the 10 of spades was just the cherry on top. I guess the idea is to lend a little mystery to what he was holding, but more or less it simply confirmed that he had an ace, and now I knew his kicker!

Good luck!

I've been playing poker for almost four years now (well before it was legal for me, woops!) Besides poker I enjoy playing the guitar and I'm very enthusiastic about pursuing Dentistry as a career. I'm currently at The Ohio State Univeristy studying Microbiology, living with three of my close friends. I'm dating a lovely girl from Australia and am looking forward to the oppurtunity to study abroad over there as well.

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