Just back from Puerto Rico. The last time I was there the casinos offered only 5/10 Limit, but they have No-Limit now. Here's a hand that came up after about a two hours of play.
Blinds were 2/5. I have played bone-tight since I sat down, raising only one pot preflop, and folding all the rest. The game is filled with maniacs.
I open UTG with JJ. The first pocket pair I've seen. I raise to 30$. Everybody folds until it gets to the Big Blind--an older man with what looks like dyed red hair. He has played very tight so far--checkraising two maniacs out of a hand on the turn with a big bet and the Nut Full House several hands ago. Anyone else at the table, holding the same full house (Kings full of Jacks) would almost certainly have called the turn and hoped one of the maniacs hit their draws on the river, but Red Dye pushed hard--too hard--on 4th street, turning what should have been a 400$ pot into a 150$ pot. (In No Limit the real skill isn't in winning hands; it's in maximizing the amount you earn on the hands you do win).
I go into his backstory because his tightness should have affected my play in this hand. But I'm getting ahead of myself.
From out of the big blind, he now reraises to 60.00$. Several things go through my head:
1) Oh no! Not THIS guy.
2) Is there any hand he would reraise with that I can beat?
3) Why such a small raise?
Probably he has me beat. Maybe he has KK and is making a tester raise to see if I will come back over the top. Or, maybe he has AA and is just trying to juice the pot. Could he have AK? If it's me and I have AK, I just call an UTG bet from a tight player. But donkeys abound.
First big decision: call, fold, raise? I can't reraise with JJ. But I don't want to fold. His cheap reraise has given me a chance to see a flop and maybe hit a big hand. If he has does have AA and the flop comes J 4 2, is there any way he's going to be able to get away from the hand? I doubt it. He has 300$ behind, so I'm effectively getting better than 10-1 on my call.
The flop: Q 9 5, two clubs.
I'm not too worried about the Queen; there's no way this guy has reraised with AQ. If he has QQ, well, I was beat anyway.
I lead out, to see if he has a big pair, betting 100$. He thinks for 20 seconds or so and calls.
I think: if he had KK or AA, he would reraise. He must have either 10/10, J/J, or AK. AK makes the most sense; he's probably calling to hope to hit an A.
The turn is a 4. I go all-in (220$). He calls and tables AA.
So obviously I played the hand badly. I should have checked the turn. What threw me off is that Red Dye really was worried on the flop. He wasn't pretending to think; he really didn't know if he should call. I assumed that weakness meant he couldn't beat JJ; in other words, I assumed he would play the hand like I would play the hand. If I'm the one with AA there, I reraise the flop. He didn't--not because he was trapping, but because he was worried I might have a set of queens (I think). He knew how tightly I'd been playing thus far, and he was actually worried about his Aces.
It's an interesting hand only because it shows how much our opponents affect our play. If I'm heads-up in that same situation against a strong, pro-type player, I will immediately become afraid after he calls my flop bet. I know a strong player won't call with just AK, so I'm beat. But because everyone else at my table in Puerto Rico was playing loose and stupid (calling 50$ preflop bets with 8 2, e.g.) I assumed, subconsciously, that Red Dye was also loose and stupid. (It didn't help that he looked like he'd just broken out of a mental ward). I made an unwarranted assumption about his play, and it hurt me.
I also got hurt by not thinking more deeply about the table image I was projecting. Red Dye knows how tight I am; he can't believe I'm bluffing. Therefore, if he calls, he MUST have a good hand. Finally, I got hurt because of my own prejudices. I assumed that AA or KK would HAVE to raise that flop--because that's what most 'good' players would do. But everyone plays differently, and trying to make reads on people based on my opinions about how they SHOULD play is not ideal. Instead I need to try to think about how my opponents DO play. And that requires imagination.
In retrospect, I think the right line is to call pre-flop, thinking I'm probably beat, and then either check it down or make a small 1/2 pot-sized bet on the flop and if that gets called, check it down. It's possible that line forces me, against some opponents, to lay down the winning hand. But good players lay down good hands--winning hands, even--all the time. I was impatient and I didn't give my opponent enough credit. And that hurt me.
A decent player raises UTG. You are on the button with A7 of clubs. How many players do you need to call the UTG raise in front of you before you'll also call?
What do you all think?