1. My read on the player was that he was tight, even nitty. He wasn't a young stud; he didn't seem capable of making boldly creative plays. Going on that, I put him on either QQ, JJ, 10/10, AQ, or AK. Those are the hands that someone who plays his style would have opening UTG. I don't think he had AA or KK because, given his style, he would have reraised my button raise pre-flop. I also don't think he had a smaller pair because, given his style he wouldn't have raised UTG, he would have limped.
What that meant was that after the flop (10 J Q) I was almost certainly behind. The only hand in his range that I beat was AQ. For everything else, he had either flopped a set or made the nuts. Again, given his style, I thought his opening check suggested a strong hand. Most average touristy-type players will generally check huge hands on the flop, hoping to check-raise. (This, by the way, is one reason I generally advocate leading out with a big hand. Paradoxically, it often disguises the strength of your hand). I felt, given my read, that my check was the right play. If he had any of the hands I put him on, a bet would only amp a pot he was winning. And if he had a set, I might unwittingly force myself to fold. Since I had an up and down straight draw, seeing a free card could only help. Right?
Yes and no. The problem with the 9 (the turn card) was that it might have made me the second-best hand. I'm beating a set, of course, but I'm still losing to AK. And the more I studied this dude the more I believed he had AK. Then, he lead out--for 200$. Again, what hand could he do this with? An eight? Well, maybe--but I didn't think he'd called my preflop raise with 88, much less opened with it. A set? Again, possible, but I thought he would check a set or two pair, hoping to improve to a full house, or at least see a cheap river. The fact that the 9 gave the board two spades lead me to believe he was betting to protect a flush draw.
I could have called here, of course. But 200$ was almost half of my stack, and I didn't see the point of a call. What was I going to do if I called and he shoved the river? What was I going to do if the board paired? The turn is often the point where you commit yourself (or not) to getting all your chips in. That's why I try not to call large bets there. Here it seemed like, if I called, I would be committing myself to getting all my chips in. And, as I said, my read was that he had AK. It hurts, but sometimes you have to fold the second-nuts. Which is what I did (after a lot of agonizing).
2) My read here was that the player on the button was tight, and when he reraised I was worried. He had called me preflop on the button--not raised. To me that meant he couldn't have KK. QQ was possible, but wouldn't he just call my flop bet with QQ, worried that I might have him beat? (I had played very tight to that point, and I had, after all raised from very early position). The raise worried me. Again, I don't see the point of me calling here. Either I'm way ahead, or way behind. There are no draws to speak of; if he has QQ he's probably going to call a shove here (assuming he thinks it's good enough to raise with). If he has a set, he's going to bet the next two streets, and, again, I'm going to get further and further into a pot. To my sometimes detriment, I try to play raise and fold poker much as possible. Calling is always my least favorite option. So, convinced that the player had a set of 4s or 10s, I folded. Because good players make good laydowns... Right?
The first player did indeed have AK. Everyone was impressed by my fold (I had showed my neighbor my kings). I was elated: I felt like I had just saved myself 500$. Because in poker, it's not that hands you win, it's the hands you don't lose.... (Postscript: the same player got all his money in against me an hour later with two pair to my nut flush, and drew out on me on the river to win a 500$ pot. Oh well).
The second player had KK. He had decided to trap me before the flop by merely calling raise, figuring I had QQ or JJ and would go broke on a board of low cards. A situation where his unorthodox play totally fooled me, though not in the way he intended. I just did not put him on KK--I assumed he would reraise that hand preflop with two players in the pot already (and one a maniac). Had I gone all-in, he would have called in a heartbeat and I would have won (assuming it held up) a big, big pot.
The problem with having 1000$ behind you. You have to be willing to make big laydowns, and sometimes they are bad ones.
So, one good laydown and one bad one. Oh well.