Saturday, April 14, 2007


Ironically, it's not as hard to read good players as it is to read a bunch of incompetents.

If they don't know what they're doing, how can you know what they're doing...?
-Dave "Devilfish" Ulliott

One of the perverse things that I like about poker is the way that people completely mis-understand what's going on, then luck out and look like geniuses. It's a never-ending story with a never-ending pool of contestants. And even though I have been on the end of such "bad beats" I've come to look at these as amusing.

Someone recently said something that I thought made perfect sense; as long as you're making correct decisions, that's all that counts.

So it was, oh dear reader, that your willing subject in this mad experiment was playing this home game that I visit occasionally. I ended up with about 4 playable hands in about 3 hours. Needless to say I busted and re-bought about 3 times because I picked my spots and went in - of those 4 playable hands only one held up, and it was a four flush on the flop caught on the river!

The one fairly constant thing all night was that I was having trouble putting peeps on hands. What made it particularly confusing is when I would see a hand called down and the winning hand would come down as middle pair from out of position but played much, much differently.

But one hand stands out as a PERFECT example of what I'm talking about, and yes, dear reader, your willing writer was the subject - and object - of its foil. O, crueldad, su nombre es burros...

So it's someone in early position, me in middle position, Dave behind me; 2 other players mucked in a 5-handed table. I've a medium Ace, everyone checks to me. I raise 4 times the big blind. Dave calls, as does the third. We go into the flop three-handed. Perfecto. So far.

Flop: Q A 3 rainbow. Third player checks, I bet out - this time about half the pot. Dave calls. Third folds.

Me thinking to myself: ?!

Turn - rag. Check check.

River - rag.

Now I'm thinking, he's got pocket Queens and thus trips?!?!?! No! If he had pocket Q's, he would have re-raised pre-flop, wouldn't he have, just to eliminate players like me, who have AQ, AJ, A10... or KQ, KJ, K10...! (Pocket 3's is eliminated because of my pre-flop raise).

So I think he can't possibly have pocket Q's, therefore I have him and his pocket J's, pocket 10's, etc., beat or I have a shot at his medium Ace, because who in their right mind is going to call a pre-flop raise of 3 times the big blind with Q-rag??? And with pocket Q's he would have re-raised pre-flop.


Me: All in.
Dave: I call.
Me: You got an Ace?
Dave: I've got two pair.
Me: HUH???

It was then, oh dear reader, that Dave turned over his puny Q3.

Needless to say I busted, but it was a very cogent lesson in reading, or in this case, how hard it is to put bad players on hands. But I added a perverse twist to it all: I mis-read and thus lost because I gave Dave too much credit, in other words, I forgot that he doesn't know what he's doing, and put him on a medium pair or at best pocket J's because of his pre-flop callsand post-flop checks.

In other words, Dave won because he simply got lucky - any player with even a basic knowledge would not go into a pot with a 3XBB raise with Q3.

It is pretty funny, tho. I gave Dave crap all night about it, and now he lives in infamy in blogville...