It Takes a Thief to Catch a Thief

Posted: November 14, 2006 in Accolades, General

This is an accolade to Luke for a great read and subsequent play to take the pot.

This is how the hand went down. Luke was the button in a 7-handed round of pot-limit hold’em. It is folded round to myself, two seats off the button and I call. Luke raises, Shane in small blind calls, the big blind folds and I call. The flop comes down K, 5, 2 rainbow. Shane and I check and Luke bets £3. Shane raises and makes it £6. Then I raise to make it £12 to play. Check-raised by two players? After a while, Luke calls and Shane folds. The turn is a T. I make it £20 to play. After what seemed like an eternity, Luke goes all-in for another £47. After some consideration, I fold and he takes the pot.

What did I have? K3s. What did Luke have? He said he had KQ on the night and T9s the day after. Either way, it was a gutsy move to go all-in.

When Shane raised Luke’s flop bet, I suspected that one or both of them were stealing and if either of them had a hand, it was a mediocre one. My re-raise was intended to drive out the mediocre hand, especially a pair of Ks with a better kicker; and as my kicker was a 3 and there was a 2 on the board, any card would have been a better kicker. If I was re-re-raised, I would have regarded that a sign of true strength and got away from the hand. In hindsight, I think I may have tried to be too clever for my own good, the medium-sized re-raise was intended to look like a sucker raise to get more chips into the pot. Maybe a pot-sized raise would have worked, and if indeed Luke had T9s, he would have not bothered.

The problem was that Luke knew that I suspected that himself and Shane were on a steal, and was likely to be on a steal myself. I may have a hand better than his but it would not have been one I could call a all-in raise with. And that was the move to give him the best chance of taking the pot.

It is instructional to remember when your bluffs work and also when they do not work. I would like to think that I can spot bluffing opportunities and take advantage of them, but this hand (and a hand in the previous week) suggest that I may be signaling my bluffs. They say you can’t lie to yourself, but in poker, often the easiest person to fool is yourself.

What Luke did was put himself in my place and ask himself, what would I do in this situation – not what would he do, but what would I do. This is the essence of poker – to know how your opponents thinks and then make them do what you want, whether it’s to fold, raise or call. I thought I was doing that with re-raise, but got outplayed. If only I had the insight to know that he knew that I knew they were on a steal, maybe then…

So, kudos to Luke for the read and for having he conviction to risk his entire stack on it.

  1. fLuke says:

    Thanks for the write-up Alb.

    For the record I was genuinely playing T9s (hearts I believe). I’ve got into the habit of automatically claiming completely different hands to the ones I hold to throw-off anyone silly enough to believe me. In retrospect on the way home I thought I’d come clean, as was pretty proud of my all-in move and that holding just makes it all the ballsier.


    Ps. By the way, it should be said that in two of the four hands preceding this move I pulled some suck-outs of Mike Ho proportions, catching three or four outers both times to chop pots that I really should have given away hefty stacks on. Sorry Mike and Pammy, looks like luck was on my side that time!

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