OK, kiddies, time for a test!
Don't worry, it's only for fun.
I witnessed a hand at the Palms tonight in which I thought one player's hand was perfectly obvious, but the other was a completely mystery. That doesn't happen often. See if you can figure it out better than I did.
I had only been playing for maybe 30 or 45 minutes when this occurred. Player A is a stereotypical rock, the oldest and tightest player at the table. He has the biggest stack at the table, starting this hand with about $1200. Player B is an enigma to me. He has won a good number of hands with large bets on the river that opponents are unwilling to call, so he has had to show almost nothing, which means that I don't have a good sense if he is a frequent bluffer. He doesn't handle himself like a pro, but is by no means new to the game. I suppose if I had to classify him at this point, I would have thought him either an experienced tourist or a better-than-average local--but, as I said, that wasn't based on seeing his showdowns, so I had a lot of room for doubt there. He started this hand with what looks like maybe $350.
Player A is under the gun (first to act). He puts in a raise to $18 in a $1-3 no-limit hold'em game. This is a little larger than this table's average opening raise, which has usually been $12-$15. This was the first time I had seen him put in a pre-flop raise. Everybody folds except for Player B, who is in the big blind. He seems fairly reluctant to make the call, but does. After this point, I don't have anything that I would consider a reliable physical tell on how either player behaves during the hand, so I'll just not say any more about that aspect of things.
The flop is 2-2-4 rainbow. Player B bets $10. A calls. The turn card is an offsuit K (suits are irrelevant here; I'll give you that much as a hint). B bets $20. A raises to $70. B calls. The river card is another 4, giving us a final board of 2-2-4-K-4. B checks. A goes all-in. B quickly calls.
This is the point at which I was so confident of A's hand that I even did something very rare for me: I pointed at him and announced his hand out loud before either of them had shown. I was right. But B was a mystery to me.
Take a minute and see what you think before scrolling down.
Player A had pocket kings, making kings full of 4s. His pre-flop raise presumably hoped to chase out any weak aces. He missed the flop, but B's pre-flop call was so tentative and his bet so small that A was naturally going to at least call and see what developed. Then he hit his gin card on the turn, making the best possible full house. That's when he turned up the heat on his opponent. When the river double-paired the board, he probably guessed that Player B had made a smaller full house and would call off all of his chips. He only had to fear pocket 2s and pocket 4s.
Player B had pocket 3s. You might want to read that again. Pocket 3s. On the river he called off over $200 in the hope that his Rock-of-Gibraltar opponent was just playing the board--because he could beat almost nothing else! If A had, maybe, A-Q, his 3s would be good, but that was just not a plausible scenario, and it was the only way he could have won the pot. I could have fallen off my chair when I saw what he had.
I've previously described what I thought was the worst call ever (see http://pokergrump.blogspot.com/2007/07/worst-call-ever-non-grumpy-content.html). This one is in contention for the same award. I have no idea what he was thinking. He sheepishly got up and left the game.
So how did you do? My guess is that nobody correctly named what Player B was holding--because he's a friggin' IDIOT, playing completely irrationally, and it's impossible to put such a player on a hand!
Thanks for taking our quiz.
As several commenters pointed out, in the original post I accidentally switched A and B in the middle of the hand. Oops. Sorry about that. When I started writing it I knew that was going to happen, because their order of acting was different before the flop and after the flop. I blew it anyway, in spite of warning myself not to! I've fixed it now.
Addendum, January 17, 2007
Another commenter today said that I still had things messed up between A and B. I checked, and he was right--I had them reversed in the answer section. Good grief. My apologies. Now it's correct.