Monday, May 10, 2010

I'll show you mine, you show me yours

By interesting coincidence, this afternoon at Planet Hollywood I encountered a situation in which I vountarily showed my cards, quite apart from the various circumstances and categories I mentioned in the post earlier today.

I had been at the table only about ten minutes, so was still figuring out who did what. But within my first couple of hands, I had easily spotted the most dangerous player at the table. He had obviously played a ton of poker, and had a mien of strong, quiet confidence about his play. The first hand I watched him play, I thought he was just trying to blow his opponent off of a hand, until he turned over the nuts. When I'm that far wrong about another player, it's a big red flag that I'm going to have to handle him carefully.

So, of course, that's who I am in the hand with when I have to make my first big decision. I have 8-9 offsuit in the small blind. There are three limpers ahead, so I join in, as does the big blind. Flop is Q-8-9, with two spades. (I have none.) I bet $8, about the size of the pot. It folds around to Mr. Dangerous, who raises to $20.

My choices here are to reraise or just call. Calling is pretty cheap, and gives me a pull at one of the four cards I would most like to see on the turn. However, it doesn't give me any more information, and if I don't hit one of those four cards, I'm going to have a problem on the turn: If I check and he bets, or if I bet again and he raises again, then what do I do? I won't be able to tell if he is just playing a top-pair hand (e.g., K-Q), two pair, a set, or a straight, and my decision will be both difficult and potentially expensive.

I decided instead to reraise. I thought that he was smart enough that he would not continue any one-pair hands past that point. If he flat-called, a draw would seem most likely--perhaps a combination straight and flush draw. If he reraised me back, I could then be highly confident that the minimum he had was a better two pair. Most likely in that scenario he would have flopped a straight, since my holding 8-9 made all of the two-pair combinations and sets less likely. (I assumed that a set of queens was basically out of the question, with no pre-flop raise.) Besides, I learned a long time ago that people have an abnormal fondness for J-10, and anytime the board makes that a strong hand, I am on the lookout for it being hidden away under somebody's card cap.

So I made it $60. (I had started the hand with nearly all of my original $300 buy-in.) He thought for about ten seconds before moving all-in. It would cost me about $130 more to call.

Just about the only hand that he could plausibly be holding that I would currently be beating was something like Q-10 of spades, giving him top pair, flush draw, and gutshot straight draw--and even if he had that, I'm not thrilled about getting a lot of money in with that many bullets to dodge twice. Furthermore, his radar on me is probably as alerted as mine is on him. If so, he would have to peg me for being solid enough to have a minimum of two pair with the reraise. Given that, his willingness to shove speaks volumes. Most likely I have four outs, and it might be just two. In fact, should he have 9-9, I'd be drawing virtually dead. Not a good spot.

I stuck with my plan and folded. But I thought it was worth seeing if I could get some confirmatory information out of him. For the reasons explained in my earlier post, I don't like to verbally request somebody to show. Once in a while, though, I will silently invite it by showing my own hand. This was one such occasion.

I turned my cards in to the dealer face up. I didn't fire them in with anger or frustration, or make any face or sigh that would tend to say, "I just want you all to see how screwed I got in this hand." I have no respect for that kind of pathetic, sympathy-seeking display, and wouldn't think somebody else would either.

It worked. He nodded my way and flashed his J-10 before mucking. I gave the table a couple of quick knuckles in acknowledgement. I was pleased to learn that my read on him was better than it had been in the first hand I had watched him play. I thought I got the more valuable side of this information exchange.

I like that kind of transaction. This may not be rational, but I'm much more inclined to reciprocate, just as Mr. Dangerous did today, to a silent revelation than I am to somebody who verbally makes the request. I'm not entirely sure why, but the former seems more mutually respectful to me. It doesn't always work, being on the initiating side, but I don't think I'm giving away too much in the attempt.


matt tag said...

you do give something away, but that something may be a good thing, too. Your opponent now things "this guy is good enough to lay down two pair", and might be now referring to you as Mr. Dangerous. He might now look elsewhere at the table for his mark.

Anonymous said...