Playing the Hand

I played some $1-2 No Limit Hold’em over the weekend and had only one hand that really was noteworthy. Yes that means I was one for one in showdowns. I played about two hours and only had a single hand that required that I show my hand. I played my typical tight aggressive style that is just a little too aggressive and quite a bit too tight.

After about an hour, I was in the cut off position and was dealt QJ and had not looked at my cards. The under the gun player, a rather solid player, limped in for $2 and everyone folded around to me and I looked down at my hand and made the call. The button and small blind folded and three of us saw a flop of J 6 4. The big blind and the under the gun both checked and I bet $7. The big blind quickly folded and the under the gun player quickly called.

I am always a little bit leery of under the gun limpers if they are solid players. This player had not played a hand under the gun all night and he rarely limped into pots. These players often limp with big hands in hopes of re-raising the aggressive players behind them. My second thought was he might be limping with a small pocket pair hoping to flop a set. Either way I really do not like a pot sized check call from a solid player on the flop.

The turn card was an ace and my opponent quickly checked. I paused for about seven seconds and checked. I could see no obvious draw and I was playing heads up against a solid opponent and I had a single pair so I chose to keep the pot small.

The river card was a 9 that appeared to be a blank. My opponent came right out with a bet of $16 which was almost pot sized. I took a little more time on this decision. I made my analysis of the range of hands my opponent could hold and did not really like the results.

I thought about hands like pocket aces or kings and tried to dismiss them because he limped in before the flop. I could easily see him playing pocket sixes or fours like this. I thought he may have floated the flop with little or nothing and caught the ace on the turn. I really did not think he held a hand like 75 or 53 the only obvious drawing hands. I was just about to fold my hand based upon my hand range analysis when I noticed he was a little agitated and seemed concerned that I was thinking of calling.

I remembered a hand he had played earlier when he made an oversized bet on the river and was totally stone still while he waited for his opponent to call. He turned over a huge hand and took down the pot. This hand did not seem to be the same. I started to think about the size of the bet and decided it was an odd bet. He typically went all in with the nuts and also made larger than pot size bluffs. I saw him make one value bet that was less than half the pot size on the river but I was struggling with this bet.

I thought to myself that I was about 50% on making this call. I needed to call $16 to win $34 and immediately made the call based upon my belief that I would lose half the time.

I was surprised when my opponent turned over his hand and showed JT. I unintentionally slow rolled my opponent because I was stunned by the hand he showed. My opponent who had played very solid for the entire hour I had watched played this hand extremely weak.

I can honestly say it was my read of his physical behavior that lead me to make the call. I am sure a different sized bet would have helped me fold my hand. I took a few extra seconds and spent a little more time on my analysis and changed my mind from folding to making an extremely thin call.

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