One thing I enjoy as much as playing poker, if not more, is performing post-mortem analysis on my game and analysing hands away from the table. I think that it’s crucial to do this if you want to improve your game. Yesterday I played 2-5 at the Horseshoe, and here is a discussion of my most interesting hand.

The Villain, V, is to my immediate right. Super aggressive and has been caught bluffing a few times in the last couple of orbits. In the 10 minutes I’ve been at the table, his stack went from over $3k to about $950. My image is pretty tight, as I’ve been completely card dead. I recently folded to a 4 bet after I 3 bet with TT on a 783 board. I didn’t show my cards, but it was clear that I made a big laydown, and V was paying attention. Table is very active with lots of raises and 3 bets pre-flop.

I have about $950, same as V.

EP raise to $20, and 2 callers, including V. I have 89 and call.

Flop: 586

Check, check, V bets $45

I think he is leading out here with an extremely wide range. Overpair is unlikely because he would have raised pre-flop. I have top pair and a straight-flush draw, which has to be way ahead of his range. I think he might re-raise me light if I raise, which is exactly what I want. I haven’t seen him bet and fold to a raise, and he’s been involved in many pots. He’s trying to bully the table.

I raise to $125. Fold, fold, and V re-raises to $350.

Okay, I guess this is what I expected, but I need to examine his range more carefully

Overpair: I think this is unlikely, but I need to reconsider it with this raise. If he has an TT-AA, then I have 9 flush outs, 3 straight outs (not double counting 7d), two 8s and three 9s. That’s 17 outs with two cards to come. So, I’m actually way ahead, and I should shove so that I see 2 cards if he calls. If he has 99, then that kills 3 of my outs, but it’s still a shove.

Set: If he has a set, then I have 12 outs, and I have to avoid the board pairing, unless I hit the 7. I definitely need to see both the turn and the river, so I need to shove or fold, and given the money already in the pot, it’s probably a wash.

Flush draw: I know he can’t have a pair and a flush draw, since I have the 8, and the other cards on the board are diamonds. So, if he has a flush draw, let’s put him on a flush draw and 2 overcards. In that case, he has 7 flush outs and 6 overcard outs, which is 13 outs twice. So we are about even, and with dead money in the pot, I can’t fold, so I have to shove. If he has a flush draw with a low card, like, A3, then I’m in even better shape and should shove for sure.

A straight: If he has 47, then a 7 gives me a higher straight, so I have 12 outs. If he has 79, then I have 9 outs and 3 chop outs, call it 10.5 full outs. I have to figure that if I miss the turn, he is betting big, and I won’t get to see the river, so if I’m going to play, I have to assume we’re playing for stacks. My plays are to shove or fold. This is pretty borderline. If 47 and 79 are equally likely, then on average, I have around 11 outs. That’s about 40% to hit, with plenty of dead money. Important to note that this scenario (that he hit a straight) is the most unlikely one.

Two pair: I have exactly the same outs as if he has an overpair, unless he has an 8. So I should shove. If he has 86 or 85, then the remaining 8 is not an out for me, but this is unlikely all around and only discounts me by 2 outs from the overpair scenario. Shove.

Bluff: I think a bluff is not unlikely here. This is the same betting pattern where he saw me fold to a couple of minutes earlier, and he may be trying to bully me. In this case a shove will take it down, but he probably wasn’t putting more in anyway. He could also be bluffing with overcards, so shoving protects my hand, which is highly vulnerable despite all my outs.

Before I make the final decision, is it worth thinking about what range he puts me on? I don’t think so. This guy seems to be a level one player, looking only at his own cards, and I doubt he did a range analysis before raising. He thought about his play for less than a second. Regardless, I can never fold here.

So, I shoved, and he insta called, which I wasn’t thrilled to hear. The board came J Q. I said, “I missed,” and turned over my hand. He turned over 7T, and I won a huge pot.

Let's look at the hand from his perspective. He flopped an open ender and a flush draw. That's a monster flop. His analysis (had he done any - he actually played with no thought or hesitation) would have been almost the same as mine. I think the way this played out was inevitable.

Many poker players that I know will think, "

*I have a straight-flush draw so I'm going all the way with this hand.*" That might work some of the time, but I think what makes you a better player is to go through the analysis, as much as possible at the table, and then more away from the table, to really understand why you make whatever play you make. Sometimes, you might find that the play you thought was obvious is actually wrong. That happens to me all the time.