Hand Analysis

Want to get inside my head at the felt? Here’s your chance! From time to time, I will post an interesting, pivotal, or just plain fun hand from my recent play. I will provide as much analysis on the hand as I can, from what I was thinking at the time, to what I think of the play now, and will I do anything differently moving forward. I make no declaration of being a poker expert, and I’m sure that many of you will just flat ask why I would even play some of the hands that I will dissect. That’s totally cool. I just enjoy talking about hand dynamics: good, bad, and everything in between. But beware, once you’re in, you may never get out!


Anatomy of a Punt

All too often when players bust out of a tournament they talk about how they got sucked out on, or they lost a flip. This past weekend at the Running Aces Big Stack Avalanche I busted 3 shy of the money, and it was not a bad beat. I made several mistakes in a hand that played WAY bigger than was necessary and thought you all might like to enjoy reading about my mistakes…

Level 18 1/3/6k blinds, 8 handed, 32 players remain, 27 paid. First hand back from break, I’m the small blind with 320k. Action folds to the button, Nick Olson who finished the tournament in 10th, who raises to 14k out of his 260k stack. I had played with Nick for over half of my Day 1, and we had been at the same table all of Day 2. Prior to this event, I do not recall having played with him at all. My impressions of him were that he is a fairly decent rec player, doesn’t get out of line too much, bets his hands, folds draws to pressure, avoids big pots versus perceived stronger opponents. On Day 1 we were on opposite ends of the table and I was able to really watch how he was playing but didn’t really get to talk to him much. On Day 2, sitting next to one another, we had a lot of opportunity to talk poker, our poker history, and my feeling about his game became reinforced. For the most part, Nick didn’t really engage with me unless he had a REALLY big hand, this will be important to remember.

When Nick raises to 14k it raised my interest a little bit. Up until that point, Nick had been opening for 3x and higher, even when folded to him on the button. The fact that he only raised this time to 2.33x should’ve had me thinking MORE about what was different about his range this time. Unfortunately I didn’t. Instead I just looked at my holdings expecting to throw away weak cards, or 3 bet with a strong hand. I looked at the [9c][7c] and thought: “he’s only been playing big hands against me, this hand can flop really well, and if it does, I can probably bust him” so I just called and the big blind folded. This was another missed opportunity to change how the hand played. Missing the change in bet sizing didn’t alarm me as much as it should’ve. If it had, and I had taken the time to think about what it meant, this would’ve been a great spot for me to 3 bet out of position. His lower opening bet size means one of two things: he either has an extremely big hand that he wants to get value out of so he lowers the bet size to entice the blinds in, or his holding is weaker than normal and he wants to minimize his exposure while still playing with the advantage of having position. If I 3 bet here, yes I may be giving up some equity with a hand that can flop well, but it forces a less experienced opponent to define his range against me, making any future decisions easier.

So with 42k in the pot we see a flop of [7s][9s][8c]. The order of these shouldn’t matter, but in this case it does as it plays in to more of my mistakes. As the flop was being spread from left to right, Nick is in the 1 seat, I am in the 2 seat, the door card is the [7s]. Normally I don’t watch a flop as it comes out, I like to watch my opponent, but for some reason I watched the flop. As soon as the 7 registered in my brain I started thinking about how the next card could affect how big my hand had become and that as long as the cards weren’t broadway cards, I was going to have a hammerlock on the hand. As the [9s] was revealed, my brain instantly thought “I am going to bust him as long as there is not a 3rd spade”. The final [8c] registered in my head as a non threatening card. WHAT?!?! While yes I flopped 2 pair with a back door flush, the 8 should’ve screamed at me to proceed with caution. Instead, all that registered was that it wasn’t a spade, and it gave me the back door flush. I was giddy to check so that I could raise over the expected c-bet, which Nick obliged with of 24k. I continued to play the hand poorly by not thinking about anything other than he probably was c-betting with either an overpair or a big flush draw. I had already determined that I was going to raise when he bet, but I hadn’t considered how much yet, now I started to think about it, but not as much as I should have. I had a brief thought of just calling the bet to ensure no flush card hit the turn, but at this point, all I was concerned with was how I was going to get him to commit all of his chips. I thought if I shoved, he was going to fold, so I needed to raise an amount that looked like I was pushing a flush draw if he had an overpair, or if he had the flush draw with overs combo, would entice him to try and shove me out. I settled on 84k into the 66k pot. My opponent quickly shoved, and since that is what I was hoping for, I snap called. He flipped over the [10h][6s]. OOPS! The board did not improve my hand, but the runout is worth mentioning as it will help shape further discussion. The [8s] turn definitely would have slowed me down if I had just called the flop bet. I don’t exactly remember the river card, but I believe it was the [Kh], I know it was a red face card though, which again would’ve kept me from committing a bunch of chips.

So, there is SOOOOO much wrong with this hand, much of which I have already touched on briefly, but I want to recap all of it and the easiest way to do that I think is to list the mistakes in chronological order…

  1. Pay attention. At the beginning of the hand I had been in a conversation spilling over from the break and wasn’t really paying attention to the action. Following along as everybody folded wouldn’t have necessarily changed much of my analysis, but it would’ve gotten my mind in the right place to actually DO the analysis. Instead, I just payed attention when it was my turn to act, barely registering the change in my opponent’s opening bet sizing, then making incomplete and poor assumptions about what it meant.
  2. Pre-flop call. It’s not the worst decision, but I also believe it was not the optimal decision. All too often players are too passive from the blinds when defending, and I had a prime spot to 3-bet out of position when defending that would’ve completely changed the dynamics of the hand. While some may argue that I am taking a revisionist approach to this since I now know that my opponent’s hand wasn’t all that strong, his bet sizing change should’ve alerted me to something being different. I think one of the best ways for me to determine what my opponent is doing in this spot is to put the pressure back on them. If he has a really strong hand, I am going to get 4 bet. While I don’t really want to throw my hand away to a 4 bet since it has some really good value, the sizing of my opponent’s bet at that point could dictate wether or not I would be getting the proper odds to see a flop or not. Also, prior to this hand, I had only really 3 bet pre-flop with some giant hands, and had them shown. Because of this, and the potential that my opponent could’ve been getting a little out of line, the 3 bet is going to force a lot of folds, allowing me to pick up some free chips. If my opponent just calls, I don’t really pick up too much more information, but I have essentially taken over control of the pot from out of position and can proceed from a much stronger vantage than if I just called.
  3. Did I mention PAY ATTENTION?!? Clearly my mind wasn’t quite ready to play the hand properly, and it manifested itself in the worst way by how I behaved when the flop came out. As played (by just calling) it is imperative for me to observe my opponent, not the cards. I have no idea if my opponent gave away a tell when the flop came out, but I had observed some things from him previously, so my gut tells me that he probably would’ve given something away here too. Just as important though, since I did watch the flop, I should’ve taken the time to completely analyze it. While I had flopped 2 pair, I completely discounted all the straights, they didn’t even register in my head. I fell in to a trap that many players often do and just got excited about what I had, not what others could potentially have. Even with the prior mistakes, disaster still could’ve been avoided here if I had just taken the time to truly understand the flop, I mean, can a flop really be any more wet than 3 straight cards, with 2 flush cards, right in the middle?
  4. The check. Again, I don’t completely hate the check as opposed to a done bet here, it’s more my thought process around it. The only thing I was thinking about at that point was hoping my opponent would c-bet so I could raise and potentially play for stacks. It’s always better to have a strategy for future action, but I was extremely narrow casting.
  5. Lack of evaluating my opponent’s c-bet. I already  described how I didn’t think about his bet because he did exactly what I wanted him too, thus allowing me to continue with my plan. The error though was not taking the time to analyze the bet first to ensure that I was really getting what I wanted. Prior to this hand, when my opponent had a strong hand on the flop, his c-bets were around half pot, while his weaker hands tended tone a little lighter. Here we were gain with him making a c-bet that was just over half pot, and the only thing I considered was that he had an overpair, or a big spade draw. Neglecting to notice that as the hand played, it was VERY possible for my opponent to have [Jx][10x] or [5x][6x], though I probably wouldn’t have thought about his actual [10x][6x] combo. If I had taken the time to think through his c-bet, I definitely would’ve considered a flopped straight in his range, not to mention a flopped set of 8s, and could’ve just called the c-bet.
  6. Check raise bet sizing. While there is definitely a lot of mistakes already, the biggest here may be the size of my check raise. With my opponent’s c-bet, the pot has grown to 66k, or 11 big blinds. The pot was already getting big, and without a complete strangle hold on the hand, I shouldn’t have been too excited to bloat it further. I can comfortably call for 4 big blinds, making the pot 15bb total, and see what develops on the turn. The only thing I was really worried about hitting the turn was a spade, but there are so many cards that could come on the turn that could’ve potentially snapped me out of whatever psychological trance that I was in. The fact that the turn was the actual gin card that absolutely would’ve changed my perspective just hammers home the mistake. Instead, I raise to 14bb, bloating the pot to 25bb, and almost too juicy for me to fold regardless of what my opponent has. My over bet sealed my fate of playing for stacks in a spot where I had grossly under analyzed if I really wanted to or not.
  7. Snap calling the all-in. Again here I was blinded by the fact that my opponent did exactly what I wanted him to do. Never once did I consider what other possible hands he could have here other than what I put him on. Even though the pot was a juicy size for me to actually fold 2 pair, the board was just too wet. Also, even though the pot was a very good size, I had really only committed 16.33bb out of my 53.33bb stack. The structure of this tournament, and the relative closeness of the bubble should’ve dictated playing a much smaller pot here. I really committed ICM suicide here.

This isn’t a complete analysis as I know that there were things I was thinking in my head while typing this that didn’t quite make it in, but I really wanted to post some thoughts about this hand, and I felt I have already rambled on too long. I feel that it is important for me, and for anyone else that plays this game with some seriousness, to really take a hard look at analyzing their plays. Sure I could just say I got really unlucky in this spot to flop 2 pair while my opponent flopped a straight, but there was really so much more to this hand that could’ve changed the eventual outcome. All too often in the poker world, we hear about how someone busted out in what appeared to be a punt situation, but we don’t really get a deeper understanding of what they were thinking that caused it. I’m sharing one of my punting scenarios here to help others avoid the same mistake, and maybe, just maybe, help me avoid doing the same thing in the future.


It has been nearly a year since I posted a hand to this page, which is not what I was hoping for this page. So, hopefully I will start posting more regularly, but because it has been so long, here are 3 hands that I think are somewhat interesting. I don’t know the complete specifics anymore, like exact stack sizes, but I remember them enough to get the points across.

Hand 1: The Call

This is from the Running Aces Anniversary tournament from earlier this month. It is from Day 1, blinds 400/800 100 ante.

I had been at the same table for the whole day, and it was one of the worst table draws I’ve had in a long time. Not because it was full of tough players, that would’ve been better. It was full of very tight players that didn’t really want to play pots, unless they had strong hands. While this makes reads very simple, it makes chip accumulation very difficult. I had a stack of about 40k from the 15k starting stack, mostly just from taking the blinds and continuation betting.

I am under the gun plus 2, I look down at [Ad][10h] and raise to 1700. The table folds to the blinds, both of which call. The SB has about 50k, while the BB has about 20k. Flop comes [2d][3h][5d]. Not the best flop for my hand against the two blinds, but it could be worse. Both of the blinds check to me. I could CB again here as I had been doing all day, but the SB had gotten most of his chips from big check raises when he flopped sets versus big pairs, and I didn’t want to expose myself to a big check raise when there were a lot of cards that could come on the turn to improve my hand, so I checked. Turn is [10d], bingo! Now I have top top with the nut flush draw. SB checks and the BB fires 2200. This now means that the BB has committed roughly 20% of his stack to this hand. He had been playing very tight, so I need to respect his bet. It is quite possible that he just made the flush, or that he flopped the straight. He could also just have a large 10, or had flopped a set. Because I respect his tightness, I choose to just flat his bet, rather than raise. I also had felt that he would define his hand on the river. If he had a hand that could beat me, he would lead out, if he only had a big 10, I felt he would check call a value bet. To my surprise, the SB tanked for about 2 minutes, the raised to 5300. As I had mentioned before, he had gotten most of his stack from check raising with small sets. In each of those instances, he had tanked before raising, just as he had this time. However; each of the previous times, his tank had lasted so long that I felt I should call the clock on him, even though I wasn’t involved in the hand. In reality, I haven’t ever called the clock on someone, and I would never do it when I am not in the hand, but I do get to a point when I think the clock should be called. This time, I didn’t get to that point, so I didn’t think he was as strong as he had been in the past. His check raise did cause the BB to fold, which now meant I could finish this hand heads-up. Again, thinking that he wasn’t as strong as he was previously, odds are that I was ahead. Plus if I was wrong, I could get bailed out by a diamond on the river that doesn’t pair the board. I decided to call, and figure out the right move on the river. River brings the [5c]. Not exactly the best card for me. I don’t hit the flush, if he did have a set again, now he has a boat. Really the only good thing about that card is it is unlikely to have improved his hand if I had been ahead on the turn. About 10 seconds after the river card hits, he fires 7800. I took some time to replay the hand, and his previous plays, in my head. While he had made his stack off of check raises, I didn’t really picture him as the type of guy that would check the turn when he didn’t get the action that a flopped set would’ve liked. I also don’t think that he would’ve check raised the turn holding a flopped set since there was now a flush out there. I really only thought that he would check raise the turn if he was holding the flush, or had turned top set, which was unlikely given the action and me holding [10h]. Both of those options though have me crushed, and the river didn’t bail me out. What eventually led me to make the call was the difference in timing of his bets. Part of what I had to figure out was if the time difference I sensed was different or not. The previous hands that he tank check raised on, I was not involved in, this one I was. Sometimes the time it takes for people to act feels different based on whether or not you are invested in the decision. Luckily for me, I was facing one of the tournament clocks, and had kept track of how much time had passed on his previous decisions, and when he check raised this turn. The final piece of the puzzle was his quick river bet. Often when a player is on a flush draw, they fire a large bet in quick fashion on the river, trying to look strong. Based on all of these things, I decided to call. I could’ve raised, but just in case I was wrong, I didn’t want to commit tournament suicide. Upon calling, the gentleman proclaimed “ship it” and threw his cards face up on the table in front of me. To my delight, they were [10c][Kd] J

Hand 2: The Luckbox

This hand, and the next one are both from the final table of a 30 person tournament that I won 7/21/2014. The field is made up of 30 solid tournament players from the Twin Cities. We will be gathering once a month for 12 months, playing in a league for cash to the top 3 each night, as well as WSOP seats for the top point winners in each quarter, and for the year. Pretty much everyone in the tournament has played with one another on several occasions. The final table of 10 consisted of 5 members from Team Poker Joker including myself, Chris Belflower, Heidi Roggenkamp, “Minnesota” Molly Mossey, and Rob Brereton. Rob had nearly 200k in chips, with Molly not far behind him. Thankfully both of them were on my left as I came in with only about 40k. I had been able to build my stack up to about 60k with blinds of 1000/2000 and 500 ante when the following hand occurred between Chris & I.

I was under the gun plus 2 and looked down at [2s][4s]. While many at the table know that I am capable of playing any 2 cards from any position, I had still been able to pull off a big bluff shortly before the final table with 2/4os, and thought it might be fun to play a pot again. Plus, because everyone knows my style so well, me raising from early position will almost assuredly force others to define their hands. If I face a large 3 bet, it’s easy for me to fold. If I get a couple callers, I’m comfortable playing post flop, win or lose. I decide to open to 6000. The 3x raise is a bit bigger than normal, but again this is to force players to define their hands. Most of the players would be astute enough to notice that I had just committed about 10% of my stack, so they would be less likely to get in there with me with weak holdings. What I had failed to realize is that Chris’ stack had shrunk to only 16k directly on my left. After my raise, he instantly shipped his stack, and the entire table folded to me. Now, normally calling an all-in with 2/4 is not the wisest thing in the world, but I still took a moment to think it through. Even though I had failed to realize how small Chris’ stack had gotten, I was able to remember how it got there. He got involved in a 3 way pot against Heidi and I shortly before that, and was still steaming that he had folded the eventual winner A4. This “semi-tilt”, combined with him only having 8 bbs, meant that his shoving range was pretty wide. It was unlikely that he had a big pair, which means I probably had 2 live unders. With 2 live unders, the odds of winning a pot in an all-in are roughly 40%. 9 players left means there was 4500 in antes, plus 3000 from the blinds. My 6000 plus Chris’ 16,000 makes the pot 29,500. So, my 10,000 call is getting nearly 3 to 1. If I fold, I am left with roughly 27 bbs, if I call and lose, I will have about 22 bbs. I am not going to play those 2 size stacks all that differently, so the call doesn’t really impact how I will play the rest of the way. All of this made me extremely comfortable with the call, plus then it would just feed into my table image of being extremely loose, which could be advantageous later. Well, I was right, Chris did not have an overpair, but he was holding what was probably the worst cards I could see outside of that range: [As][5s]. Well, this hand IS called The Luckbox, so the result should be obvious. After spiking the 5 in the window, I hit a 4 on the flop as well. The 4 on the turn gave me a virtual lock, and Chris did not improve J Sorry buddy, but that’s poker. Pretty sure you were super happy to see me flip over my holdings…

Hand 3: Advertising Pays Off

Again, this hand comes from the above mentioned final table. I know have about 80k, blinds are still 1000/2000 with 500 ante.

Molly opens from under the gun to 7500. 2 players fold to me, I look down at [5h][5s]. I take a moment to consider Molly’s opening range. She is a very good player, and she has gotten a TON better over the last 12 months. Prior to that, I feel that she played a little too tight, but I have seen her really open up her game, and now she is a much more difficult opponent. With this knowledge, I consider raising to see if I can get her to define her range. However; I didn’t really want to face a 4 bet shove, and her open meant that I would have to make a larger 3 bet than I would like to lose without seeing the flop. I wanted her to have respect for my holdings though, so I counted out some chips as if to raise, ultimately just making a call. This also allows me to throw the hand away for a relatively low price if another player makes a large 3 bet behind me, or if the flop comes with all high cards. Heidi also flats behind me. This makes me think that she may have an upper middle pair, or possibly AJ/AT suited, hoping to catch a flop. I know that she is good enough to see the same things I do, and probably more, but she is now forced to respect Molly’s open and my call. I also cannot put her on a pair in my range, as since she now has to respect our bets, she is not likely to call feeling almost certain she only has 2 outs. The rest of the table folds. Flop comes [3s][4c][6c] or something similar. I know that it was 346, that 2 of them were clubs, and all the cards were black, but don’t remember the exact ones. Molly opens for 17,500, effectively a pot bet. At this point, I am almost nearly convinced that Molly has an over pair to the board. It was my main concern with her oversized open pre-flop, and she has now continued that line, putting a bet out there that is trying to scare away a big flush draw. This flop is about as good a flop as I can hope for though, without hitting a set. I flop open-ended, and the flop is unlikely to have hit either of my opponents’ ranges. I can’t just call here though as any card that hits the turn, that doesn’t give me the straight, is unlikely to help me define my opponents’ hands. I really can only fold or shove. If I really believe Molly has an overpair, I could fold, but that makes me look weak in future pots. Additionally, if I shove, Molly could think that I hit a set, and fold an overpair such as 99 or 1010. Also, if I shove, this almost certainly causes Heidi behind me to fold unless she has flopped a set. She is facing a large open from the original early position raiser, and an over shove. Regardless of her holdings, folding would be her only option without a super strong hand. I decide to make the shove, and Heidi correctly folds behind me. Molly goes in to the tank, which I completely expected. If she is holding an overpair, before she could let it go, she would want to work out whether I had potentially flopped a set, or if I was just making a move with a flush draw. While I expected the tank, the longer it went on, the less confident I got that she was going to fold her pair. She was starting to think out loud about how the hand had played out, even declaring she was ahead at that point. Upon saying this, it became clear to me that she was going to call with her pair, and I was going to need to hit to win. Eventually, she did make the call saying “I just can’t get you off of holding Q3” (my favorite hand, in case you all forgot) and shows [Ah][4h]! Wow!  That hand never entered into my mind as potential holdings for her. I think that the vast majority of players would instantly fold that hand in their head, but probably Hollywood it a little bit before actually folding. But Molly had seen my 24 off suit move earlier, plus my Q3os move at the final table, and the vast amount of times I have played Q3, and she just couldn’t believe that I was holding anything better than just bottom pair. Maybe some of that was wanting to convince herself that she was ahead, but I think it was mostly because of my reputation. She even said that she saw me want to raise pre-flop, which I almost always will do when I am holding Q3, and that was what convinced her at that time. Neither of us improved on the turn or river, and I now had a stack that I could finally play against Rob, one of the most analytically talented poker players around. We eventually got heads-up, and I took it down…once again because I got lucky!

So that’s it for this installment. A little bit of everything: a hero call based on tells, a luckbox move, and getting paid based on reputation. I look forward to reading everyone’s comments. Also, as I mentioned in my last home page post, I do have a 2 hand combination against Kou Vang from the MSPT at Canterbury this year that I can post, if you all would like. These 2 hands allowed me to knock Kou out, and propelled me to the final table. Like the hands above, I remember most of the pertinent information, but I am a little more fuzzy on actual blinds and such. If you would like me to post these hands, let me know in your comments.

2 for 1

So many of you know how I went out at the Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open, but just telling you that I flopped a flush and got called by an over pair with no flush outs isn’t very interesting. So, I am going to lay out how the hand, and the one before it which probably set up my bustout, went down.

51 players left out of 3389 entries, blinds 30/60/10k I have about 5.8 million and the villain had about 3.8 million, we are both top 5 in chips, total 88 million in play, 9 handed table.

I had only been at this table for about an hour, and had only played 2 hands, winning with top set Kings, and top 2 AQ, both going to showdown.

Hand 1:The setup

Folded to me on the button, I have [5d][7s] and raise to 150k This is fairly standard play, well for me anyway, but I have a pretty tight image at the table, and the biggest stack. At this point of the tournament I am trying to just accumulate chips to increase my stack for the final table. I am not concerned with the cash payouts at this point, as I am totally focused on the nearly $300k up top. SB folds, BB who has been fairly aggressive, raises to 500k. Regardless of what he has here, I like his play. I could potentially be raising with anything on the button, trying to take down the blinds, relying on my fairly tight table image. Based on his play to this point, I put him on a fairly wide range as well, but figure that if he has a big hand, and I flop well, I can bust him, thus giving me a final table average stack with 50 people left. I call and the flop comes [4c][9d][6c]. BB leads out 600k. I found this bet slightly curious. I instantly filtered his possible range to big cards, including a pair, or the flush draw. May not have been the best analysis, but it was my read on him. At this point I have to love the flop for my hand. Could I really hope for anything better than being open ended? Here’s where things start to go wrong, I just called. Now, one could argue that this is the right move, try and catch the straight on the turn cheaper than if I raise, but calling doesn’t really give me more information on what my opponent holds. The turn brings [2c]. Ugh. Now if my opponent does have the flush I’m drawing dead. If my opponent does not have the flush yet, he could still play the pot bigger than I want to if he holds a big club. He thinks for a little while before checking. Perfect! I can just check behind and cry call the river if my straight comes without another club, so naturally I bet. Wait, what?!?! His body language told me that he didn’t have the flush, so instead of just playing my hand correctly, I tried to represent a hand I didn’t believe he had. I bet 1.2 million and he instantly shoved. Now it no longer matters what he has as I am losing to everything so I muck.

 Hand 2: The pain

Very next hand, I’m now left with 3.5 million, table folds to me in the cutoff, I have [5h][2h]. I already know what you’re thinking, insta muck! Not me my friends. I didn’t build my chip stack by sitting back and waiting for premium hands. Plus I love 5 2 suited. Don’t ask why, just know I really enjoy playing this hand, and when I looked down at it after losing a significant portion of my stack, I felt like I was about to get them all back. I make the same opening raise to 150k, and the same villain, I’m sure now brimming with confidence makes the same raise to 500k from the SB. Two things are now going through my mind. 1: he is over confident from winning the previous hand because he outplayed me (but really I outplayed myself). 2: I think he may actually have a big hand as I had the tight image, I would be unlikely to dance again without having a strong hand myself. So here’s why I love 5 2, if my opponent does have a big hand, and I hit the flop HARD, I am getting paid every time. So I flat. Flop [4h][7h][9h] BINGO! I have to admit, there was a small part of my brain already prepping for the ensuing BOOM tweet 🙂 Villain leads out the same 600k as the last hand, and I insta ship my last 3 million. Part of the reason I insta shipped is I gave him credit for being able to think that the insta ship would look like a flush draw, thereby getting him to call with an overpair. It worked to perfection as the villain insta-called with [10d][10s] perfect! Overpair with no flush outs. Turn [10h], river [9s]PAIN.

So what did this exchange teach me? It taught me that I still have a lot to learn. While the pain of busting out 51st after being top 5 in chips just moments before stings, what was worse is that I knew the proper play (at least in my eyes) for my hand in the first exchange but didn’t follow through. This is a leak in my game that I constantly face, knowing what I want to do, and what I should do, but for some reason I do the opposite.

So that is the first hand analysis for the site! Feel free to make your own comments about the hands below.

If you would like to submit a hand to me for analysis, I would be happy to review it. Please include as much possible information as possible so I can provide my best possible analysis. If you do submit a hand to me, you agree to make the hand public to be discussed on the site. Email me at: mnpatsfanpoker@gmail.com

14 thoughts on “Hand Analysis

  1. Excellent analysis, I hate his call with TT…especially insta-calling…he has virtually no equity against your shoving range…remember your stacking chips 9 times out of 10

    The first hand, I agree that you should have made a flop raise with the open ender since you had fold equity and I’m sure he folds 90% of his range on that flop (only calls with set or KK-AA) against which you still have reasonable equity…grow some balls and shove his 600K bet
    …I constantly make the same mistake you did by calling when I should be raising but you have to give yourself that extra way to win the hand (especially with 7 high and most likely 8 clean outs)…
    Also I rarely put them on a flush draw but big cards and one pair is most of his range…if you decide to peel a card, put in a raise on the turn (represent a set or flush) and pray he folds 88-TT, AJ-AK, and KQ (I figure these are in his OOP 3-bet range)

    Nice post Brian, I’ll see you on Turkey day break and Xmas break at Running Aces

    • Thanks for the reply Adam. Obviously his call with the 10s is awful, and I want that call EVERY time. I do agree with you that a potentially profitable line on the first hand would’ve been to raise his flop bet, but I still don’t like shoving. I think that based on the fact that he has invested almost 1/3 of his stack may induce weaker calls that still have me beat. If I brick, I’m crippled and soon on the rail. If I’m cool with repping a flush on the turn, then I should’ve raised on the flop to see really where his hand is. If he shoves, I fold just like I did on the turn. More often than not though, as you point out, he probably folds.

      Looking forward to locking horns with you over the holidays, and thanks again for the post!

  2. Atleast you can see the mistakes you made. The first hand is where you lost the most. Make sure that you learn from the mistakes and apply it to the rest of your poker career

    • Thanks Robbie. I agree, one of the most powerful things serious players can do is learn from their mistakes. All too often I hear people talk about the bad beats they suffered, but rarely do I hear them be honest about the mistakes. I will never play every hand, or every tournament perfectly, and I highly doubt anyone does. It is the goal to constantly be improving and minimizing those mistakes that separates the strong players from the weak.

  3. Hand 2 is #JBL for you, but I think you made several mistakes in Hand 1. First, I think you accomplish the same result by raising slightly less than 2.5x preflop. You handread/play VERY WELL postflop, so raising between 120k-130k at 30k/60k blinds is probably best because you want a larger stack-to-pot ratio for your opponent for more room to maneuver/outplay them. If you raise to 130k Villian probably 3-bets you to around 400K, giving you more room to play post flop (if you don’t fold pre). As played, with the 150k raise and the 3-bet to 500k I think folding>3betting>calling. Villian is putting 13% of his chips in, and made it eff. 8BB to go from your 2.5BB open, which is a pretty big 3-bet @ that stage of the tournament. Your hand is obv underrepped but @ the same time I don’t think an offsuit one gapper flops well enough to put in 13% of Villian’s stack and 8.5% of your stack pre….

    Next, I think flop play is great. If you flatted his 3-bet with 99,66, or 44 are you ever raising this flop? Probably not unless you have a strong read that he has a hand that is going to almost always 3-bet ship the flop vs you. Raising the flop is bad because Villian will probably put you on a hand like 77,88,1010 and if he’s a good player he can 3-bet shove very profitably vs your perceived hand range. If he’s thinking like you and that if you’re raising the flop to try and define his hand, he can ship it back on you cuz in reality you’re defining your hand: a hand with medium strength that wants to either (1) take it down on the flop (2) peel a free river by allowing raiser to slow down on turn.

    Finally, considering the hand you have I understand the turn bet. You’re putting pressure on your opponent to play for stacks. However, I feel like a smaller bet accomplishes the exact same thing. Villlian starts the hand with 3.8M and has already committed 1.1M to the pot. If you bet 800-900k as opposed to 1.2M, you’re still essentially putting him to the test for all his chips (as he would be putting in more than half his chips) without having to risk as much, and giving you more chips to work with if he does ship it on you.

    Regardless, enjoyed reading the hand analysis, keep ’em coming!

    • I love your response Rob! Yep, hand 2 is just bad luck. I do think though that hand 2 was set up by how the first hand played out. I was hoping for the exact action I got on hand 2 based on how we played the previous hand. This was my attempt to try and correct my earlier mistake, it just didn’t work out.

      You raise some great points about the first hand. First off, my raise of 2.5x bb I thought was fairly standard given my relative stack size, but it did open myself up to a much larger 3 bet than I really wanted to face with an off-suit mid drawing hand. You may be right that a smaller raise by me may have had the same effect, and additionally would have kept the pot more manageable for me to control. As it went down, you are probably again correct that folding is the best play, but I don’t like 4 betting over calling. As you point out, he has already committed a decent percentage of his stack, and if I 4 bet, it very well could all go in, making me fold, and diminishing my pre flop raise strength for the rest of my time at the table. If he does have a big hand, and I decide to flat instead of fold, I have the potential to bust him on a number of different board textures.

      I also agree that the turn bet isn’t horrible, and I definitely could have gotten the fold with a smaller bet. If I was going to bet and fold to a shove, I should’ve controlled the size a bit more.

      Insightful comments, keep ’em coming!

      Oh, and thanks for the compliment on my post flop play 🙂

      • Yeah I think you are definitely right about 4-bet/folding being pretty bad for you, can understand why it’s worse than calling the 3-bet. As you mentioned before you did state that you already had a tight image, so you wouldn’t want to have that image wrecked by folding to a 5-bet all in getting a pretty good price!

  4. Very insignificant comment forthcoming: When I read, “Hand 2: The Pain,” I heard Jim’s voice. Is that wrong? 🙂 I like reading your analysis/commentary; your eloquent sarcasm flows effortlessly! p.s. I found this site by Googling “egomaniac!”

    Seriously, though, great site. I’ve been thoroughly encapsulated!

    • Thank you como 🙂

      No comment is insignificant.

      Naturally you found this by Googling “egomaniac”, this site can also be found by searching: “so back to me” and, well, let’s be honest, I’m hoping that soon Google will direct you to “MY” site regardless of what you search. mwah ha ha ha

  5. Hero with $500 while Playing 2/5NL online..
    I’m in the small blind w JJ and the mp, co, and button all limp with about ~$200 each to start the hand….#1 Do I (limp in or raise)?
    I raise to 25 and two players call.
    flop is K63 rainbow…I bet 25 and BB minraises to 50 and its folded back to me…#2 Do I (fold, flat, or raise)?
    I flat and 9s hit the turn putting a spade draw on board…I check and my opponent jams for 150 ….#3 Do I (fold or call)?

    By limping in, I can see a safe flop with no A,K,Q (invest no money). I could hit a disguised set (hopefully double up). I could flop a disguised Overpair to the board which is still vulnerable to the next two streets (invest money that charges them to chase)

    By raising PF, I can eliminate players and improve my chances of getting HU on the flop. Raising also charges weaker hands to see the flop which increases my expected value either HU or multiway since its unlikely they have QQ-AA in their limping range.

    JJ on a K63 rainbow is excellent for my hand however it’s even better for their limp/call range [22-77, AT-A2, KQ-K9, QJ-Q9, JT + some speculatives)…I bet 25 and get raised to 50 from the BB…the raising range is [KQ-K9, 54, 66, 33] because these hands all love the flop and they have a reason to inflate the pot size after I lead.
    This is a tough spot,
    if I push…I can’t think of any hands that I can beat if he calls me
    If I flat call…my opponent has 2/3 pot sized bet that I can assume is
    going in since he raised the flop
    If I fold, it looks weird to re raise PF then fold to a min raise on such a dry

    Any thoughts on the correct betting lines

    • First off, thank you for the submission Adam!

      This is a little tough to answer without knowing the dynamics of the personalities involved, but I’ll do my best. First off, I am normally in favor of raising in your spot pre-flop to attempt to get your opponents to define their hands. Jacks are a little tricky though as it’s pretty much even money that an overcard will hit the flop, and anyone that is still in the hand with you could easily be holding it. I think that in your situation though I would have raised, but would’ve raised more. In a $2/5 game, raising from the small blind to $25 when there are already 3 limpers means that the BB only has to call $20 into a pot of $40, which gives him pretty good odds to open up his range. I get the hesitancy though with Jacks to not overcommit, but as you had mentioned in your own analysis, the odds of one of the limpers having a stronger holding than you is pretty small, so really you just have to blow people off their weak holdings and get the BB to fold. This is often why you see people in a ring game making very large raises with JJ or QQ. Granted, you are making the bet 5x, but because of the action in front of you, the BB is just getting too good of odds to fold a fairly decent range.

      Post flop, you’re CB looks all the world to be a pair smaller than the K. Because of the 2 callers, and the other 2 limp folds, there is now $85 in the pot, and you are betting the exact same amount as your pre-flop raise. Again, I totally understand the hesitancy to put too much out there as the overcard is on board, but I think you are just inviting someone to outplay you, regardless of what they are holding. You have basically just told everyone “I am afraid of the King, so I hope you all fold”. I’m not trying to be too harsh, gosh knows I’ve made my own mistakes, but I have seen this type of scenario all too often. While I am normally not an advocate for passive play, given how the action went pre-flop, I don’t really mind if you check here. While again this could signal that you are afraid of the King, odds are that a check raise will get others to fold hands like KJ, KT, etc. as you repped a big hand before the flop. Again, how many times have we all seen a guy check raise on the flop holding KK in this same spot, or check holding AA when an A hits the flop? It is a strong move. If you bet the same amount, then get min raised, you have just committed another $50 to a pot where you have no idea where you stand. I would rather check, see a $35-$45 bet from one opponent, raise them, and find out where I really stand. If they ship, you obviously have to fold. If they call, they may just be hoping that their call will slow you down on the turn, but will probably fold to a shove on the turn, regardless of the card (unless it’s bingo) even with the pot so large. By just flatting the raise, you are in no man’s land and are really left with just being able to rely on your read to define what your opponent has. Regardless of what your opponent has, I really like his min raise back to you. We’ve all seen that when people have strong holdings, they tend to min raise to get a call. If he didn’t flop a set, he’s representing it well, forcing you to doubt your JJ.

      Given how the scenario played out, I don’t really think you can call the turn jam. Really at that point all you have is a bluff catcher. What really probably happened though is that he has [Ks][Xs] and has just turned the spade draw to go woth his top pair, or he flopped a set, and now wants to make you pay to see a 3rd spade on the river if you have them. Sure he could be holding something weaker here, but you have no information to go on. Everything about how the hand played out indicates that he has you beat, and while he may not, at this point it doesn’t matter. Muck the JJ and move on to the next hand.

      Thanks again for your submission!

      To all my other followers, please feel free to add your own comments and analysis, but as always, please be respectful.

  6. Hi Adam, really enjoyed the submission. You’re clearly a strong player and I think for the most part your line is pretty standard here. Two things that were good but could be slightly better:
    Preflop raising size. I think its standard to raise a bit more than 5x in this spot. From my personal experience playing 2/5 NL, most would raise to $30 or $35 in this spot. I haven’t played much at those stakes online so this could be really standard. If it is I apologize. Considering the two limpers have stacks of $200 or less, they could be limping small pairs and trying to set mine to a small raise or for just one blind. As I’m sure you’re aware, if these players are weaker players, they might even call $5 or $10 more than your $25 raise because they don’t understand implied odds and are merely thinking about the current value of their hand. The more we can get in preflop with JJ in a spot like this the better; because realistically the BB is the only player that will ever have us beat.
    Flop sizing. The flop sizing doesn’t really make sense unless you’re trying to induce a bluff or action from 77-1010, which the BB could definitely have. I understand that this texture isn’t very threatening, but by betting $25 into a pot of $80, it allows the BB or other player in the hand to take the line that they did as a bluff or a range merge with a hand like a medium pair to get you to fold 1010-QQ if your opponent is a thinking player. If I were the BB and had a hand like 77-1010, I would definitely consider raising your bet of $25 to $50-$60 to find out where I was in the hand. If you lead out for $35 or $40 instead of $80, you probably won’t get min-raised by a lower pair as your opponent would have over 50% of their stack in at that point, with a lot of bad cards for their hand that could come on the turn/river, and the potential to be drawing to two outs. So, say you raise preflop to $30 instead of $25 and get two callers, you can lead for say, $40 into the pot of $95 and make your opponents play for stacks and have to define their hand, as they both started with $200 or less.
    These are some small sizing suggestions, but regardless, I still think you made a decent laydown. I’m just outlining the possibilities of your jacks getting bet off the pot by a better hand. However, considering how the hand played out, KQ is probably the most common hand you are up against here. Like Brian mentioned earlier, the line you took considering the sizing you chose is just fine! Really enjoyed the submission and hope to submit a few hands of my own soon.

  7. 1st Hand (Anniversary 2014)
    You have ~50bb with a strong ace in middle position, open to 2bb and get two callers. (pot = 7bb) The flop is [2d3h5d] which gives you a gutshot + backdoor flush draw.

    The small blind (62bb) will defend with approximately:

    any pair (22-AA) –6 combos –> 72 combos=(13×6)
    any broadway (JT-AK) –16 combos –>96 combos=(6×16)
    any suited no gap (23s-T9s) –4 combos –> 36 combos=(9×4)
    any suited low ace (A2s-A9s) –4 combos –> 32 combos=(9×4)

    There are 1326 possible preflop combinations so you get called (72+96+36+32) / 1326 = 236/1326 = 18%…I’m sure you can agree that this value is larger if the small blind predicts that the big blind will also call if he calls, so lets estimate ~20%. I also assumed that the small blind might try to slowplay a monster and go for the checkraise after you always cbet. This would also goes well with your read on how he plays pocket pairs, checkraises with sets….im assuming he will check raise with strong overpairs (AA-KK).

    The big blind (25bb) has a smaller stack. We should know the most about this players hand because we have more information with how he reacts to 3 way pots. Since he did not 3-bet, I’ll throw out AA-TT, AK-AJ and assume his calling range is approximately [22-99, A8-AJ, KT-KQ, QJ-QT, JT] with some speculatives because of the possible reward of doubling up and being in decent position. Estimate 48+64+48+32+16=208/1326 or 15%. Remember that we can predict a larger calling range because the big blinds pot odds were 6 to 1 and the desire to double up.

    I think these ranges are somewhat accurate however they should be adjusted if you see a player always defending the blinds or always 3-betting. In the anniversary tournament, a lot of players play conservatively, small ball type poker.

    On this flop, I would definitely c-bet. If the small blind decides to go for the checkraise, then I would fold>4-bet>call. By c-betting, you force them to define their hands which based on the ranges, will get you a fold a large part of the time. If we assume that our opponent has 0 two pair combos, 9 set combos, 54 overpair combos. For flush draws, the ace of diamonds is a great blocker as it eliminates most of these however you can estimate about 15 combos. There are 36 combos of better aces (AK-AJ), the ace blocker played a role why its 12 combos each. Overall, 9+54+15+36=114/206=55%…which means your opponent folds 45% of the range and either calls or raises 55% of the time with either a set, overpair, better ace, or flush draw.

    Now you have to figure out how much to c-bet to get the desired response (called by 66-99, fold out AK-AJ). Again, by c-betting now…you define their hand with relatively low risk. I suggest you risk 2200-2400. This is the best spot to fold out raggy big cards (KQJ) by c-betting. This flop is very low risk, by checking behind you allow dangerous cards to fall including good cards like an Ace that might kill action.

    The turn is a great card which gives you top/top w/ nut F-draw. The big blind firing out on the turn means that he sees some value in the board texture. At this point, some players just play their own hand and I think it is one of those times. I’m not sure that he would fire with pocket pairs 66-99 or AJ-AQ, KQ-KJ, QJ. unless it made him a flush or a strong flush draw with Kd, Qd, Jd. In my opinion, raising is silly unless you think your opponent will call with most of his range instead of reraising. If he reraises, you would have to fold without seeing the river (which would suck with so much current equity). The small blind surprises you with the patented checkraise, this seems like a great spot to both signify strength and maintain image). I think the amount 5300 is too small for him too have a super strong hand like a flush or set. Most value hands should raise to ~6500 against two players. You also need gauge how often your opponent would take the risk of doing the check raise with sets when the board has completed a flush, other thinking would be that he is reraising to deter big diamonds to call and also get value from our HERO (AdTh) who have some showdown value also (KK-JJ w/ diamond).
    The small blind either has a stronger hand like a set where you win 25%, a flush where you win 16%, an overpair w/ diamond where you win 36%. If the small blind has the strongest hand you can beat KT w/ Kd, you win 93%. In my opinion, your timing tell should lean you towards the weaker half of this range.

    The 5c on the river was in interesting card, especially since your opponent tanked on the last card but now insta fires a huge bet into a huge pot. Its like he didn’t even think. I would call for the following reasons. a) flushes would normally not bet again when the board pairs. b) he rarely bets with an overpair because the board is didnt improve them. c) we assumed that he might play sets more cautiously on the turn (weight to 50%, 4.5 combos). d) this throws out most of the value range and leaves in a lot of hands that you can beat like weaker tens and busted flush draws.

    Sorry it’s so long…overall, i like cbetting the flop vs checking back. On the turn, I would give the sb respect also however his quick bet on the river and the fact that pairing the board decreased the size of his value range, I would call and stack the chips.


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