General concepts

Points of Play

Tournament Play

A Hold’em Situation

Most expert poker players are quite adept at figuring out their opponent’s hand.  This is, of course, one of the main reasons that they win.

However, strangely enough it can occur that even when they know their opponent’s hand they make the incorrect play!

It is very true that I would rather be great at reading hands than be great at figuring the right play if I saw the others player’s cards.  Still, the fact remains that most god readers are not taking optimum advantage of their ability.

Exposed hand problems work like this: You can see your opponent’s cards, but he cannot see his cards.  Thus, the only difference between this poker situation, and your being able to read his cards is that there is no doubt at all about what he has.

Here is a difficult problem.  The game is $ 10-$ 20 hold’em.  You know that your opponent has:

The flop is:

Notice that the flop contains a two-flush and you have

in the hole, giving you three 6s altogether.

He bets, you raise and he reraises. You just call which makes him think you may have only a flush draw.  The next card is the

giving him three kings and you a full house. He bets again. 

The question is, should you raise or just call? Remember, there is still one card to come. Of course, it is not good enough just to get the right answer. You must alsohave the right reason.

For this problem assume you are up against a typical player, i.e., if you raise on fourth street he will only call your raise and then check to you on the end if he does not improve.  However, he will not throw his three kings away under any circumstances.

Well, the correct answer is to raise. However, it is not simply because you have a full house. It is more complicated than that. It has to do with the two hearts on the board.If there were not a two-flush on the flop, the answer would have been different. Let us look at this variation (no two-flush )first.

If the board was

(different suits) you do better in the long run if youonly call his bet on fourth street and wait until the end to raise. If you do raise on fourth street, he will just call and then check and call on the end if he does not improve.

You make two bets on fourth street and one bet on the end.  If you just call on fourth street, however, he will come out betting on the end and you can raise him now. 

This also makes a total of three bets: One on fourth street and two on fifth street. The difference is what happens when he catches a king, queen, or deuce on the end tofill up and beat you.  Now, not raising on fourth street has saved you a bet.

Situations like this arise all the time in poker.  That is, situations where both of two alternative plays will win the same amount when they do win, but one of the alternatives loses less when it loses. The second alternative only loses one bet fourth street while raising loses two.

I suspect that many people thought the right answer to the original problem was to call. However, they overlooked the fact that there were two hearts on the flop, and that you know your opponent suspect you have a flush draw.

Why does this change things? Let’s examine it.

If you just call on fourth street, you will save a bet (as opposed to raising) if a king, queen, or deuce falls.  Thus, there are seven cards that can come off on the end that will make you glad you just called on fourth street.  However, suppose a heart falls on the end (other than the K ♥ or Q ♥ )?

These cards will scare him into checking and calling even if you didn’t raise on fourth street. If you did raise, we assume he will still check and call on the end when the heart comes.  There are nine such scare cards. When one of these nine  cards comes on the end, you flat call on fourth street has cost you a bet.

In other words, there are seven cards that can come on the end that make a call on fourth street one bet better for you, but nine cards that make a call one bet worse. The other cards that can come that make a call either way.

So assuming the opponent will play his hand as expected, it is better to raise.

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