Putting players on hands, Part II

June 07, 2017, Al Spath  

Last issue, I discussed ranging players in early position and talked about reraising in later position to isolate when you may hold an extremely strong hand. In addition, blind play is important to watch and understand.

Many times the blinds assume they have pot odds to complete the bet with less than serious holdings. If they happen to reraise preflop, you must take notice as they generally are advertising a big hand. A good number of players will defend their blinds with less than decent holdings, incorrectly discounting pot odds and their awful position.

However, when the blind comes out firing at the pot after the flop, after only a preflop call on their part (could be betting for value or protection), you can assume they have caught one of these hands: top pair, two pair, a four-flush, an open-ended straight draw, gut-shot straight draw or a small set (though most with sets will wait and trap). Finding yourself in the blind with top pair, lousy kicker, a check-raise can be an effective weapon to take down the pot, but don’t overuse this ploy or you eventually will be called or reraised and be at a huge disadvantage.

Let’s return to once the flop is made. You must be aware of how many opponents remain in the hand, their position and the number of bets in the pot. It’s unlikely to have players contesting raised pots with weaker holdings. However. You’ll find a great number of players playing small pairs, such as 7-7 and 3-3, in hopes of catching a set, and others who enjoy multiway pots with holdings such as J-9 suited or even 4-5 suited. It’s your job to evaluate the board (flop texture) and conclude whether the cards shown are helpful to a drawing hand or support top pairs. This will aid you in your decision to continue in the hand and to figure out if the cards exposed have aided your opponents, who continue to bet.

The flop comes K-9-2 rainbow and the under-the-gun player bets again at the pot. You might conclude this player has no real fear of the board and assume they have a king, maybe pocket kings or quite possibly pocket aces. Keep in mind, with hands such as A-Q,, Q-Q, and J-J, that player is likely going to fire at the pot if only a few opponents remain in the hand, however, they may be less inclined to bet if a large field still remains and an overcard to their pair is on the flop.

In Part III, I will begin the discussion of critical analysis of turn and river play.

— Al Spath is the former Dean at Poker School Online and continues to teach poker online and live. His free YouTube Poker Channel (Al Spath) has hundreds of instructional videos to view. Al’s live broadcasts are on TwitchTV: follow (PositivePokerInsiders). Contact Al directly at alspath@alspath.com with questions coaching inquires.