5-10 Hand Quizzes

In this 5-10 section, my hope was to give you a taste of what it means to study, and achieve results beyond the levels of most other players. It was brief, but I hope I gave you something to think about, as well as a roadmap for what to read and study once you’re ready to take on the game at higher levels.

For the hand quizzes below, you’re playing 5-10 with $3,000 stacks in a place you don’t often play. The players are unknown to you, but you will use some of the clues I discussed in the live reads chapter to make assumptions about how they might play.

HAND 1

Two players limp, and an obvious professional player makes it $50 to go on the button. You’re in the big blind with 7♦7♣, and you call. One of the limpers calls.

The flop comes A♣7♠3♥. You check. The check makes sense because there are relatively few hands you would want to bet out after calling from the big blind on this board. Since you’d likely have reraised pre-flop with A-K and A-Q, and possibly A-J as well

as some smaller suited aces, a set is among the few good hands you’re likely to have.

Since the balance of your entire range will be fairly weak on this flop, you don’t want to fork it by betting the strong hands and checking the weak ones. It’s preferable to hide the few strong hands you flop among the many weak ones by checking them all.

The limper checks, and the pre-flop raiser bets $80 into the $155 pot. You call, and the limper folds.

The turn is the 4♣. What should you do? ♠

Considering all we’ve covered thus far, there’s no one right answer. Your opponents will be intelligent, competent, and familiar with the ideas in the 1-2 and 2-5 sections of this book. Your goal is to create an informational advantage—often a series of temporary informational advantages—and stay one step ahead.

In this particular hand, you could mimic a play many players would make if they held a weak ace hand such as A-5. You could make a “probe” bet of perhaps $100 into the $315 pot.

Most pros would recognize an out-of-turn $100 bet into this pot as a likely information probe. Typically, in this situation it means the player in the blind defended with a weak ace and now wants to find out cheaply if the ace is good.

If the pro can’t beat an ace, with stacks this deep, he’ll likely raise and blow the blind player out of the water.

If the pro can beat the ace, he might make a small raise for value, or he might just call. Both moves are designed to string the big blind along with the ace for one more street.

So here’s what the whole picture looks like. On the turn, you bet out for $100 with your set. The professional player mistakes this for a weak ace. If he can’t beat the ace, he raises you to $300 or more. You can either call the raise and check the river to induce a second barrel, or you can reraise immediately which likely ends the hand. Reraising is better if you don’t expect a second barrel, since it denies a free card to a long-shot hand that might outdraw you. Yet, if you think you can get the pro to fire again, then you should probably risk a river card and just call.

If the pro can beat a weak ace, expect either just a call or a smaller raise—perhaps to $200 or $250. In either case, your best play is probably to just call (if raised) and check the river. The pro will almost certainly bet for value.

Then you check-raise. And I’d make it a big bet. Force the pro to make a big fold. Sometimes they will, but sometimes they’ll be confused by your line and call.

Either way, the goal is to misrepresent your hand on the turn, then use that misrepresentation to extract extra value by encouraging the pro to be overly aggressive with what might be a weak hand range—a range that’s ultimately weak because he plays too many hands pre-flop to begin with.

HAND 2

Two players limp, and an obvious pro makes it $50 to go on the button. You’re in the big blind with 9♣7♣, and you call. One of the limpers calls. (You could reasonably have chosen to reraise pre-flop as well.)

The flop comes A♣7♠3♥. You check.

The limper checks, and the pre-flop raiser bets $80 into the $155 pot. You call, and the limper folds.

The turn is the 4♣. What should you do? ♠

Again, there’s no right answer here, but it’s worth considering the same maneuver from the previous example. Except this time the goal is to induce over-aggression on the turn, and then attempt to win the pot with a bluff.

So you bet out $100 into a $315 pot. The pro raises to $350, say. Then you reraise to $900, leaving a little under $2,000 left for the river.

It’s going to be a tough spot for the pro. He’s likely starting with a weak range pre-flop. The flop C-bet on an A-7-3 rainbow board doesn’t show significant strength. The pro could decide to make that bet with any number of weaker hands.

The turn raise is the over-aggression we induced by mimicking a weak play often made by recreational players. So that raise doesn’t imply strength either. This is a classic case of catching a

player putting too much money into a pot with a weak hand set. If you want an edge on 5-10 pros, you have to find ways to induce bets and then raise when the underlying strength of their hand range doesn’t justify their actions.

From time to time, this line will blow up in your face, as the pro will show up with 6-5 suited or a flopped set. That’s part of the deal. But the occasional blow up is built into the math. As long as your opponent is getting out of line too much pre-flop, and then again on the turn raise, you’re covered. You’ll make enough when it works to pay for the blow ups when it doesn’t.

If all else fails, make sure you spike a club on the river and suck out.

HAND 3

[This hand comes from an article I wrote for Card Player magazine (vol. 27 no. 11) entitled “Mistakes 5-10 Players Make.”]

You open A♣Q♣ for $30 from two off the button. A pro (who doesn’t know you) calls on the button.

The flop is 9♣4♠3♦. What do you do? ♠

Check. This is a dynamic flop, favoring the in-position player, and it doesn’t connect well with your opening range from two off the button. A professional player in position will know well how

to handle this situation. It’s best to acknowledge the unfortunate call on the button, and the bad flop, by checking most of your range.

You check, and the pro bets $50. What do you do?

Call. Just because you checked the flop doesn’t mean you should give up if the pro breathes on the pot. He could be betting his entire range here, and a good ace-high is still likely the best hand on this type of ragged flop.

The turn is the K♠. What do you do? ♠

Here you have options. You can bet out, representing the king. It’s not a bad option, since now the board is less dynamic than on the flop, and since you very plausibly could have hit the king.

But betting out won’t gain you much. If he’s got a king, he won’t fold. And if he’s got nothing, you have him beaten with just one card to come. He probably won’t fold a nine straight out either, nor a hand like T-T. Mostly, a bet gets better hands to call, and worse hands to fold. It’s not a disaster by any means, since even if your opponent has 7-2 he’s got outs to beat you. But you might be able to do better.

If your goal is to induce over-aggression, checking might be the better play. The goal is to induce action from worse hands. Sure, he could bet a king, and you’d call. But if you bet out, then

he’s calling with the king and it’s all the same. Also, checking could give you live-read information you wouldn’t get from betting.

Either line is defensible. I would choose one or the other based on the errors I expect the player to make. In other words, I’d try to think one step ahead of my opponent and play to my assumptions. My success or failure would depend on my ability to predict his strategy and his actions.

In the actual hand, I checked. So let’s say that’s what you do. He checks it back. The river is the A♦. What do you do now?

Again, you could bet or check. If you bet, it’s because you think your opponent is more likely to try to bluff-catch, than try to bluff or make a thin value bet. If you check, it’s the opposite. In these games, I thought it was far more likely the pro would bet if checked to, than call if I bet.

So I checked. He bet $90 into the $175 pot. I called. He showed K-J and I won.

He was trying to bet second pair for value on the river. He likely assumed I held a hand like a nine or T-T. He probably checked back the turn because he was worried I would try to make a Skill #2 fold against him if he bet out on the turn. After I checked again on the river, he tried to squeeze a bet out of me.

This value bet was overly optimistic. If he was worried I’d try to make a Skill #2 fold on the turn, he should have been equally worried on the river after the boss overcard hit. Furthermore,

there’s a good chance I’d have an ace. Given the assumptions about me he seemed to be making, he was more likely getting called by an ace than a nine, so he should have checked back the river.

Again, the theme in this hand is consistent. Aggressive 5-10 players, whether “pros” or recreational players, still play too many hands pre-flop, giving you access to their money. To capitalize on this access, you have to anticipate how they intend to dump their extra weak hands. When your opponents are aggressive, you have to give them opportunities and inducements to take shots at you. Then you snap them off.

It’s a tricky, volatile game to get the hang of. A robust discussion of aggressive, higher-stakes games is beyond the scope of this book. I hope the included examples give you a taste of the type of thinking you’ll have to master to climb successfully to 5- 10 and beyond.

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