Hand No. 12 with Dusty Schmidt

POKER STARS $5/$10 NO LIMIT HOLDEM – 6 PLAYERS

Opening ten-four suited on the button is standard. So is making a two-thirds pot sized continuation bet on this board that is unlikely to have hit the small blind’s range.

The two of clubs is the ultimate brick on the turn. This opponent is extremely unlikely to check/call the flop and then check/fold this particular turn card, so Dusty checks back.

When the small blind bets the river, it would be the easiest thing in the world to simply give up. After all, Dusty has no hand. He’s checked the turn, pretty much announcing that he has no hand. But let’s take a closer look at each player’s range.

To begin with, it’s very difficult for the small blind to have a hand that he’s excited about. He could possibly have called the flop with pocket twos, but a pair that weak will usually fold. He could also have check/called with a hand like queen-jack. Given the preflop cold call, this would probably have to be queen-jack suited, which is only three combos. Combined with pocket twos, that’s only six remotely possible combinations of hands that are happy to get chips in. It seems extremely unlikely that this player slowplayed a hand as strong as a seven, or a full house.

Let’s look at the rest of his range. He could have a small pocket pair which is making an ill-advised and overly thin value bet. He could also have a hand like ace-jack, king- jack, or jack-ten making a similar value bet. Missed gutshots like nine-eight and ten-nine are also possible. There is some chance for the small blind to hold a hand like ace-queen or king-queen that floated out of position, but these usually would have 3-bet preflop.

Taken as a whole, the small blind’s range is very weak and can rarely stand a raise.

Looking at Dusty’s range, there are few very strong hands possible. But there are many possible queens he could hold. Ace-queen, king-queen, queen-ten, or any suited queen. When he raises, it’s very easy for his opponent to give him credit for this and fold a smaller pair.

A common mistake that mediocre players make is to check out of a hand early. You can see it in their mannerisms in live games. They’ll twirl their finger to the dealer like, “Come on, let’s see another card. Let’s get this over with.” Their more observant opponents will see their attitude and take advantage.

Would you rather be the player giving up every time you don’t have something, or the one taking advantage of the guy who does? The idea is not to blindly raise at every turn (or river), but rather to always keep your eyes open. Never stop thinking about your opponent’s range and how he’ll play it. When an opponent can never be strong, it’s usually a good time to take a stab at a lonely pot.

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