Queens in No Limit Hold 'Em

Sometimes you just got to go with a hand and not think too much of table dynamics. A lesson I reaffirmed recently in a poker game at the big Harrahs. I had played with a gentleman all day and he was playing a cautious, tight aggressive style. He seemed to have few leaks and really had discipline in his hand selection. I'd learn after a couple of hands he had a penchant for overplaying small pairs, but I didn't know that at the time.

His poker strategy seem straightforward and I read him as thus. When he raised from early position, after never having done that all day, I worried a bit when I looked at pocket queens. This hand is a tricky one to play and based on the fact his bet was one quarter of his stack size I felt like I was playing for his entire stack.

I considered shoving as I had about double what he had but I still had the entire table to follow. Maybe I shouldn't isolate and who knows what kind of hands could come. I gave some small consideration to outright folding. In fact, in I also considered what kind of reraise I could make.

I knew that I'd be pot-tied with any re-raise and get involved in a coin-flip at best or a dominated situation at worst if I did so an somebody followed me up. I still think the best play would have been to raise but I didn't. I called prepared to shove the flop if an Ace of King didn't come.

Two players later I watched the other tightest player at the table put all his chips at risk by shoving all-in. Ohhh. The initial raiser had him barely covered but shoved as well. The Queens I didn't like before suddenly shrivled even more. There was one problem the meta-game that was going on.

I knew I had both players covered and this could be a big pot. The guy behind me had played with me plenty of times but at the same time surely read my indecision to raise as maybe indecision to get in the pot. If he did so, that could lower his range of hands to shove with. It's not necessarily true that he would have to have Aces or Kings in this spot.

The first guy called and the liklihood he had a bigger hand went up. He didn't call off his chips all day so, I was limiting what he had. What I failed to consider was that even though I wasn't getting 4 to 1 to set-mine with a big pair, I was getting enough odds to call because of the possibility I might not need to set-mine. I could be way ahead of AK and AK. I could be killing JJ and 1010.

Still, I focused only on the style of players and over limited their hand ranges. The first guy might have been tight but he was short, same with the second who I also knew was good enough to exploit my indecision when I acted. Both would have reason to try and double-up with lesser hands.

I know I got too tentative from the get-go and was looking for a way out of the hand. I showed the guy to my left my queens as I folded and he said wow, strong move. When I saw 66 and 1010 (66 to the initial raiser and 1010 to the guy that shoved first) I was a little crestfallen. It doesn't matter that sixes became a set, I still made the wrong move even if I got lucky by doing so.


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