Characterizing unknown players

Whenever I think about unknown players I am reminded of a hand that I played at the Commerce Casino about one year ago. ...

Posted Jul 21, 2012


Bart Hanson BW2

Bart Hanson

Owner and Lead Pro

Whenever I think about unknown players I am reminded of a hand that I played at the Commerce Casino about one year ago. The game was $5-$10 no-limit with a $1500 max buy-in. I had had a pretty good session and was up to $4000. The table next to us just broke and a new, young, Asian guy had just sat down with $5000. He appeared to play pretty tight for two orbits until we got mixed up in the following hand.

I opened to $35 in mid position with 8 9, the button called and this guy reraised to $175 out of the big blind. Because I thought he was tight and we were deep I decided to call in position. The button folded and we were heads up. The flop came out Q 9 8 and the villain bet $250. Obviously I was ecstatic. This was exactly the situation that I wanted to be in as I thought that it was likely that he had aces or kings. Right away, as I do most of the time at this level, I decided to raise to $700 to build up a pot. To my shock the villain then instantly moved me all-in.

In the old days of no-limit (more than five years ago) I would have snapped called here figuring that there was a good enough chance that my opponent was overvaluing a big overpair. However, as the game has evolved people are much less likely to push back with their overpairs after getting raised--although tighter guys still cannot fold them. But usually players will revert into a check-call shell. This guy was younger which can be interpreted in a number of different ways. Usually, I go with the assumption that younger players have better fundamentals than their nittier, older counterparts and are less likely to overplay their hands. I came to the conclusion that it was unlikely that this guy would push so much money in facing a flop raise and I gave him credit for QQ or some sort of light three-bet with JT. Much to my dismay after tanking for five minutes and folding he told me "good lay down" as he flipped up AA.

One orbit later I observed this player limp in under the gun with J 4. I felt sick to my stomach as I realized that this guy was inexperienced. Poker is a game of incomplete information and you must tag unknowns as good or bad as quickly as possible. That little bit of information--the fact that the guy limped in with J4--would have made my decision in the crazy all-in hand totally different. Make sure that when new players come to the table that you pay attention to their first few hands. This will make big decisions a lot easier down the line.

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