Against A Good Player
If I flat-called, the other calling poker player between us would almost certainly call, also. Then, if the check-raising player bet the turn, I could put in a raise when the bet doubled and put a huge amount of pressure on the calling player to fold. And if he called a double bet, I would receive the value from that call. Also, I might not want to raise the turn if a scary card came off (a straight or flush card), and therefore would save money by playing conservatively if my hand was beaten or got beat. That said, much of the value lost by not raising is allowing the third player to play for one small bet if he would fold to or call a reraise.
If not reraising cost me the pot, I would have made a play that cost a lot of value. A large part of the value of raising would be to remove the third player from the pot, thereby diminishing the possibility of that scenario.
But in order to actualize that value, he would have to fold to my three-bet raise.
I asked myself, is the calling hold'em poker player one who would fold a hand after putting in one bet and facing two more? In this particular case, I believed the answer was no, he would not fold to two more bets after putting in one. With that being the case, the best value I would receive from raising the flop could not be actualized. So, I chose to flat-call with the intent of raising the turn (depending on the card), so as to charge the calling player the double bet on the turn or shut him out of the pot.
The turn card was an offsuit 3, the caller checked, and the check-raiser led into me. Since I found the 3 favorable, I raised. The weak caller folded and the check-raiser called.
The river card was the 84, making a four-straight on the board and filling the potential flush. It was not my dream card. I felt much more confident in my holding when my opponent checked to me, and thought about betting for value. Many players, fearing a raise, check strong boards too often and lose value from weaker hands that would still call them. But to actualize that value, you must get called by a weaker hand and must weigh the chances and the value lost of being check-raised and losing two bets or getting outplayed off your hand.
In this situation, being a good, aware player, myopponent knew I was capable of betting for value with one pair, and he was capable of check-raising if he could beat one pair, but was also capable of check-raising as a bluff (meaning that if I got check-raised, I would probably call). He also might not call me if he held only a single pair that couldn't beat top pair, good kicker. Feeling that was the case, I decided to check. He showed the AV 10,, and I turned over my two kings, toked the dealer, and dragged the pot.
Thinking I may have missed a bet and might have gotten a call on the river from him, I replayed my thought process of the river check and still came to the conclusion that I had made the right play even though it might have been to my advantage to bet in this situation. It is important when you replay hands after the fact to replay your judgment based on the information available at the point of decision, and not to include any information gained after the fact.
In this situation, my opponent held one of the few hands with which he could have called me. Other holdings in his potential range of hands would not have incorporate all potential scenarios into your decisions.
This hand speaks to adjusting your play according to your opponents' tendencies. The value of most poker play is very dependant on how your opponent(s) will react in the current situation. Acquiring a good feel for your opponents' tendencies will enable you to increase your edges in certain situations. So, pay attention and try to pick up your opponents' patterns of play.
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