In my second hand of the game, I won a huge pot with A8, flopping a pair of Aces. I felt paranoid in this hand, because A8 is considered a garbage hand by good players, and I had it in the back of my head that if I got beat on this hand, I’d been told. I’m in for the Small Blind, the blinds are cheap, and I was willing to see if I could win.
I flopped a pair of Aces, Qc7cAs, and, leading out, decided that I’m first to act, and I’m not sure if my 8 kicker will be good enough, so I decide to check, and see if anyone else bets. If no one bets the flop, I’ll buy the pot on the Turn. A big bet, and I’ll fold, but a small bet I’ll stay in and see what happens, maybe I’ll pair my 8, or if not and the pot stays small, I’ll take the chance of losing a few hundred chips here.
One of the late positions min-bets, and is called by the player behind him. I read this bet as weakness to feel out the table to see if anyone has a strong claim to the Ace, and I expect that they may have a Queen, or a weaker Ace than mine, or possibly a flush draw.
So I lay out a raise slightly under the pot size, the rest of the table folds, and am called by both players. I was hoping my raise would close the hand, but the bet amounts relative to the stack sizes are too small for that, and now I’m worried at least one of them will turn up an Ace of their own, and that it will either be stronger, or backed with another pair, so I think about laying the hand down. If either had re-raised me here, I would have layed down.
We see the Turn, a deuce, and that’s a good card for me because it doesn’t hit anybody’s range here, except maybe if someone had tried to play 54, now they have a wheel draw, but I don’t give it much thought. I fire again, this time a pot-sized bet, hoping that the bigger bet will close the hand. The first player calls me, however, but the second one decides to get out of the hand, and mucks.
Well, that almost worked. The pot is up to more than 2000 chips now, and that’s plenty big enough for me on Top Pair with a middle kicker. I’d hoped that such a big bet would close the hand down, and instead now it’s out of hand, and I really don’t feel good here.
We see the river, which is a Ten. The Ten worries me some, because with AQ already on board, KJ just made a straight, and I could also see someone playing AT (which would already be ahead of me) here. But it also affords me the chance to make it look as though I have filled a Broadway straight, and I feel like 800 is a good value bet for someone making that hand. He had just called a 675 chip bet the street before, and now the pot odds are even better, he almost has to call here for the odds I’ve given him. But I really want him to fold here — I’m thinking if this is a good player, he’ll read that value bet as an invitation to call, and realize that if I want him to call, I probably have it, so he should therefore not call, and then he’ll fold.
I gave him too much credit.
He doesn’t just call — he shoves. This is the worst possible thing he could have done to me. Now, I have to make a decision. Do I call here, or do I lay it down and struggle through the rest of the game and try to recover? Do I have this hand? I’m far from confident about that. Top Pair is not that great of a hand, and my 8-kicker is may be good but in all likelihood, isn’t if someone else is playing an Ace this way.
My opponent nearly got me to fold, but I looked at my remaining stack and decided that it would be better to just go out in 2 hands than to play longer at this table after taking such a beating, and try to recover. I had top pair, after all, and if I was beat, whether by Aces and a better kicker, or two pair, or whatever, I wanted to see the hand. They were just a King away from a Broadway straight, and didn’t get there.
So I call. The showdown: He’s on 2nd pair, Queens, holding QJ for QQAJT, and I’m the winner with AAQT8.
I have no idea why he felt he could bet 2nd pair this way, and if he’d shoved on the flop I surely would have laid down, but he got me in slow, street by street, and on the river bet, I figured he either had KJ and filled Broadway on the river, or else AA or maybe AT, all of which beat me. But I wanted to see the hand that beat me here, so I called.
That left him with 30 chips, cab fare for the ride home, and like that I’m already the chip leader at the table with over 5200 in front of me, double the rest of the table. It’s a great way to start off.
But that said, he really did play the hand well, shoving on the end like he did. He very nearly had me convinced that I was beaten and should muck my hand. He represented the Broadway draw filling very well – min bet on the flop could have been intended to block the table, enabling him to see a cheap Turn. My bet on the turn should have been enough to get him to lay down, but maybe he just felt lucky and wanted to see one more card, and hit paydirt, and decided to shove it back at me. And if he’d had KJ there, that’s exactly what would have happened, and then I would be grousing about how I could see it coming and knew that’s what would happen, and I’d be angry at myself for playing A8 in the first place…
It’s interesting how good my intuition was here. First, the intuition that if I played A8, I’d probably get in trouble with it – the whole way through this hand, I feel like I’m very shakey and probably making a mistake that just keeps getting bigger the further the hand goes. The initial read of my opponent’s action on the flop was perfect. My tactics in response to the situation were sound, although my flop and turn bets didn’t have their intended results – closing the hand – they did result in a happy outcome for me, and really punished my opponent for making very bad decisions with his hand.
On the other hand, all that good stuff was bookended by two pretty bad decisions: To play A8o out of the SB in the first place, and to call all-in on the river, facing what looked like it could well have been a filled straight that had resisted all my efforts to get it to fold. But maybe I can start to trust my ability to read my opponents, having shown that what I could do here. I’m just not sure yet, was my read really that good? Or was it just a guess that happened to be right? I feel like the flop read was perfect, but I felt like my read on the river was 50-50, and I called more because I was OK with losing than because I felt confident that I had it.
What this adds up to, though, for anyone at the table who might have been playing close attention, was that I am a loose player who got very lucky playing marginal cards and wouldn’t back down even when it looked like I could be up against a monster. And that’s a table image that I can exploit, if I play TAG the rest of the way.