After a nice win on Friday I deviated from my Friday only plan a little bit and went back in Saturday night. It was the day before the Superbowl and I was hoping that a handful of the 1,000,000 people in town for the game and related events might trickle in to the Oaks. This did not happen at all. It was mostly the regular faces and it was actually less busy than a normal Saturday.
My session was mostly a real snooze fest. I spent a lot of time losing small pots and just sitting there. The two hands worth noting were both bluffs.
On the first I had 53 of diamonds on the button and 5 of us saw a flop for $5. The flop was T 4 2 giving me an open ended straight draw. The player just to my right was a 6 foot tall, 350 pound guy who looked like he was about 80. You don't see too many old guys that heavy so even though I only played with him one or two times in the past I remembered him clearly and knew he was not a strong player. Mr. Heavy bet out $20 on the flop. Just about the only thing he would bet here is one pair of tens so my plan was to just call and if I either made my straight or a card higher than ten came along, I'd put the heat on. Surprisingly all three other players called as well. The turn was an 8 and Mr. Heavy bet out $50. Normally if someone is going to bet into 4 people twice they have something pretty solid, but I still had him squarely on a T. I opted to just call since it was possible someone else might a big hand. Everyone else folded. The river was a K and again Mr. Heavy bet $50.
In my experience the most reliable best bet sizing tell in all of poker is someone betting the exact same amount on either the flop and turn or turn and river in a cash game. Almost without exception it means "I don't know what to do here so I guess I'll just bet the same thing again." Strong players never do this because on the next round the pot is so much bigger that a bigger bet is called for. They might bet $50 and follow it up with $60 or $70 in some very specific instances, but exactly $50 again is a huge clue. In the hand above, on the turn Mr. Heavy was betting $50 into a pot of $120 which is on the small size, in the realm of normal. But after my call on the turn, when we get to the river he's betting $50 into $220. If he had any kind of hand at all that he thought was good, he'd probably be putting $75-$100 or more out there. When I see this behavior I shut down any doubt and raise.
I made it $200 to go, Mr. Heavy quickly mucked and I took down the $270 pot when I had literally the worst possible hand on the river.
With the next hand in mind I want to take a moment to talk about levels of thinking in poker.
-The first level is "what are my cards" - This is where rank novices start.
- The second level is "what do I think my opponent has" - Even beginners get here most of the time
- The third level is "what does my opponent think I have" - There is a quantum leap between level 2 and 3 and many players never think on the third level.
- The fourth level is "what does my opponent think, I think they have" - You can only get to this level when playing against a player who is thinking on the third level.
- The fifth level is "If my opponent thinks I'm thinking on the 4th level, what do they think I'm thinking.
There is no limit to how deep you can go, but you can only go one level above your opponent or you'll end up making catastrophic mistakes. It happens often enough a bigger games that players over think it that there is a name for it - it's called leveling yourself. The most simple example is if someone is only worried about their cards and not thinking about what you have at all, then you can't convince them of anything with your actions.
Near the end of my session I got into a hand with some 4th level thinking. I got dealt T8 of diamonds and called $20 on the button. The raiser was a an Oaks regular who has been a full time professional player for a number of years. I know him mainly as a $30/$60 limit hold'em player, but he's been playing no limit more and more lately and I know he's had some success in pretty big tournaments. We took the flop 3 way and the board came down 7 7 5 with two diamonds. Mr. Pro bet $35 and I just called. Raising was a possibility, but at the time (going to my 4th level thinking here) I figured if I raised he would not put me on a 7 because I'd likely wait until the turn to raise a 7. What I did not consider was he would probably put me on a pair in the 66-TT range if I did raise.
Anyway, the turn was an A which looked like a shitty card to me. I expected Mr. Pro to bet again, but he checked. My 2nd level thinking told me he did not have an A in his hand and probably had a pocket pair. My 3rd level thinking told me that he would think I could easily have an ace in my hand or maybe a 7. So I bet $80 and to my surprise he called. The river was a 3 and I found myself not being able to get past the 1st level. I had nothing and I checked. Mr. Pro rolled over KT and proudly took the pot! ACK! He called a 2/3 pot bet with two unders on the turn!?
On the turn Mr. Pro went to the 4th level knowing that I would read his check on the turn as weak and bet with probably my entire range which included a lot of draws and unpaired big cards. If I'd taken my time with the 2nd level on the river I would have bet big again and won.
I ended up losing $342 on the night in 3.5 hours. When I went to cash out something funky happened. I had $658 dollars in chips which amounted to one rack of 100 $5 chips, one stack of 20 $5 chips, 10 other $5 chips and $8 in ones. When the cashiers count out your chips, they usually put them in piles of $100 or $20 so it's visual how many bills to give you, but in this instance she put out two piles of four $5 chips, and then broke the rest into a pile of $15 that had two $5's and a pile of five $1 chips and then had three $1 chips on their own. I thought "She's going to stiff me $5" She's going to give me whatever fifty three and not whatever fifty eight. Sure enough she ran the bills through the bill counter and it said $1,153. I said "I think it's $58" and she looked again said "Oh!" put another $5 on there and proceeded to pay me $1,153. While she was counting out the hundreds I remembered that I was only due $653! Of course being no a huge a hole I told her she'd overpaid me.
After 15 hours I'm up $832 for the project.