Sunday, April 02, 2006

Counterfeiting Hands

BB's to go: 256.5 or $10.26

Caveat: Again, these types of posts are more my effort to consolidate and solidify my own poker knowledge. I understand most of the people reading this are familiar with the ideas of counterfeiting and comparing your hand to a range of possible hands your opponents might have.

Hidden Outs: Counterfeiting Hands

In order to correctly evaluate your hand, it's necessary to identify 'hidden' outs and danger signs that can affect your decision on how to proceed.

One important thing to consider is how your hand may be 'counterfeited' or neutralized by potential cards your opponent may have.

For example, you're in a low-limit game and you have:

Q 5 and the board reads:

9 Q 5

You are in the BB and there were three limpers pre-flop. You have opened the betting and there was one raiser. The two other limpers fold and it's your turn to act.

Your two pair is a strong hand. Or is it? Because you are not depending on a paired board to make your hand, it's unlikely anyone will be able to put you on your two pair. But, there are several things to take into consideration here.

First, let's assume the raiser has only a queen. If she's got the more likely hands, like AQ, KQ, QJ, or QT, you are ahead, but that means there are two chances for twelve cards (3 aces, 3 kings, 3 jacks, and 3 tens) to come that could put you badly behind, leaving you with two outs to win (2 fives.)

Now, let's assume she has a somewhat less likely card: Q 9 suited. Again, you are already behind and drawing to two outs.

Your position is somewhat better if the raiser has Q 8-6. You are ahead. If an 8,7, or 6 comes on the turn, your hand will be counterfeited and you will be behind. But, in addition to your two outs to win, you now have two additional outs to tie (2 queens, giving you both trips with a nine kicker.) If the nine pairs, you are behind because you have a lower kicker.

If, in the unlikely event that the raiser has Q 4-2, you are well ahead, even if she makes her two pair. If the nine pairs, you will have the raiser outkicked.

Sets and overpairs:

We haven't even talked yet about sets. If the raiser has a set of queens, you will need runner runner fives and are nearly drawing dead. If she's got a set of nines, you are drawing to two outs (2 queens for a higher full house.) You have a little better chance if the raiser has a set of fives, as the two nines and two queens will give you a better hand. The consolation with this is that, if you hit your full house, the raiser will probably be likely to raise and re-raise, as she will probably assume she's got the best hand.

Now, you've taken all of this into account, but you might as well forget about it, because you've run out of time (that's what that annoying beeping was) and Pokerstars has folded your hand. Clearly, you don't usually have enough time to run through all this in real life.

"But, CL," you may ask, "how can I use this information to decide what to do?"

Well, what I do, is simply try to get a rough idea of how many hands are possible that beat me, compared to the number of hands where I'm ahead. Using the example above, I might think:

"Okay, the only hands that beat me at this point are sets and Q-9. I'm ahead against anyone with overcards and slightly ahead of anyone with J-10 (open-ended straight draw) and Q-6 and up. I'm dominating anyone with Q-4 and lower."

Based on this analysis, I'm thinking my two pair is vulnerable, but strong enough to call. Usually, I'll start the betting on the next rounds. If an A, K, J, T comes up, I'll likely bet then fold if the raiser bumps it up. If an 8 comes up, I may also bet/fold because of the straight possibility.

If the nine pairs, I'll likely check/fold, as my chances of running into someone with a Q and a higher kicker are too high.

If I see a 7 or 6 on the turn or river, I'll check/call.

If a 4, 3, or 2 comes up, I'm betting hard- I'll take my chances that the raiser has a set.

That's what I would do. What say you? Am I way off base, or am I on the right track?


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