The Missing Piece

You’ll be rewarded for making the wrong play and penalized for making the correct play in poker at times, which is what makes it so challenging to master. This skewed reinforcement creates bad habits and leaves players confused as to why they are not winning in the long run. In today’s hand, you will see how you can do everything right, but still be dominated and lose a large pot.

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I’m facing a minimum raise from The Cutoff+2 (TC+2) while holding Ks-Kh in The Cutoff (TC). The blinds are $400/$800 and I have $90,000 in my stack, which is about 112 big blinds, a large stack according to The Poker Model. The raiser has 23 big blinds left after his initial raise.

Ks-Kh is the second best starting hand in the game of No Limit Texas Hold’em which makes it premium, a hand that we want to get all of our chips in Pre-Flop with. For a detailed breakdown of all starting hand matchups, check out Good Move, Bad Outcome. In Good Move, Bad Outcome, you will find that K-K is a ~70% favorite to beat any single ace, an ~80% favorite to beat and lower pocket pair, and a ~90% favorite to beat any two undercards. With those overwhelming odds, I’ll reraise (3-bet) to $4,000, hoping my opponent will move all-in after the raise.

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I make the raise and the rest of the table folds. My opponent moves all-in and the action is back on me. This is precisely what I was hoping for. I have a hand that is beating almost every other starting hand and I’m in a position to win a big pot.

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I make the call and my opponent flips over Ac-Ah, the one hand that is beating my Ks-Kh. This is unfortunate because my opponent would perform the same actions with 7-7, 8-8, 9-9, 10-10, J-J, Q-Q, A-Q, and A-K as well as A-A. For this reason we must treat the situation as though he doesn’t have A-A because it’s far less likely. This hand is a great example of a cooler, a hand where both players made the correct play and one had to win.

So should I have folded K-K because there was a possibility that my opponent had A-A? Absolutely not. Put yourself in this position infinite times. Sure, sometimes they will have A-A, but most of the other times they will not and in the long run you will be a winner. From The Poker Model perspective, the rest of the hand does not matter because all of our decisions have been made. But let’s run it out just for fun.

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I hit an unlikely King on the Flop! But then he hit an unlikely Ace on the River. It’s okay, the best hand won. Remember to get your money in good and not overthink it if you got unlucky. The key, however, is to know when you got unlucky.

Brett

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