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Leak #9 - Not Seeing Draws

seeing draws

Leak #9 "not seeing draws" is symbolized by a painting from Salvatore Dali, "Paranoic Visage", 1935. This painting (drawing) is a double image; it could be seen as its "real" image, which is an African hut with people around it; or it could be seen as a surrealist concealed image, which is the face and neck of a man.

If you focus on one of these two possible images, you will not see the other one clearly, and vice versa. Two additional concealed faces can be imagined in the trees and in the cloud.

Salvatore Dali concluded while creating his masterpiece that viewers see what they want to see when they look at an image or object. This is very much so in poker too. At times we see the strength of our hand but we fail to see potential risks such as hidden straights or straight draws. One hand which occurred in a Texas Hold'em full ring no-limit $0.25/$0.50 game at Pokerstars went as follow.

Hero limps from UTG+1 with 5♠5, MP1 and big blind call. The flop comes 56♠3. Big blind min bets $0.50, hero calls, MP1 folds. Calling is very questionable here, but let us say that this was a wait and see approach. The turn is Q which does not coordinate with the board except for a diamond flush draw, big blind bets $1.50, hero raises 3 times to $4.50, big blind 3-bet to $10, hero calls.

The big blind has statistics of 23/17/5.4 over 1500 hands, but we have no history with him. Normally this action is not a bluff, but given his very aggressive statistics, it could be a bluff or a semi-bluff. The dangerous cards are QQ, 42 or 74. QQ is very unlikely given his style, but he is in the big blind so he could have ATC such as 74 or 42. The river is 9♠ which does not help any hand except 87 for a straight. Villain bets $12 or 53% of pot, hero calls, villain shows 74 for the nuts straight.

Yes 74 was a possibility, but it was not really treated as a real risk as most player do not play such hands (forgetting that villain was the big blind). The very aggressive playing style of the villain misled the hero into believing that villain did not have a straight, but was trying to take hero out of the hand.

But remember a 3-bet at the turn from a solid player normally means a monster. Here we were fooled by 74 which are very unusual hole cards, producing a nice concealed flopped straight. We did not see the straight. Let us now show a real draw in the same game.

Hero in the cutoff who holds K♠K raises to $1.50, and is called by UTG+1 and BB. The flop is 59 J♠, which is a very uncoordinated board. Both players check, hero bets $2.50 in the $4.75 pot, both players call. The turn is 3♠, which is a blank, both players check, hero bets $7.50 in the $12.25 pot, big blind calls, UTG+1 folds. Finally the river is 8 and this time the big blind open bets for $5.50.

This is a small bet considering the pot of $27.25, and it is typical of a player who hit a big hand and is afraid to not get paid for it. If he checks, hero may check too, and if he bets a more reasonably sized bet, he is afraid that hero will fold. Hero calls given the pot odds and villain shows Q♠T for a rivered straight.

The key here is that hero did not see that the river 8 completed a straight draw, or did not even think that villain was drawing to a straight. Otherwise he should have made bigger bets in order to give bad pot odds to the drawer.

In order to have a straight draw on the flop 59J♠, villain must have called a preflop raise with QT or T8, which are normally bad cards to call raises with. Note that concealed draws or unexpected draws usually means that your opponent will hold unexpected cards. Villain in the last example was a total unknown, and unknown in low stakes games should be treated as able to hold ATC until proven otherwise.


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