I'm still not the kind of player who can name the exact hand my opponent has most of the time. Really, I can't do that even half of the time.
But I find the hand that's easiest to name tends to be A-K.
I've got $50.75 in a .25/.50 NL Holdem game at PokerStars. I'm dealt - . I have every intention of playing this, so let's see what the action brings.
I am in the Big Blind, however, so I don't plan on pushing the action with my small pair. I generally like to limp with a small pair in any position in a cash game, and I'll also call a raise with that pair.
I prefer to limp because I don't want to be re-raised and be forced to put more money in a pot that I most likely will not contest. I'm set mining in most situations and will probably toss my pair away if I don't hit.
The Small Blind raises $1.50 to $2. That could mean anything. In a six-handed game, he could be trying to buy my blind, or he could actually have something. Regardless, I'm calling here, as not only do I have my small pair, but I'll actually be in position despite the fact that I'm in the Big Blind. The Small Blind, by the way, has $48.25.
The flop comes - - . Well, bingo, bango, bongo, I've hit my set!
Not only that, but there's an Ace on the board. This, to me, is perfect. Remember, he raised, so it's conceivable that he has an Ace in his hand, and this means there's a good chance I'll get action on my set.
He bets $3, which is two-thirds of the pot. Well, again, that could mean anything, but at this point, I think I'm going to put him on an Ace. I am contemplating a raise, given the two spades on the board, but I don't know if he would bet so much out of position with just a draw because if I raise him, he'll either have to make a mistake and call, or throw his hand away. Plus, he's betting himself out of the odds to play his hand if he has a draw. This seems more like a protection bet to me.
Given that, I'm going to call and hope he decides to bet again on the turn.
The falls on the turn, and my opponent checks. Well, sigh, maybe I should have raised on the flop. That card may have killed my action because now it puts two flush draws out there and completes an unlikely straight draw. Well, OK, the pot isn't terrible right now. It's $10. So I decide to bet. I can't give him a free card even if I still only think he has an Ace with a good kicker because I could be wrong, and not only that, the next card could definitely kill any more action.
I bet $6, the pot. If he wants to come along for the ride, it's going to cost him. But he calls me.
I honestly don't know what to think about that. He could have a backdoor flush draw working, or he could have hit that straight draw, or he could have two pair now (I refuse to consider he's got a higher set than me, if he does he's getting my money).
The hits the river. Now I've got a decision to make when my opponent checks.
I was planning to call a bet, but I wonder if I should make one. I've got a nice hand and need to get some value for it. Let's take a look at what he could have.
Yes, he could have a backdoor flush, but that seems unlikely. I'm just not buying it. He could have a straight, but again, that seems unlikely. I can't imagine what hand he could have that he would raise before the flop and bet on the flop that would fit either scenario. Again, I refuse to consider he has a higher set than me because that also seems unlikely.
The most likely hand, which is what I try to assign to my opponent, still seems to be a high Ace. The check/call on the turn worries me a little bit on that read, but a call there could be pot control by him and still makes some sense.
So I bet $15. That's the amount I would have called anyway, and if he does have a high Ace, that might be enough to get him to look me up.
Instead, he raises $22.25 to $37.25 and is all-in.
Well, that was a good check-raise by him. I'm going to have to trust my read here. In fact, I have to put him on A-K specifically. That's the only card, other than a backdoor flush, that would allow him to be so confident in his hand and push there.
I think he got a little too excited about his A-K and took it a little far to the river here, and it seems to me that he's check-raising because it's a strong move. It seems to me that given my action, he's hoping that such a strong move will either make me fold or that he's got a good enough hand to beat me if I do call.
So I call and peek through one eye as he flips over - , and I take a really nice pot.
It's easy to get carried away with A-K. Whenever you see casinos advertising poker (Just Like You See On TV!), they always seem to show A-K. All the pros go all-in with it in those tournaments, AND when an Ace hits the board, man, it's golden, right?
It's because of all the fascination with A-K that allows me to put my opponent specifically on that hand when a scare card hits the river and take a nice pot.