Okay, I don’t really think this is the (second) best fold of all time. Maybe not even in the top 20.
But what made this hand so sweet is not the merit of the fold, but rather the speed at which it was done.
And although I wish my brain was some super computer which processed algorithms and crunches number like IBM’s Watson, it’s not. (Yet).
I was able to process this information so fast because while my opponent was betting I observed him and his intentions. I used what no super computer in the world can, sheer, raw instinct.
I have an internal dialogue, which I ask myself before each and every time I make a decision.
What is my opponent’s intention?
And, while watching him formulate his bet, I realized something.
This man wanted to get paid.
It didn’t matter that he had bluffed off several times before, that he was stuck, frustrated and perhaps playing too many hands.
My read was that he wanted to get unstuck and this was his hand to do it.
If that’s true then I only beat a bluff. Any hand that he value bets for $3,000 into a $2,400 pot has me beat. And since he’s not bluffing it means I’m beat.
I didn’t let the noise from the past distract me, or talk myself into some useless game theory optimal call.
I just made the right decision in the moment, and folded.
People often ask me if the math or instinct is more important. They’re missing the true essence of what it means to make decisions at live poker. How can I separate two things, which are intrinsically connected?
The truth is both are equally important, because they are one in the same. Instinct (or your reads) affect the math, because the read you get in any given moment skews the range of hands your opponent could have.
First I used my instinct to make a read. This narrowed down my opponents range dramatically.
Then I used math. Given that I didn’t think he was bluffing my decision was rather simple. Against his value betting range (9x, sets, and straights) I beat 0% of hands, therefore I folded.
It’s only if he’s bluffing or value betting worse can I mathematically justify calling.
So the next time you’re in a predicament use your instinct to make a read. Then base the math off your read, keeping in mind that your read influences the hands that your opponent could likely have.
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