Limit Hold'em: Hand Analysis (1)

In this article of our series of example hands in limit hold'em, the hand is divided into four parts (pre-flop, flop, turn and river) and every part is described precisely. In this hand, we hit top pair on the flop, but we play passively against an opponent who showed a lot of strength before the flop. 

Pre-flop

We – "Hero" – are UTG and are holding . In this case we raise, just as our starting-hand chart recommends. The player UTG+1 on our left ("villain 8") re-raises. All the other players fold. We now have the option of calling or re-raising once again (cap). We have no information about the opponent, but normally we can assume that he probably has one of the following hands: , , , , , , or . According to our odds calculator, the average probability of winning this hand is only around 32%. A cap therefore makes no sense and we just call.

Hero raises.

Villain 8 reraises.

...

Hero calls.

Flop

A good flop for our hand. If our opponent is holding a higher pocket pair (, or ) then his hand is still better. If he's holding or a better ace, then we have the best hand. seems unlikely because we're holding a and there is another on the board. We should check to villain and if he bets, as we assume he will, then we'll just call: we're ahead against approximately half of his possible hands and behind against the other half. Moreover, if we're not holding the best hand we only have zero to five outs. But this applies to our opponent as well.

Hero checks.

Villain 8 bets.

Hero calls.

Turn

This card doesn't change anything: it doesn't improve our hand and it (probably) doesn't improve our opponent's hand either. There is no reason to deviate from our check/call strategy.

Hero checks.

Villain 8 bets.

Hero calls.

River

A very bad card for our hand, since and now beats us as well. We should check and wait whether our opponent bets.

Hero checks.

Villain 8 bets.

Here we have the choice between calling and folding: a raise makes no sense. We have pot odds of around 7.5:1, so we need to be ahead only around 12% of the time in order to make the call profitable. But the only possible hands we can beat here are and . With hands like these it's unlikely that the opponent would have bet on the flop, the turn and the river. But it's also possible that our opponent is bluffing with an unexpectedly weak hand. That's a point in favour of a call.

In other words: the decision whether to call or to fold is a very close one and there are good arguments on both sides.

Hero calls.

Villain 8 shows .

Hero mucks.

By playing passively on the flop and turn we have lost the minimum in this hand. Our opponent made a good (value) bet on the river.