One of the biggest mistakes that any serious player can make is giving other players too much credit. The simple fact of the matter is that most poker players, especially recreational ones, are only playing the strength of their own hand and nothing else. They are not thinking about ranges, pot odds or what types of hands that they can represent. Most have them, when trying to determine whether to call or fold, are just wondering if we have “it” or not. And they might not even know what “it” is. They are definitely miles away from actually knowing what we hold.
Obviously this is good for us as thinking players. We have a big advantage over these simple player types and can easily exploit them. However, I have seen many good players out level themselves into thinking that their opponents are capable of making sophisticated moves. Most of the time this involves making some incredibly stupid call downs because if they reversed the situation they think that it would be a good spot to bluff. They do not adjust to the fact that most of their opponents are not thinking at all.
A great example of this is a hand that I saw happen at the Bicycle Casino last week. We were playing $5-$10 no limit and this eighty-five year old was at the table playing like it was January of 2004. I literally never saw this guy raise for the hour or so I had been at the table—like it was his job to check call every street. Effective stacks were about $2500 when he finally opened to $50 under the gun. This young, hoodie, headphone dude to my left three bet him to $165, everyone folded and the guy called. The flop came out J♦ T♦ 3♣. The older guy checked and the kid bet $175. Without hesitation the guy called. The turn was the 6♦. The old guy checked again and the kid now bet $500. Almost instantly, this Johnny Hughes (from 2+2) lookalike moved all-in for $2200. The kid thought about it for a long time and then finally flipped over J♠ 6♠ to get a read. I could not believe it was taking him so long to make a decision. When have you ever seen a guy who was over eighty years old check raise the turn all-in on the come? “Call,” the kid said. Of course, the man tabled A♦ K♦ and scooped over a five thousand dollar pot.
A few orbits later the old man got up and left. One of the kid’s buddies came over and the two started to discuss the hand. Mr. Hoodie’s explanation for calling wasn’t that he thought that the man might be overplaying a hand like A♥ A♦ or K♥ K♦—but rather that it was a good spot for the old man to bluff the flush because the kid rarely has suited cards in his range in a three bet pot. I literally spit out my coffee.
Here was a guy who obviously did not study the game. He had enough trouble reading his own hand. He was not contemplating what other people held. How is he going to suddenly decide to reverse float in a three bet pot and bluff a front door flush draw? Are you kidding me? This concept may seem obvious but I see players make bad decisions based on giving their opponents too much credit all the time. I even will sometimes do it, although not to that extent, but it is one of the leaks in my game that I am trying to patch up. Sometimes, especially when I check back the flop as the pre flop raiser, I think that my opponent is very strong when they bet into me on a turn card that should hit my range. Like if the board is Q68 and I check back the flop with 99. I get concerned when my opponent suddenly leads out on a K turn and usually I will give up my hand. Lately, though, I have figured out that this is not always the case. My opponent, a lot of the time, is betting the turn merely because I checked backed the flop. They are not putting two and two together.
The moral of this story is if you are a thinking player chances are your opponent is not. Do not base your decisions on what you would do putting yourself in your opponent’s position.