Whenever I think about unknown players I am reminded of a hand that I played at the Commerce Casino about one year ago. The game was $5-$10 no-limit with a $1500 max buy-in. I had had a pretty good session and was up to $4000. The table next to us just broke and a new, young, Asian guy had just sat down with $5000. He appeared to play pretty tight for two orbits until we got mixed up in the following hand.
I opened to $35 in mid position with 8♠ 9♠, the button called and this guy reraised to $175 out of the big blind. Because I thought he was tight and we were deep I decided to call in position. The button folded and we were heads up. The flop came out Q♠ 9♣ 8♦ and the villain bet $250. Obviously I was ecstatic. This was exactly the situation that I wanted to be in as I thought that it was likely that he had aces or kings. Right away, as I do most of the time at this level, I decided to raise to $700 to build up a pot. To my shock the villain then instantly moved me all-in.
In the old days of no-limit (more than five years ago) I would have snapped called here figuring that there was a good enough chance that my opponent was overvaluing a big overpair. However, as the game has evolved people are much less likely to push back with their overpairs after getting raised—although tighter guys still cannot fold them. But usually players will revert into a check-call shell. This guy was younger which can be interpreted in a number of different ways. Usually, I go with the assumption that younger players have better fundamentals than their nittier, older counterparts and are less likely to overplay their hands. I came to the conclusion that it was unlikely that this guy would push so much money in facing a flop raise and I gave him credit for QQ or some sort of light three-bet with JT. Much to my dismay after tanking for five minutes and folding he told me “good lay down” as he flipped up AA.
One orbit later I observed this player limp in under the gun with J♥ 4♥. I felt sick to my stomach as I realized that this guy was inexperienced. Poker is a game of incomplete information and you must tag unknowns as good or bad as quickly as possible. That little bit of information—the fact that the guy limped in with J4—would have made my decision in the crazy all-in hand totally different. Make sure that when new players come to the table that you pay attention to their first few hands. This will make big decisions a lot easier down the line.