Poker: What do they think you have?

You're not going to know Vanessa Selbst's winning hand from the 2010 World Series of Poker $10,000-buy-in main event at the Rio Hotel, but then, that's the way it usually is in poker.

More important, though, it's a good lesson in betting based on the range of hands you've given your opponent.

With blinds at $200-$400 plus a $50 ante, the player in the cutoff seat raised to $1,000. From the small blind, Selbst re-raised to $3,200. The big blind called. The original raiser folded.

"Unless he was messing around, he's often holding a hand like A-Q suited, or pocket 9s, 10s or jacks," said Selbst, winner of a WSOP bracelet. "Anything better than that, I expect him to four-bet because he knows I'm three-betting wide. He knows that I know that the cutoff is an aggressive opener, so I could have air. I could have 5-4. So, if I could have 5-4, he's going to be comfortable putting it in against me with kings, queens or aces, and probably A-K."

The flop came 8-7-4, rainbow. Both players checked.

"I still think he's pot-controlling with a hand like 9s, 10s or jacks," said Selbst, a pro from the PokerStars online site. "I actually expect him to bet more often with A-Q to try to take it down."

The turn came the 6 of hearts.

"That's pretty scary," Selbst said. "It puts out a four-straight. A 5 shouldn't be a huge part of my range, but it's in there. I have the wider range here because I've never called a bet. So, I bet $5,300 and he calls me.

"His call tells me has 9s, 10s or jacks, because I don't think he flat-calls with A-Q there. He could be slow-playing a set, but I'd hear from him at some point in the hand if that's the case, probably the turn."

The river came the king of spades.

"That's a good card for me to represent because I could've been re-raising with A-K," said Selbst, who led out $19,600. "It's about the size of the pot, knowing it's a good bluff card because I've put him on 9s or 10s or jacks.

"It's a scary bet and a scary board, and he only had about $55,000 in chips, so it's over a third of his stack. He knows that I know what he has, so he has to make a decision on whether I think he'll call or fold.

"He thought for a long time. Obviously, I could be bluffing a lot, or I could be value-betting very thinly because I know exactly what he has. A lot of people might have to have a straight on the river to bet big, but if I know he has 9s or 10s and I have aces or queens, I could definitely value-bet the same way. I think he figured that out, and he folded."

"It's about what I think he has and what I think he thinks I have."


Three-betting: To put in the third bet in a betting round. In no-limit hold 'em, re- raising is considered three-betting, since the blinds are technically the first bet.

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