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Texas Hold'em Marketing part 4 - Decision Making

Daniel Negreanu one of the world’s foremost poker professionals often describes hands that he has played in poker tournaments in some detail in his online journal.

Below is a description of one such hand that gives you an idea of the complexity of thought and the reliance on past information that make the difference between a lucky guess and an excellent display of skill. I'm posting the full article because I want you to see the full thought process.

”I started the day with about $18,000 in chips and was up to about $22,000 when I got involved in a key hand that I'd like to share with you:
The blinds were $150-$300 with a $25 ante when everybody folded to me on the button. I looked down at the 7 5, and the thought of folding never crossed my mind. This was exactly the type of hand I wanted to see in this situation.

At the $150-$300 level, my standard raise is usually $800, so that's what I made it. Annie Duke was in the small blind with close to $40,000 in chips, which was a very good-sized stack at that point in the tournament. After an awkward hesitation, she reraised to $2,800. The big blind folded, and it would cost me $2,000 more if I wanted to see the flop. Anytime I can get 2-1 pot odds, implied odds, and position with a suited connector, you can count me in!
Normally with a hand like that, I'd be hoping my opponent had two aces, but in this case, it didn't feel like aces. I picked up something before the flop (no, I won't tell you what it was), and believed my opponent had a marginal hand. The first hand that popped into my head was A-8, or maybe A-9. The reraise looked uncomfortable to me, almost like, "This hand is too good to just call with, but I'm not all that crazy about the situation." Anyway, that's the read I got at that point.

So, I called $2,000 more and the flop came 10 6 4. Annie went ahead and bet $3,600 into a pot that had $6,000 in it. It had the feel of a post oak bluff (a minimal bet intended to create the appearance that you want a call) or a weak lead. Normally in these types of situations, I would be happy to call the smallish bet, hoping that I could win a huge pot if I hit my hand on the turn. This situation was different, however. In order for me to win a big pot if I hit the straight, my opponent would have to have an overpair.

My preflop read was ace high, and that flop bet also screamed of ace high. I got a chuckle when I watched the broadcast later and Michael Konik called my situation one of "raise or fold." Michael, Michael, Michael, how am I going to fold on the flop?
Anyway, I was faced with an interesting dilemma, and it was not raise or fold. It was (a) call, (b) raise, or (c) move all in. Strangely enough, all of the above seemed like good choices, but there had to be one choice that was better than the rest.

Before I proceeded, I had to ask myself one key question: Would she bet the flop when out of position with just ace high? Absolutely. In fact, based on my read of her play, she would have bet the flop regardless of her hand.

It's a play born out of limit hold'em, and her teacher, Howard Lederer, is one of the best limit hold'em players around. "If you raised before the flop, you keep the lead on the flop." While I think that works to some degree in no-limit hold'em as well, it's a much more dangerous proposition, especially when out of position.

So, with my preflop read of the raise and my read of the bet on the flop, I finally decided to rule out (a) call. After making the call, I would have an additional $15,500 left to raise. So, the question remained: Should I move all in or make a standard-sized raise?

After replaying past hand histories that my opponent may have seen, I finally decided that moving all in looked too much like a drawing hand, while a raise of $8,000 almost invited a call. Of course, by raising $8,000, I was essentially moving all in anyway. If Annie were to raise me all in, that raise of $8,000 would have committed me to the pot. If I happened to be wrong and Annie did have a pair, I'd be getting close to 4-1 odds for my last $7,500, which is an automatic call.

Once I figured out the situation, I went ahead and raised $8,000and awaited my fate. I was fully expecting Annie to throw her ace high into the muck. About 10 seconds went by and nothing happened. "Hmm, I guess she has a pair of eights or nines, then. Now I really want her out!" Another 10 seconds went by … then another, and another. "Uh-oh," I thought. "She has to have some-thing; if she had ace high, she would have folded by now."

After sweating it for what seemed like an eternity, I finally got the result I was looking for, as my semibluff worked. Later when the show aired, I finally got to see what she had — A-9! Sweet.”

More thought in one hand of poker than most “offsite marketing strategy breakaway” sessions. What is amazing about the thought process is not so much the memory and the information storage but the synthesis of information on the fly and the resulting decision making.

Too often it is not a lack of information that hinders marketing strategy but an inability to select which information is pertinent, analyze that information correctly and come up with a timely executable strategy based on the analysis. In poker a second’s hesitation gives too much information away. In marketing stalling a decision is a surefire way to give your competitors the lead. The key is making decisions and making them when they are needed, this ability is often confused with “a Knack for marketing” or “pure intuition” when it is really just good decisions based on a synthesis of past information.

If you didn’t read Daniel Negreanu’s thought process you would have put his play down to prescience or intuition. He really just had a very good read on the hand and the ability to make a decision based on the information he had,a simple but extremely rare and valuable skill.