I’ve got black kings under the gun and raise the $3/$5 blinds to $20. I’ve been experimenting a lot with raise sizes at this point. The table is very deep and plays very loose-passive pre-flop as a result. I only have $300, but am not keen to stack off against random hands on the flop.

The button min-raises. She’s a tight and straight-forward player. I’m really happy at this point. She thinks she has the best hand, so I’m going to let her put all her money in before she sees anything that might change her mind.

I raise $80 more.

She goes all in.

It’s only now I begin to imagine I might be beat. Oops.

She practically tells me she has aces. Unprompted, she says, “If you don’t know what I have now, you have no business playing poker.”

“Why didn’t you call?”

“There was enough money in the pot for me already.”

“Everyone else is trying to win as much money as possible. Why aren’t you?”

“I don’t need the money. The money is not important to me. I come here for fun.”

There is $400 in the pot and I have to call $160 more. If she plays queens like this one-third of the time and aces like this every time it’s still a profitable call.

In the end I couldn’t believe she would play so clearly sub-optimally. They called a clock and I was down to fourteen seconds before I finally called.

The door card was a king and just like that I had cracked aces.

Over the next few hours she tilted off the rest of her chips.

The reason she played it like that is important to remember. The money is important to her, but not as important as avoiding a bad beat. This is the same priority that leads people to open for fifteen times the big blind, and thirty percent of their stack with pocket jacks. I’ve even seen that with pocket aces today.

Sure, they make the absolute minimum from the hand, and they only get action when they are way behind, but at least they don’t suffer another bad beat.

It important to remember why your opponents play poker.

For a while I was very upset about my call. Two things made me feel better in the end. First, since I win that pot 18% of the time anyway, my final $160 call only costs an average of $60 every time I make it.

Secondly, I really had no indication before then that avoiding bad beats was more important to her than maximizing her winnings.

When she tells me she has aces I should have focused on what’s most important at that point. Is she telling the truth, or is she lying? Why would she tell the truth in that situation? Why would she lie?