Definition of Represent a Hand
What does the term "represent a hand" mean in the game of poker? What is meant by representing a hand?
In poker, "representing a hand" is playing a hand as though you have a certain holding.
Let's look at a few examples to help illustrate the practice of "representing a hand":
Action folds around to you on the button. You raise. The SB folds, and the BB re-raises. You are holding pocket Sixes, but you decide that you are going to represent that you are holding a hand such as AA or AK. You put in another raise, and the BB calls.
The flop comes Ah-Ad-5h. This is a great flop for your "hand", as it is very likely to have hit you hard, based on the way that you played the hand pre-flop. You believe that the BB was simply trying to outplay you before the flop, and that even if he is holding a weak ace, he will fold to your aggression. You think that it's more likely that he is holding something like KQ or KJ.
The BB checks and you put out a pot-sized bet. The BB thinks it over for a second and then folds, likely believing that you flopped at least trip Aces. This is because you were representing AA or AK, based on your pre-flop aggression.
You are slightly tilted after losing a big pot a few hands ago. The person who won the big pot against you is on the button, while you are in the BB.
Action folds around to the BB, who puts in a standard raise. You look down at a garbage hand and call.
The flop comes 4s-5s-Ah. You check, the BB bets, and you call. Despite only holding 7h-2d, you decide that you are going represent a flush draw or straight draw.
The turn brings the Kh. You check, the BB bets, and you call again.
The river brings the 8s. Now, not only would have hit your flush, but you also might have hit a straight. You lead out with a pot-sized bet, the BB thinks it over for a bit and then folds, turning over Ah-Jd. You triumphantly turn over your garbage hand and rake in the nice pot.
In this hand, you were representing either a flush or a straight, and you hit your absolute perfect card on the river, which made it very hard for your opponent to consider calling on the river.
Good players will sometimes "represent" certain hands in order to disguise a much stronger holding.
For instance, let's say that a flop comes As-2s-7h and you are holding Ah-Ac. You are in the BB and just called your opponent's pre-flop raise (your opponent was in early position) in order to disguise the strength of your hand. Your opponent is super aggressive after the flop and you believed that this was an appropriate line to take against him.
You decide to represent a flush draw, and are hoping that neither the turn or the river brings a spade. The flop and turn go check-bet-call, and neither the turn nor the river brings another spade. By the time that the river card is dealt, you are looking at a board of:
You check the river, your opponent puts out a bet and you quickly shove. Your opponent thinks it over and eventually decides that you are bluffing, and puts in the call. You flip over a full house and take down the monstrous pot.
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