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September 27, 2005

Check Yo' Self Before You Wreck Yo' Self

Posted at September 27, 2005 03:23 PM in Tournament Strategy , by Sack.

Who knew that Ice Cube was really passing the message on to poker players rather than suburban white kids? I know Gecko has covered this topic before, and I may or may not have mentioned it previously as well, but I don’t think that it can be said enough. So here goes… ahem… “it is a very good idea in a tournament to check down a multi-way pot when one or more persons involved are all in.”

I see it so much that it breaks my poor little Sackalicious heart. You know what I mean, the big stack is being a bully (as he has a right if not a duty do be) and the poor guy with no chips is forced to risk all he has left. One or two folks may come on in to see the flop as well. The bully goes ahead and bets the flop, forcing the other two out of the pot, and the all in wins with his ace high when the one of the cards you folded would have won the pot and eliminated a player. Sad L

In a tournament, especially towards the latter stages of battle, it is in everyone’s best interest for people to be eliminated. More often than not moving one place closer to, or higher up in the money is worth more than the extra couple of hundred chips you may be able to get out of a particular hand.

Case and point today- one fella was a massive chip leader. So much so that he could easily just fold into the money, probably fold all the way to heads up and still be about even with whoever was left. I was a little less than half his stack, one guy about half of mine, and about 5 other people were towards do or die time. Big stack stayed aggressive, which is fine and nothing at all wrong with that. But when other stacks would come on in he continued his aggression with absolutely nothing, every time- all the time. It’s not hard to figure one like this out. So in his aggression with nothing he consequently forced a few people out of pots with two more cards to come and would double up a short stack. Where he could afford to check down multi-way pots and drop it to another player and get rid of one other guy. So in a situation where solid play would have led to a final four with him being a massive chip leader versus three other so-so contenders, it wound up being six people with viable chances at taking any of the others down. I actually wound up knocking him out later with bottom pair, a hand I normally wouldn’t have even played, but his betting pattern was so obvious in every pot he was in that I just knew I had him beat even with my marginal if not bad hand. But that’s another article all together.

So we’re set now, we’re going to check down hands when possible and get some of these folks off the table so we can make money, right? Ready…. Break!

But what if I get a monster hand? Well, here is Sack’s breakdown of it in a perfect world in the later stages of a tournament (early on play your normal game):

Flop top pair: Check it down. Still easily beat even if you have top pair with top kicker.

Two pair: Still easily beat, still check it down.

Three of a kind: I’ll generally still check it, but this is your call. A minimum bet isn’t bad just to say, “hey guys, I think I got this.”

IF and only if you have the nuts, go ahead and bet it like normal, you may extract some extra chips for yourself.

If you have a good hand, and someone else wants to be a moron and try to steal the pot and risk giving new life to an all-in opponent, make him pay for it if you are sure you’ve got it. I’ll be a nice guy for only so long, and generally if someone forces me from a pot I would have won in a situation like that, then I’m gunning for that person from then on until he’s gone. But I’m a vengeful person anyway.

Checking it down is not only good solid tournament strategy anyway, it’s also considered proper etiquette in most opinions.

NWA Ruled,

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