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April 25, 2006

That Woulda Hurt!

Posted at April 25, 2006 06:38 AM in Poker Strategy , by Sack.

So I’m finally looking like I may be getting back on my game. Not quite rolling in full force on the tournament side of things, but I have been steady in the cash games I’ve played.

But right now I’m playing a little SNG before I head to bed, and a hand that came up reminded me of something I’ve been meaning to write about. So before I continue, here’s the rundown of the hand to the best of my memory.

Early stages, the blinds are 15/30 and I’m on the button with pocket 4’s. First position min-raises to 60 (I hate min-raises for many reasons), called by 2 others before me and I also call. SB folds, and the BB min raises again to 90-- which is of course called by all contestants. Flop comes Q-Q-A. The original raiser overbets the pot, which is called by the guy to his left. Of course the rest of us get out of the way. The turn comes and I almost choke on my Dr. Pepper when I see a 4 pop out. I know I made the right fold, but somehow wish I had been dumb and called and hit my boat and took a ton of chips. Well I breathed a sigh of sweet relief when the hand was done and guy #1 turns over four of a kind queens! I’d have been done for had I still been in the hand… which is why that guy played his quads terribly . He got lucky to be paid off what he got, and here’s why:

Even though it was a min-raise, it is still a raised pot, which means there shouldn’t be too awful much junk out there. He flops a hand that is nearly impossible to lose. The only hands that can even have a tiny chance to beat him would be AA IF that case ace comes, and KK if and only if runner-runner kings come. Normally on a flop like that, whoever bets will take it down as long as nobody else has a queen… since he holds both then he knows nobody has it… obviously. By him betting, and especially betting fairly big, nobody should call him unless they have him on a pure bluff… and even then only a strong ace should call. Had he checked the flop, he gives someone else a chance to take a stab at it and also give other hands a chance to catch up. He’d have taken all of my chips had I been able to see the turn. Also checking gives a hand like 10-J or K-10 and chance to catch their straight, which would also give him all their chips. He got lucky and was called down by another guy, who I can only assume had AK or some strong ace.

But this is a perfect example of where slow playing is good. Slow playing is a dangerous and sometimes costly move, but with the example here then there is almost no way he can be beat, and slow playing is the only sensible move. Had he only had trip queens say, then his betting would be fine to make the other draws pay to chase their hand. But a hand like quads is one where you can only pray that someone else makes a huge hand as well, because not a whole lot else can pay you off.

An example of a hand gone right in the same tournament: I’m in the BB with K-9. Dealer limps in, as does the SB. Flop comes 5-7-8. SB checks to me, I also check hoping to see a free card (hopefully a 6), and I get my free card when the dealer checks as well. Turn comes that beautiful 6. I’m already thinking of how I can extract some chips from these guys, when to my surprise the SB bets out the minimum. I’m curious on this bet, since with that flop if he had any pair he likely would have bet on then, and I doubt he’d bet the pair of 5’s with 4 cards to a straight out there. I call, thinking I may still be good if by some chance he has a sucker straight. Dealer folds, and the river doesn’t really matter. This time he bets half the pot, and I’m very close to raising him up big time--but I don’t for one reason. If I do raise the only hand that would call a raise here would be 9-10. Anything else folds and I only win what he bet anyway. So I decide it’s right to just call this time, and sure enough he has 9-10.We both played the hand right, we both had something strong, his was the nuts. He bet what he though a decent hand would have to call so he could get something out of it. Had he known I had a 9 he probably would have bet more, but I’m sure his thought was that I only had a pair since I never showed any strength. He made sure to get some value out of his hand and I made sure I didn’t over-value my strong but beatable hand. Looking back at the replay of it, this was really a very good hand of poker. The only thing that may have been done different would have been to bet the flop, but really that was the dealers mistake, as he could have used his position and forced us out either preflop or on the flop with even a small raise or bet.

As far as the tourney goes, it was strange the whole way. I won several hands that I shouldn’t have, lost several hands I should have won, made some absolutely brilliant moves, and made some pretty foolish ones. The positive is that I fought back from the short stack to the big stack 3 times… the negative is that I lost the big stack 3 times as well. I wound up third… not as good as I’d like to do, but given the rough cold streak I endured any money finish is a welcome sight. I’m still not playing as much as I should, but my last 2 sessions have almost made up for the weeks of drought by themselves. Hopefully by the next time I write I’ll be back in full force again.

Bartender To The Masses,

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