Friday, January 07, 2005


Luton £100 PL Freezeout - Short and Sweet

I played the £100 freeze-out in Luton tonight. That's right, tonight :-). I didn't make it to the second level. Poker being what it is though, there was still plenty of note to talk about !

I have played a few small pots in the first 20 minutes when this hand comes up. I limp in middle position with JT off. The small blind raises the pot, there are two callers before me and I call. Flop comes A34 two spades. Checked round. Turn is an offsuit 5. Small blind bets 325 into the 800 pot and it's folded around to me. Now, everything about the small blind screams weakness. He would have bet an Ace on the flop and he looks very hesitant. I'll bet he has a pocket pair. In fact, I'll bet 1000 on that. He goes in to the tank and calls :-(. River Q, he checks and I turn them over. He takes it with 99.

Tony Chapman starts miming that I should have bet strong on the river, and maybe he's right, but clearly this guy has decided on the turn that he's in front. The river hasn't changed anything, so it's very risky to try to make him change his mind. Maybe it would have worked - no one with half a brain would call a raise on the turn with a non-drawing hand and then pass the river when all draws have missed and nothing has changed, but believe it or not some players have less than half a brain, a poker brain anyway :-). Either he has made a genius read on the turn or he's a fish. I know where my money is here, but whichever it is, it's my fault for trying to bluff him, and he goes straight to the top of my ever-growing "don't bluff" list. If I hit a hand against this guy at any time in the next three months, I'll get paid.

Note that I'm not in the slightest bit embarrassed to show my hand on the end. A lot of players would have made him show first and then mucked. If I've been caught with my fingers in the till, I might as well get some advertising value out of it, especially with blinds 25-50.

So, about two hands later I limp with Kc8c, again after a limper before me. First to act I would have made a small raise (as I would with the JT). 5 players take the flop which comes 7c 9h Tc. Wow. That's a big draw for Hold-em. Checked to me, I bet 150. 99 boy raises the pot on the button. The big blind (who I've never seen before) check-reraises the pot ! Hmmm. What to do. Worst case I could be in deep shit against say T8 (or even J8) and the nut flush draw. But I have to put the BB on at least two pair and I'm fairly sure the button would just call with Ax of clubs so I don't think there's too much cause for alarm. This is marginal, and possibly slightly -EV against all possible hands, but I go for it and push all in. If I can knock T8, or any 8, out that's a huge plus. Button folds [later claiming AT], BB calls and turns over 68. In the event I'm getting about 4-3 on the play and according to my hand calculator I have 45% equity, which is more than I thought at the time. Against two pair I would have been 51%, a set 39% and T8 54% (although as I said T8 was unlikely for the BB).

In fact my equity is better than I thought at the time. The reason I was happy to make what I thought was a slightly -EV play at the time was that if I won I would be in a terrific position - chip leader with a loose image. Image is something I have been thinking a lot about lately. If you can build up a loose image in exactly the way that I have done here (by showing a bluff that failed and making a marginal big play with a draw) then you can take a lot of flops in the knowledge that if you hit, you will get paid. This is how I want to play. I want to play like Greg Raymer. I want to play like Daniel Negreanu (Championship Poker at the Plaza - Day Two is a good example, but they're all worth reading). You can't say I'm not aiming high ! If that's too high I'll settle for playing like Action Dave (no link available). I want to take some flops, especially in position, make some reads and back my judgement. Once you reach a certain level that's the only way to improve.

In days gone by, I would have passed both those hands pre-flop. I'd still be sitting there now, with 3500 chips, "like a bump on a log" as Fox would say. There are a lot of people out there playing ABC poker. They think that the people splashing around with JT and K8s are trying to get lucky. They couldn't be more wrong. When you're sitting there waiting for premium hands, you are casting your fate entirely to the whim of the cards. You need to find your hands at the right time, when someone else finds a worse hand AND they don't outdraw you AND no one else finds a bigger one. You'll do ok, you'll probably have an edge, but unless you're lucky it will take a lot of tournaments for that edge to show itself. A LOT of tournaments. What I'm trying to do is take matters into my own hands. Trust to my own judgement rather than the draw of the cards. Sometimes I'll crash out and look stupid, like tonight. So what. Quite apart from anything else I'm going to learn more and it'll be more fun. Which is more than enough in itself.

8/1/05 In the cold light of day I think I forgot to say that I missed my draw in the second hand. Although that was implicit. In the first hand, would it have been better to flat call the turn and try to take it off him on the river ? He would almost certainly check to me, and any A, 2, 6 or spade makes it that much harder for him to call. In the event, a J or a T might have enabled me to bet, get called and win which would have thrown everyone (including me, I did think he had a bigger pair than 99). One to think about next time.


I haven't looked here for a few weeks. And I didn't know you were running a vote whether to continue this blog.

But, if you're going to make posts as insightful as this, I wish I had been here to vote you had taken it down.
Thanks :-). That was the plan - only people who were checking for updates would know there was a vote on. Karl Rove would be proud of me.

Did you get my Email in the week by the way ?

Hi Andy,

Co-incidentally I put up something not disimilar on my blog from Thursday night's visit.
I thought some advertising might pay dividends later on, but of course that gives the other person credit for a)having noticed and b)adapting their future play to take things into account.
Against many, it's just too much to ask.
Hi Simon,

I don't think there's much value in advertising in a £20 comp. There are plenty of loose players who'll call you anyway, and you'll rarely have enough chips compared to the blinds to make it pay sufficiently.

As for my target, given that he can congratulate himself on a "great call" I don't think he'll forget it for a long time. I did like your description of going into the Luton tank as thinking hard to find a hand you can beat and then calling - I'm pretty sure that's what happened to me :-)

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