Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Playing to Win

Vegas shenanigans aside, I wanted to post a couple of hands from my play this trip that I think made all the difference between me cashing vs not cashing and report on the tournaments I enjoyed the most.


I thought the best structured tournaments were at The Venetian (the $560s+ are better than the $340s, but both are good).

The Golden Nugget's DSs are a great price and good fields.

Binion's little $125 is a really nice field (watch out for the locals) and I loved the structure.

WSOP Ladies Event - while its starting stack is only 3000 chips, the hour long levels make for a great opportunity to play well. What I saw (granted I only lasted through the first few levels before running Ks into As) was really a lot of straightforward ABC play. I hope to be rolled to play it again next year.


Monday, I played the Binion's $125, which drew about 10 10-handed tables and a first prize of $4k. I was seated between three locals and we were joined by a fourth (GWBH = Guy w/ Blue Hat) after about four hours of play. By then, I was cL at my table. GWBH was seated two to my right, had a stack, and was very active, limping and open raising many pots. I only played three hands against him.  One I limp behind his open limp (w/ 5s) and fold to flop bet when I don't hit.  The other two, he shoved to my flop cbets. One I folded, one I didn't. Here's the one I didn't fold:

I have ~33bbs and have him covered. Blinds are 400/800/100

As per normal, he limps UTG and pot's 3000. I raise a little more than 2200 behind with KJo, planning to fold to a raise depending on who raised. Everyone folds and he calls, pot's 6600.   

Flop comes xQhTh.

GWBH checks to me. I make it 2800 to go. Pot's 9400. He insta-shoves, as he'd done previously, and I have to call 14k to continue. 

I knew he was on a flush draw. I didn't put him on the nut flush, but figured I had a better draw than he did, with possibly 14 outs, any A, any 9, any K or J.


  1. I'm not even getting 2-1 to make that call.
  2. You never call off your stack on a draw, you force the other guy to that kind of decision - which is exactly what he did. If I was going to make that call, I should've bet enough on my cbet to put HIM to the test and represent that if he did shove, I would call, effectively putting HIM all in to draw (I think he would've shoved anyway and I likely wouldn't have been able to fold, which a good/better player might've been able to do).
  3.  Hoping - which is not playing poker.
  4. Wanting his chips right then and there because I wanted the tourney.
Ultimately, I called. He didn't flush and his A high (Ah6h) won the hand.

Wow...writing all this out it's even worse than I remember.  Gross.

But let's change the scenario a bit.  What if I'd had a made hand on that flop? Do I call a shove raise there knowing he's on a draw? Well...that's the set up for yesterday's $550 game at the Venetian.

I have ~41bbs and have villian covered. Blinds are 300/600/50 and we've just come back from the first break. Villian has come late and is sitting with a little more than his starting stack immediately on my right.

Villian plays his first hand - and pretty much every hand after that, making the comment, "I hate sitting on a short stack (he wasn't even a ss at the table), it's either chip up or go home." His show down hands were 63o, 64o, sometimes showing an A or a 7 when having to fold, which was rare.

I played two hands with him. One I folded to a cbet and one I played to the river and got to see his 64o take the pot. He'd min-raised that from the BU to my SB (QJs).

I adjusted by just tightening up and waiting to play a premium hand in position.

Finally, I get to play. He raises 1350 utg, which is not unusual. I look down at AKo and raise to 3800. Folds back to him and he calls, which is also not unusual.  Pot's 9000.

Flop comes xKhxH. He checks and I bet 3200.  Pot's 12,200.  He insta-shoves and I immediately know he's on a flush draw.

I know someone's gonna say - why did you bet so small on the flop and give him such great odds? Well, my thinking was - given his range and the hands he's played, I feel like I'm good there a billion out of a billion times. Plus, even if he had As, he's played perfectly to get the action he wanted on them.

Aren't these the kinds of hands you have to win to win tournaments? I think I'm making that call 100 out of a 100 times, but given the money, is this a hand I should've folded?

This time, I didn't fade the river heart.

I shoved ~10bbs the very next hand (A8o) and picked up his open raise (yes, he raised again) plus blinds and antes. Shoved 4 hands later with AQs and got called by BBs AK and couldn't beat the flopped K to make a come back.  GG me.

I don't think I showed an ounce of emotion at the table, shook hands, smiled and wished everyone good luck as I walked away, but then I had to go stand in a corner, bend over, and catch my breath.

Man, this has been a tough trip.


  1. After looking at these 2 hands with basically similarly styled villains, do you think, since they are going to call anyway, just call behind to keep the pot controlled? Even if you raised a ridic amount, let's say 8 x BB, they are going to call. as aggro as they are.
    Calling behind controls the pot, keeps your tournament life still in tact while seeing the board.
    Since they know that you know that they are uber aggro, once they detect strength or aggression out of you, they are going to come back with even more aggression. NINJA'S R NOT US is their slogan ;)
    The first scenario, you are both putting your tournament lives on the line with a draw.
    I think in the first scenario, you could have waited for a better spot.
    The second scenario, as you played it, you are a 67% fav with the best hand going in.
    Alternately speaking, had you played for more pot control, when he shoves, you know he is full of &*^&%, and you can find another spot again.

    I think more than the HH per se here , it would be more about the (uber) aggressive-ness of the players themselves.
    At some point, they are going to make the bigger mistake and you can take it down with a much more solid hand than he can to shove and suck out.

  2. Interesting hands, thanks for sharing.:) I think the biggest problem with the first hand is that even if you catch your straight you will likely lose when another heart hits-- which greatly diminishes your number of true outs.

  3. after further thought on example 2,
    I think before even the flop had hit, you have to ask yourself "Am I willing to commit my entire stack with this schmuck?"

    If the answer is yes, then the pre-flop raise with a stop-n-go shove are a must.
    It would have taken his play away.
    REGARDLESS of what the flop came.

    But only you would have to determine if it was too early in the tourney or not, knowing full well he was playing balls to the walls or go home.

  4. I like the stop and go shove. It seems we are coming across these aggro donks in every game, and unless we make a stand early on....they get out of control...just sick though....

  5. Thanks all of you so much for commenting (OMG HOT JENNY!)

    One of the things I think I learned from this trip is I really need to learn to find my fold button. It's somewhere, I just know it.

  6. Hi, for hand #1 I think the C-bet itself is the biggest thing to reconsider. Especially knowing that the villain is very capable of reshoving in that spot, is it really a great idea to cbet and lose all value with your hand? You lose your position advantage with that and as you mentioned it's incorrect for you to call. I think checking behind is definitely something to consider.

    As per the second hand, I don't have a problem with getting it in with top top there, but I thought the cbet size is interesting as it's only 1/3 the pot in both hands. Are you enticing the villain to shove? If that's the case it worked perfectly. If not, you might be giving villain too much odds to call with a draw there without gaining too much information. I would also consider raising a larger amount preflop in the second hand, knowing you will get value with position against villain since he is calling station. Just my 2 cents!

  7. Hi bear (from Twitter?), yeah, I think the first hand was just a horrible play/mistake/gross/want it back play. I wish now I'd either done as you guys recommended and checked behind or just not played the crappy hand in the first place. Barring that, if I just had to bet, I should've bet enough to put him to the test for his draw. Even now, I think if I'd bet 3/4 pot, he still would've shoved so just folding pre would've likely been the safest course.

    As for the second hand - you see the minraise pre and then the cbet (as in the other hand)...trying a little something out, that obviously didn't work for me at any stage of any of the tournaments I played. I like your advice about the fact that he is going to call whether I min raise pre or even 3 or 4x raise. I do have to assume in each hand that the guy might be on a flush draw, which becomes more evident when he shoves...but, urg...

    Thanks for your thoughts. Helpful.


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