Monday, February 26, 2007

A key hand in No Limit Texas Hold’em Tournament Poker (unabridged, not for the weak)


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I had a good weekend playing cards with my friends. I played solid and think I only made two major mistakes. However there was a hand that took place in the second of two tournaments that would have been chronicled in Card Player magazine if we were all professionals.

By the time of this key hand in the small six player tournament, "BH" and "PP" had already busted out. So at this point we are four-handed with blinds at 40-80. (Each player started with 1,500 chips, current chip average was 2,250.) I had 2,440 in chips.

The player under the gun, "AP" (2nd in chips at the time), had limped in and the button, "SS" (the short stack), had folded. I was dealt 10¨ in the small blind. "KC" was in the big blind as chip leader. I should also note in passing that KC was wearing sweat pants this evening.

AP is a tight player who usually calls when he has big hands post flop, but tries to see as many flops as possible to get the opportunity to slow play a monster. He's not one to chase bad hands, and I knew a raise could make him fold. And if he would call I would have to hit to continue betting.

KC is an action player who weighs heavily on math to dictate key decisions. As chip leader in the big blind, he may feel committed to call any small raise.

I needed to make a bet large enough to push out Andy if he has a marginal hand but not large enough if KC woke up with a huge hand in the Big Blind.

I decided to raise 300, to 380 total.

KC nonchalantly calls 300 more and AP folds relatively quickly.

FLOP = A© Q§ 8©(Pot = 840)

I now have a straight draw. One of the four jacks needs to come out on the two remaining cards to be overturned or me to make my hand. Using the Phil Gordon rule of two (2 x number of outs x number of streets left), I have approximately 16% of catching up if I am already behind.

Being first to act, and having bet pre-flop, if I check to KC I'm sure he will sense that I didn't hit (which is true) and he would bet. I would be unable to call even a minimum bet. I decide that I need to know where I'm at in the hand and bet 400. KC alludes to the fact that on the previous hand I took a bad beat on an opportunity to bust SS. I was upset after the hand, missing out on busting a player and getting closer to the finish. SS, being new the game, has not heard the term "tilt" and I quickly discuss basically my exact situation. That I am acting erratically because I am upset at a previous hand. I have been explaining many terms to SS throughout the night and I had to continue. Acting differently would have shown that I had changed by play. I had been playing tight most the night – not showing one bluff and only turning over large hands in showdowns. KC calls.

AT THE TURN = A© Q§ 8© 3§Pot = 1,640)

I am certain that KC has me beat. He has either an ace or a queen. None of those calls would have been made. The only exception is that he might be on a draw like me. However, if he is on a flush draw he can still beat me even if the wrong Jack comes out. My chances of winning are reduced to at best 8% or 6% because the Jack of hearts or clubs will make my straight lose to a flush.

The only way I can win this is with an all-in bet with the rest of my 1,400 chips. But I decide to check. KC declines to take control of the hand and checks back

AFTER THE RIVER = A© Q§ 8© 3§ 9§(Pot = 1,640)

I immediately say, "Now, I'm all in."
KC asks to count it out.
I have 1,400 – which now make the pot 3,040.
If KC calls the 1,400 bet, the total pot will be 4,400. KC is getting just under 4 to 1.

I was making this bet if any non ace came on the river. Looking at the all the cards while KC is contemplating, I remember that two times earlier in the evening I have overturned J-10 one time hitting the straight on a pot that busted BH, the other time making top pair with the Jack. While desperately hoping KC folds I hope he remembers this… If I have a J-10 I have made my straight on the river. Having a J-10 would have made sense to KC, as it would have been an open-ended straight draw.

KC folded and overturned his hand: Aª 2§
as I raked the 3,040.

KC folded top pair (but had the worst kicker possible). I told him that he had the best hand. KC didn't believe me and I showed my hand. KC was upset, and pointed out that he had correctly guessed that I had been on tilt. I wanted to ask if he thought I made a straight or a flush, but I did not want to antagonize him beyond showing my bluff.

That did not stop the others.

SS [to KC], "You really got your pants pulled down."
PP [to all], "And it was easy because he's wearing sweat pants"

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