Sunday, June 1, 2008

Trust your read

Yesterday (Saturday) I played in a poker tournament at the Goldstrike Casino. It is called the Weekend Warrior Tournament. The entry fee is $100 (all of which goes into the prize pool) with a $10 add-on to tip the dealers. The really good news is that the casino added $1500 to the prize fund. There were 89 donkeys who played. We each started with T6000. The levels were 20 minutes starting at T25/50.

We had played nearly an hour and the blinds were T100/200 and I was in the big blind. It folded to an old man in the CO seat. He made the reviled (by purists) min-raise to T400 and the button and SB folded. My hand was Q 10, not my favorite hand. There was T700 in the pot and it only cost me another T200 to call, and so I did.

I checked in the dark and the dealer spread K J 5. The old man fired out T600. Do you or don't you? You are less than 4:1 to hit your straight on the next card, and the pot is now T1500, offering you only 2.5:1.

I was absolutely positive that this man would pay me off if I hit, so the implied odds were pretty good. I had around T7000 in my stack, so if I called, it wouldn't kill me. For both these reasons, I called again. It turns out there was a third reason to call which I'll get to in a minute.

The turn was the K and as I was digesting that, the old man checked out of turn !! The dealer told him it was not his bet and it reverted to me.

Now I tried to put the pieces together. If he had a king then he would have bet now, yet he bet on the flop. The flop bet was not a continuation bet. This old man wouldn't know a CB it it came up and bit him on the knee.

So what does he have? I decided to put him on a QJ or J10 type hand. Putting thought to action, I fired out T2100 and he mucked in a nanosecond. That pointed out a third reason to call the bet on the flop: I may outplay him later on, sort of like floating, but out of position.

Some points:
1. Size up your opponent. There is no way that his check out of turn was fake.
2. Check in the dark can be an effective weapon. I can't think of a flop that I wouldn't check to him anyway. By checking dark, he can't infer that I don't have anything. When playing with noobies, it reinforces that. Has anyone blogged with a good analysis of the check dark? Players scoff at it, but it has a place, I think.
3. Keep your head in the game. The old man got confused because of the check dark on the flop and thought he was first to bet on the turn. If he hadn't lost his concentration, he likely would have won the hand.
4. Tournaments are +EV precisely because when you have 89 players, a good percentage of them are dead money -- they have no chance at all. I'm just sayin'.

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