Wednesday, June 22, 2011

WSOP happenings - part 1

Above: MOJO prepares to move chips into the pot on Saturday of WSOP Event No. 30. You can see all the results here.

Tournament poker is a strange combination of taking chances to build your chip stack and staying out of trouble. Here are three deals I played in the WSOP.

Extract the max
I don't remember the level, but I had T2700 chips (starting stacks were 3000) and a player UTG limped in for 200. It folded to me and I raised to 750. The blinds folded and the limper called. So far so good: I had driven out the blinds and was playing a bloated pot in position.

The flop was A-10-4 and the limper checked and I checked. The turn was the Q making the board A-Q-10-4, rainbow. The limper now bet 1000 and I moved in. The pot was 4650 plus whatever the antes were (I don't remember now) and it would cost the limper 950 more to call.

"I know you have the ace," he said, but called anyway. He showed K Q. I turned over A J. There are two queens and three jacks to save him, but the river was a blank, and the dealer pushed to pot to me. Notice that a king would give him two pair, but give me a Broadway straight.

Normally, it's better to just bet when you have something (on the flop). When you get cute, bad things happen. But this was at a point where I needed those chips.

What mistakes did the limper make? He could have raised pre-flop or folded to my raise, so that's a minor mistake. The real mistake he made was betting on the turn. About the only hand that will call him has him beat, so there's no point betting.

Know your customers
The third table I was moved to on Friday had a man with a huge chip stack. I played for several hours and noticed that he would take a swing at orphan pots. I also noticed that he would always call from the button if the pot was unraised.

I limped from middle position with K J when he was on the button and the blinds were 200/400 with an ante. My stack was around 17,000 and the villain had about 27,000. Sure enough he called, the small blind completed and the big blind checked.

The flop was K-X-X. The blinds checked as did I and the villain fired out a 2000 bet. The blinds folded and I pretended to think about it before calling. The dealer dealt a low card on fourth street, and I checked again. The villain bet 5000 this time. Again I thought about it and called. On the river, I checked again and the villain thought for a long time before checking. I had to show first and he folded.

If I had bet on the flop, he would have folded. If I had check-raised the flop he would have folded. If I had done anything but what I did, I wouldn't have gotten as much out of him. Check-call, check-call -- normally that's horrible poker, but was the right move this time.

Lesson for the villain: It's okay to be aggressive, but you have to mix up your play against observant opponents.

MOJO makes a rookie move
On Saturday, I made my only truly bad play that I'm aware of. When the blinds were 1000/2000/300, the guy to my right raised to 6000 and I held 9 9. My stack was around 50,000 and his was more than 120,000.

What would you do?

I can see a case for raising to about 17,000 and hoping for the best. I can also see a case for folding and living to fight another day. I called!

The flop was K-Q-5 and the villain bet 12,000 and I had to fold. I had just given away more than 10% of my stack for no reason. Calling? I know better than that.

Tomorrow, I'll post some more thoughts and reflections of my experiences from last weekend.

Image courtesy of Wolynski.


  1. I like the index-fingers-straight-out technique on the shove there. Kind of like keeping the pinky extended when drinking tea--very proper!

  2. the nines are a truly borderline hand where no option is good. Raise to 17000 ties you to the pot (you'd be getting 2:1+ on a call, I think), so you might as well shove for maximum fold equity. But 99 is a hair weak to shove there and stake your tourney life with plenty of play left in the game. Flatting is no good, and folding seems weak also. Usually when NO option seems right, I do the least damaging and fold.