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When I teach the live seminars, we spend the first three hours lecturing, taking a lunch break, and then spending the afternoon doing the live craft labs. In these, I deal with students trying to play their best game. At the end of the hand, they show their cards, and I make notes and cash.
Posted in 2019 FossilMan winning tournament strategies, a 42-chapter book that covers all the basic concepts behind being a tournament winning player, as well as many more advanced strategies. This book can be compared to the lecture portion of my seminars. However, I was working on a second book, and thought it should be more like live labs.
For this book, I’ll go over the scores of the hands I’ve played, and split each decision along the way. Although not finished yet, I thought it would be interesting to provide an excerpt from some of those hands here.
Our first hand fell in 2019 World Series of Poker. I was playing early in the event no. 53, Infinite Eight Hands Deep Block Hold’em Tournament. I was in the big blind 400 with 25,000 stacks.
The main villain of this hand was the cut, which got me covered with 33,000 piles. I’ve seen him make many pretty big bets in previous hands, sometimes while bluffing, sometimes when he’s strong. It was the size of a pile of a pile on a roller coaster.
UTG The main villain opened for 1100, and raised to 3600 with an A. K. UTG Folded, called the villain. I checked permutation in A 10 2hoping to make a significant increase in betting, but he checked from the back.
I bet it’s small, only 3000, at 9 In turn, he called. the river was likeAnd, I checked, again hoping to get a big bet. Here he was bound to do everything, and I made the call.
Preflop, we can argue call the original raise only, because we are out of position against two opponents, and we can cancel the flop when we miss. Also, if we hit, our opponents might not put us in such a strong hand.
By contrast, by re-lifting, we may win the pot now, and when it doesn’t, we get more chips in the pot with what is probably the best hand. Also, we take the lead and can sometimes win the pot with a continuous bet, even if we miss.
For example, if they ask to re-raise with a small pair, they may go down when we keep betting on the flop and face multiple excess cards. This is a situation where you get confused by calling sometimes and re-raising sometimes, making the decision each time based on other factors. In this case, I preferred to re-up, since there is a good chance that the bad guy will hit a huge four-hand, and he won’t need a special hand to do so.
Despite the potential flush draws, this is a huge swing in the hand. We have an upper pair, and with slow play it looks like we have a big pair (KK through 9-9) instead of an ace. This is why I reviewed this permutation, hoping to induce a bluff from this aggressive player. My basic strategy is to always bet when it’s against one opponent. But here I decided to use an exploitative strategy instead.
In turn, I was still a big pocket pair that couldn’t beat an ace. I thought it was better to sell this story to a small bet than to check. I’m still trying to achieve the big bet from the villain. On the river, I thought he didn’t have much at all, as all the draws went wrong, and he wouldn’t be considered a bet. So, I checked to urge a trick.
As it turns out, the villain had crushed the flop with an A-2 suit, so I got lucky to hit the river.
Now let’s look at this from a villain’s perspective. Summoning the first increase in A-2 suit is A leaked Error. More so when the increase of UTG, a position in which they are likely to have a strong hand. Even if an A-2 fits him, that’s still a huge mistake. Then it exacerbates the error by invoking the re-raise increment. He has now placed about 13% of the total effective stack with a hand that is very difficult to play well after the flop.
What does he do when the flop is Q-10-2, and I bet? It would have been a huge failure for him, as he would have gone from the back to the front. But will he really call me the inferior husband? Even with a harmless fiddle like a 9-7-2, how much relief can he relate to? And if you bet again on the turn or the river? His hand was not folded at all.
When flipped, its back-check is fine. He hit big, and his check seems reasonable no matter what cards he might hold. However, why not bet instead? His image is very aggressive, so he should know that we expect him to bet any time he shows weakness. If I had held a hand like KK, against him, I certainly wouldn’t have lost the flop. I was expecting him to cheat a lot here, just because I checked.
It is important to keep an eye on your image and to know what other players think of you. You should not do anything special to create an image, but you should always be aware of the image you have created through the gameplay. If you’ve got a lot of cool cards, you’ve been betting and raising a lot, but you won without any confrontations, your picture is loose and aggressive, maybe even wild and crazy. It doesn’t matter how strong you are at play, if that’s all your opponents have seen, this is your current look.
In contrast, when I’m betting small, the villain has to go up completely. If I had a weak hand in this board, I’m not likely to bet again on the river. Also, I’m not likely to check the connection to the river after he calls this bet a turn. Since mere connectivity is not likely to create additional value for him, he has to go up now. Again, doing this is often seen as an attempt to steal, meaning that I am less likely to succumb to his bet than I would against most other players.
Finally, his bet on the river is absurd. In his view, what are the odds of owning too much of anything? If I don’t have many, what are the odds of scraping my entire stack, rather than just folding it up and continuing with a playable stack of 18,000? The only way to get value in this river is if I had a hand like AQ or AJ. However, his big bet looks very deceptive, so I might call it light at times. But I think it’s too late for that step now. He should have done this on the turn instead. ♠
Greg Raymer is the 2004 World Series of Poker Main Event Champion, won several major titles, and has earned over $7 million. He is the author of FossilMan’s Winning Tournament Strategies, available from D&B Publishing, Amazon, and other retailers. Sponsored by Blue Shark Optics, YouStake, and ShareMyPair. To connect with Greg, please Tweet @FossilMan or Visit his website.