BY RUSS SCOTT
RELEASE: JUNE 1, 2010
Should You Play Tighter or Looser When Ahead in a Cash Game?
In recounting recent success on the felt, two readers this week bring up interesting side issues about how to play a big cash-game stack and how to throw away a big tournament payday.
Q: I was about $150 ahead at the Choctaw in Oklahoma, playing $1-$2 no-limit hold’em, until a deadly hand happened. I had A-K and flopped A-6-3. Someone raised to $21, I reraised to $42, and he went all-in. I did not figure him for A-A! It was hard for me to fold, so I lost about $130 on the hand but still ended up $23 ahead for the day. A small win is better than a big loss, right? – Paul M. in Forney, Texas.
A: Yes it is, Paul, but there’s more to consider.
You had built a strong stack with some very nice pots, but the A-K hand wiped out almost all of your winnings. So, should you have called his all-in flop bet?
Unless you were certain your opponent would move all-in only with a set (three of a kind) in that spot, then I can see how difficult it would have been to fold top pair-top kicker.
Also at play, I suspect, was the fact that you were nicely ahead when this hand came. There are several strategies players consider when they’re well ahead in a cash game, including:
– You should protect your chips and play extra carefully, or even leave the game, to preserve a strong winning session.
– Since you’re playing “with someone else’s money”, you should loosen up and be more willing to make big bets and calls.
I’ve played a winning stack both ways, Paul, but I think the best approach in a cash game is to continue making decisions based on the information available in each individual hand, without being influenced by the size of your stack.
And for sure, players shouldn’t think of their winning stack as “someone else’s money.” Those are YOUR chips at that moment.
Q: Hey Russ, we used to play poker together in Iowa and I wanted to let you know that the recent Jennifer Harman charity tournament here at the Peppermill was a huge success. I had a heck of a poker weekend myself, but did you hear about an incident where a final-table player actually was escorted out and his prizes were revoked? – Adam H. in Reno, Nev.
A: Great to hear from you, Adam!
Man, did you ever have a superb weekend in Reno — second place in the Friday night $150 event and then third place in the $500 main event! Congrats!
Jennifer Harman is so well-liked and respected by the poker community at large that it’s no surprise players flocked to her event at the Peppermill.
It is surprising and disappointing, however, to hear that the final table was disrupted. As you suggested, I visited Dan Ross’ website, RenoTahoePoker.com, for this description of what happened when the chip leader went berserk:
The player appeared to be quite drunk when the final table started, yet friends and teammates kept handing him more beers. With six contenders left, the player got face-to-face with someone on the rail and tried multiple times to start fighting the guy.
Tournament staff picked up the player’s chips at one point, but he continued the confrontation. This disrupted play for about 20 minutes, but somehow the player convinced the staff he was OK to continue playing. That did not last even one hand, however, as he bolted from his seat and ran toward the door, still looking for a fight.
The staff pulled his chips for good and forfeited all of his prizes, including an entry into the next day’s Nevada State Championship main event.
It was “one of the most unusual and disturbing blowups anyone watching had ever seen,” Ross wrote.
I’d call the incident a good reminder that poker and alcohol can be a bad, and costly, combination.
E-mail your poker questions and comments to email@example.com for use in future columns. To find out more about Russ Scott and read previous LuckyDog Poker columns, visit www.creators.com or www.luckydogpoker.com.
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