(Distributed April 10, 2007)
HOW WOULD YOU HAVE PLAYED THIS TOURNAMENT HAND?
Together let’s review the decisions made in an actual hand from a recent live no-limit hold’em tournament. Pay attention, now. There WILL be a quiz.
The event was a $340 qualifier with the final 37 players (20 percent of the field) advancing to the championship tournament the next day when first place would pay nearly six-figure money.
Each player started with $10,000 in chips. Ten players were at each table and blind levels lasted 30 minutes. Both the big and small blinds were $100 for the first level.
Our hero, we’ll call him Hillbilly, was in seat 3. The villain, let’s dub him Rocky the Tight One, was in seat 2. For the first 40 minutes, no one had busted out and the biggest pre-flop raise was the standard amount, triple the big blind. Conservative play ruled. Rocky lived up to his name by not playing a single hand to that point.
Ten minutes into level 2, Hillbilly was in the big blind ($200) and Rocky posted $100 from the small blind. After checking his hole cards, an early-position player limped in for $200, then a middle-position player raised to $600. Everyone folded to Rocky, who suddenly came to life and re-raised the bet to $3,000 — by far the biggest bet of the day!
Hillbilly was as surprised as everyone else by such a big raise by a player who had been so tight. Next to act, Hillbilly took his first peek at his hole cards and saw the two black kings! He then quietly noticed that he had exactly $100 more than Rocky and that both of them had about $10,000.
Hillbilly’s gut told him Rocky would only re-raise in that spot holding A-A or Q-Q. He knew it was highly improbable Rocky held the other two kings, and he doubted Rocky would make the move with J-J or A-K.
He considered his options: (a) fold; (b) re-raise all-in; (c) call the $3,000. What would you have done?
Well, Hillbilly thought about folding, but only for a moment. Only one hand beats kings and he wasn’t about to toss those “cowboys” away.
Then he considered a re-raise of his own. Raising any amount less than his entire stack made no sense to Hillbilly because even a minimum raise to $6,000 would leave him pot-committed if Rocky then moved all-in. He thought putting his tournament life on the line this early in the event against a player who might have pocket aces seemed risky.
So, Hillbilly just called. The early-position and middle-position players folded quickly, as expected, and it was time for the flop.
Since both Hillbilly and Rocky were at the end of the table to the dealer’s left, they simultaneously saw the “door card” as the dealer lifted the three cards to spread the flop. It was a queen! The other two cards were rags, but before the flop was completely down, Rocky immediately announced: “All in.”
Hillbilly went into the tank, trying to figure out whether to call or fold. If his initial read was correct — that Rocky probably held A-A or Q-Q — then he knew he was way behind in the hand and almost certain to lose unless a miracle king came on the turn or the river. If Rocky held any other hand, Hillbilly’s kings would be a solid favorite to win the pot and double him up to $20,000 in chips.
If he folded, Hillbilly still would have enough chips ($7,000) and plenty of time to mount a comeback.
What would you have done?
After about 90 seconds, Hillbilly folded. Rocky never showed his hand. About two hours later, Hillbilly lost his few remaining chips in pursuit of the nut flush and was eliminated. Then he started second-guessing folding the kings, telling a friend in frustration: “If I’d known I was going to bust out anyhow, I’d have pushed all-in with those kings before the flop.”
Well, by now you’ve probably figured out that I was Hillbilly in this tournament, which was part of Heartland Poker Tour last month at Meskwaki Casino near Tama, Iowa.
Mucking those kings was the biggest laydown I’ve ever made in a tournament, but I was following a playing strategy that makes sense to me: Trust your instincts and observations.
Do you think I made the correct play? What would you have done?
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.
COPYRIGHT 2007 RUSS SCOTT
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