BY RUSS SCOTT
FEBRUARY 5, 2008
(Pics of Shana, Marianela at bottom)
READERS ASK ABOUT TABLE IMAGE, ONLINE POKER, AND SHANA
A new player in Los Angeles is becoming quite a student of the game, but has questions about table image, bad breaks, and playing monster hands. Let’s try to help.
(SET ITAL) * I started playing poker last summer, and I want to learn as much as possible in order to make the correct decisions. What do you do when you catch a monster hand, but your table image is that of an extremely aggressive player and your opponent is one of those tight but “gets annoyed” players? — Mike H., Los Angeles. (END ITAL)
Interesting question, Mike. You mentioned an online hand where you pushed A-K pre-flop, again when the flop came A-K-9 (two diamonds), and also on the raggedy turn card. “Bob,” a tight player, stayed in all the way and then actually raised enough to put you all in on the turn.
“I did not even pause to think. I just called,” you wrote. The river was a diamond, completing the opponent’s winning flush.
“Did I play correctly? Should I have paused at least, and perhaps folded? Did I make a mistake in betting aggressively in previous hands, which puts players in an angry mood and fills them with desire for revenge?”
That hand was just a cooler, Mike. If Bob was getting tired of your aggression, even a huge pre-flop raise might not have forced him out. After flopping a flush draw, he wasn’t going anywhere.
Bob’s big raise on the turn — a semi-bluff with a drawing hand — might have been a “revenge move,” but you can’t lay down top two pair. In fact, he held exactly what you wanted him to have — a drawing hand which made you an 80 percent favorite with one card to go!
Here are some things to consider:
* Many opponents only play THEIR hands and aren’t thinking about what you have or your aggressiveness. Most wouldn’t risk their stack with a marginal hand just to “get back” at someone.
* You should mix it up a little when you flop a true monster, such as top set (trips) or the nut straight. Your tight-aggressive style is fine, but the best players have more than one gear. Keep opponents guessing by occasionally slow-playing a monster.
* If you’re making betting decisions based on your perceived table image, you might be putting too much emphasis on the wrong thing and reaching the wrong conclusions. Watch opponents when you’re NOT in hands, learn their betting tendencies, then act accordingly when you’re in against them.
Losing big pots with big hands can wear you down, Mike, but you can’t let bad beats wreck your confidence and patience or else the game won’t be enjoyable anymore.
(SET ITAL) * I enjoy your poker columns in The Dallas Morning News! I would like to get into computer hold’em, but I am confused about logging into online poker sites. Most say it is free to play, but then I read where people have won money. Can you explain? — Ed T., Dallas. (END ITAL)
Getting started online CAN be confusing, Ed. You can play free poker on a site’s “.net” platform such as pokerstars.net or fulltiltpoker.net, or play for money using the “.com” platform. Either way, you must click the “free download” button and follow the instructions.
I recommend you play only free poker until you’re comfortable with the action and the site’s functions.
(SET ITAL) * Russ, I love your column in The Dallas Morning News. I look forward to Thursdays so I can see what your next column will be about. My question: Do you know why NBC replaced Shana Hiatt on Poker After Dark? She was my favorite television poker hostess. — Bill B., Dallas. (END ITAL)
Happy Thursday, Bill! You’re in the majority, partner: Shana’s the favorite of a zillion poker fans, primarily from hosting the first three years of World Poker Tour shows.
She left Poker After Dark because she’s pregnant, according to multiple Internet sources. I heard the same thing from in-the-know folks while covering the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure last month. Her husband is James Van Patten, brother of WPT co-host Vince Van Patten.
Her replacement, Marianela Pereyra, is doing well so far on Poker After Dark’s third season.
E-mail your poker questions and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org 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 2008 RUSS SCOTT
DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS SYNDICATE INC.
Shana Hiatt interviews Phil Ivey with Don Cheadle waiting at 2007 Heads-Up Championship