They Called me Fish!

They Called me Fish!

Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Our plane to Dublin was delayed by four hours due to ice on the runway and this meant that we arrived two hours late for the start of the Green Joker Poker European Deepstack tournament. The game began quite well for me, however, in that I managed to take down a decent pot by check-raising with an inside straight draw against a player who, as Mick McCool informed me shortly after I took my seat, had been extremely active.

Alas, this player got some back off me later. He limped in early position, I limped with QhKh, and one more player limped after me. The flop came Qc8d2s, the original player bet and I called. Now, when I call here I’m not thinking too much about the player behind me, although that changed slightly when he also called on this board with no apparent draw.

The reason I hadn’t re-raised was because I didn’t want to make the aggressive player relinquish the momentum in the hand, as he was likely to continue to try to win the pot regardless of his holding and the board cards. Also, if he did actually have the best hand, I didn’t want to allow the pot to get too big with an inferior hand which I would be reluctant to fold against an aggressive, active player.

The turn card was a very safe looking 5h. The aggressive player checked and now I decided to test the other player, betting out just over half the pot. After some thought he folded but then the aggressive player called, which surprised me – it must have been obvious to him that I thought I had the best hand, and so it would not be a good spot for him to get too creative with a bluff, particularly as the turn card was a long way from being a scare card.

The river was an off-suit six and now my opponent made a large, almost pot-sized bet.

I couldn’t imagine what hand he might have played this way but it seemed that he genuinely believed he had the best hand, while he could reasonably expect me to think I still had the best hand. I decided I could not be winning and folded my hand face up. He showed me a very creative 3-4 offsuit for a runner-runner straight.

There were a lot of French players at this tournament, one of whom actually called me a fish. Now, in times gone by, if you performed so badly that a French player called you a fish, then you knew you had dropped a right large clanger, but these young French players are generally very, very good, and I think this guy was a little annoyed that, after I had raised in the cut off with 8-9 and he had re-raised me with 7-7, I had moved all-in on him in a situation where he was likely to call. The fact that I hit both an eight and a nine probably did little to soothe his nasty frame of mind. It was a poor bet by me, to be honest, but I had been card dead for a long time and had been so bashed up by the young French players I was just looking for a spot to show some flair and hopefully cause some pain. Good job, well done, I thought.

I think some aggressive players who try to bluff or make value bets simply do so because they appreciate that such actions are required to maximise their opportunities in a tournament. They don’t, however, take the necessary care to ensure that their betting patterns make sense and nor do they, when value betting, ensure that the bet itself makes sense. They may even be unsure as to whether the bet is a bluff, a value bet or anything else – they just do it (which is arguably better than doing nothing at all, but that does not make it optimal).

In one hand, an aggressive player, who had not been doing very well in the hands he played against me, raised and I called from the small blind with JcQc. The flop was KcJdTs, I checked and he checked behind me. At this point I was pretty sure I was winning – unless he had A-Q – and when the turn came an off-suit four I checked, hoping he would take a stab at the pot, but again he checked behind. The river was a nine giving me the straight and I bet 1,500, half hoping him to fold so I could avoid showing him my hand and revealing how I had played it against him. Surprisingly he re-raised to 5,000, a bet that would really only make a bluff fold. I thought he must have A-Q and had outplayed me or, at worst, he somehow had a queen to give him the same straight.

I called and he showed a set of nines. I thought this was a poor bet as it was very unlikely that he would either make a better hand fold or a worse hand call.

I saw another good example of an ill-thought-out bet which caused some extreme pain for the victim and unjustified reward for the perpetrator.

With blinds at 800/1600 a player limped in the cut-off and the big blind raised to 4,000 holding 9h3h. Now, this is a very poor bet as it is highly unlikely to make the limper fold and so you are likely to find yourself out of position against at least one and maybe two opponents and holding the hardly awe inspiring 9-3 suited. One could argue that, given that most hands miss the flop, to raise and continuation bet with any hand in any position can be mathematically justified, but I leave that kind of logic to the baboons and other equally sore bottomed individuals.

There is nothing wrong with raising from the big blind with 9-3 (or any hand) to try to exploit a late position limper who you believe probably has a weak hand, but surely you should raise enough to give your opponent a good reason to fold, particularly if your hand is as strong as 9-3.

Anyway back to the hand. The flop comes 8h6s4h, which is pretty good given the circumstances, and our creative raiser bets and is re-raised. He then moves all-in and is instantly called. His opponent was not really concerned what the pre-flop raiser had as he had pocket eights for a flopped top set. Had he been concerned, I doubt he would have put his opponent on 9h3h. He was concerned, however, when the third non- pairing heart hit the board and equally concerned not to knock chairs over as he left the table.

I ended up on a table with two Irish and five French players, and for some reason the dealer felt obliged to switch languages based on the nationality of the player he was talking to. This was OK but, despite the fact that I had been chatting to the Irish bloke next to me in as close to English as my Black Country accent will allow, the dealer persisted in talking to me in French. I should have advised him that I am from Wolverhampton where men wear their jumpers on their backs rather than their shoulders, but being the diplomatic type I let him carry on.

I was eventually knocked out all-in with A-K versus 8-8 which was a breeze compared to what happened to Stuart Rutter. He raised with A-Q from late position and had an old Irish gent move all-in against him for an amount that could not make him fold (zero fold equity against his range, as I believe people say if they are either very cool or wish to sound like they know what they are talking about). The Irish gent hit a three (to go with the 3-4 off suit he had in his hand) to win the pot. Very shortly afterwards he made the same move when Stuart was again holding A-Q, this time with the much more promising and equally victorious K-8 off suit.

Tags: Paul Jackson, Strategy