My last article, WSOP Blues, talked about my slow demise in the Main Event from 35th in chips after Day 2 to busting out on Day 4 before the money. This month my article will look at some of the brighter spots from Day 1.
Every year in the main event there is usually a hand or two where I may get a little too creative, get myself in trouble, and then either make a play that looks brilliant or donk off a lot of chips. The following hand was a little creative and a little lucky at the same time.
First, a little background. I was quite card dead having never been dealt a pocket pair above 99 the entire day. In addition, I had a relatively tough table, especially for Day 1 with several top pros sitting on both my left and right. The combination of the two resulted in me playing relatively tight while playing a very straight-forward game up until this point. We’re in the 4th level after dinner break.
A very good player in early middle position raised. The next player, Joshua Tieman, a WSOP bracelet winner and high stakes players, called. I called in the cutoff with 8c 7c. The flop was Ah 9h 9x. The initial raiser bet 1,100, Joshua called, and of course I raised to 3,700 with my powerful backdoor straight draw. The initial raiser folded and Joshua called.
My primary thinking here is that unless one of my opponents had AA or a 9 in their hand, I would be able to get them to fold any A-x hand on either the flop or turn given my tight image. The initial raiser in fact might fold A-x on the flop given my raise against a bettor and a caller. Once Joshua calls, I really think he either has trips or a flush draw. I felt confident at the time that he probably knew I wouldn’t raise in this spot with a hand like A-Q so he likely wasn’t calling with an A-x hand.
I was planning on making a substantial bet on the turn of any non-heart board. Unfortunately, the poker gods didn’t follow my plan and a small heart fell on the turn. We both checked as I pretty much gave up on the hand as I thought it would be difficult to get Joshua to fold a flush or trips at this point. Then, the poker gods decided to mix it up a bit and put an ace on the river. Joshua checked and had about 10,000 remaining in his stack. There was about 11,000 in the pot.
Well, if I want to win the pot I obviously have to bet. Joshua would obviously have a hard time calling with a flush.
The question is how much to bet. I decided the best way to look strong was to put in a weakish looking bet that looks like it wants a call. At the same time, a smallish bet compared to the size of the pot will still represent a hefty chunk of his stack. I bet 4,100 hoping for a quick fold. Unfortunately, Joshua went into the tank for several minutes making me sweat it out. I suspect that he really doubted I would raise the flop with A-x, but at the same time, he probably had a hard time figuring out what I was holding. Would I raise with total air on the flop? That would be a great read given how I was playing that day. My most likely hand is 9-x. I raise the flop with trips, check the flush card on the turn, and make a small value bet on the river with my boat. But he sure thought it through a lot. If he had a flush, then he really had a good read on me thinking that long and just was unable to pull the trigger. If he folded 9-x himself, then my image must have really worked in my favor.
I normally don’t show my hands, but I decided to show to put out a little different image to hopefully capitalize on later as I was still planning on playing a relatively tight game, despite that one hand. And it’s possible that this hand helped me out a little on my double-up hand.
We only have four hands left to play on Day 1. I have roughly 45,000 in chips, which was about average. I was pretty happy with my stack at this point as I had chipped up with practically no premium starting hands all day.
Robert Mizrachi raises in early position with a monster stack. There are two callers and I call in the big blind with K-Ts. The flop is K-K-3. I bet 2K and Mizrachi calls. Crap! What am I going to do now?! I don't want to lose 10K on one of the last hands of the night! I pretty much don’t see Mizrachi calling in this spot with a hand that doesn’t beat me. And then…
Boom! A T falls on the turn. I bet 6,000 and Mizrachi calls. He is in trouble and I pray for small cards. The river is a 7. I bet 11K, he raises to 27k, and I go all-in. He calls with 33. I’m not sure if he overplayed his hand on the river, but I would have folded K-J in this spot and probably K-Q. I would also never 3-bet the river without a boat. The poker gods were on my side that day by sending me a key turn card on my double-up and a key river card to set up the bluff.
I was on a WSOP high, but the WSOP blues were only a few days away.
This article first appeared in Card Player magazine.
Matthew is the owner of Dimat Enterprises, “Publishing Today’s Best Poker Books”. The Math of Hold’em by Collin Moshman and Douglas Zare is available now at pokerbooks.InternetTexasHoldem.com.