Sunday, August 17, 2008

"Risk vs. Return"




From time to time I like to breakdown hands that really stand out in my mind. The hand analysis below took place while playing at my home game this past week.

One of the biggest mistakes the amateur poker player can make is to put themselves in a difficult position by risking their entire stack for a minimal return. While the all-in play is a very powerful tool in no limit hold’em it is often times overused or misused.

We were five-handed and the blinds were at $400/$800. I was in the big blind and was the short-stack with only $2,900 in chips. The action folded all the way around to the small blind. He flipped up his cards, thought momentarily and pushed all-in for a total of $2,950. Now this particular player is known for being a very loose aggressive player and is often caught with his pants down making moves with absolute junk. I flipped up my cards to see Photobucket. Up to this point I had folded for a good hour looking for an opportunity to make a move and double up so when I saw the ace with his lady friend I felt now was that time. I thought for a minute and made the call.

The small blind promptly said, “You got me!” as we flipped up our cards. I was surprised to see that the small blind was holding PhotobucketPhotobucket. According to him he was trying to steal the blinds. Now while stealing the blinds is a crucial part of the game, the proper way to play this hand would be for him to put out a substantial sized feeler bet. That way he doesn’t risk his entire tournament life on a risky play. In turn if he completely misses the flop he can still get out and minimize his losses.

The flop was as follows:

PhotobucketPhotobucketPhotobucket

At this point I am thinking “Sweet I hit my ace!” but I am also worried about the straight draw now looming over the board. Now this guy is one of the luckiest bastards I know. I mean in the last month alone he has won over $14,000 in scratch tickets…scratch tickets?!? Nobody ever wins on those things! I know that scratch tickets and poker have absolutely no relation but I am a very superstitious person so that thought was running through the back of my mind.

The turn brought me a little more comfort in the way of the Photobucket giving me top two pair but I wasn’t out of the woods yet. At this point the small blind stood up and readied himself to leave the table…I, however, knew better and prepared for the worst. Well my fear came to fruition as I watched the Photobucket fall on the river to seal my fate. That’s right he had tabled the straight and I was sent to the rail. As I gathered my stuff the small blind looked up and apologized as thought he knew he got lucky yet again.

While that play worked this time, 90% of the time it would be the wrong move. Now hold’em is typically a game of skill but as always lady luck can help you out when you least expect it.

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