Angry young men

To win in poker, you need to know three words; aggression, aggression and aggression

One hand that caught my eye from the World Series of Poker Main Event involved Paul Snead and Scott Montgomery. With just 21 players left they played a huge pot – one that would catapult Montgomery towards a place at the final table in November, and leave Paul Snead’s dreams in tatters.

With blinds at 50,000/100,000/ 10,000 Snead raised to 300,000 on the button, Montgomery re-raised (three-bet) to 800,000 from the big blind, and Snead called. On a flop of J?-3?-10?, Montgomery bet out 1.5m, Snead re-raised to 3m, and Montgomery shoved all-in for an additional 1.75m more. Snead tanked for over five minutes (despite the generous pot odds) and eventually called after having had the clock put on him. Everyone waited for the two powerhouse hands to be turned over, but Montgomery sheepishly tabled A?-4? and Snead flipped J?-7? for top pair, no kicker. A third heart on the turn reduced Montgomery’s outs to just two Aces, one of which miraculously came on the river.

Leaving aside any mistakes made in the hand, it illustrates the changing nature of poker and just how aggressive the game has become. To win in today’s game, you need to adapt and follow the lead taken by Snead and Montgomery.

For the win!

Another time when aggression is crucial is at the end of a sit-and- go, where the difference between first and second place can be as much as two buy-ins.

When you get to heads-up and the blinds are sky-high it can often seem like the luckiest player triumphs, but on it’s possible to play perfect, unexploitable heads-up poker, which will see you take the tourney down far more. Don’t worry if you don’t understand all the sums behind this theory, just keep aware of what you should be pushing and what should be mucked the next time you’re heads-up in a sit-and-go, and reap the rewards.

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