Less is more

Tournament hotshot Paul 'ActionJack' Jackson
explains why he’s playing less but earning more, and how outdrawing a maniac can leave a sour taste

Although glory is very seductive, it is often nicer to just get hard cash – cash games are for dough and tournaments are for show

I haven’t played much online poker this year – certainly not like the 15-odd hours a day of last year. I’ve been playing live a lot more, and when I happened to do well in the European rankings, I became overly interested in staying up there.

Now I’ve accepted the post of director of online poker for Dusk Til Dawn (a major live poker club opening in Nottingham soon), my chance to play live poker has diminished. While the irony of this isn’t wasted on me, the reason is that I’m responsible for getting the club’s website up and running. And the truth is that, although glory is very seductive, it is often nicer to just get hard cash. That’s why there are so many great players who constantly make a bundle yet rarely play tourneys – cash games are for dough and tournaments are for show.

That doesn’t mean I’ve given up the circuit – in fact, I managed to play quite a lot of live poker in September, including a very enjoyable visit to Wales to play at the Grosvenor Casino in Swansea. The first tournament was the £150 rebuy and I managed to finish the rebuy period with a nice stack, thanks primarily to my own misjudgement and a nasty beat I put on Jamie Fisher. Jamie is a highly aggressive and very amiable maniac who tends to raise or re-raise pre-flop with literally any two cards and then show extreme strength on whatever flop comes. He’s the kind of player who prefers to draw to an inside straight as it is funnier to see the face of a rock holding a set after they have been rivered by a four-outer – particularly when their opponent had no logical reason for staying in the hand.

He raised pre-flop and I called with J-Q os (which I could reasonably have assumed was winning at this point). The flop came 9-10-J and, with around 900 in the pot, Jamie moved all-in for around 11k. I had around 8k chips at this point, so I was faced with calling for all my chips into a disproportionately small pot before Jamie’s bet.

Generally speaking, when players overbet the pot to this extent they are either frightened of losing the hand and don’t want to get outdrawn (clearly never the case with Jamie), or they have a poor hand and don’t want a call (far more likely with Jamie). I recognised the danger of calling as the stack I had was certainly playable, but this gave me the opportunity to amass a serious stack.

In all probability, he could reasonably be expected to have a hand like 7-4 os or K-2 os (he prefers the off-suit hands as they are double suited). So, after only a little thought, I call and Jamie turns over pocket Aces. As it happens, I hit a straight on the turn and doubled up and, as usual, he took his beat with good grace.

The good thing about maniacs is they tend not to get upset when they lose because outdraws and bad beats are part of their game – indeed, almost what they aim for. Before Jamie started the tournament, he said, ‘Am I going to bad beat some people tonight?’ Aggressive players moan more because when they finally get caught making their unnecessary overbets they seem to think it was a bad call by the player who caught them with their hand in the cookie jar.

You could say that I was only a marginal dog on the flop and it seemed a worse outdraw than it was from that point because he held pocket Aces. But the more important point here is that if I get my entire stack in on the flop against a maniac and I am not a significant favourite, then I’m not doing my job properly. If I am going to outdraw a player in a tourney, next time I want it to be the best player.

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