Play it like Chris Moorman: Exclusive strategy book extract!

Chris Moorman’s first ever strategy book, Moorman’s Book of Poker, has been taking the poker world by storm. In this extract, Moorman analyses hands played by his co-author Byron Jacobs in a turbo six-max tourney on PokerStars

Co-author Byron Jacobs:
All of the hands in this book are taken from various tournaments that I have played over the last 18 months. The discussion of all the hands is structured in the same way. The play of the hand is given, and then I provide my own commentary and thoughts. Chris [Moorman] critiques the play and the analysis and gives his own take on the lines chosen, indicating what he considers to be the optimal lines.

I found it fascinating that in almost every hand Chris finds a better line than the one I actually chose, and clearly explains the concepts that make the play preferable. Occasionally, it is a completely different approach but, more often, it is a case of fine-tuning, such as finding a more accurate bet size or raise size.

Hand 1: Considering Perceived Range

Game: PokerStars $50 Turbo 6-Max
Hand: Q♠-J  Position: BB
Players: Five
Blinds/ante: 400/800/a100

Preflop: Hero is BB with Q♠-J
MP folds, CO raises to 1,600, two folds, Hero calls 800

Flop: (4,100 in pot) K♣-K-J♣ (Two players)
Hero checks, CO checks

Turn: (4,100) K♣-K-J♣-2♠
Hero checks, CO checks

River: (4,100) K♣-K-J♣-2♠-T
Hero bets 2,200, CO raises to 7,200, Hero folds

Byron Jacobs
With slightly less than 14k, my stack has dwindled to less than 20BB, and we are also playing with a 100 ante. I have Q♠-J in the big blind. The cutoff, who covers me, opens to 2x, and it is folded around to me. The cutoff has been playing in a slightly unorthodox fashion. He has also been fairly active.

Getting odds of better than 4/1, I call with the Q-J offsuit.

The flop brings K♣-K-J♣ and I check. Slightly surprisingly, the cutoff also checks. I wouldn’t expect him to check if he hit the flop so I think his range is geared towards hands such as A-x and maybe middle-low pairs. Essentially we are playing a way ahead/way behind situation with this flop (although the two clubs make it more volatile). It is also possible that he is slowplaying with a very strong hand.

The turn brings the 2♠. I can’t see much value in betting, since my hand is not one that can generate two streets of value. I decide to check, planning to check-call, but he once again checks behind. I now think I am ahead virtually always.

The river is the T. I now decide to bet half pot, since my hand at this stage is more or less completely random and this bet could easily be called by a weaker hand. He now raises to 7,200 and I fold. I can only beat a complete bluff and this does not seem very likely. I assume he either slowplayed a monster or had A-Q and completed the gutshot on the river.

Chris Moorman says…
This spot is very close between defending and re-jamming before the flop. I would prefer to jam against an active cutoff because we will be getting more than enough folds, coupled with decent equity when called. Defending is fine, and much better than folding, because our hand flops well and we are getting a great price against a wide range. The problem is that on certain boards, such as 2-2-5 or A-x-x, we will have trouble getting to showdown and may end up folding the best hand.

Once you call and Villain checks back this flop, you almost certainly have the best hand. Even with a strong hand I would expect your opponent to bet most of the time because you have a lot of draws that you will be check-jamming on the flop at this stack depth. When he checks back, he may be pot-controlling with a very good Ace-high, such as A-Q or A-T, a middle pocket pair or a weak Queen. Therefore, I am looking to bet the turn and most rivers to maximise our value. I would lead for around 70 percent of the pot on the turn to set up a river jam. When your opponent pot controls flops this shallow, you need to lead turns and rivers for larger than normal to put them under pressure. I would make the same move with a flush draw, therefore I need to have a wider value range than just trip Kings to make my bluffs profitable.

Although the river isn’t ideal because A-Q gets there, I would still be jamming my Q-J for value, especially when the flush draw misses. This will sometimes backfire when I value-town myself against a slowplay or a hand that got there, like A-Q or T-T, but it makes me much harder to play against and puts people in tougher spots after they cap their ranges on the flop. The river is a very rough spot in this hand because it is unusual for a player to take this line as a bluff. I would probably give him credit for either getting there on the river with A-Q or slowplaying something incredibly strong, such
as flopped quads or K-J.

Hand 2: Standard Semi-bluff

Game: PokerStars $50 Turbo 6-Max
Hand: K-8  Position: CO
Players: Six
Blinds/ante: 2,500/5,000/a625

Preflop: Hero is CO with K-8
Two folds, Hero raises to 12,500, BTN calls 12,500, SB folds, BB calls 7,500

Flop: (43,750) J-Q-2 (Three players)
BB checks, Hero checks, BTN bets 25,000, BB folds, Hero calls 25,000

Turn: (93,750) J-Q-2-7 (Two players)
Hero checks, BTN bets 45,153 and is all-in, Hero calls 45,153

River: (184,056) J-Q-2-7-7♠

Byron Jacobs
We are now fairly deep in the tournament and I am at a six-handed table with a 170k stack. I pick up K-8 in the cutoff and open to 2.5x. The button, who has a 16BB stack, calls, as does the big blind playing a similar stack size.

The flop comes J-Q-2, giving me a flush draw, and the big blind checks. There is 44k in the pot and effective stack size is 70k. The obvious play is to lead out for about half pot but I am aware that the Q-J combo is quite likely to connect with the type of hands that will call preflop.

If I lead out for about 22k and get shoved on, I’ll obviously call when the most likely scenario is that I have approximately 40% equity and am getting a fair price. But I decide to check since if I hit the flush on the turn I will almost certainly get paid off by a top pair-type hand.

Now the button bets 25k with the big blind folding. I now called but, in retrospect, have no idea why since the shove seems like a no-brainer play. The turn card makes the board J-Q-2-7, completing my flush. I check and call the button’s shove.

Chris Moorman says…
I’m fine with your open, although a min-raise does the same job and costs less when you fold to a shove. I like a check-jam on the flop for a number of reasons. First, this is a great flop for your opponent’s range, so I would be check-folding here rather than c-betting with air. I would also check-jam sometimes so that Villain can’t just auto-bet when I check and a show a massive profit. If we c-bet here with the stacks so shallow, I don’t expect a Jack to fold, and a Queen is surely going to get it in. I don’t expect someone to bluff-jam over your continuation bet with a middle pair such as 6-6 because he will have so little equity when called. However, when you check I can see a hand like 6-6 taking a stab at the pot, figuring you are check-folding this board often enough, and then folding once you shove all-in. In this case you will pick up extra value from a bet-fold from the button and it will be the same result if he does have Q-x or J-x as when you continuation bet and call his shove.

The line you took of check-calling the flop is a bit of a disaster. Villain bets such a large proportion of his stack on the flop that it looks like you have very little fold equity, but I have seen stranger bet-folds. This is especially true of a player who is most likely to be on the weaker side (with this stack size it’s normally better to fold or shove preflop).

A check-shove on the flop is much better than check-calling the flop and making the huge mistake of folding to a turn jam if you fail to improve.

Hand 3: Don’t Auto-Fold!

Game: PokerStars $50 Turbo 6-Max
Hand: 5♠-3♠  Position: SB
Players: Four
Blinds/ante: 5,000/10,000/a1,250

Preflop: Hero is SB with 5♠-3♠
CO folds, BTN raises to 25,000, Hero folds, BB calls 15,000

Flop: (60,000) K♣-6-J
BB checks, BTN checks

Turn: (60,000) K♣-6-J-Q
BB bets 30,000, BTN folds

Byron Jacobs
We are now four-handed at the final table playing with blinds of 5k/10k and an ante of 1,250. I am chip leader in the small blind with 400k. The button is second in chips with 371k. The cutoff folds and the button opens with a 25k bet. I fold 5♠-3♠.

Although this looks like a mundane play I think it is a horrible blunder. After the button’s open there is 45k in the pot and I think that a reraise here with any two cards to maybe 65k is a clear +EV play. The particular configuration of the stack sizes makes it extremely difficult for either the button or the big blind to contest this pot with me since the cutoff, with a tiny 6BB stack, has already folded. He could well be opening fairly wide, but should only continue with an absolute premium hand. He is probably folding about 80% of the time after I raise.

Chris Moorman says…
This is a great spot for you to apply pressure on the button player. The button is not going to go out of his way to get involved with you, because you can bust him and there are two stacks that are much shorter. However, the button is still going to be opening very wide because he knows the big blind doesn’t want to bust before the UTG player, who only has 6BB and will be in the big blind next hand. So, there is a huge gap in the range the button will be raising with in this hand and the range that he will be continuing with against your three-bet from the small blind. Even if the button does
call your reraise, he will probably play straightforwardly postflop because he doesn’t want to risk a significant proportion of his stack when there are two much shorter stacks. Your opponent in this hand is handcuffed due to the extreme ICM implications of losing a big pot to you at this time.

Normally, when three-betting out of position you should construct your range to be stronger than when you three-bet in position because you are much more likely to be called. However, in this spot you could reraise profitably with any two cards. Winning the pot here against the button, even preflop, will give you a significant chip lead and allow you to bully your opponents four-handed, especially if the short stack doubles up in the near future.

These kinds of spots are crucial on final tables when most of the money is in the top three places, especially if you want to give yourself the best possible chance to win. Your opponents might think you are taking advantage of them and the situation, but they are very unlikely to stand up to you because of the huge ICM mistake they will be making if they are wrong.

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