Fishtank part 11

Two-time WSOP winner Scott Fischman has joined the team and is here to answer your questions

Bubble boy

At our regular home game last week the following situation arose. There were four of us left and I was under the gun with blinds of 400/800 and a 100 ante. I looked down at 9-9 and raised another 2500; the button folded, small blind called, and big blind folded. The flop came 5-6-7 rainbow, giving me an over-pair and an inside straight draw. The small blind bet 6000 and I had a bit of a dilemma. The player in the small blind has a tendency to play Ace-rag strongly and tries to buy a lot of pots; in this situation he probably put me on a strong Ace, so I decided that he was either holding an openended straight with his Ace, and if he had the Eight I had two of his outs, or he’d made a small pair with an Ace kicker. I didn’t put him on a big pair, as I’m sure he would have re-raised me pre-flop. So I re-raised him all-in for another 9500 chips. He made the call and showed A-8. Of course, a Four came up on the turn and I crashed out in my usual position – the bubble. Did I do the right thing? It’s been eating at me for a week and affecting my online play!

Ben Adlam

SF: You did the right thing at the table and the wrong thing away from the table. To let a hand like this eat away at you and affect your play for weeks is a HUGE error. The hand you described is very common and not a bad beat by any means! If you’ve told this story even once and used the term bad beat, then it’s you who’s in the wrong! You’re psychologically setting yourself up for disaster. Poker is all about ‘what-ifs?’, and if you’re playing to win you’ll often end up going out on the bubble. But if you keep playing your game, the ‘what-ifs?’ will eventually go your way and you’ll find yourself winning.

Lucky you

How much stock do you put in ‘luck’ at a poker table? I know that it’s supposed to even out over time, but people do seem to go on amazing rushes of cards where they can’t miss and hit absolutely everything. I had one at my local cash game the other day, but I was out at the WSOP and watched Jamie Gold do the same thing in the Main Event. My question is, if you see someone’s on a rush, do you avoid confrontations with them, or do you put aside superstitions and play your normal game?

Jamie Cousins

SF: Luck is a huge part of poker. If you see that a player is on a rush, I suppose it’s not a terrible idea to stay away, although this may force you to make bad decisions and prevent you from going on a similar rush. Everyone has their own views on superstitions and luck, but the bottom line is you must make the best decisions possible at the poker table. If you avoid the player that’s on the rush, their rush is likely to continue, when playing correctly against them will eventually end that rush. Some days, everything will just be going your way, winning every coin-flip and cracking big hands, but you won’t get there by letting something like another person’s seeming ‘luckiness’ dictate your play.

Your call

Can you play like a WSOP winner? Email us your answer and win a travel chipset, courtesy of

The situation

Bellagio Cup: $10,000 buy-in
Day One, Level Four – Blinds 150/300
Your chips: 45,000

I raise to 800 with K -3 in late position after everyone folds round to me and the small blind calls. (Back in Level One I played a hand against him where he raised pre-flop with Q-Q. I called with J-10. The flop came Jack-high, I checked, he bet big and I called. A blank came on the turn – I checked, he bet big and I called. Another blank turned up on the river – I checked, he checked and showed Queens. After that he didn’t play a hand for four hours.) He now has approximately 20,000 in chips. The big blind folds so we’re heads-up. The flop comes K-4-5 rainbow. He checks, I bet 900 and he raises to 3000. I call and the turn pairs Kings. He bets 4500 and I call. The river comes 9 and he pushes for 12,000. What do you do and why?

The answer

I folded the hand and he showed A-Q. When I raised pre-flop and he called, I knew he had a hand because he was super-tight, having not played a hand for four hours. When he check-raised me on the flop, I was afraid of A-K. He could easily have a set, A-K or A-A. I decided to call extra on the fl op because I had a lot of chips and wanted to see if I could hit a backdoor flush or two-pair. I still thought I was beat though at this point. The turn gave me trips. I’m ahead if he has A-A, but still behind if he has a set or A-K. When he bet out again, I think folding would have been correct, but I decided to call because I still had position, a lot of chips and a lot of outs against a set. Even if he had A-K I had a lot of outs to chop. And I could still call safely on the turn, because his bet only represented about 12 percent of my stack. When the river came as a blank and he pushed, I didn’t give him credit for a bluff.

I felt like I was beat the whole way because there is only a very small percentage of time, in the long run, that against this super-tight player I would win. Another reason why I folded is because of the way I verbally and physically acted during the hand – I made it very obvious that I had a King. I thought there was no way he would bluff all-in on the river without having me beat. I busted him shortly after, so I’m still happy with the fold because, given all the information I’d acquired at that table, it was the correct decision.


John Richards of Bristol decided to fold, like Scott did, for very similar reasons. He argued that by check-raising on the turn and pushing all-in on the river you’ve got to put him on A-K or a full house. Impressively, he also suggests he may have had A-Q pre-fl op, but couldn’t see him check-raising with that hand. Neither could Scott, which is why he didn’t call this super-tight player’s all-in bluff.

Send your answers to to – the best one wins a chipset. Find out what Mark did next month.

Next month

Can you outplay Chris Ferguson? The following hand is from Mark Vos, winner of the 2006 WSOP $2,000 Hold’em event. Tell us how you’d play it and win a travel chipset, courtesy of

The situation:
WSOP Main Event: $10,000 buy-in
Day 2, Level 4; blinds 400/800
Your chips: 95,000

I was in the small blind with K-J suited. It was folded to Chris Ferguson on the button who had about 60k to start the hand. He raised it to 3000. I made it 8000 to go. He thought for a little bit and called. We had both been playing fairly tight up to this point. The flop came A-J-10, I bet out 12,000, he thought for a little bit and called. The turn then came a Jack. I lead out for 15,000 and he quickly called. The river came a blank. I checked, he bet 20,000, leaving just a few chips in his stack. What do you do and why?

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