The fishtank part 13

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Slow-play disaster

I was recently heads-up in the final of a live tournament. Blinds were 4000/8000; I had 100,000, my opponent 200,000. I found A-A and called for another 4000, hoping he’d raise (he’d passed almost every time I’d raised pre-flop) but he didn’t. He had K-4 and the flop came down K-4-x; then another Four came on the turn and I went out. I didn’t see the point of raising him out pre-flop just to win the blinds; I was trying to win the tournament, but was I right?

Paul Bahbout

SF: I would have raised from your position, even if he’d folded every time before that for a couple of reasons. First, at this point of the tournament, I look to protect my stack or get the opponent to make a big mistake. Second, if you don’t raise you can’t gain information about his hand – whether he’s got a small card like a Four or not. If you raise and he still calls with the K-4, then you’ll probably go broke, but without the raise you should not have gone broke after the flop. One thing I’d suggest is to practise playing heads-up to get a feel for it. After practising you’ll be more comfortable and recognise the differences in hand values and betting patterns. This will increase your confidence when you reach the later stages of larger tournaments and increase your chances of winning!

Loose change

I’ve just started playing in cash games, and want to know which strategy is best suited to this format. Is it best to play solid or is it correct to see as many flops as possible, with hands such as 7-5, 8-9 etc, without becoming a calling station?

Richard Williams

SF: In cash games, I like to see a lot of cheap flops and try to make hands that are better than one pair. Keep in mind that this strategy can be a bit volatile, but very rewarding. Make sure you’re limping, not raising, with hands like this. A very solid approach in a no-limit cash game makes it hard to win a lot of money because you create a tight table image. But if you’re just looking to grind out a bit of money, then the solid approach is better. Playing a bit of a looser strategy and seeing a lot of flops means you’ll be putting more of your chips at risk, but also gives you the opportunity to get paid off huge when you hit a hand. I’d advise experimenting and seeing what works best for you.

Your call

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

I’m in the small blind with K-J. Everyone folds to Chris Ferguson who has about 60,000. He raises it to 3000. I make it 8000 to go. He thinks for a little bit and makes the call. We’d both been playing fairly tight up to this point. The flop comes A-J-10. I bet out 12,000, he thinks for a little bit and calls. The turn then brings J. I lead out for 15,000 and he calls quickly. The river is a blank. I check and he bets $20,000, leaving just a few chips in his stack. What should I do and why?

The answer

You’re facing a river bet and you need to work out what Chris has, remembering he’s a tight, solid player.

Pre-flop: Chris open-raised the button, which he could make with a vast range of hands, not all strong. But then he called my pre-flop re-raise, which defi nitely narrows his hand range substantially – he probably needs at least A-10 suited or A-J and possibly any pair trying to flop a set. There’s also a chance that he has biggish suited connectors. The flop came all high cards, which in this kind of pot would likely hit both of us. I led out for 12,000, a substantial bet, and he called. This narrows his hand range down further. He would definitely get rid of pairs under 9-9, Q-Q and K-K. He would almost certainly get rid of any suited connectors besides J-10 or K-Q. So this leaves us with his probable hand range being A-10, A-J, A-Q, A-K, J-10, K-Q, J-J, 10-10, J-J or A-A. This range doesn’t look good for me.

Turn: I fired out another 15,000 and he rapidly called. Now here’s where the most information is given. He’d probably fold A-10 and A-Q here, and J-J is no longer possible. He’d be hesitant about calling with A-K or K-Q, trying to decide whether to protect or maintain the slow-play. The hands that make sense for a quick confident call here are A-A, 10-10 and A-J.

River: The river card was a blank; I checked, and he put in 20,000. He would certainly not do this with A-K, and all hands that he could have are ahead of me, so the correct play must be to fold. In a later interview Chris revealed that he did in fact have A-A. Ironically, in the very next hand two players showed A! The hand was declared dead. Unfortunately, this was not noticed earlier, making it a bit easier for Chris to make his set!


Congratulations to Mark McAndrew – the only person to get it spot on. He said: ‘I fold. Trip Jacks don’t beat a full house. Leaving a few chips behind just in case? Yeah, right… Fergie has the Aces.’

Next month

Calling all Stud cash game experts. This month’s hand is by Perry Friedman – a WSOP bracelet winner in 2002. Replicate his thoughts and win a travel chipset courtesy of

The situation
Online cash game
Stakes: $3/$6 Stud

I’m in a pretty loose $3/$6 Stud game online and am dealt [6-6]-5. I complete and am called by four players. I continue to play the hand strong and by sixth street I am heads-up with [6-6]-5-A-J-A vs [x-x]-K-10-J-8. I bet and am called. I receive my seventh card and I bet out once again. You are my opponent, and you have been slow-playing K-9 in the hole. On the seventh card you catch a 7; for a straight (your hand is [K:-9;]-K-10-J-8-[7]).

What do you do and why?
Send your answers to – the best one wins a chipset. Find out what Perry did next month.

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