The fishtank part 19

Stop cursing your luck and find out where you're going wrong. Email Scott with your poker problems


I tend to think talking to opponents while playing can have both a positive and negative effect on your game. Having watched Jamie Gold, who talked a lot on his way to WSOP glory, it seemed to help him immensely. However, I believe you can also give a lot away to your opponents – this is perhaps especially true online as there are no visual tells. What is your advice on talking it up at the table, both online and live – should the table banter be left to the professionals?

Jason Lester

SF: This is really a matter of personal preference and knowing yourself. If you’re comfortable talking at the table and feel like it helps your game, then by all means chat away. Talking at the table can give a lot away, which you can use to your advantage if you’re able to control it. Gathering information is the most important thing and any way you’re able to achieve that is an asset. So much of poker is psychological and verbal communication is one of the easiest ways to manipulate a situation, so those who can exploit those skills can be very successful.

As far as playing online where, as you said, there are no visual tells, chatting can be used in a variety of ways. Since face-to-face interaction is taken out of the equation, it makes it extremely easy to get away with a lot more. You may think that a player is giving a lot away by what he is saying in the chatbox, but you must take into consideration the possibility that nothing they’re saying is true, which is tougher to determine when all you have in front of you are words on a screen.

Playing it safe

When playing in internet satellite tournaments I’d like to know what to do with big pocket pairs – Aces, Kings, Queens and Jacks – when a player’s already moved all-in. If they make the move pre-flop there’s no way of telling how the flop will develop and even though you could be a big favourite it’s quite conceivable to be beaten by the other player hitting trips, a straight, a flush and so on. What would your advice be?

Erich Kettenacher

SF: There are three main things to take into consideration when playing satellites:
1) How does your stack size compare to other players’? You should keep a constant eye on the other tables to get a better idea of where you stand.
2) The blinds – how many rounds do you have before being blinded away? Again look at the other tables to see if short-stacks are going to be blinded out.
3) Remember you don’t have to win the tournament, just a seat, so you don’t need to take as many risks as you might if you were playing to win.

Your call

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

The situation:
Bellagio Cup II, Las Vegas: $10,000 buy-in
Day 1, Level 6; blinds 200/400, 25 ante
Your chips: 19,675

With Allen Cunningham on the button, Men Nguyen raises in first position to 1200. Men had what appeared to be about 16,000. Everyone passes round to me, I look down at 6♦-4♦ and call. To my surprise everyone else passes, so it’s two-handed. The flop comes 9-6-4, one diamond. Men leads out at it for the standard continuation bet of 2400, but what could he have? If he has A-A, K-K or Q-Q, obviously I want to bust him. Of course, if Men flopped a set, I’m virtually dead… but, mathematically speaking, he’s probably flopped something else – either nothing, an over-pair, two over-cards, or a draw. If I raise it right here, I acquire some instant information about his hand… but, if I wait until the turn, I acquire additional and, in my opinion, better information, plus I have the advantage of getting more of his chips when he leads again at the turn if he’s in bad shape. In addition the turn might put him into a position of getting onto a draw that will cost him all his chips. By calling, I disguise my hand, and Men, of course, is simultaneously trying to figure out what I could possibly have. To me, the call is obvious – although many great players may disagree.

If I raise on the flop, he might put all his chips in with an inferior hand – A-A, K-K – and put ME to a difficult decision. So I’ve learned nothing and am simply gambling. The better, simpler and counterintuitively more conservative decision is to simply call. The turn card is the 2♣ – an apparent blank – and Men leads at it again for 4000, leaving him just 8400. What do you do at this point?

The Answer

I instantly move in for another 12,050… and Men BEATS me into the pot! We turn them over, only for Men to reveal 9;-6:, meaing he’d flopped top two-pair and leaving me dead to a Four, which, needless to say, did not come. The other players at the table just kind of looked at our cards, the dealer pushed the pot to Men, I was severely crippled, and we played on. I was left with 3650 chips. I did manage to double up twice, but busted out shortly thereafter. Oh well – you win some, you lose some…

Once I’d made the decision to play 6-4 suited, which I did yesterday, today and will again tomorrow under the chip count and tournament structure, given my opponent, the flop and turn I was simply doomed to get crippled. I was very disappointed to lose that pot, but at least I had the minor satisfaction of the certainty that I had played it perfectly. It was my karma. But I also have the certainty that many readers will consider me a complete fish for losing all those chips with 6-4.


One person who didn’t consider Jim Meehan a fish was James Richards from Staffordshire. He also said it was time to move all-in and either push Men ‘The Master’ off his hand, which could simply be a drawing hand or a marginal one that has caught the flop in a small way. Okay, he didn’t predict that Men had flopped the higher two-pair, but neither did Jim. It was the right move given the circumstances.

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

Next month

A question from Scott Fischman himself this month. Do you have the mind of a two-time WSOP bracelet winner? If so, send in your answer and win a chipset.

The situation
Bellagio: $1,000 No-limit Hold’em tournament
Blinds: 100/200 with 25 ante

There’s only one minute remaining until blinds increase to 200/400 with a 25 ante The cards are dealt and the tournament director announces that there will be a seat redraw after this hand. I am in middle position with 2225 in chips and 8:-9:. Player A has 7000 chips and raises from early position to 750. Player B on his left with a big stack of 12,000 calls. What would you do?

Send your answers to – the best one wins a chipset. Find out what Meehan did soon.

Pin It

Comments are closed.