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Poker Strategy -- Hand Analysis With David Randall
Randall Breaks Down Preflop Confrontation With Chris Moorman In WSOP Main Event
David Randall has been one of the most successful tournament players on the planet. He’s amassed over $2.6 million in online tournament winnings while playing as “GhettoFabolous” on Full Tilt and “Malicous222” on PokerStars. He also has accumulated over $400,000 in live tournament earnings with his most recent score being a 90th-place finish in the 2012 World Series of Poker main event.
Randall sat down with Card Player to discuss a hand from the 2012 WSOP main event against Chris Moorman and discussed how “Big Picture Strategy” is important to any tournament players’ game.
At the ESPN featured table with blinds at 1,200-2,400, Chris Moorman (240,000) opens to 6,500 from early position. Action folds around to Randall in the small blind (400,000) who three-bets to 16,500 with A-K. Moorman four-bets to 38,000 and Randall moves all-in. Moorman folded and Randall scoops the pot.
Steve Schult: Have you and Chris had any history at this point? How does he perceive you?
David Randall: At this point, we hadn’t really scrapped. We hadn’t really gotten involved that much. He definitely knew who I was from online and stuff and I obviously knew who he was. There hadn’t been any real preflop wars at all because I’m obviously not really trying to go after him. This was my first three-bet against him and I had probably been there for about an hour.
SS: Were you three-betting for value or were you trying to make some worse hands fold? Can you explain why your sizing was a little bigger than what would be considered standard?
DR: It was for value. The sizing was a little bit bigger than what my normal sizing is, it was almost a full three times raise. The reason for that is that I was out of position and generally you want to make it a little bigger when you are out of position.
SS: What kind of range do you put him on when he opens from middle position?
DR: I think his range from early position is pretty much anything playable. Moorman probably opens more than most regs that I know. I think he is opening a pretty wide range and I also think he is going to four-bet a decent amount of the time. He is very aggressive preflop so I figured A-K is light years ahead of his opening range. What I found interesting was his decision to four-bet in this spot because in my opinion it’s really not that good of a spot to four-bet. When I sit down at a table, I develop a big picture strategy as to how I’m going to gain chips in the most efficient, low variance way. I think that it’s pretty clear that it’s not the best way to get chips by three-betting Moorman light out of the small blind because he’s a great player and he’s going to be able to make a lot of different types of aggressive moves to counter that.
I was also being very successful at raising pre and taking down blinds at this table for the hour before this hand came up, so I don’t think this is a real good spot for me to be three-betting light. I think that table tempo is really important here. That is one of those things that everybody talks about but nobody can really quantify or really explain what that means and this hand is a great example of that. The way that you can dictate table tempo here is by understanding what my big picture strategy here is.
SS: Can you walk us through your thought process in the hand? What are certain factors that you think about before you make a decision and how you can break down an opponent’s range?
DR: The most important thing is stack sizes and how deep we are playing. I also have to take into consideration somebody’s preflop aggression and how willing they are to reship their stack light. If it is a tighter table that doesn’t ship their stack light, I will open lighter because they will have to shove or fold and they value their tournament life too much. If the table has more calling stations, I will have to tighten up my range a little bit.
You also have to know how they react to three-bets as well as testing inflection points. What I mean by this is that I make a bet that implies we will be playing for stacks, even if sometimes I’m not calling a shove.
As far as post-flop, post-flop stack sizes are important with regards to stack-to-pot ratio to understand how much maneuverability you have after the flop. More importantly, you have to be able to read board textures. A fish will often raise dry boards when they don’t believe you because they don’t believe you, but good players will raise dry boards when they have it because they understand they’re representing a very thin range. So being able to profiling your opponent is important.
SS: Moving back to the hand against Moorman, if you are never three-betting as a bluff in this spot, what kind of value range would you have here? Would you be three-betting a hand as weak as A-J in order to jam for value over what you perceive to be a light four-bet?
DR: I don’t think so. If I three-bet A-J, Moorman is very capable of four-betting and the thing about his four-betting range is that it’s very polarized so if he happens to have part of his range that is calling, that part of his range is going to have A-J crushed every time. I’m going to want to be ahead of some hands that he gets in for value so I think I would probably be three-betting something like nines or better and A-Q suited or better. I wouldn’t necessarily any of those hands, but if I do three-bet I have one of those hands for sure.
SS: If you are three-betting for value, do you always move all in when he four-bets? Do you ever flat and do you ever make a smaller raise to induce a shove from him?
DR: To be honest, I jammed all in to try and make my hand look weaker. If I click it back in that spot, I’m going to have to make it like 65,000 and if I make it that small I risk him flatting which I really don’t want him to do and if I make it bigger, I think he will think it looks stronger. I think if I just jam he might four-bet call a hand like A-Q. I won’t think he will think I have air, but I think maybe he can put me on something like nines or tens or A-Q instead of the top of my range. There is a chance that Moorman will spazz but I really don’t want him to flat since I will whiff the flop more times than not.
But like I said before, if he had been in tune with what my big picture strategy was he would have known that I just have it here in this spot. It’s been something I’ve been working with my students a lot lately. If you can understand their big picture strategy, you can start to understand the language of their game and what their different plays mean.
SS: What are certain factors players should be looking for when trying to uncover an opponent’s big picture strategy?
DR: The most important one is stack sizes. Other than stack sizes are how your opponents perceive you. That is going to be huge. Moorman is viewed as very spewy and very aggressive preflop. The effect of that, especially with regs who understand how he reacts, is that people will not be three-betting him light. He is a terrible target to be three-betting light.
The other thing is what is your relative stack size in relation to other players at the table? If I have 30 big blinds but the other players at the table only have 10, that is going to be a table where I am going to try and be table captain. If I have 100 big blinds and there are two guys with 70 and a bunch of people with 15-20, I’m going to attack the two guys with 70 because they are going to be less likely to want to put their tournament life on the line against the only guy who can bust them.
The last thing is, is that you have to understand how players on your right react to three-bets. If people are going to be flatting three-bets, then you can three-bet the top end of your marginal range more profitable. A hand like A-10 or K-Q is a good example of those hands because in the past when you three-bet a hand like that, you get jammed on and you are in a tough spot, but now you can three-bet those hands and play an inflated pot in position with a hand that flops well against a player who is just trying to hit the flop and is likely check-folding if he misses.
Randall is one of the lead instructors at www.pocketfivestraining.com, where he makes instructional videos and accepts students for private coaching. You can follow him on twitter at @DBTRandall.
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