Sign Up For Card Player's Newsletter And Free Bi-Monthly Online Magazine

Card Player TV -- Justin Young and Jason Somerville

by Kristy Arnett |  Published: Jan 08, 2010


Justin Young
Justin Young has proven himself in both the live and online arenas, with winnings of more than $2.3 million. His biggest cash came in the 2008 Five-Diamond World Poker Classic main event, where he finished second to take home $936,760. In any tournament, there are highs and lows, and Young recently sat down with Card Player TV to talk about dealing with sudden hits to your chip stack.

Kristy Arnett: Let’s say that you’re in a tournament and are one of the chip leaders. If you take a big hit to your stack, what’s the first thing you are looking to do in terms of maintaining your composure to regain some footing?

Justin Young: Well, the first thing I think about is where I am in terms of chips. It helps to settle me if I realize that I have 30 big blinds, or 40, or 50 — or whatever it is. I can determine if I should really be freaked out or not. It doesn’t matter where you start, it’s where you finish. There are always going to be dips and peaks throughout the day, so you don’t really need to concern yourself with some of the lower points.

KA: If you do find yourself still near the chip average, do you suggest taking a couple of hands off and maybe passing on marginal hands?

JY: Of course. It’s easy to say that you’re not on tilt, but sometimes you force yourself to play pots because you just lost a big one, and you feel the need to get it back. You need to be able to recognize marginal situations in which there might be some positive equity, but it may not be the correct play since you’re probably not thinking 100 percent clearly.

KA: Is it ever difficult for you not to go on tilt when sitting across from the big stack of chips that you just lost?

JY: Of course [laughing]. But again, you have to separate yourself from the situation as much as possible, and think about it in these terms: “OK, I have this many big blinds. We are this far away from the money.” Whatever your goal is, you need to focus on it. Concentrate on how other people are playing instead of how many chips you think you should have.

Jason Somerville
Jason Somerville has tournament winnings exceeding $1.5 million from his numerous online and live cashes. This summer, he made two World Series of Poker final tables. Here, he discusses playing big stacks deep in tournaments.

Kristy Arnett: What mistakes do you see players making with a big stack deep in a tournament?

Jason Somerville: I think that some big stacks get too aggressive. You want to be aggressive and put pressure on, but you also want to limit the amount of exposure to your stack. Even though you have a lot of chips, you don’t want to be in there with too small of an edge. Having a big stack enables you to take tiny gambles — low-variance gambles — without having to worry about them. I can raise small all day long and get away with it, because if I lose a little, it’s not a big deal. If I take a big 55-45 gamble for half of my stack, all of a sudden I don’t have a big stack anymore. Preserving your big stack is pretty important. You do that by not taking marginal gambles.

KA: So, basically, you can play more hands, but you want to try to avoid playing big pots without having strong hands.

JS: Yeah, I think that’s the optimal way to play. Some people disagree with me and like to gamble more, but I think you should pick your spots selectively. Try not to put too much of your stack in without being almost 100 percent sure that you can pressure the guy [opponent] out. A lot of guys will make a big bluff because they have the “chips to spare,” not realizing that it isn’t a good bluff. You still want to play good poker. You don’t want to let your big stack cloud your judgment.

KA: When there is another player with a big stack at the table, is it a bad idea and too risky to get involved in a hand with him?

JS: It really depends on the person. If the other big stack is super aggressive, it’s going to have to happen. You really can’t avoid a super aggressive player who is always reraising you. You’re going to have to fight him sooner or later, whether it’s by four-betting or just calling and playing post-flop. But generally speaking, if the other big stack is a player who’s not playing super aggressively, you’re probably not making a huge mistake by just “staying out of his way,” so to speak. Spade Suit