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Final Table Takedown -- Jeremy Menard

Jeremy Menard Shares Deep-Stack Strategy Close to a Major Final Table

by Craig Tapscott |  Published: May 28, 2010

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Jeremy Menard is a 26-year-old online-poker professional living in Raleigh, North Carolina. He is currently ranked in the top 20 in both the online-poker rankings and the Card Player Online Player of the Year race. During his three years as a professional, he has racked up more than $1.5 million in tournament winnings. Along with the major win discussed in this column, he has a win in the $150,000 event on UltimateBet, a second-place finish in the Full Tilt Poker Sunday Brawl, and wins in several other Sunday majors and $100 rebuy tournaments. When he’s not at the tables, he works as an instructor for Dragthebar.com.

Event: Full Tilt Poker $1 Million Guarantee
Players in the Event: 2,218
Buy-in: $500
First Prize: $180,123
Finish: First

Key Concepts: Metagame; deep-stack play; bet-sizing; giving an opponent the illusion of fold equity

Jeremy MenardEndlessj83 raises to 14,440 with the JClub Suit JSpade Suit from early position.

Craig Tapscott: There are about 40 players left in this major tournament and the stacks are deep. It takes a myriad of skills to land at the final table with a good-sized chip stack. The online game is very aggressive these days, with many opponents reraising light because of stack sizes, metagame, position, and so on. So, I really want to focus on one hand here, and go into extensive detail about your options in this spot, as many players face a similar decision and are confused as to what to do profitably.

Jeremy “Endlessj83” Menard: There are several factors that led me to the decisions that I made in this hand, the most important being my prior history with the villain. PrincessDonk is a high-stakes regular. We have played together enough to know that both of us are capable of three-betting and four-betting light in a spot where we think our opponent might be trying to make a move.

PrincessDonk reraises to 37,896 from middle position.

CT: Talk about strategy at this point, knowing the various stack sizes at the table.

JM: The stacks make this a great spot to three-bet light. The villain can easily reraise me here with rags. Since we are so deep, she won’t be committed to calling a shove from any of the other players, except a very short-stacked opponent, which would do little damage to her stack if the opponent were to wake up with a monster hand.

CT: Jacks can be a precarious hand. So, how do you proceed?

JM: I have a number of ways that I could approach the hand. I could flat-call and see a flop before I decide to commit any more chips to the pot. But the problem with that is that I’m going to have to play my hand from out of position, against a player with good hand-reading skills who has now narrowed down my range to hands with which I can call a three-bet. You also have to keep in mind that there are still plenty of overcards that can come on the flop that can make my life difficult. Giving this much power to a good player in this hand seems like a losing proposition.

CT: You’re not seriously thinking of folding, are you?

JM: I could fold. I may already be beat here, and the best idea is to just let it go. After all, no one wins with jacks, right? I might consider a fold against an incredibly tight random opponent, with whom I had no previous history. However, given my history with PrincessDonk and the relative strength of my hand at an eight-handed table, I never really considered this as an option, although maybe it’s the safe way out.

CT: Can you shove with such a deep stack?

JM: I felt like my stack was a bit large for that. Also, I’d be forcing out all of the hands that I have crushed and could possibly get her to make a move with if I choose another option. Since our stacks are so large, a shove of this size is going to get called only by hands that I’m either racing with or completely crushed by.

CT: So, what’s the plan?

JM: I could opt to regain control of this hand. I could put the pressure back on my opponent by making a well-sized four-bet that doesn’t seem to commit me to the pot, and take down the pot, which is perfectly fine.

CT: Are you trying to nudge the villain into making a mistake? And what bet-sizing do you go with, knowing that your opponent is very skilled at interpreting sizing?

JM: Well, this raise serves another function, in that it could cause the villain to put the rest of her chips into the pot with a marginal hand. She knows that I’m capable of making this reraise with less than a monster, and that she could make me fold all of my weak hands and put me to a tough decision with strong ones, hands with which I may not want to risk my whole stack. When making a four-bet, sizing is very important. I usually opt for something like 2.2 times the initial reraise. There is no need to risk more chips when you are light, and when you are very strong, you can still give the illusion of fold equity.

CT: Explain that concept, the illusion of fold equity.

JM: Basically, what I mean is that my bet-sizing is designed to look like I’m still leaving myself room to fold, since I won’t have the pot odds to have to call if she shoves. I’d still have a good-sized stack if indeed she does put me to the test by moving all in, and I fold. In fact, I am making this move with no intention of folding; instead, I’m hoping that my opponent interprets as weakness the fact that I left fold equity, causing her to move in on me with a marginal hand in an effort to muscle me out of the pot. It’s important to note that this is a situational play, as I would make this move only against a strong player who I know is capable of making such a play in this situation.

Endlessj83 reraises to 79,895. PrincessDonk moves all in.

JM: We both have the perfect stacks for her to make this move, since my bet-sizing does not commit me to the pot. She is putting me in a position where I could go from being comfortable in chips to out of the tournament in the blink of an eye. There’s some serious metagame going on here, but it’s possible that she actually does have the goods and I’m crushed. That thought did cross my mind.

CT: But you didn’t four-bet with the intention of folding.

JM: No. I know that this is a perfect spot for her to make this move with a wide range of hands, some of which I have absolutely dominated. You also have to consider that if I fold here after four-betting, I have turned a hand with a lot of value into a complete bluff, since I could make this same play with 7-2 offsuit. With how aggressive poker has gotten, this can’t be a good idea. In a tournament of this size, you have to be willing to take risks and push every edge that you can get, and since I think I’m going to be ahead most of the time to make this call profitable, I call.

Endlessj83 calls all in. PrincessDonk reveals the AClub Suit KDiamond Suit.
Flop: 7Club Suit 6Heart Suit 2Club Suit (pot: 619,458)
Turn: 5Club Suit (pot: 619,458)
River: JDiamond Suit (pot: 619,458)
Endlessj83 wins the pot of 619,458.

JM: I was not that excited to see that I was in a coin-flip situation, but I was on the good end of it with a pair. By taking down this pot, I put myself in a great position to win the event. Spade Suit