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Hand 2 Hand Combat -- JP Kelly

Know When to Fold’em With JP Kelly

by Rebecca McAdam |  Published: Aug 01, 2010

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Event: European Poker Tour San Remo main event
Prize Pool: €6,014,000
First Place: €1,250,000
Players: 1,240

JP KellyJP Kelly: I had a good stack on day one and I had a lot of local players on the table. In late position I raised with 9-8. The blinds were 300-600 so I made it like 1,500.

Rebecca McAdam: Is that your usual — two-and-a-half times?

JP: I mix it up sometimes, I don’t always raise the same. So I got called by the guy on my left who had been kind of active. A local Italian player. And both the small blind and big blind called.

Flop: Q-J-10 with two hearts.

JP: So I flopped a straight and I had just been losing a few hands as well so I thought it was going to look like I was on tilt or something like that. The blinds were checked so I bet around 3,200 on the flop. Fold, fold, and now the big blind check-raises to 11,000 or 12,000 with 38,000 back. So we both had quite a lot of chips as you start with 30,000.

RM: Did he have you covered?

JP: No I had him covered, but I just thought — what hand was he check-raising? He seemed so happy with his hand and these guys sometimes don’t reraise A-K. I had seen it around the table a few times and this guy had just check-called, check-called every time and now he wants to raise, so he’d definitely just call with a flush draw. I’m beating three queens, three jacks, three tens, but surely with pocket queens he’s going to reraise preflop, probably jacks, probably not tens. I think if he had a set of tens he would be so worried that I could have A-K he would just call. This is not a very good Italian player remember. I started asking questions then like, “You seem really happy, will you show me if I fold?” — which I never say but some people have told me that if you’re going to make a big fold sometimes it’s good to try and get them to show their hand so you can see if you’re right or not. Try and get as much information as you can. And he said, “Yes,” and had a big smile on his face, and I just thought he was so happy with his hand, he wasn’t worried about anything. And I mucked face down and he turned over A-K.

RM: If you had the A-K there would you really reraise or just call and hope to get more on the turn and river?

JP: Against that guy I would have reraised because I figured he had something, maybe like K-9 or 9-8 or a big draw like KHeart Suit QHeart Suit. Against other players who I thought were bluffing I would just call.

RM: Would you always have been that disciplined? Like in the past would you have just called him down or shoved thinking you had to be ahead at the time?

JP: If people are willing to put all their chips in, what are they going to do it with? Some people only do it with the nuts, they’d just call with other hands. I actually lose to K-9 as well, and I thought he had K-9 to be honest. I didn’t think he had A-K.

RM: Did you tell him what you had?

JP: I showed him after he showed me the A-K.

RM: For some people that would be just too hard to get away from. It just shows that you really need to pay attention to others around you and not just get caught up with the cards in your hand, even if they look so good.

Hand 2 Hand Combat

JP: Yeah. I made a similar fold earlier. It came K-10-9 with two spades, I had K-10, and a very solid player check-raised me. He actually didn’t have Q-J but he had J♠ 7♠. He was really happy with his hand and I felt sick because there were two players in the pot and I was really hoping that the other guy was going to get involved, and then I’m thinking he’s not check-raising 10-9 (I don’t think), and he’s not check-raising a bare flush draw. I really thought he had a big draw like ASpade Suit JSpade Suit or Q-J, maybe pocket nines as well.

RM: And there was no point in getting involved?

JP: Well I wasn’t 100 percent. People say you are supposed to do this and that but it’s ok not to sometimes. I was dominating the table and winning every pot, so if you get into a situation where you’re really not very sure, it just feels like a bit of a set-up. Sometimes it’s better to get out.

RM: Some might say that’s what the difference is between a standard player and a really good player. You pick your spots when you’re comfortable with it.

JP: Yeah sometimes. Some people would laugh at me folding that but I think it’s the right thing to do.

RM: Is the speech-play thing something you would do a lot?

JP: Not really, but sometimes I like to ask questions because it’s good to get as much information as you can. It’s a bit cheesy I know — “Will you show me if I fold?” — but sometimes people are happy to show you, especially if it’s a really good hand.

RM: You obviously go a lot by your gut feeling then?

JP: Yeah I try to. I think the difference between a really good player and an excellent player has got to be the really, really marginal situations and how you handle them. If everyone did the normal things all the time, well, there’s got to be some times you can get away from something. Sometimes if you’re winning hands with not much, it gets annoying when you basically lose it all with one good hand. Then on the flip side you can’t be too tight, sometimes you have to go with it.

In the second hand I mentioned, if that was K-10-8, I would 100 percent never, ever fold that because there are so many other hands he could have, but because it was K-10-9 it just felt like he probably had a straight. And as it turns out I’m not that disappointed to see Js 7s because he still has a ridiculous amount of outs. My stack was going up so I didn’t want to take the chance and lose it all.

JP Kelly is one of the nicest people you’ll meet in the poker world. He is one of those players who hasn’t changed with success. He may have a smile on his face when you greet him but don’t be fooled — take one look at his poker resume and feel the chills. A long list of cashes built up to his first place in a 2009 World Series of Poker $1,500 buy-in pot-limit Omaha event for $194,434, followed by another first shortly after at the 2009 World Series of Poker Europe in a £1,000 buy-in no-limit hold’em event for £136,803. With a great attitude towards life and poker, Kelly is definitely one to watch in the upcoming months. Spade Suit