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Hand 2 Hand Combat - It’s All “GreekStein” to Toby

by Rebecca McAdam |  Published: Mar 01, 2011


Rebecca McAdam: Can you give me a background to the hand?
Cos Paparestis: I was playing really well on day 1, chipping up nicely, and was the table captain. Then I get moved two to the right of John Eames and Toby Lewis, two of the top four or five players in the whole thing, which is obviously going to really hamper my ability to open up and be very aggro.
RM: How do you feel about your position?
CP: I’d much rather be on Toby’s left than his right. On his right I’m going to be out of position to every flop et cetera. He will three-bet me and there’s not much I can do because it’s not easy to four-bet light. On his left he’ll nick the odd blind, which I don’t mind, but I can three-bet him and make life really hard post-flop. With being out of position to both of those superstars, life was going to be tough.
On the rest of day 1 I basically played pretty tight, which was good for my image. If I showed down a hand, it was a good one. I called Toby a couple of times when he opened early and he just check-folded flops to me, which he really didn’t do to anyone else. He seemed to be giving me a lot of credit and I decided I was going to open up a bit. Toby then knocks John out and I’m able to open up more. Toby and I basically take it in turns to rob the table, mostly staying out of each other’s way. If we do play a pot, it’s small. I’m predominantly a cash player too and have been deep enough over the last two days to play out boards. I’m not going to make many mistakes post-flop, so Toby gives me respect, and likewise I’m not exactly keen to play with a guy who’s about 13 and won six zillion dollars in the last year.
RM: Have you played with him much before?
CP: I’ve played with him a couple of times. We’re really good friends. Toby bought pieces of me twice; once was the Irish Open where I finished 23rd, the other he took all my action in a $1,000 Sunday session and I won a 1,500-runner tourney for $16,000, so we obviously get on great.
RM: Do you think you know his game at all, and would he know yours?
CP: I know Toby’s relatively well from watching him/talking to him, but Toby is going to balance really well, so it’s never going to be easy to play him. And we’ve discussed a bit of strategy, but it’s more a case of him teaching me than anything. He knows I’m very good, but not quite up at his level.
RM: Ok, what is your plan with pocket threes here?
CP: I open early on a fairly passive table to 3,600 at 800-1,600. Opens have been getting through 90 percent of the time. When Toby three-bet, he three-bet really small, and although it’s a little overrated, I got a feeling from him that he wasn’t that strong but not enough of a read to be 100 percent sure. No one likes playing three-bet pots with marginal hands that late in tournaments, so I felt like if Toby had a marginal hand and I defended, it was like saying, “I’m not having it, find someone else to try and run over!”
For what it’s worth, I actually think calling is probably a mistake. I think it’s best to fold here. Toby’s not going to make too many mistakes but there’s also the chance I can flop a 3, win a big pot, or bluff. I’m not just going to always check-fold when I miss.
RM: So is the plan here then to bet the flop regardless?
CP: No definitely not. I’m rarely ever going to donk into Toby once he three-bets. In fact, I doubt I ever will, but I was planning on perhaps calling or raising boards he’ll hate.
RM: Such as?
CP: 6-5-4, J-10-9. Also I can probably represent a bigger hand than I have because I won’t usually flat a three-bet unless I have a pretty big hand, which I just don’t want to four-bet with because I’m either turning it into a bluff or forcing out his bags of shit.
RM: Right, so you thought he wasn’t very strong. What range did you have him on?
CP: Toby can have any two cards but I didn’t expect him to three-bet Q-2 suited and things like that. It will be mostly connectors, pairs, and A-x’s. I know that’s probably not much help, but that’s a testament to Toby’s play — He balances his range perfectly.
Flop: J♦ 10♥ 4♠. Paparestis checks. Lewis checks.
RM: When he checked what did you think?
CP: I thought it was really bizarre. I really expected Toby to c-bet [continuation bet] most flops. He definitely bets A-A, K-K, Q-Q, J-J, and 10-10, and I also figure he bets most of his bluffs too. So I thought he might have a hand like K-Q or 9-8 where he doesn’t want to get check-raised off his hand.
There were also two hands the day before where Toby raised and I called; once I had Q-J, the other time I had A-5 suited. The first time the flop came Q-8-4 and Toby check-folded to me. The second time it was J-9-7 and Toby check-folded again. He had position on Eames, so I guess the only person he didn’t want to play too much out of position to was me. Also, against my calling range, normally middling boards are going to hit it hardest, so he’s often burning chips by betting when he doesn’t have a strong hand or draw. I felt if he had a pair below the 10, I could win the pot. Probably better to take the pot without showing down my hand too — then I could claim kings or something!
Turn: 5♣ Paparestis bets 11,000. Lewis calls.
CP: I don’t want to lead too big and have the pot get out of control with two threes. I decided to bet as I felt I most likely had the best hand, but more importantly, Toby probably won’t have a hand he wants to continue with, so I can get him to fold pocket sixes to nines, and I’m not giving another free one at K-Q, 9-8 et cetera. Plus, checking twice looks really weak. Toby pondered for 30 seconds or so and called. I’m genuinely a bit confused now.
RM: What did you put him on at this stage or could you put him on anything?
CP: He could have anything from A-5 to K-Q or 9-8, A-Q, A-K (overcards and gutshots) but he hadn’t played the hand strong at all post-flop, so I ruled out hands that were now really strong. They might get really strong on the river but on the turn I ruled strong, made hands and overpairs out, and those are obviously the biggest part of someone’s three-bet range.
River: 8♠. Paparestis checks. Lewis bets 18,000. Paparestis calls.
CP: Not the greatest card, not a bad one either. I think it’s a pretty good bet versus most players.
RM: Is there a plan with this check or is it an I’ll-see-what-happens check?
CP: It’s a check where I want to get to showdown. I’d even check A-10 here, not sure about A-J, I might check it for pot-control as Toby might bluff me off that river if I bet A-J and he moved in for example. I actually thought Toby would check most of the time, so I didn’t have a river plan really. I felt like I would most probably call, but I didn’t feel Toby would bet as the board hadn’t changed hugely. If he had 9-8 he now had showdown, K-Q had still missed, as had A-K/A-Q, most of his turn range, and he knows I know this, so I checked and he put out a bet of 18,000. Great bet in my opinion. I think I’d have snap-called if he’d have bet like 30,000 but that 18,000 into a pot of 45,000 screamed value. It’s one of those cases of ‘I know what you know’ kind of thing. I know Toby knows I’ll think this looks like a value-bet but the only hands I think he’d now bet for value that he plays on the previous streets like this are Q-9 and 7-6 and they’re just a bit unlikely in a three-bet pot. So I decided to call and Toby showed A-9. In retrospect I’m not sure I’m a fan of my call preflop but I think I made all the right decisions after that.
RM: Did Toby say anything?
CP: He was visibly frustrated. Flushy [James Dempsey] and Nik Persaud was standing behind and they’re good friends of both of us. Good enough friends to give Toby the needle!
RM: How did you do in the tournament by the way?
CP: I busted just inside the money — I had one bad level and I paid the price. Toby busted not long after — I wonder what he felt like after not winning outright, poor guy. At least I got to take 400 quid off him at Omaha flips in the bar.
British semi-pro Cos Paparestis has been playing poker, both online and live, for the last six years. The good-humoured youngster has made frequent appearances in live European tournaments and has gone deep in many across Ireland and England. His main game however is pot-limit Omaha cash online and he can regularly be found playing mid-stakes from $2-$4 to $5-$10 ♠.