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Final Table Takedown: Vanessa Selbst

by Craig Tapscott |  Published: Feb 22, 2012


Hand No. 1

Key Concepts: How to use your image; bet-sizing.

Hoglund Jr. limps from under-the-gun (UTG). Selbst completes in the small blind holding KSpade Suit 5Heart Suit. Tehan checks the option in the big blind.

Flop:  KDiamond Suit 5Diamond Suit 4Diamond Suit  (pot: 180,000)

Selbst bets out 115,000. Tehan calls. Hoglund Jr. folds.

Turn:  10Club Suit  (pot: 410,000)

CT: What were you concerned most about at this point?

VS: I think it’s hard for him to call me with a very wide range of hands. He called with another person left to act, which makes his hand range a bit stronger as well. I put his range at any king or any pair with a real big diamond like ADiamond Suit5x or QDiamond Suit5×. He also would play this way with a flopped flush knowing that I’m aggressive and he could keep me betting with a wide range of hands.

Selbst bets 170,000.

CT: What’s your plan with this smallish bet-sizing?

VS: My intention was to fold if he raised. I think in his mind that it’s a strong enough possibility that I could have a flush in this spot that he would not want to risk his tournament life without a very strong hand. Also, I think he thinks that my range is polarized, which it is.

CT: So get inside Tehan’s head. What’s he thinking?

VS: Well I can’t have a big king or else I probably would have raised preflop, so he’s probably thinking I have either two pair, a set, or a flush as my value range, or a naked diamond or some other airball as my bluffing range.

CT: So he won’t reraise here without a big hand?

VS: Right. Unless he was slowplaying a flush, his range is such that he beats my bluffs but will get snap called by and lose to my value range. I think he knows this, which is why I did not think he would shove all-in without the flush, and why I thought I could fold if he did push. At the end of the day, I thought he was much more likely to call my bet than to shove all-in, which is obviously what I wanted.

CT: And if you had bet larger?

VS: Then he might have continued to slowplay or more likely if I bet half the pot and he calls then he would expect me to stick it in so there is no reason to raise me. But I was planning on folding if he raised. Once he just calls, I am pretty confident that I have the best hand. I really put him on a high diamond with a pair.

Tehan calls.

River: 9Heart Suit (pot: 750,000)

CT: What’s the best way to get more value at this point?

VS: Most players would just shove here, but the problem is his range is super weak. If I am lucky he could have a hand like A-10 with the ADiamond Suit and he could make a hero call. Perhaps he could have a weak king and make a hero call if I shove, but he is also very likely to fold. I don’t think for his tournament life there is a high enough chance that I am randomly bluffing three streets in a limped pot to really make it worth a call from him if I shove all-in.

CT: So what’s the most appropriate bet-sizing?

VS: I think just a little less than half the pot. I just really wanted to make it a callable bet where it looks like I am trying to get him off of a five. I thought he would call with a five and definitely call with a king. I think with that small bet-sizing he will call with a wider range once he knows he’s getting better than 3-1 odds.

Selbst bets 290,000. Tehan calls. Selbst flips over K-5 and Tehan mucks. Selbst wins the pot of 1,330,000.

CT: You’re getting called a lot there because of your wild and aggressive reputation.

VS: Exactly, I think Tehan would fold this river to most people, but this is one of the spots where I can get more value. In a way, I’ve earned the value through the many spewy bluffs I always make.

Hand No. 2

Key Concepts: Taking advantage of a perceived image

Selbst raises to 120,000 from the button holding 7Diamond Suit 7Spade Suit. Shak reraises to 400,000 from the big blind. Selbst moves all-in.

CT: What are you thinking when you shove against a tight player like Shak in this spot?

VS: He knows his image is tight. He also knows that I have a very wide button opening range. So the combination of those two things makes it likely for him to have a wide range, so when I move all-in it’s likely he will fold.

CT: But you know he’s a very tight player. What level are you thinking on?

VS: Well a lot of people would fold against a very tight player because they over-compensate against perceived nits. But Dan isn’t stupid – he knows how to pick his spots. Therefore, against my button opening range, he should be wide enough for value that it would be criminal for me to fold sevens at this point. That would be hugely exploitable.

CT: What types of hands do you think he’s three-betting you with?

VS: I think he would three-bet me with any raggy ace since he has a blocker to my good hands. Obviously any A-J, sixes plus for value. Also, I think he is the type of player who doesn’t feel real comfortable playing against an aggressive player like me from out of position, so I thought he might even just randomly reraise anything sort of playable but not great just to end the hand. By that I mean suited kings, and suited connectors. So his bluffing range was relatively wide, but of course he also has a wide value range too. I was a bit surprised when he snap called with the hand that he had, though.

Shak calls and flips over ADiamond Suit 6Heart Suit.

CT: Wow! Your image really paid off.

VS: For sure. I think he just thinks I’m really crazy and that I would three-bet shove a really wide range from the button. The assumption does have some merit, given everything I just said about Dan possibly bluffing preflop. The problem with that is that Dan is still tighter than most players and he is not the type of player that will show up with J-3 suited there. So, even though he is sometimes bluffing, his range is not weak enough for me to rely on fold equity by shoving a very weak hand into. So while 7-7 is an obvious push, I would have folded many hands against Dan that I would have pushed against other players. But my aggressive image led to me getting paid off with a dominated hand.

CT: So players misinterpret the situations and just react to your image?

VS: Yeah basically. Dan got the first part of the hand right – reraising me with A-6 was a good play given how wide I was opening the button. But once I shove all-in, my range is much stronger than it was before, and A-6 is an easy fold. Dan misinterpreted the second situation, likely because he was frustrated by my constant aggression.

Flop:  10Heart Suit 8Club Suit 4Heart Suit (pot: 4,045,000)

Turn: AHeart Suit (pot: 4,045,000)

River: 9Diamond Suit (pot: 4,045,000)

Shak wins the pot of 4,045,000.