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Crushing Live Poker With Twitter

by Bart Hanson |  Published: Apr 26, 2017


Two Hands From The $10,000 Main Event at the L.A. Poker Classic

Checking Back A Strong Hand vs Stephen Chidwick

Last month I played in the $10,000 L.A. Poker Classic at the Commerce Casino. The LAPC is one of the biggest WPT main events as the buy in is a full $10,000 and there are no reentries. I try to play this event every year not only because it is in my back yard but also because it gives me a chance to practice for the World Series of Poker, which is held a few months later in Las Vegas.

Over the last 10 years I have played against some tough competition in this event and it is always fun and challenging to get into hands with some of the best tourney players in the world. On day 2 of the event this year I had the opportunity to get in a spot with Stephen Chidwick, an English multi-table tournament (MTT) superstar who has close to $6 million in live cashes and $3 million online. Chidwick entered the tournament on day 2, something that was allowed in this event and started the hand with 38,000 in chips at the 600-1200 with a 200 ante level. I had done well up to that point in the tournament and started the hand with 100,000 in chips.

I was sitting three positions to Chidwick’s left and called his UTG+1 open of 2,500, in the cutoff with ASpade Suit QDiamond Suit. The big blind called and we saw three to a flop of QSpade Suit 8Spade Suit 3Heart Suit. The big blind checked, Chidwick checked, and I decided to bet 3,500. The big blind quickly folded and Chidwick called. I thought that Chidwick would most likely not check an overpair on this board and probably had a hand like 9-9 through J-J or A-K. My main goal from there was to try and figure out how to extract maximum value versus that range.

The turn brought a total blank, the 2Diamond Suit, and Chidwick checked again. I had noticed in many similar situations players in my position had checked back hands like K-Q and A-Q for both pot control and to get river value. I also noticed that when players did bet, they were somewhat polarized to having two pair plus or were bluffing (or semi bluffing). Because I had the ASpade Suit in my hand I knew that Chidwick could not have the nut flush draw and I wanted to make my hand look like it was the nut flush draw so I decided to size large and I bet 9,500. Chidwick did not think about it for long and called again.

The river brought out the 2Spade Suit completing the front door flush and Chidwick checked. On just about any blank card I was definitely going to bet to target bluff catching hands. However, now that the flush came in, I thought it would be much less likely that he would call with a weaker range because if I had been semi-buffing with a spade draw I got there. For a moment I considered betting very small to try and get a crying call but remembered that Chidwick had committed over 40 percent of his stack to the hand and would be less likely to call down light. So my decision on the river was more of a function of his calling range and stack as opposed to the absolute strength of my own hand. Even if I ended up with the best hand 95 percent of the time it still might not be correct to value bet. Finally I decided to check and Chidwick, much to my surprise tabled KSpade Suit 10Spade Suit for a flush and I lost the pot.

Chidwick’s hand was definitely a bit of a shock as I would have expected him to bet that particular hand with a high frequency on the flop. Sometimes though he will take tricky lines. If I had bet I strongly suspect that he would have just called, as he did not beat a full house or the nut flush and would not want to risk being bounced out of the tournament.

If you want to see this hand visually represented with commentary you can check out’s YouTube Channel over at and play the hand “$10,000 Hand vs Stephen Chidwick”.

Thin Value Bet With A-Q

One of the major differences between playing in a tournament versus playing in a cash game is the concept that chips lost have more value than chips gained. The value of having one big blind as opposed to being out of the tournament is a lot larger than having five big blinds versus one.

This concept can be foreign to a lot of cash game players where all the chip values are equal. In practical terms this means in tournaments that you have to be correct more often when making value bets to get called by worse. That is to say you cannot “value own yourself” as much in a tournament because if you are wrong the loss in chips effects your overall tournament EV more than a gain. I found in this tournament, however, that some players took this idea way too far. They were pot controlling absurdly good hands and not value betting the river when checked to with anywhere near the correct frequency.

Let us take a look at a hand that I played half way through day 2 of the main event that I think demonstrated this concept. I had just lost an all-in pot immediately before this hand, for about 50 big blinds on a flip, so I thought that some of my opponents may have thought that I was on short-term tilt. The hand started with the UTG (stack 60,000) opening to 2,200 at 500-1000 with a 100 ante. The action got folded around to me in the big blind and I called with ADiamond Suit QClub Suit.

The flop came out ASpade Suit JDiamond Suit 8Heart Suit giving me top pair. I checked to the preflop raiser and he put out a continuation bet of 2,500. I called. The turn brought the JClub Suit, completing the rainbow. I checked and the preflop raiser took a long time and checked behind. The river fell the 6Spade Suit and at this point I had a decision to make in terms of making a value bet.

One of the things that I had noticed about players’ preflop opening ranges in this tournament was that they were playing relatively tight from early position but some were opening any A-x suited hands like A-3 suited, A-7 suited etc. When they flopped top pair with these types of hands they would either bet the flop and check back the turn or check the flop for pot control. If they did check one street (either the flop or the turn) they would almost call any river for a reasonable amount, no matter how scary the board came out.

This particular flop was pretty interesting I thought, because even though the board was rainbow there were plenty of straight draws that I might check call the flop with like K-Q, K-10, 10-9, Q-10 etc. It was pretty obvious to me that the preflop raiser did not have a jack (unless slowplaying say A-J or J-J) after checking back the turn, and my hand was fairly under represented because I could be completing with any ace in the big blind getting a preflop price with the antes. One of the other things that worked to my advantage is that people were not value betting in my position thinly. I had seen guys check A-10 through A-Q commonly on the river from up front so if my opponent expected this same action from me I would inherently be polarized, having either a busted straight draw or trip jacks or better. Since this player was one of the types that was opening any suited ace I thought that this was a must bet. I chose a sizing a little bit on the larger side and fired 5,500. My opponent “beat me into the pot” and snap called, which is never a good thing when betting thinly. I tabled my hand and he immediately turned over A-K to take down the pot.

Even though I lost the pot, however, I still think that the overall play was sound. The sizing could be debated as many of my poker friends that are good at tournaments said I could have gone smaller, around 3,500. However, I had a decent amount of chips at that stage of the tournament and thought that the UTG raiser would call the river with any ace that he opened with. If my assumption was correct, then A-Q was ahead of all of the combinations of A-2 suited through A-9 suited, and A-10 offsuit+, so I was not unhappy with my play. ♠