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Tough Start to the Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open

by Jonathan Little |  Published: Sep 27, 2017


I have been in Hollywood Florida for the last few days playing a few $1,000 buy-in preliminary events of the Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open. So far, nothing has gone my way. I simply have not been winning any hands! That said, I am staying level-headed and feel fully refreshed and ready to tackle the larger buy-in events, including the $5,000 main event and the $25,000 high roller event.

When things go poorly, don’t get discouraged or lose your mind. Instead, keep playing great poker. Here is a hand where I think many players lose their entire stacks, but by thinking about ranges and attempting to minimize risk, I was able to save half of my stack.

In a $1,000 re-entry event with blinds of 75-150 with a 25 ante, a splashy player raised to 300 out of his 10,000 effective stack from first position at our seven-handed table. I looked down at KSpade Suit KClub Suit and reraised to 900 from the hijack seat. An unknown, but seemingly competent player cold called from the cutoff. The action folded around to the initial raiser, who called.

I am loving my situation. I am keenly aware that the cutoff’s range should be quite strong (but still crushed by K-K). While some players will make the mistake of calling with the implied odds hands, such as 2-2, ASpade Suit 5Spade Suit, and 10Heart Suit 9Heart Suit, most reasonable players call in this spot with strong hands they do not think are premium enough to get all-in, primarily Q-Q, J-J, 10-10, 9-9, A-K, and A-Q. The initial raiser likely has a decent hand (given he raised from first position) but it is tough to say exactly how wide he is raising or if he folds any of his range to my three-bet.

The flop came QSpade Suit 10Heart Suit 4Diamond Suit. Everyone checked.

Given the cold caller’s range, I think this is an excellent spot to check and see what develops. While I am not planning to fold my K-K to one or two bets, if significant action takes place (such as a cutoff bet and a call or raise from the splashy player), I will consider getting out of the way because it is so easy for either opponent to have Q-Q or 10-10.

Once the cutoff checks behind, I am feeling great about my hand and now only realistically have to worry about the splashy player. Notice that checking the flop doesn’t open me up to being outdrawn too often and may also induce someone with a queen or 10 to pay me off incorrectly on the turn and river. Obviously if an ace comes on the turn, I will fold to any reasonable bet.

The turn was the 3Diamond Suit. The splashy player bet 1,200 into the 3,150 pot and only I called.

I almost certainly have the best hand at the moment, but if I raise, I will probably only get called by strong queens (which will likely bet again on the river) and better made hands, such as sets and Q-10. As on the flop, I am not too concerned about being outdrawn.

The river was the 7Club Suit. My opponent bet 2,200 into the 5,550 pot.

As on the turn, I think this is a fairly easy river call. Many players will value bet any top pair because they assume I will always bet the flop or raise the turn with my better made hands. My splashy opponent could even be bluffing with a hand like A-J or J-9. One thing worth noting is that some players who see lots of flops and turns may not actually be aggressive, meaning when they put significant money in the pot in an aggressive manner, they often have the strong hand they are representing. This concept could certainly apply in this case, but even then, most players think A-Q and Q-J are strong enough value bet.

I called and lost to QHeart Suit 10Diamond Suit for two pair. Although I lost this hand, it certainly could have gone worse! ♠

Jonathan LittleJonathan Little is a two-time WPT champion with more than $6 million in tournament winnings. Each week, he posts an educational blog and podcast at, where you can get a FREE poker training video that details five things you must master if you want to win at tournament poker. You can also sign up for his FREE Excelling at No Limit Hold’em webinars at