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Playing 9-2 In The $10,000 Caribbean Poker Party Main Event

by Jonathan Little |  Published: Jul 29, 2020

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Jonathan LittleIn November, I traveled to the Bahamas to play the Caribbean Poker Party, which is always an amazing experience. The online poker host, partypoker, does an excellent job of qualifying hundreds of players into their $10 million guaranteed main events, which in turn attracts all the best players in the world. So, the field in the main event ends up being most of the best players in the world plus a bunch of recreational players who got into the $10,000 buy-in event by winning a $100 buy-in satellite or similar.

I made it through the first day of play with 2.7 starting stacks, which was a nice increase. On day two, I found myself at a table with mostly world-class pros, which is obviously not where I wanted to be.

When at a tournament table that is abnormally tough, take a look to see when your table is scheduled to break. If it is scheduled to break soon, it is often best to play a relatively conservative strategy in order to get a new table draw (that will presumably be softer) in the near future. My table was scheduled to break soon, so I did not plan to get too out of line.

Everyone else at my table seemed to have the same idea besides one especially loose, aggressive world-class player on my direct right, who just lost a large pot with a bluff to leave him with 1,300,000 chips at 30,000-60,000 blinds with a 60,000 big blind ante. I had twice as many chips as him.

Everyone folded to him in the small blind and he limped. I was in the big blind and looked down at one of the worst hands in the game, 9Spade Suit 2Club Suit. While raising to 2,300,000 as a total bluff against generally weak, passive players is a strong move that will often steal the pot, I was quite sure my strong opponent would use a limping strategy that included many hands he could limp and then go all-in with over a raise, so I opted to check.

The flop came JClub Suit 10Club Suit 4Spade Suit and we both checked. While I could take a stab at the flop, it is too likely my opponent has a marginal made hand like 10-6 that will not fold or a draw that will stick around. If I bluff the flop, the plan should usually be to bet the turn and river as well, which I was not looking to do against a strong opponent who may be willing to hero-call off his stack with middle pair.

The turn was the 8Spade Suit, giving me an open-ended straight draw. My opponent bet 60,000 into the 180,000 pot. Due to my excellent pot odds, folding is out of the question. My pot odds dictate that I need to win the pot at least 20 percent of the time to break even, [60/(60+60+180) = 20 percent], and I know I will improve to a straight about 18 percent of the time. While 18 percent is less than 20 percent, when I make a straight, my river bet will occasionally get called, and even if I miss my draw, I may be able to win the pot on the river some portion of the time.

The real question is whether or not I should raise. The problem with raising is that I will occasionally get re-raised all-in, forcing me to fold, making it impossible for me to realize my equity. When you are getting excellent pot odds, it is usually best to not do anything that could potentially mess that up.

I called. The river was the 10Diamond Suit and my opponent checked. At this point, I have no showdown value, but if you consider my overall range, I could easily have a ten, weak Jack, or eight that would like to value bet. Because of that, I get to bluff some portion of the time. I decided to bluff 150,000 into the 300,000 pot, thinking that my opponent would call almost any bet with an eight or better made hand and would fold most hands worse than an eight to any bet.

After some thought, my opponent folded, which is a great result for me! Unfortunately for me, after getting up to seven starting stacks, I ran trips into a full house and then lost a big flip to bust before getting in the money.

Sometimes you are just destined to lose, but if you can turn 9-2 offsuit into a winner every once in a while, you’ll have more good days than bad. ♠

Jonathan 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 JonathanLittlePoker.com, 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 HoldemBook.com/signup