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The Poker Play: Finneran Fillets A Frenchman

Tom Finneran Makes Situational Move At European Poker Tour Deauville

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Thomas FinneranEvent: European Poker Tour Deauville
Field: 891
Players Remaining: 40
Finneran: 600,000
Villain: 2.2 million

Thomas Finneran: It was folded to me in mid-position and I opened KHeart Suit 9Heart Suit and got called by the chip leader at the table, who was probably the chip leader of the tournament as well. He was a very aggressive, French guy.

Rebecca McAdam: What were the blinds at this stage?

TF: I think they were 6,000-12,000. I opened for around 30,000.

RM: At that point, did you have a range in mind to open with or was it all situational?

TF: It was situational. It’s folded to me in mid-position and all the players behind are pretty weak, even the chip leader is a bad player, very spewy. I had KHeart Suit 9Heart Suit and if I open up, I’m going to get most of the guys to fold to me half the time and even if he wants to play a hand with me

his range would be huge, he’d be calling with any suited connectors or anything, and he’s going to fold a lot of the dirt in his range. He hadn’t been three-betting much so I’m pretty sure I’m going to see a flop.

The two blinds were tight players as well but the small blind filled up and the big blind came along, so it was a pretty big pot.

Flop: KSpade Suit QHeart Suit 10Diamond Suit

TF: The two blinds checked to me. I’ve got the aggressive guy behind me, the chip leader. I decided to check, figuring that he’s going to bet everything in his range.

RM: How would you know where you stood there if he is so spewy?

TF: The thing is I didn’t want to bet as he’s going to raise me with a lot of his range as well. So if I bet and he raises, now I’m going to be playing a pot for my stack and I won’t have any information. Plus if I bet and any of the blinds reraise me, I’ll have to lay down the hand. On that flop, it isn’t very dry, so if someone has for instance Q-J or J-10, where they have a pair and a straight draw, they’re coming along. They could check-raise me and then what do I do? flat call or whatever. If he bets then I can get the information as well, which I think he’s going to do most of the time, so I think he can get the two blinds to fold if they haven’t got a draw. That flop is not really a great flop because, ok I’ve got top pair but, it hits everybody’s range — the Q-J’s, the K-10’s, the Q-10’s.

RM: So you don’t really know where you stand?

TF: Yeah, I don’t really want to play a huge pot with this hand. So that’s my reason for checking — I think he’s going to bet and I’m going to figure out what’s happening in front of me then with the two blinds because they are pretty snug players, so they’re not going to be calling without hands.

Finneran checks. Villain bets. Both blinds fold. Finneran flat-calls.

RM: Did he bet big?

TF: Not really, I think he bet about 45,000 or something like that. There is 120,000 in there so he probably bets less than half the pot, which is fine for me as well.

Turn: 7Heart Suit

TF: It’s pretty much a great card for me because now I have a flush draw as well.
RM: At this point were you afraid of his cards at all? Had you figured out anything further?

TF: Not particularly, but my thought process was if I check the turn to him, he’s going to check behind every hand he’s got show-down value with, like if he’s got second pair, or even third pair. He’s going to bet the nuts, his two pair hands, and all his air hands.

RM: If he bets you’ll still be unsure as you don’t know whether he has the nuts or nothing…

TF: Yeah but the way this guy has been playing, I’m willing to check-call and I’m willing to check-call the river as well because he has either got the nuts or he hasn’t got a hand. I think he’s going to have no hand more so than he’s going to have the nuts. Even with A-J, he may three-bet me preflop, and A-J is the nuts.

Basically I check the turn to him again. I’m willing to go with this hand. I’ve got top pair and a flush draw, I can get it all in here. I’ve no problem with that, but I don’t want to check-raise him all in on the turn because I figure I’m going to get called by what’s beating me and I’m just going to get him to fold everything I’m crushing.
Finneran checks. Villain bets 78,000. Finneran calls.

River: 2Heart Suit

RM: What is the plan now?

TF: The plan is still the exact same. The pot is almost exactly what I’ve got left behind. It’s something like 450,000, which at the time is still a huge pot. I’m checking the river because I want him to push. Obviously I’ve got the nuts now, but say I didn’t hit the heart on the river, say it was the 2Spade Suit, I’m still going to check-call it all off. So I check and he tanks for a good while and then checks behind. He ends up having two sixes. I thought I was very unlucky for him not to push the river.

RM: Looking back on the hand it sounds like he was actually almost afraid all the way through.

TF: Yeah, he really wanted to shove the river but he chickened out of it. I knew by him, he was trying to give himself the courage to push the river but it doesn’t work out, he dwells up for about three minutes trying to get himself to push the river because there’s no other way he can win the hand.

RM: It was lucky for him he didn’t. From then you just kept adding chips to your stack because you went quite deep, didn’t you?

TF: Basically after that hand I had a million in chips and I kind of stayed there the whole day. All the guys behind me were pretty weak and this guy, who was the chip leader, didn’t play a hand with me after that, so every time I opened I was basically collecting the blinds, or even if I got called, I’d continuation bet (c-bet) and I’d collect. I never played any more big pots after that so basically I stayed between 800,000 and 1 million for the rest of the day, and the average at the end of the day was 1 million, with 24 players left.

With 27 players left I had 1 million in chips and the blinds went to 10,000-20,000, so I said I’d try and change gears. I had been playing pretty snug because that was all that was required, the players were pretty much A-B-C, there was nobody taking control of the table or putting real pressure on. It was comfortable enough, you just stole the blinds whenever you got a good opportunity.

We were playing down to 24 and a guy opens in mid-position, he’s pretty much playing snug like myself. This was when I decided to step it up a gear. He raises, I’m on the button with AHeart Suit 5Heart Suit and I three-bet him because the stack sizes mean he can’t do anything really, only four-bet shove all in. He’s got 40 big blinds, and it’s very hard to do that with marginal hands because he’s still got a very playable stack. Anyway, he four-bet shoves, so that’s fine, I have to fold.

The very next hand I get pocket nines and the same guy raises again, I three-bet, and he four-bet shoves again. I tank for ages and end up folding, leaving myself with 600,000, which is 30 big blinds. I just felt the second time he definitely had me crushed. Usually I wouldn’t three-bet fold in that spot but I just felt he had me. So that was very unlucky to run into two big hands one after the other when I hadn’t really been three-betting all day. Then that leaves me with 30 big blinds going into the next day.
So it’s a small bit of luck I think I need, or to just pick up the right hand at the right time.

Thomas Finneran finished in 22nd place for €23,000. At the time of writing the Irish pro had cashed in three live PokerStars events since November 2010 including Deauville for more than $20,000. Another nice recent score came late last year at PaddyPowerPoker.com’s Irish Winter Festival when he walked away from a 560-strong field with the third-place prize of €56,500. Finneran is well-known and well-feared on the Irish, and indeed European, circuit.