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Poker Strategy For The Rest Of Us -- Melanie Weisner

Weisner Discusses Slowing Down When You Have The Chip Lead


Melanie WeisnerIt’s great to see pros like Daniel Negreanu and Phil Hellmuth battling it out on poker’s biggest stages for millions of dollars, but the truth is that most of us will never get the same opportunity, nor will we really learn anything from their play that directly applies to our own games. The truth is that while we all aspire to be the next Phil Ivey, many of us will do so from the comfort of our friendly neighborhood home game or the low-stakes tables at a nearby cardroom.

In an effort to provide valuable tools and tips that are relevant to even the smallest games, Card Player is pleased to unveil the brand new series Poker Strategy For The Rest Of Us, which will focus on everyday situations that occur against the poker world’s most casual players.

ProMelanie Weisner

Concept – Slowing Down When You Have The Chip Lead

Melanie Weisner is a 26-year-old professional poker player originally from Houston, Texas. She made a name for herself playing heads-up sit-n-goes under the name “Callisto 5.” She rose through the limits successfully until she landed herself a sponsorship deal with Full Tilt Poker. Since then, she has branched out into the live arena and has cashed for over a $550,000 in live tournaments.

In a post Black Friday world, Weisner has relocated to Australia to continue her online poker pursuits and is currently sponsored by Lock Poker. Card Player caught up with Weisner to discuss a tournament hand played by one of our readers.

The Hand

On the final table bubble of a $4.50 multi-table tournament on PokerStars, our Hero (60,689) is dealt 10Spade Suit 7Spade Suit under the gun at a five handed table. With blinds at 600-1,200 and a 150 ante, he raises to 2,555 and is called by the player in the big blind (27,965).

The flop is KHeart Suit 8Diamond Suit 7Diamond Suit and the big blind leads out for 2,400 and is called by our hero. The turn is the 6Diamond Suit and the big blind checks. Our hero bets 6,000 and is called by the big blind. The river is the 4Diamond Suit and the big blind checks again. Our hero bets 18,000 and the big blind calls off his last 16,860 and loses the pot when the big blind shows KDiamond Suit JSpade Suit.

The Interview

Steve Schult: So our hero is under the gun at a five-handed table.

Melanie Weisner: You don’t want to look at it as under the gun because you are only five-handed. You need to look at it as if you opening from the hijack and his range should be wider than normal.

SS: Well, he opens 10Spade Suit 7Spade Suit with a big chip lead on the final table bubble. Is this too wide?

MW: I don’t really like his open. He needs a really good reason to want to open that hand, like if the small blind is sitting out or if the button and the big blind are both playing really tight and he can just call it off against the small blind (who only had 5 big blinds to start the hand). In general though, this is just a fold preflop, especially since there are all shove stacks behind him in the 15 to 24 big blind range.

SS: So given that you would fold this preflop, what would be your opening range for this spot.

MW: Given the stacks behind me, I would be opening a lot tighter than normal. You can open some hands that you can call the small blind’s jam and fold to the rest. You can still open hands like K-10 suited and most of your Broadways. You can’t really call off that many of them, but it depends on how the players have been playing. I guess you can start thinking about calling them with A-10, but if they haven’t really been opening at all, then you can probably start opening a little wider. But you have four jam stacks behind you and it’s just not fundamentally sound to be opening this hand.

Also, it’s reasonable to consider that since the small blind is going to put it in pretty light, you are going to have to showdown your hand a decent amount of the time. You don’t really want to show that you are opening a hand this weak and then be forced to call it off against the small blind. Let’s say the big blind is calling like 75 percent of his hands and then check/folding a lot of flops, then you could make an argument for raising here, but 10-7 suited is just too wide.

SS: Our hero said that he was trying to exploit the final table bubble. Is that a good enough reason to open this?

MW: If he has a reason to believe that everybody is going to fold worse than A-J to him, then yes, he can open this hand. I think that even on a final table bubble, people are not going to fold hands that they should jam that often. Is the final table bubble also the money bubble?

SS: No, they are already in the money.

MW: Then I think it’s a lot less likely that this is going to work. If they already are in the money, I don’t think the final table bubble is as relevant as he thinks it is.

SS: Would you be alright with his open if this were the money bubble?

MW: Yes, I would. In low-stakes tournaments, a lot of people just want to cash. In bigger tournaments, when the field is filled with more experienced players, they won’t be overly concerned with min-cashing. People will make pretty big laydowns in order to cash in low-stakes tournaments.

SS: The big blind has been playing 18/8 VPIP-PFR (Voluntarily Put Money Into Pot – Preflop Raise) with a 2 percent three-bet, given the limited information, what kind of hands do you think he is leading on a KHeart Suit 8Diamond Suit 7Diamond Suit flop? Also, do you think this is a good spot to raise and put our opponent in a bad spot due to ICM (Independent Chip Model) considerations and the money jumps?

MW: The only reason to raise here is if you think he is going to be donking (betting first after calling a raise preflop) a lot of air. Our stacks aren’t really big enough to raise flop and try and barrel him off on later streets. The only real reason to raise is that if you feel your hand is so weak that it is your only option to win the pot. So with a pair and a backdoor straight draw, I don’t like raising.

I also don’t think he is going to be donking that light either, especially since he is tight. I think he always has a piece of this board. I think his range for leading this flop is pretty strong. I think it’s a lot of pairs and combo draws. I guess you can put him in a tough spot with a raise, but I think more often than not, he is going to jam over your raise than he is going to fold.

SS: Do you like his float (to call with nothing in hopes of winning on a later street) here or would you just fold?

MW: I wouldn’t call it a float since he has a pair. You can improve to a better hand if you are behind and just strictly based on pot odds you have to call this lead. You are also giving yourself the opportunity to take it away on later streets.

SS: What are your thoughts on the turn when the villain checks?

MW: I think a good line is to probably bet here to keep hands with medium equity like 7-9 with the 9Diamond Suit or something like that that wants to call once more, but will give up on a brick river. I don’t mind the bet here if you are going to jam a brick river. A lot of the hands that will call the turn are going to be the type of hands that are going to have a diamond that want to see if they can hit the river or a king that is just going to call once and give you credit if you bet the river.

SS: How much showdown value do you think he has on the turn then?

MW: I don’t think he has that much to be honest. The only hands that he can possibly hope to be ahead of are hands that just randomly led the flop and picked up equity on the turn.

SS: So the only river you wouldn’t be betting is a diamond?

MW: No, that’s not true. I probably wouldn’t be betting a king or an 8. A 10 is a tough card and I’m not sure about that, but those cards make it less likely he is going to hero fold anything to you now. If the river is a 10, it’s tough to get value from much that is worse and it completes a lot of his hands.

SS: You wouldn’t be betting the 4Diamond Suit river card then.

MW: No, probably not. Some players might disagree with me here, but I just think that you are trying to represent a different range on each street. Your hand just shifts as it goes down and betting this river just looks really bluffy. I think most of his range that is calling the turn is going to have a decent diamond and it’s pretty suicidal to be betting this river.