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Poker Strategy With Jonathan Little: A Blunder In Montreal

Little Breaks Down A Hand From A Recent World Poker Tour Event

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I recently traveled to Montreal to play in the $5,000 buy-in $1 million guaranteed World Poker Tour event presented by PartyPokerLive at Playground Poker Club. Fortunately for me, I took eighth place for $105,500, but that almost did not happen due to a costly mistake that left me with almost no chips early on the second day of play.

With blinds at 600-1,200 with a 1,200 big blind ante, a reasonably tight player raised to 3,000 out of his 60,000 stack from first position at our eight-handed table. Another tight player called from second position. With 32,000 chips, I looked down as ASpade Suit KHeart Suit in third position (the lojack seat).

This is an interesting spot because both of my opponents should have strong ranges. While A-K is normally quite strong, if I three-bet and face either a call or an all-in, I will be in only marginal shape. Instead of bloating the pot with what is, at most, a tiny advantage, calling keeps my opponents’ ranges as wide as possible while also disguising the strength of my hand.

I called. The action folded around to the big blind, who also called. The flop came KSpade Suit JClub Suit 10Diamond Suit, giving me top pair, top kicker with a gutshot straight draw. The big blind checked, the initial raiser bet 5,000 into the 13,800 pot, the second position player folded.

While top pair, top kicker is normally quite strong, that is not the case this time. If you think about a tight first position raising range, it contains numerous hands that crush me, such as A-A, K-K, J-J, 10-10, and A-Q. The only hands I am happy to be against are A-K, K-Q and Q-Q, and Q-Q may not even bet the flop. Despite this, my hand is a bit too strong to fold at the moment.

I called and the big blind folded. The turn was the 6Heart Suit. My opponent bet 7,000 into the 23,700 pot.

This is certainly a difficult spot. The board did not change at all, meaning if I was behind on the flop, I am still behind on the turn. Despite my normally strong holding and my excellent pot odds, I should make the snug fold. While my opponent may be overvaluing A-K, K-Q or bluffing with Q-Q from time to time, it is unlikely that he is blasting off with A-X suited or a sporadic bluff with 9-7 suited, meaning most of his range should be the obvious value hands that crush me.

I called. The river was the 4Club Suit. My opponent bet 10,000 into the 37,800 pot.

As on the turn, I should again fold. While my opponent may be running an optimistic bluff, he is almost certainly simply value betting with a hand that he thinks is best.

I called and lost to J-J. Who would have thought?!? Despite my blunder, I played my short stack well and managed to win a few hands to get back in contention. Sometimes when you mess up you are only punished a little. ♠

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 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.