Covering live poker tournaments for a living affords me the opportunity to see countless thousands of hands played out, many of which offer interesting and potentially valuable insights into how players — both amateurs and professionals — play the game. In this ongoing series, I’ll highlight hands I’ve seen at the tournaments I’ve covered and see if we can glean anything useful from them.
Last weekend, I traveled to Chicago to play the Heartland Poker Tour Ameristar East Chicago $1,650 Main Event. I failed in spectacular fashion with my first bullet, but I was able to run it up on my second shell and go into Day 2 with a pretty nice stack.
Day 2 proved quite trying after some early success as I lost a number of consecutive hands that went to flops. I’m not sure if my table, which seemed very favorable, adjusted to me, or if they simply started picking up and making hands. In any case, the following hand was part of my slide.
With blinds and antes at 2,000/4,000/500, I raised to 9,500 in the hijack holding . Oleg Badmayev, the player who seemed to be most aggressively playing back at me, called from the button, and both blinds folded.
The flop came , and I bet 11,000. Badmayev made it 30,500. He had about 85,000 behind and I covered him by about 75,000. I thought for a little bit and then folded.
Concept and Analysis
On this hand, I made preflop raise a little on the larger side for me. I expected Badmayev to call me quite a bit in this spot, and I wanted to shorten effective stacks a bit and make it less correct for the blinds to come along.
He did call so we went heads up to a flop of . Not one of the better flops for my hand, but a good one to three-barrel, I figured. I had given up to most of the resistance I had faced when I didn’t have much of a hand, so I figured this was a good spot to switch it up and try to get him off of a small-to-medium pair if he had one.
Plus, I could always catch a king or ten and very likely have the best hand.
I’d often look to make a small feeler bet on this type of flop, something like 7,500 or 8,000. However, since I was trying to set up a strong three-barrel, I decided to size a little bigger and bet 11,500.
I expected Badmayev to call regardless of what he had. What I did not expect was what happened, as he came out raising with 30,500.
I was a little caught off guard and took a moment to get my bearings. I expected him to just call with his weaker boats, especially since he should almost never have a nut hand here, while I could definitely have big pairs. Remember, he didn’t reraise on the button when someone he surely perceived as an aggressive opener came into the pot from late position.
Eyeing his chips, it looked like he had a pretty decent stack for me to put all in. It would be a credible move to set him in for about 80,000 more since he had bet 30,500. It wouldn’t be a suspiciously large overbet, and I’d be telling a consistent story by representing a strong pair in the hole from start to finish.
There are definitely some hands that I felt Badmayev would likely roll with if he had them. I didn’t know if he’d fold pocket eights or nines, and I thought he’d definitely go with tens or jacks.
I had also seen Badmayev get caught bluffing a couple of times in the sessions I’d played with him, so I knew it was possible he didn’t have anything at all.
Ultimately, what swayed me was the possibility that he had flatted tens or jacks and that he wouldn’t fold medium pairs to a player he thought was aggressive and capable of bluffing big.
However, I do think I may have missed a spot to jam and potentially pick up a nice pot. He’s pretty unbalanced here in that he should almost never be really strong, while I could be. And the only hands I’m truly worried about — and — he might have three-bet preflop, plus I block tens.
Even if I’m called by something like , I’m far from drawing dead as I still have seven outs against those hands.
The way it worked out, I could have really used this pot as I found myself grinding a short stack a little after this. There weren’t many pots I’d like to have back from this tournament, but this was one of them.
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