Sunday, December 19, 2004

Dangerous Toys

"I don't think that word means what you think it means."
--Indigo Montoya

I have, the the last couple days, been privy to a refreshing--and profitable--new play by the fish. I'd like to personally thank each and every one of them for their complete misapplication of the concept of the check-raise in the $20 SnG single-table tourneys.

I wrote a week or so back about the predictability of the play at these tables and how it had been such a long time since I'd been trapped by clever play, such as the check-raise. At the time, I couldn't recall the last time it had happened.

Well, it has happened to me at least a dozen times recently, and all I can really do is offer my sincere gratitude.

As poker players, we embrace the check-raise. Feigning weakness, inducing a bet and trapping that money in the pot. Lovely. But the play is still one that needs to be undertaken with some caution. One must understand the terrain they are traversing. You don't want to give a free card to someone on a draw. You need to KNOW there will be a bet behind you. And, most importantly, you need to be reasonably sure you have the best of it.

Which is where the fish come in. Last night, in a single tourney, I had three players check-raise me. On bluffs. Each time I bet out, I had a hand. Not a great hand, but a hand. And there's the rub. For example:

I'm on the button with presto. Three limpers to me and I raise it 3x. Two callers. Flop is Q42 rainbow. Checked to me and I bet out 200, assuming that will take it right there. One fold, then a raise all-in. Now, for one I've already got my chips in the pot. If that player makes an all-in bet in the first place, I have to seriously think I'm second-best there. And odds are I'll fold. But now, I've already got 200 in, his all-in from a much shorter stack than mine means I'm almost certain to call. Which I do. And beat his unimproved J8o (him actualy being in the hand at this point is a cause for another time).

Now, this very thing happened two more times. Once, I had TPTK for an easy call. Another, I had four to the nut flush and a gunshot draw. A tougher call, but once again, I was already pot committed and the raise was for less than a quarter of my remaining stack. I called that one, too, and though I didn't catch, my ace high was good enough, much to my shock and amusement.

Bottom line, if you're bluffing, you don't want a call. But if you're check-raising, you're more likely to get a call! So bet out.

If you're at my table, however, keep it up.


I'd like to give a hearty cyber pat on the back to Otis for snagging an honest-to-goodness paying gig. Blogging a WPT event. In the Bahamas.

Otis and his co-horts over at Up For Poker offer consistently entertaining, informative and literate writing on poker and life. Though he doesn't know me from Adam, I'm a big admirer of his work. He wrote this amazing story a couple months back and it had a profound effect on me. It spurred me to re-connect with my Dad. We weren't exactly estranged. Distanced is a more precise description. But reading that made me put pen to paper. Long story short, Dad rolls into town tomorrow to spend the holidays with my family for the first time.

A toast of the egg nog to Otis. And Dads.


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