Jim’s All-In Volume III

It’s a crazy world out there in poker land.  We can play all the right cards, and stink up the joint; and we can play seriously stupid cards, and flop a full house.  What that means is…..sometimes it just ain’t your night.  And that’s OK.  There’s no reason to be upset when you go home early in a tournament.  The key is to know in your brain that you went home doing the right thing.

Just last night I played an entire tournament, well two hours of the tournament, and never once saw even a pair of two’s in my hand.  I made one real raise all evening with A-K of Hearts, and was called by a guy that hit his trips while I didn’t even sniff pairing up my cards.  The rest of the evening was either complete bluffs, or bets with semi-decent cards that I was willing to play if someone called me.Jamie_GOld

When an evening of 9-2 and 8-4 is happening, sometimes the right thing is do is exactly the wrong thing that I would ever teach you to do.  There just comes a time when you don’t even look at your cards, and you just shove your chips in and see what happens.

For example, from a recent game:

The 21 person tournament started at 7PM, with 12,500 chips each.  By the first break at 8PM, I had….12,550.  By the second break at 9:10 PM, I had 12,200 chips.  Get the picture here?  I was just folding hand after hand.  I picked up a few blinds along the way, but when I bet, or even when I called, the other players were very cautious, since I hadn’t played a hand in an hour.  So there I was treading along and going nowhere.

About 9:45, I was down to 8,500 chips.  They were just dripping away.  I look down at 6-7, unsuited.  Table folds around to me, and I close my eyes and shove all in.  Hey, when you’ve been looking at K-4 all night long, 6-7 looks like a pair of Aces.  And I get called by two people.  Flop, K-6-7.  Turn?  Another 6.  Lucky?  You bet your bazooka.  Did I care?  Not in the slightest.  Did I apologize?  Never crossed my mind.  I was ready to go home if it didn’t hit.  There was just zero reason to sit there for another hour watching my chips drip away into the big hole.

How did the rest of the evening turn out?  As I said, it was a dead card night for me.  I did play my way to 8th though, with only that hand as a winner of any bragging ability.

Now for the lesson:  If you just let the antes and blinds drain your chips, you have to make a move at some time or another.  You can’t just wait for greatness.  Sometimes greatness never shows up.

The best way to put it is:  Nobody ever folded their way to the championship.

Most people wait so long to make the big move that they double up to an amount of insignificant chips.  For example, the blinds are 1000-2000….and they wait to shove it all in until they are down to 4000 chips.  So they double up to……4 big blinds.  And they are still in a position where they MUST shove all in again with any two cards.  If they had shoved all in with 8,000 chips….and doubled up….they would have 8 big blinds and they would at least be in a position to look for a decent hand to make a move.  They are still in an any pair, any ace, any two face cards, any suited connector all-in position with 8 big blinds, but that’s a far better place to be than ANY TWO CARDS with only 2 big blinds.

So take this and remember it:  Sometimes the great cards aren’t coming.  When you are in that position, it is better to take a shot before you are critical than to wait for the point where even doubling up doesn’t help.

So with that in mind, I head off this weekend to the Venetian in Las Vegas.  Last time out I made a couple of thousand dollars playing $1/$2 No Limit Hold ‘Em.  This time out I plan on at least 30 hours in the poker room, as well as the $550 buy-in Deep Stack event on Saturday.  The weekend should be very interesting.

Now, for this week’s trivia question:Poker 1

When moving all in against a tight player, you usually want to have the absolute nuts before making your move.  Having the “nuts” means you have the very best hand possible.

For example, on a board of 2-5-6-8-K, with no flush possible, a 4-7 in your hand does give you a straight, but not the nut straight.  Someone holding 7-9 would be holding the absolute nuts for this board.

So the question for this week is this:

What is the lowest hand you can hold that can possibly be the absolute nuts after the flop, turn and river have been dealt?

Here is a hint to help you work this out.  No single pair in your hand can ever be the absolute nuts.  Someone can always have trips and beat you.  A straight beats trips, so we can eliminate the straight.  So the answer must be trips; two in your hand and one on the board.  So what is the smallest set of trips you can hold that can be the absolute nuts given any 5-card board?

Answer next week.

Submitted 6/12/2009

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