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NH, BH in LA LA Land


Chops here.

As posted last week, we had a good time at the 4th Street Poker Tour game.   Good to play a home game against a bunch of people you don't know. And for us, it was cool not having Gooch or iPod moving all-in every other hand against you.

We had a dismal showing at Commerce earlier in the day, but I felt much more on top of my game and was playing very well against the 4th Street crew. 

After the 4th Street game wrapped and I began analyzing my play, I decided there was two critical hands (and a subsequently lesson learned) that 1) propelled me to the final table, and 2) ravaged my chip stack and led to my ultimate ouster...


I wasn't getting many premium hands to play, so I was forced to mix it up a bit if I wanted to stay well ahead of the average stack and ever-increasing blind levels.  One key "nice hand" came soon after the game was merged to two tables.  As I looked around at the new faces, I immediately pegged one guy as loose-aggressive (LA).  And he appeared to be the only new LA at my table.  One thing I’ve learned about LAs is that you can’t allow them to be table captain.  If no one steps up soon and fires back at an LA, they will completely bulldoze everyone. 

A few hands in, I’m the big blind and LA is on the button.  LAs (the good ones at least) really push their position.  When everyone folded to LA, I expected a big time raise from him to scoop the blinds.  I decided that no matter what I held, I was going to play back at him.  Sure enough, LA raised above the standard 3x the blind raise (in total about 5x the big blind, or 425 units total).  The small blind folded, and I came back over the top with another 425 units.

He called.

Fortunately, the texture of the flop was perfect for me (9-7-3, I believe).  I had already represented a strong hand, so I tossed another 425 at the pot.  I felt that I had to make the first strike here with that flop if I was going to win the pot.  I didn’t want him to see another card. 

Sure enough, LA folded.  The 850 units I gained on this hand helped me be very selective about the hands I played from then on out, and also helped me take advantage of my position better as I maneuvered throughout the rest of the game.


Down to 4 players at the final table, I’m sitting in the big blind.  UTG (the chip leader at this stage, and also oddly enough, a Bizzaro version of our WCP stalwart, Gooch) raises 2x the blind, and the button and small blind both fold.  I look to see 8-9o, call, and decide that I’m going to take a stab at the pot if the flop feels right. 

The cards spread out to be an interesting K-9-x.  I didn't like that King.

After some thought, I decide that I’ll find out a lot more information from UTG if I bet rather than check.  So I bet 2x the big blind, and he immediately comes back with another 2x the blind re-raise. 

What did this mean?

My gut told me that, at least right now, I had the better hand.  Or maybe he had something like Jacks or Tens and was really feeling me out for the King.  Plus, with blinds and antes as high as they were, the remaining 4 of us were moving all in on almost any made hand.  His raise seemed to indicate weakness.

But then I thought that maybe he had a monster, and was hoping to trap me.  UTG had never put a raise as small as 2x the big blind in any pot I’d seen.  This smelt fishy.

Bottom line is, I had only two choices: move all-in or fold.

I decided to fold, which I think was ultimately the wrong call.  UTG had me out-stacked, so I was putting my tournament life at risk, but given the scenario, all-in was the right move.

After the hand was over, I decided that he had K-J, J-J, or T-T.  I believe had I moved all-in, he would’ve mucked his hand, thinking I hit two pair, had him out-kicked, or whatever smaller pair he had wasn’t good enough.  The pot would’ve been enormous, and the pot odds were in my favor once I decided I wasn't drawing dead.  Lesson learned on my part.

So the moral: once you make up your mind about a hand, stick with it.  Your gut is usually right, so commit and stick with it all the way to the river.   The hand I was committed to, I ended up taking a bundle.  And the hand I didn't, I coughed it all back.  In the end, that made all of the difference.

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