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Win MTT Poker 07 – Reads, Trips, Aggression




An essential question to ask when contemplating your next move is what do my opponents know about me. What cards have I shown down, from what position, what size of bets have I made, do they have player notes 2 pages long on me and so forth.

For instance, you have just doubled up on marginal hand from the blinds. No matter it was unraised and you flopped 2 pair, people see you as Mr. Q4 that beat up on KK. Now you have a big stack and you are a luck box. Or maybe you made a move on the blinds with filth and got lucky, what do they think you play? I guarantee the guy you creamed will not forget it this night, your name or the hand.

When your table image is loose, time to tighten up and wait to drive the big rigs. You must alter your play immediately. Don’t keep stealing with junk. You don’t want them calling from 3 tables away.

If your image is so tight they think you are trying to turn coal into diamonds, use that as well. Your bets will be respected to a greater extend. You can use this image to get away with a lot more at least until you are caught. You can occasionally even get away with the “big move,” the reraise steal.

What if they think you are on tilt? Say you just lost a big hand, then miracle of miracles, 2 rockets staring you in the face. Fire with barrels here cause you are getting called.

It is important to alter your strategy hand by hand if necessary based upon the new information your opponents may have.

One of the most difficult situations to play correctly is a paired flop. There is no way to really even describe what to do because there are so many variables. Here are some of my thoughts.

If you missed the trips but want to bet due a flush draw, straight draw, or second pair. Bet the minimum on the flop. This is a high risk situation where your reward is moderate and your risk is maximum. The minimum bet here however will be respected much more than normal. People will not want to pay off trips and will be highly likely to fold draws and pairs that they would play in other situations. The minimum bet smells like a weak means strong play anyways further increasing your odds of taking down the pot. This is not the situation to semibluff the draw with a big bet because a lot of times when you make the draw you will be staring down the full boat.

If you are faced with a big bet on the flop without the trips you are forced to lay it down almost all the time. Take some time to review the hand backwards, what position is the bettor in, how does he play, what are chances he has one of the 2 left in the deck? If the trips are low and the flop is say K33, this actually improves a hand like aces, leaving all the K’s drawing to just another K to beat you. If you are in a multiway pot early in the tourney, just refuse to mess with this hand. The times you will win it will not begin to compare with the times you get your stack wacked with the slow playing trips.

Now, how about he times you flop the trips. Most of the time there will be a flush draw or a straight draw on board and half the time an over card. In other words, there are cards to come that may possibly beat you if you fail to improve the hand and you wont improve this hand more than 20 percent of the time. Not to mention there maybe another player with trips with a better kicker and maybe pocket pairs that fill on the turn or the river. See how the anxiety builds?

The reality is you have a great hand here. A lot better that pocket aces before the flop. The key is how can you get them to give you their chips. You can just spazz out and go all in taking a small pot, but is that the best play? At some point in any tourney, you are going to have to take some risks, do you want to do it when you have the best of it or when you have to shove em in on marginal hands because you are short chipped? Sure if you slow play this, you take the risk of getting drawn out on but sometimes you have to massage people a little to get their chips.

Here is how I would play this, check the flop almost always, maybe bet the minimum if you are in last position. Hope someone bets it for you. Bet the turn a little if everyone checks on the flop. You may chose to bet strong if you think it will perceived as a steal. Make a large river bet, that looks like a steal. You have to give them the opportunity to make mistakes, not little mistakes which are not mistakes at all due to pot odds, big mistakes where they don’t have pot odds.

The proper play with trips is so situational specific. If you have calling stations, you have to bet. If you have very strong/aggressive players in the pot you have to check to extend enough rope they can hang themselves. If you are in the later stages of a tourney, check calling will probably get you paid more often.

I would just encourage you to think very carefully when you flop trips and maximize the opportunity. Trips is one of the money hands. Don’t be afraid of them.

I write this post essentially to chew myself out. I played bad last night and this is a confession. I played 2 tournaments I was not interested in, giving myself very little chance. Then to top it off, I played great for 2 hours in the tourney I was interested in only to succumb to KING KONG mentality.

Heres the situation, I was playing the 150 8:00 tourney on Paradise last night. 96 entrants. I only had to play 3 hands and 2 hours later I was chip leader with 15000 chips ( starting with 1500 ). I tripled up on KK early, doubled up with AK about an hour later, and took out 2 more with KK late. So here I sit, chip leader 20 players left and the tourney pays 10. In the course of the next 10 hands I manage to blow off 10000 of those chips playing 2 pots of a very speculative nature. I ended up finishing 15th pushing a short stack all in when I had to. What came over me? Why would I be so willingly to tear down what took me more than 2 hours to build. I broke all my own rules, that I have so painstakingly posted over the last month. Am I really that stupid? I wrote the book for crying out loud.

Here’s the truth, you do it too. I watch players with big early stacks crumble all the time. I smile when the big stacks starting winning with questionable calls and raises. I know where my chip stack will come from. Sooner or later, they are giving it to me. They are going to push them out just one too many times, and I am going to be all over that like flies on manure. I love to play against King Kong. My favorite opponent.

So why do I do it. I am human, I do dumb things. So do you, but here’s the rub. Do you hold yourself accountable or do you blame the bad beats, the run of the cards, the maniac to your left, party, stars, Paradise, UltimateBet, Pacific, Full Tilt, your nagging wife, the election, hemorrhoids, constipation, a headache, etc. How many excuses do you allow yourself?

Poker is really a journey into self. The games never over. How close to excellence can you achieve? Can you subvert you emotions and impulsiveness to achieve your goals?

Ok, lets go a little deeper. When you are the big stack, how do people perceive you? They know every hand they play against you may be their last. They also know on average you are lot harder to steal against because you can afford to call. So with this in mind, when they do decide to play, they will raise their starting hand standards and notch or 2. So how should that effect your play as the big stack. You should be a little more active in the stealing pots and a lot more reticent to call big bets or significant action. Just understand when you run into significant resistance trying to steal you have probably just run into a big hand and just the fact they called your raise means they probably means are going to sink or swim with this hand.

Well enough confession. Time to play some poker.

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