Phil Collins, a young poker pro with results live and online, is a member of the 2011 World Series of Poker Main Event November Nine. On Day 5, he played an interesting hand just before dinner break in which he, "merged." Here's what he told us about the hand.
Blinds: 8,000/16,000 with a 2,000 ante
Hand Action Amanda Musumeci raised under the gun to 35,000. Phil Collins called on the button with , and the big blind called, as well. The flop came . The big blind and Musumeci checked. Collins bet 55,000. The big blind called and Musumeci folded. The turn was a . The big blind checked, and Collins bet an unknown amount. The big blind called. The river was a .
Before we talk about this hand, can you explain what exactly a merge is for those who don't know?
Sure. Merging is turning a hand that has a good amount of value into a bluff, but at the same time, you can get called by worse hands. You can force a better hand to fold or a worse hand can call you. I like it a lot whenever I think someone might be drawing or might have a top-pair type of hand or a weak hand that is probably better than mine.
Tell me about your thought process in this hand.
Well, on the flop, when it checked to me, I thought it was a good spot to bet. On the turn, I was thinking that if he had just a queen, he would be in a pretty awkward spot if I bet again. If he had queen-ten, he could have been dead if I had nine-ten. If he called on the turn, there would be a lot of scare cards on the river. If the river was a club, would he call another bet? Or if it was a heart, would he call again? I was hoping I could get him off of a queen and probably a jack. I think a weak queen can find a fold. Also, if he had a draw, I had the best hand. He could have had a flush draw or something like king-ten.
When the river was a club, I didn't think I could bluff anymore. I actually might have bet if it was a brick. He said he had eight-nine. I guess he thought I was bluffing. It would have been really interesting if the river was like an offsuit two. I might have bet 450,000. I don't if he was planning on calling though. If he did, that would have been pretty epic.
What mistakes do you see players making when trying to merge?
Players merge all the time because they're betting without knowing exactly what they're doing. Whenever I merge, I'm doing it with a very clear plan versus a particular opponent. I'm also doing it based off of a read that they have a draw or a weak hand with showdown value that they can fold. I don't actually think it's something you have to put into your game, and I don't do it often at all. This, though, was a perfect time to do it, and I also had blockers for the straight.
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