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Inside the Poker Tour - 62 - Jesus Versus Vos

Inside the Poker Tour - 62 - Jesus Versus Vos 0001

I am very interested in breaking down a hand and discussing it. The hand in question was reported in an email from Full Tilt earlier this month, where I come to a different conclusion than the one that the email reporter came to. I welcome any other viewpoints, of course but want to point out that my first response to questions about hands is usually a string of questions that is outlined pretty well in Harrington's books, followed by the remark that there are no 'desert island' questions, and then the observation that you have to be there.

What exactly do I mean by 'you have to be there'? I mean that without your bottom in the chair at that table how can you say exactly what is right? If you are there you have presumably been observing your opponents, you have a more-or-less accurate reading on their state of mind at the time, you can compare your chip stacks, your positions, and through the use of what Lee Nelson calls "micro-observations" you can decide what your best action is. Through the magic of television you are likely to hear me talking about of how little importance your actual hand is in an upcoming WPT broadcast. This is true for the professional and as the field narrows, it is far less of a truth for the amateur whose action is driven by what his holding is. In all cases we are not given enough information to help us decide what the right action is and are left once again saying 'you would have to be there'.

The hand that brings this up is the following confrontation between bracelet holders Chris Ferguson and Mark Vos. With blinds of 500-1000 {and antes of perhaps 200?} Chris raises to 3000 from the button {from a stack of ? according to Mark it was about 70,000 but that does not work math-wise for me later in the hand}, and Mark re-raises from the little blind to {? Well, one more time, we are left to guess how much, I am going to guess that it is to 9,000} off a stack of {? Well, guess what? One more time we are not ever told how big Mark's stack is! This all speaks to how important I think all these details are…to the professional. To an amateur it will not matter, they will care about the holdings…}. Chris thinks on it and calls.

Now I will quote Mark: "The flop came AJT. I figured if he had a pair of Queens or maybe a pair of Kings he might lay it down, and if he had a smaller pair, like 9's or 8's he'd definitely fold. So I bet out 12,000 {Note: into a pot that we are guessing is 20,800} this is a minimal continuation or probe bet. He thought for a little bit and called. At this point my hand is totally dead; I am hoping for a Queen."

I agree with Mark that the call leaves him very vulnerable, I do think that he would get better definition from the hand by betting out for 16,000 but perhaps that is just a style suggestion. My problem is that when I underbet the pot for 12,000 I am going to get called by a bigger range of hands as I have indicated that I have a very strong hand or a very weak hand and many saavy players will now call me regardless of their holding and decide how to continue on the following street, whereas if I bet closer to 80% of the pot I find out more and give away less information. For example not only am I not likely to get run down by QQ or any two but also how would you react to this bet if you were on the button holding Ac8c? The 60% bet you will likely call and see what develops on the turn, the 80% of the pot is a much tougher bet to call.

Mark continues: "The turn came a Jack, which is either a suck-out or a trouble card. I have trips with the best kicker I can without having a full house. I didn't like the situation, but I felt that I had to lead out., Because he could have had AK or AQ, or a flush draw {Note: a flush draw?? this is the first time we have heard the flop contained two of a suit}. So I bet out 15,000" {into a pot of possibly 44,800?} this smacks of weakness or huge strength and one more time it does not give us any definition.

I have news for you Mark, it was okay to check the turn if you did not like the situation! AK and AQ are almost dead and your hand is very powerful. Only the possible flush draw might make you lean toward betting. If you are going to bet you should bet about 36,000 and be committed. By betting so small you are letting Chris draw to drawing hands too cheaply with it possible for him to get paid off or even bluff the river. My question here is are you going to lay down the hand when he raises on the turn? Given your actions on the river it is possible.

Furthermore, I would ask if you are treating Chris differently than you would some other player? My answer is that it seems likely that you are backing away from your own shadow as I cannot imagine that you would not play this more strongly against an unknown player. The obvious thing here is that you began the hand by re-raising before the flop with a marginal hand, or a strong counter-play, and now you do not follow through on it! Of course we can say the exact way to play the hand with more certainty if we are told what your chip stack looks like before the hand begins…

Mark continues: "which is pretty weak, because it was about a 40,000 pot. He called fairly quickly. At that point, my hand is dead. I was half hoping for a King on the river and half not, because it could bust me."

Bust me? Did Mark begin the hand with fewer chips than Chris? The hand is dead? Wow! I can only think that Mark is psyched out. If you are psyched out you should never re-raise before the flop, you can just muck it. If you want to keep the hand small then just take the flop by calling, call the flop, and call the turn. That is better than going to the river and giving it all up!

More Mark: "The river was a blank. I checked. He went all in for 20,000. I was fairly certain he had tens full or Aces full, and I folded."

Well firstly if Jesus began the hand with about 70,000 then he must have gone all-in for about 34,000 on the river. Secondly when you fold a pot of an estimated 109,000 on the river before calling for 34,000 holding the best trips you had better be right most of the time because you are getting more than three to one and a chance to cripple or eliminate a dangerous opponent as a bonus. If Jesus went all-in for 20,000 on the river the pot is going to have an estimated 94,800 in it and you are getting 4.5 to one on your call! Chris tries to wait a measured amount of time on all his actions and so a tell on how fast he acted is unlikely to yield anything—although it is possible and you have had to be there to know that.

So what are the likely holdings of Jesus in this hand {a hand that we never saw}? AQ, AT, QJ, Ace-anything, or any two are the likely losers and very possible. KQ, AJ, JT, TT are the possible winners, with the AA that Chris said he held being a long-shot possibility.

Only the all-in on the river shows a lot of strength and that is after Mark has back-pedaled to arrive there. For better or for worse I would call on the river, that is a forced action by the pot odds and the way that the hand has been bet, in my opinion.

Until next time, play good…and get lucky!

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