Mclean Karr has been on a tear this year. He has been making consistent final tables online and also won the World Poker Tour Bay 101 Shooting Star event last March. Karr is competing at the 2010 World Series of Poker where he hopes to win his first bracelet. He went deep in the $5,000 No-Limit Hold’em Six-Max event, and talked to PokerNews about a key hand he played against Danny Wong early on Day 1.
What was the table dynamic before the hand came up?
Well, I had actually just gotten to the table, and Danny Wong was in this huge pot with an older man. The guy called off about 80 percent of his stack preflop, and when the flop came ace-king-five, he said something like, “Ugh, that’s unfair.” Danny Wong went all-in, and the man folded, so I guess he had like queens or jacks, so Danny made the right play there if he didn’t have an ace or a king. It was right after this that the hand came up.
OK, go ahead and tell us what happened in the beginning of the hand.
It folded around to me on the button with nine-seven suited. The blinds were 100-200, and I made it 600. Danny called out of the big blind. The flop came . The old man threw his hands in the air and makes a noise like he was mad he folded a ten. We both kind of acted like we didn’t hear it, but I’m sure we both did, which makes for an interesting pot now because of the meta-game.
He checked to me, so I led for 900, a decent sized-bet saying, “I don’t have a ten, but I have a good hand.” Then, Danny, being the good player that he is, realizes that this is a good spot to check-raise with either nothing or a flush draw. He raised to 2,200. I mean, he knows I don’t have a ten. Knowing that he knows that, I decided to flat here, thinking that as the pot got bigger, I’d have a chance to take it away from him. It’s going to be hard for him to play this hand out of position and win the pot, especially if he has a flush draw. I think that if he had a decent pair, he would have just check-called, thinking that I didn’t have much. There isn’t much value for him to raise a pair there. So, I have him on nothing, or a flush draw.
Just a question about your preflop raise size. It seems like the standard is around 2.5 times the big blind now, but do you make it a little more when there is a good player in the big blind?
In every tournament leading up to this one, I’ve been making it smaller like 2.2 - 2.3 times the big blind. Online, a lot of times, I’m just min-opening, but I just had a talk with some of the guys and we were saying, “Who do we have the most trouble playing against at the tables?” And really, it’s the old guys just raising three times the big blind. We discussed it, so I decided I was going to try and play like that in this event. It’s a six-max, so everyone plays so standard, if you throw in a little nonstandard stuff, it might throw people off their game.
So what happened in the rest of the hand?
The turn was the . So now, it makes it so that if I had flatted Danny with any kind of pair, I would still think I was good. That means there’s not a lot of value for him to bet a flush draw or nothing because it looks like I might just be going with the hand. He kind of shut down and checked. I tanked and bet half pot. He called. At this point, I think he could have possibly played a four like this, or he could still have a decent flush draw with overs and just be hoping to get me on the river because it’s a big pot. If I’m bluffing, there’s a lot of value in catching me.
The river was an offsuit two. This was a great card for me because it changes nothing about the hand unless one of us was being really sicko with five-six. He checked to me and I barreled again. He took forever, and the old man called the clock on him, and he folded.
It’s so funny that this other player played such a big role in this hand.
Yeah, and I just wanted to bring up the fact that in live poker, so much more so than online, there is this aspect of meta-game, and things you have to think about.
So because you are repping a pair or made hand, you’re betting for value, it’s good that a blank came on the river. What would have done if an over card came?
That’s a great question. So because nothing had changed, he’s putting me on a hand like a pair or even a ten, which makes my river bet more credible. If a big card came, like a king, I think I’m still barreling because it’s the only chance I have to win the pot. There’s not a big risk for him rebluffing me there because I could have a ten or backed into a king. I’ve kind of committed myself to having to bluff on the river. I took a really advanced line because of the things that were going on, and flatted on the flop, so I can only do that if I’m willing to stick in the hand, and try to find a way to win it.
Do a lot of people make the mistake of flatting with no pair or draw without a decent plan in place?
Yeah for sure, people don’t have plans. You should be thinking of contingencies like if this card comes, this is what I’ll do, or of this card comes, this is what I’ll do. Of course, it becomes really intricate, and after you play for awhile, it will come more naturally. I do think that if a big card had come on the turn, like an ace, I may have shut it down because it was likely he could have had an ace-high flush draw.