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Hold'em with Holloway, Vol. 81: Bracelet Winner Ryan Leng on Bad Call

Ryan Leng

In the recent $1,100 MSPT Venetian Main Event, I watched a three-way hand play out between Christian Jensen, Nuri Kural, and Ryan Leng.

It took place in Level 5 (200/400/50) when Leng, who won a World Series of Poker gold bracelet this summer, limped from early position before the player in the hijack raised to 800. The cutoff called and then Jensen moved all in for 6,700 from the button.

Kural called out of the big blind and Leng came along, which left him just 5,600 behind. The other two players folded and there was side action headed to the {9-Clubs}{a-Spades}{5-Clubs} flop.

Both active players checked and then Leng called a bet of 1,000 on the {2-Hearts} turn. Both players returned to checking on the {5-Spades} river and all three hands were tabled.

Kural: {8-Clubs}{8-Hearts}
Leng: {10-Spades}{9-Spades}
Jensen: {q-Hearts}{q-Spades}

Jensen's ladies held to give him the triple up while Leng claimed the tiny side pot. I was curious as to why Leng played it the way he did, and so spoke with him on a break. Leng wasn't happy with the way he played the hand, but he was still willing to share his thoughts for this article.

Leng: "I had some atrocious decision-making that I think might be pretty common among the poker community."

"I had some atrocious decision-making that I think might be pretty common among the poker community... laziness in the re-entry period," he said. "I was coming off of a deep run/non-cash in a $10K event at the Poker Masters the night before, so playing a $1K felt pretty small at the time."

"Buy-ins are relative, so if MSPT/HPT/Circuit Mains are your bigger buy-ins then you may make similar mistakes in $250-500 re-entry events," continued Leng, one of the roster of instructors at Chip Leader Coaching.

"I'm fine with the open-limp at this stack depth. A raise to 2.2x is pretty standard in this spot, but the table was fairly active and I didn't want to get put into a position where I had a tough decision versus a three-bet. The min-raise from the hijack makes no sense at all, and I'm never worried about her having a premium hand.

"The button had been short and looking for a spot, but he wasn't just going to punt it off, so when he shoves I give him a reasonable range of 55+, AJo+, ATs+, KQs. With the action in front, the big blind should really never flat anything here. Equity denial and protection serve him better in this situation, even with AA and KK, as his flat will just be giving me and the hijack and cutoff great odds to come along to try to win this bloated pot."

"The big blind did go ahead and flat and now I need to call 6,300 to win 22,100 — exactly 3.5-to-1. At 3.5-to-1 I will need to win the hand 28.5 percent of the time to make this a profitable call. At this point it can become easy for me to think, 'I'm getting great odds with a suited connector, if I fold I have 12K from 20K starting stack, but if I call and suckout I'll be in great shape moving forward. If I call and lose I can just re-enter and have a fresh 50bb stack' then shrug and call."

"But we're putting ourselves in a losing proposition here, and losing money in the long run. Given the button's aforementioned range and giving the big blind a range with {a-}{a-} as trap and a few flats that should be shoves, looks like this:

Hold'em with Holloway, Vol. 81: Bracelet Winner Ryan Leng on Bad Call 101

Leng then saw he was only getting 27 percent equity versus those two ranges and thus losing.

Hold'em with Holloway, Vol. 81: Bracelet Winner Ryan Leng on Bad Call 102

"You may look at this spot like, 'It's close enough, only 1.5 percent away from being a breakeven play, and this is a good time to gamble when you have the option to reenter,'" Leng explained.

"But in reality, we're putting ourselves in a losing situation that is going to cost us money in the long run. If we pass on these losing spots, we will save chips and buy-ins long term. In this specific instance, I was punished by losing this pot which was a catalyst for me to blast off three more bullets without bagging chips for Day 2."

Chip Leader Coaching features one-on-one access to the biggest winners in today's poker tournaments and are committed to providing students with a blueprint for making the correct decision in every hand. Their instructors, including Ryan Leng, are more than just coaches who can tell you when to bet, check or fold. Learn more at clcpoker.com.

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  • Hold'em with Holloway: @ChipLDR's @RyanLeng9 talks about a hand he played with suited connectors.

  • @RyanLeng9 analyzes a multi-way hand he recently played in a Mid-States Poker Tour Main Event.

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