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Hold'em with Holloway, Vol. 98: Simon Deadman Rips Apart My NLH Tourney Play

Simon Deadman

There are few tournament players I respect more than Simon Deadman. He has more than $3 million in lifetime earnings, including picking up a career-high $391,446 for finishing runner-up to Jason Mercier in the 2015 World Series of Poker Event #32: $5,000 NLH Six-Handed. He also won the 2014 Hollywood Poker Open Championship for $351,097.

Deadman — on Twitter @SIMONDEADMAN — offers one-on-one private coaching on He also recently became a coach at Chip Leader Coaching alongside Joe McKeehen, Ryan Leng, and Daniel Strelitz, just to name a few.

I had the rare opportunity to consult with Deadman recently about a couple of hands I played in a $500 buy-in no-limit hold'em tournament, one that drew 89 runners.

Hand 1 – Getting Lucky with Aces

In Level 3 (75/150) with 50,000 effective stacks, I picked up {a-Clubs}{a-Spades} in the hijack and raised to 400 after the UTG+1 player had limped. The players in the cutoff and button called, as did the limper, and the flop came down {6-}{7-}{9-Diamonds}.

"Raise bigger preflop," Deadman says of my preflop play. "We are so deep we want to get more money in the pot, so our raise size should be at least 600 {4-} after a limp of 150. A bit bigger would be fine, too."

As it happened, the big blind led out for 600 and the limper called. I also just called and the cutoff popped it to 1,700. The big blind called, UTG+1 got out of the way, and I decided to call to see how things played out on turn.

"So the pot is like 1,700 and BB leads 1/3 and UTG+1 calls," Deadman recaps. "Versus this small lead size and call, I think we should raise flop for value. We are going to have the best hand a lot here on the flop, but it's vulnerable. At this buy-in level players tend to check their strong hands from the blinds, so when we raise flop here we take control of the hand and we charge all the various draws and top pairs that our opponents might have."

Deadman: "Raising flop ourselves will define people's ranges much better and make your hand much easier to play."

"If any player in this hand raises again on the flop we have a relatively easy fold," Deadman continues. "As played, when cutoff raises and BB calls I would just fold now as the cutoff's range is fairly strong. The flop is rainbow so [there are] not too many draws for him to play this way. We are likely beat by straights and sets and if we aren't already beat playing turn and river will be tough. Raising flop ourselves will define people's ranges much better and make your hand much easier to play."

The turn was the {7-Clubs} and two checks saw the cutoff bet 3,500. The BB folded and I made a crying call.

"I think this is why I like folding flop as played, as again we are guessing on our opponent's range and gonna be in some tough river spots if we call again," Deadman says. "Calling at this point is probably okay given the bet size isn't huge and we can still beat some {j-}{j-}, {10-}{10-}, and {a-}{9-}, etc., if he ever has those."

Luckily for me, things swung in my favor when the {a-Diamonds} spiked on the river to give me a full house. I bet 8,500 as with the flush coming in I'm hesitant to check. I figure he's prone to check behind with two pair, a straight, and so on. He tank-called and mucked what he claimed was a flopped straight after I tabled my hand.

"I like checking on river and playing in flow," says Deadman. "Our lead looks super strong here [meaning] that flopped straights should be able to fold."

"In a $500 [buy-in tournament, players are] probably not folding too often, so I think check-raising river is the way to go. As the flush was backdoor, a straight likely still value bets this river and we can check-raise and go for all of it."

Simon Deadman
Simon Deadman in action at the 2019 PCA.

Hand 2 - Turning a Flush Draw

With the blinds at 300/600/600 (button ante, not big blind ante), I had 90,000 and my primary opponent in this hand about 50,000. The under-the-gun player limped and the hijack raised to 1,700. I called out of the small blind with {a-Hearts}{3-Hearts}, the big blind came along, and the UTG limper also called to make it four-way action to the one-heart {10-}{q-}{3-} flop, which everyone checked.

On the {7-Hearts} turn, I bet 3,000 with my pair and flush draw and both the big blind and UTG player folded. The hijack raised to 7,400 and I opted to call.

Deadman: "This hand is mostly fine, it's just the turn sizing I think we should go bigger."

"The pot is 7,700 on the turn. I like our turn lead after flop checks through, but I think we should go a bigger size," says Deadman.

"We want to make it tough for our opponents to call. For 3,000, it's easy for them to call {q-}{x-}, {10-}{x-}, etc. I'd bet close to pot, like 7,000. I think this size gets a lot more folds which is the best result for us even though we have good equity versus most hands. It's a strange line for the hijack to raise here. He should have only {7-}{7-} for value as his strong hands should bet this flop when it's four-way. However, I would assume our opponent just slow played a set on flop when he should have bet and I think he's given us a good price to call for a flush."

Unfortunately, I missed the flush when an offsuit {j-} bricked the river, and I check-folded to a bet of 11,000.

"This hand is mostly fine, it's just the turn sizing I think we should go bigger," Deadman concludes. "I think we rarely get raised on the turn here if we bet big, and if they do [raise] they just have two-pair plus."

For more from Deadman, visit

  • In Hold'em with Holloway, @ChadAHolloway has two hands broken down by @SIMONDEADMAN of @ChipLDR.

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