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Navigating Tournament Side Pots with Howard Lederer

Howard Lederer

Team Full Tilt’s Howard Lederer discusses some important side pot concepts in a no-limit hold'em sit-n-go.

I want to go over a hand I played previously on Poker After Dark where I had to maneuver a side pot against a solid player.

Gabe Kaplan was very short-chipped and was first to act. With blinds at 300/600, he picked up a decent hand with {A-Diamonds}{4-Hearts} and moved in for his last 2,500. Mark Gregorich called from the button with pocket fives. Some people might have raised there, but he wouldn't mind somebody calling behind him because it's a six-handed sit-n-go and you're trying to eliminate a player.

I look down at {A-Clubs}{J-Clubs} and thought about blowing Mark off of his hand, but this is a spot where he could be slow-playing a hand like kings or aces, hoping that I would do that, so I just called, which also maximizes our chances of knocking out Gabe.

The flop was {A-Spades}{7-Spades}{4-Diamonds}, giving Gabe two pair, but what happened here in terms of the main pot isn’t all that important. The rest of this hand is all about the side pot. This is one of those weird tournament situations where there is a player all-in and there is still action left between two other players. Mark bet 3,000 on the flop which is unusual, but he wouldn’t mind folding out a bigger pair than his and hope that Gabe has king-queen or queen-jack. I had to play cautiously since Mark is a solid player and he was betting into a dry side pot, so my only option is to check, and call his bet.

The turn was the {8-Clubs} and we both checked. The river was the {3-Hearts} and brought up an interesting situation because I felt like I had the best hand but that it was going to be hard for me to get paid off. I needed to defend myself so that I didn’t have to call a big bet and put myself in a tough spot, so I decided to make a really small bet of just 1,600 and hope to get called by a worse ace. There was a total of about 13,000 in the middle, but Mark and I are only playing for the 6,000. So by betting about 25 percent of the side pot, I can defend myself from having to call a big bet and I can fold if I get raised by Mark since he will never be bluffing here.

Mark laid it down and I turned up my {A-Clubs}{J-Clubs} to take the side pot and break about even. Gabe actually came back to win this sit-n-go, so there is something to be said for never giving up in these late tournament situations.

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