Poker: Flop a Set... get away from it? Part III

In this similar vein of thought pertaining to luck, timing and critical junctures live poker players probably experience opportunities to make laydowns that have to take into account the game dynamics in front of them. Perhaps, the way to get around these moments is to not embrace them. Surely, there has to be some sort of metric to balance when to gamble when to not?

Let’s say you are at a Texas Hold 'Em poker final table and the other players are atrocious and you have reads on all of them . You have a healthy chip stack and the blinds are never going to put you in danger? Do you take chip stack coin flips or just wait for your spots. I’d argue if you are willing to flip coins you suffer from an inability to strategize. Poker strategy is often time simply picking your fights. Discretion is the better part of valor… is the clich├ęd response you should give anybody that challenges your “gamble” in those situations. It doesn't matter if it is online poker or live poker you make more money folding in key spots by not losing money than you do by simply dragging pots.

Recently, I’ve blogged about spots to avoid in mega satellite style events (like the Seniors Poker Event where they chopped eight ways) for their own rationale. And while, bigger tournaments and cash games aren’t as obvious there are situations that arise where getting your money in where you may be a big favorite isn’t necessarily the right choice.

Finally, I’m getting to the part about laying down sets. It’s been in the title for three entries and I’m only now getting to it, so I suppose it’s overdue. In that min-cash tournament I found myself at the final table 2nd in chips, when I looked down at pocket fours. I’m of missed minds about playing this hand but the chipleader was in the small blind and had shown a willingness to complete and then try to steal.

There was already a limper from early position, and the player to my left was telegraphing his fold. My strategy was hit my set and mix it up with the small blind. If I missed just get out of the way.

Things went according to plan. Small blind completes and the big blind checks.

The flop comes out 458 two spades. The small blind leads out. So far so good. Big blind folds. Good. Suddenly 3rd in chips, Mr. UTG shoves over the top.

Ouch. There are a ton of variables at play here. Spade draw? Flopped straight? Hmm. Putting the small blind on a weak lead bet, and trying to chase away any draws and take it down. Flaws in all those ideas.

I find myself in a spot where I don’t know what to do (call, raise/reshove all possibilities). I had a good conversation after the fact with Captain Ron where he cited Chris Ferguson’s rule of three. In spots, where he’s flummoxed like “Jesus” he looks for three solid reasons to lay down. If he gets to three he folds. While, I probably wouldn’t have gotten to three to fold, I might have gotten to three to just call rather than reshove.

I like this concept because in these spots where I am unsure of my next poker action, I sometimes have a hard time deciding which element of partial information is more important than the other. Now, I can draw conclusions faster and act sooner. Hard to believe Chris Ferguson would be inspiration for reaching a decision faster. It slides easy into a mnemoic device What Would Jesus Do so I won't forget to utilize that criteria for making a decision.

Normally, in this spot, I immediately started putting the UTG player on a range of hands and trying to anticipate his actions based on those hands.

More to come…


Anonymous said…
Hello. Great job. I did not expect this on a Wednesday. This is a great story. Thanks!
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