Go Get ‘Em Pinata.

I received a text from El Pinata yesterday announcing his safe arrival on the West Coast. It made me remeber that while we didn’t have any really interesting limit hands from his last game at Fat Tony’s we do have video of the celebration. It’s taken me a while to honor El Pinata’s anonymity request, but here’s a taste of some El Pinata on Pinata violence. Pay close attention and you can see the blood lust spill Kid Nate and EMG’s chips on the floor near the end.

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3-Betting in NLHE, An Introduction

Since my online cash experience prior was not terribly profitable, even when I’d play TAG, I realized I needed to evaluate my play and really push outside of my own comfort zone to make myself a profitable player. While I am more of a natural nit than a gambler, I realized that I am successful for the most part when I establish an image and I play off it. Since online play usually involves gambling with new players, I found that I can drive action and build pots by 3-betting preflop.

For those of you unfamiliar with the concept, 3-betting is a preflop reraise, generally from later position or the blinds. This is a strong tournament play, but it also has its place in cash games. If timed properly, 3-betting can be used to bet for value, as a semibluff, or as a flat out bluff. Here are several benefits to 3-betting:

1. Isolation. By making a reraise in later position, you chase away drawing hands and stronger players (who can play post-flop). Often times, you will end up heads up against a scared open raiser. Most standard players are not calling a raise and a reraise. Not only are they worried about your holdings, but they have to worry about the initial raiser as well. These players are squeezed out of the pot. Since it’s easier to read and outplay 1 player, this is advantageous to skilled post flop players.

2. Value. If you have a big hand, you want to play a big pot, so you’re going to reraise preflop. However, if opponents realize that you only reraise when you have AA/KK/QQ/AKs, you’re not going to get called very much when you make these plays. You have to vary your play to maximize value long term. That means reraising with a wider range of hands… maybe even absolute junk once or twice every other session.

3. Table Image. Aggression wins pots, so being on the attack when you think (or know) you’re ahead builds up your potential and actual profit. I’m capable of raising preflop with any 2 cards, depending on my position and opponents. However, if I know that a player to my left is capable of reraising me more often than not, I am less likely to push the action. I have found recently that my willingness to 3-bet has tamed some aggressive opponents and has also allowed me to earn some cheap flops with value hands.

4. Overall equity. Many times, a 3-bet will take the blinds + the initial raise (total take of 3-5 total BB’s without seeing a flop), which is a nice win. However, you want to play big pots with your big hands. You want a player to go all in with a Q-4 against your AA. By choosing your spots and playing with discipline, you can add to your overall win rate. Sure, you might get reraised again (a 4-bet) and will have to fold, but long term, I believe that the play is a profitable one for building pot equity. Your end goal is to win all the money. You win all the money by playing big pots. Since many novice players are looser and more aggressive pre-flop than post-flop, you can take advantage of this tendency to build pots, then outplay them. Finally, as I have mentioned, when you have your monster hands, you’re more likely to get action because your opponents have more trouble putting you on a big one.

This is an outline and guide about why 3-betting can be a good play. I obviously don’t condone making it a usual play, but it should be a move in your poker toolbox. In just a few sessions, I have found that it works best if you are capable of changing gears to keep your opponents guessing. This is a risky play in micro and low games because your opponents are more erratic and also cannot get away from hands. You put yourself at risk to win or lose some big pots, but that’s the name of the game… If you time the move properly and mix up your hand ranges, you can confuse these lesser opponents and really drive a lot of value. My advice for new players is to play your game and quickly identify 3-bet candidates, then deploy this technique at the correct juncture. This tool is not always the best play, but if you master it, it can be profitable at these low stakes. I am still learning when and who to 3-bet, so as I figure it out, I’ll share it with all of you.

Next: Ideal 3-bet Circumstances

EMHD 4: An Interesting Hand / Aggression in Position

This weekend’s EMHD probably had more than it’s fair share of interesting hands, but by the time I saw the full field the blinds were high and the short stacks were shoving, so a good bit of the play was pre-flop and while dramatic, not so interesting. I did however find a hand on the first table

that I enjoyed watching. It was a large pot for this stage in the tournament, and while the hand didn’t make it to showdown proper, all three participants revealed at the end.

At the midway point(15 minutes) of the second blind level (50/100), Texas Crint held the button, NCBoomer posted the small blind, and Alan Sooted posted the big blind. Jim1 called the 100, The Dog Wagger-er folded, Jim3 limped, El Pinata folded, MH62 limped, Hulk(me) folded, and Dan raised it to 300. Texas Crint folded, but all the original limpers added their extra 200 to the pot.

FLOP:

It’s a fun flop, but it’s checked around to Dan who promptly bets out 600 into the 1050 pot. NCBoomer called, the three Jims folded (Dog Wagger-er is another James) and MH62 calls as well, we’re gonna have 3 to a turn. At this point I’m thinking that Dan’s holding Ace Queen, and the Drawing Duo of MH62 and NCBoomer have straight draws, at least one of them open ended.

Turn:

A pretty card for Dan as I see it. I’d expect the betting to go check, check, Bet, Fold, Fold. But as so often is the case I’m wrong. I get the check, check, Bet. 1500 into 2850 pot, however what follows is Call from NCBoomer, and a labored call from MH62. I’m still pretty sure that NCBoomer’s got the straight draw, and his quick call means he’s open ended. MH62 consternifies (if I may borrow some of his lexicon) me. I still think he’s got a straight draw … don’t think he’d play an over pair this way, but maybe he’s trying to milk the pot with Kings or Aces for a big win, and it’s just blown up on him. He wrestles with the decision for a bit, but makes the call.

I guess it’s these calls that make this hand interesting to me. Let’s say for argument’s sake that somebody’s holding K J. There’s a decent chance your Ace outs are gone, as there’s a good chance they give Dan a Full House. The 9 might not be good either, I don’t think it’s beyond Dan to raise in position with a suited Q 9 less likely, but possible. And if you’ve ever played with NCBoomer, he could easily be holding J 9, as he could 9 10 and be waiting to bluff on the river.

The River:

This should do it. The action I expected on the Turn came here: check check, bet 1500, fold, fold.
Dan pulls the pot of 9350 towards him. MH62 is frustrated, and shows:

MH62 Shows:

Now the tough decision makes sense to me. Open ended and the flush redraw.

Dan Shows:


Well I’ll be a monkey’s uncle ! (Who’s gotta scar?) All that aggression with a pair of tens. I’d have laid cash money that he had a Queen and made his boat on the river. I gotta guess he put the other two on draws and bet it well.

NCBoomer Shows:

And drops his jaw … but picks it back up to make sure the Coors Light finds it’s way home.

Hindsight:

I guess I shouldn’t be shocked to see those cards from NCBoomer or MH62. Dan played aggressively in position and knew that MH62’s call on the turn meant that NCBoomer couldn’t call if a scare card hit the river, even if he believed that he had Dan beat … he said so when all the cards got shown. I guess it’s my over thinking the turn call that made this hand interesting to me, but I’m sure you’ll let me know in the comments.

EMHD 4: The Unofficial Results

With Fat Tony the Super Proxy playing in place of EMG at yesterday’s EMHD event, you’re gonna get my take on the 4th event in the series. Since I’ve left my notes closer to another computer, I can only tell my story, some general observations, and give some unofficial results. Let’s start with the prize winners and how some of your favorite players finished:

1. Klinker B.
2. James the Dog Wagger-er
3. Jock-O
4. Stevie Sunglasses

6. Fat Tony as EMG
7. El Pinata
10. Hulk
14.(?) Texas Crint
16.(?) MH62

Fortunately for me, I didn’t get a chance to move around a lot and survey the field. I got stuck in a corner seat (again) at table 2 with the with MH62, El Pinata, Texas Crint, 3 Jims and a Dan, with Alan rounding out the field. I started the tournament card dead and even when I thought a re-raise might win a pot, I saw 8 2 off suit and didn’t have the intestinal fortitude to pull that move. I won a pot with AQ off suit when I limped into a near family pot at the 25/50 level. A passive play, but I was trying to set a baseline with the players I don’t see regularly, get them to assume it was better than AQ if I raised in later levels. I stayed right around even, but mostly paying my blinds and folding until a series of hands starting in the 100/200 level.

An Under the Gun raise to 575 at 100/200 with AK off was met with button shove from James the Dog Wagger-er. It would have cost me half of my remaining stack, about 2500 to call. I tanked for some time, trying to figure out how big a pair I was up against. There was something about his body language that said he was strong, but was worried. I couldn’t decide if it meant Pocket Kings and he didn’t want to be called with an Ace, or if it were Queens or Jacks. Hindsight says it was too tight a fold, but fold I did, thinking a better spot would be right around the corner with the button coming my way. I was shown pocket Jacks when my cards went dead. The next few hands were a sequence of me getting beaten up. I flopped a Queen with a King kicker on a [Q | 4 | 6] board after paying my blinds, bet out 500 and was raised to 2000 by Dan. I know I’m beat, he either limped with 4s or had A Q. The hand that hurt the most was the better spot I was hoping for a little while earlier.

Under the gun or close too it, I wake up with Pocket Kings. I raise to 575 still at 100/200 leaving me with about 3000 chips behind. The Dog-Wagger-er flat calls me, and we’re heads up to the flop. With all the lay downs I’ve made so far, I’ve got to believe he called me with a big ace, maybe if I’m lucky Queens. I check the flop of [Ace of clubs | RAG | RAG], assuming he’ll bet about pot and I can get away from it. He’s smart, keeps me on the hook for 500 more, and when the Jack of clubs falls on the turn, I get the feeling he’s got Ace Jack, or maybe even pocket jacks, and is afraid of what he might think is a club draw. Either way I was done with that pot … I was done with it when the Ace hit.

Some blinds pass and with about 2500 in my stack at 300/600 I limp with 8s 8c in early position, hoping for a raise somewhere, so I can shove and flip for it. I don’t get the raise, but I do see a magic flop of [8d | K | 4s]. MH62 Shoved for 1925, and my last 1900 went in right behind it. He showed 8h 4c. The turn or river put another 4 on board and as much as I had been feeling like a punching bag earlier I can imagine MH62 had it worse … I just don’t know what he was seein’.

And that’s it. My tournament didn’t end there, but technically it did. But some shoves, and folds, and I stayed between 3000 and 3900 until we moved to the final table. I drew a seat in the blinds for the last few minutes of 300/600 and didn’t pull he trigger by the time the blinds got back to me when they were 500/1000. End Game. I’ll be back tonight with some final table talk.

Making the Right Moves Doesn’t Always Pay, Online Hand 2/20/09

Here is an example of playing a hand well and still losing. I played aggressively, but I think I missed a chance to reraise the turn, resulting in a lost opportunity and a small loss by most anyone’s standards.

http://www.pokerhandreplays.com/flash/replayer.swf?pokerhandid=301430

Preflop: I joined this table specifically to play against the big stack. I had been playing aggressively with a lot of preflop raising and some 3-betting in key spots. I had been attacking the big stack specifically to get involved in a big pot. I got my wish, albeit without a huge hand. Any K in the SB against a random hand is likely to be favored, so I pumped it up to 15 cents (pot bet). He is a tighter player and calls. I put him on bigger cards, perhaps a KJ.

Flop: Bingo! This flop hit me and likely did not hit him. What’s more, with my aggressive table image, he’s not likely to believe that I’ve hit this hand. I lead out for about half the pot (15 cents) and he flat calls, almost certainly with overs. My read of KJ range is probably intact.

Turn: The 8 isn’t likely to have helped him, so I lead out again for 25 cents (40% of the pot). He reraises me to 75 cents, probably thinking I’m on the steal. This is not a bad assumption, given that I’m raising preflop a good bit of the time. The pot is large enough for him to take a stab. I think about reraising again, but I only have a pair of 5’s with a good kicker. He could have called with A-8. I play small ball and flat call, thinking there’s a good chance I’m still good, but wanting to keep him on the hook for a value bet on the river.

River: A 10 is not really a good card at all here. Many players will call with x-10 because it looks nice, and the 10 connects to a lot of hands, like A-10, K-10 (hand of death), Q-10, J-10, 10-9, 10-8. I decide to block bet my 5’s with an 80 center into a pot of $2 or so. I think it’s enough to win on its own much of the time, but I also have fold equity. He flat calls, and I know I’m beat. He flips over Q-10 for the win.

Analysis: With the exception of maybe reraising on the turn for information, I think I played the hand pretty well. I was worried about my opponents TAG style, plus I assumed he accumulated a $20+ stack by outplaying people. I thought he was a capable opponent, so I played it a bit less risky. Overall, I think I made the moves necessary to win a nice pot. I just happened to get unlucky on the river. I give my opponent a great deal of credit for the creative turn bet, which allowed him to see a river and get another bet out of me. He probably got max value (unless he called a hypothetical reraise on the turn, which was unlikely).

Go West, Young Pinata… Go West…

There comes a time in every little piñata’s life where he is confronted with a choice: continue to slave away as a cog in the airplane industry trade association machine or go to Los Angeles to pursue your dreams of being a male model/comedic writer. Fortunately for Piñata and unfortunately for the rest of us, our little baby is movin’ on up to the East side… of Compton. He will surely be missed, from his trying to destroy Mark’s television during a fantasy baseball auction to his always appropriate sense of humor to his “tight-aggressive” table image. Piñata has been a stalwart at the poker table. He is a good man, and we all wish him well.

In his honor, we will congregate tonight for a round of mixed games (Omaha Hi, Omaha Hi/Low, Stud Hi, and Stud Hi/Low). We will play $60 stacks with $1/$2 limit stakes. Stud hands will have a $.25 ante per hand. Expected to be in attendance: Piñata (the guest of honor), MH62, Fat Tony, Hulk, Guido, NJM, Shrek, and I. I’m sure we’ll have plenty of interesting hands to analyze. More later or tomorrow…

Ship It!!!!

MH6-2, Guido, Pinata, and Shrek went to Atlantic City for the holiday weekend into Tuesday (2/17/09). All of them came back as winners. Early reports are that Shrek had 2 monster winning sessions and won $1,200 or more at the poker table. Guido also won over $1k, while MH62 and Pinata walked + $500 or more each. Pinata’s win was rather impressive given that at one point, he was stuck $600. A nice turnaround…

Congrats, fellas!

Good Read + Ballsy Move With Pocket 4’s, 2/11/09 Live Game

Near the end of the night at the Lunch Money Game, we were down to 6 handed, as Bob, Omaha, and Orange left early. I was sitting on about $80 (pretty much even for the night), and Pinata had a larger stack, probably at least $150. We played a pot for all my money, and even if I had lost, I think it was the best hand I’ve ever played. I put my opponent on a hand, was absolutely right, and I won a massive pot.

http://www.pokerhandreplays.com/flash/replayer.swf?pokerhandid=292347

Preflop: It is folded around to Pinata on the button, who raises to $3. This is a little larger than button raises that he usually makes. That raises my radar, thinking that he has a relatively big hand, and he’s hoping to get involved in a bigger pot. I put him on the hand range of pocket 7’s-J’s, plus AK, AQ, AJ, possibly KQ. I am in the small blind for 25 cents. I look down and pick up pocket 4’s. I hope to call, hit a set, and crack him good. NJM folds, and we’re heads up to the flop.

Flop: The 8-3-2 rainbow flop is very good for my pocket 4’s. I’m pretty sure I have the best hand right now, but I also want to get some value out of it. I know that Pinata is a loose-aggressive (LAG) player. This image helps him win some big pots with his big hands. I decide to check to him, planning a check-raise to take down a larger pot, plus I can find out exactly where I’m at. I check, he bets $5. I get what I’m looking for, and the pot is now $11.50. I opt to reraise to $14 total. It is only $9 more to him, but I’ve shown that I don’t believe him. It is almost a pot-sized reraise to him.

Pinata now goes into the tank, probably trying to put me on a hand range. I could have any pair, a set, AK, AQ, AJ, A-10, or A-8, or I could have absolutely nothing. He puts me on a hand and reraises to $40 total. Now I’m a little concerned. I replay the hand (especially the size of the preflop raise). I have him on a hand like 99 or AK/AQ. I am literally in the tank for about 2 minutes trying to figure it out. Was he reraising for information or was he reraising for value? Finally, I decide he has AK. I push all in for about $37 more.

Now Pinata is in the tank. He does not instacall. The fact that I wasn’t snap-called makes me confident that I have the best hand. My biggest fear that this point would be Pocket 5’s, 6’s, and 7’s, but I’m pretty confident that I made the right move here. Pinata puts me on 4’s, 5’s, or 6’s (he told me after). The pot is worth about $123, and he has to call $37 or so for a chance to win the pot, so his pot odds are almost 4:1, and he has 6 outs twice to win (25% or about 3:1). In this case, he’s getting the odds to call based on mathematics, plus the pot is $123 ($160 if he calls). That’s assuming he puts me on a pocket pair and not a set. If I have a set, he’s drawing dead. Pinata decides I have a pair and not a set based on the action. He makes a mathematical call.

Result: The turn and river are blanks, and I scoop a $160 pot.

Analysis: In terms of overall play, I think this hand was played well by both players. Both of us played at the second level, and we made proper plays based on the information. After a night of really playing badly, I salvaged a profit by playing very well for about 5 minutes.

“Bob” Makes a Tough Laydown on a Dangerous Board, 2/11/09 Game

As we all know, a huge part of winning poker is trusting your reads, then making the right plays based on those reads. Getting away from big made hands when you think (or know) that you’re beat will save you huge in the long run. “Bob” and I played for a rather large side pot on Wednesday. While my move pushed him out of a decent-sized pot with the best hand, I think he analyzed the hand correctly and made a good laydown given his read of the situation. While the video below might read as a successful bluff by EMG, I think it is a great example of a winning play by a good player. I’d like to think I could make that laydown (and I have in the past), but I’ve also lost plenty of huge pots by failing to go with my gut…

http://www.pokerhandreplays.com/flash/replayer.swf?pokerhandid=289535

Preflop: EMG middle position. His hand range for limping is rather wide. Given the tighter action at the table, he could have a medium pair, suited connectors, big cards, etc. In this case, he has AQ, which is an interesting play. Since he had been playing tight, limp-calling a moderate raise disguises the strength of his hand. In addition, in multi-way pots, a player can get away cheap on a flop that misses. Or, in the case of a raise and a big reraise, EMG can just throw his hand away rather than play a huge pot in middle position with AQ. Dooley has an okay hand with KJ offsuit. It is playable, but in position, he’s fine to pop it up to $2.50. Given his tighter image, he has a chance to scoop a quick $1.25 without a fight.

Fat Tony comes over the top for all of his chips on the short stack with AJ. I’m fine with this play. He is very likely to have the best hand right now. He is hoping for 2 live cards or a race against only 1 of the 2 remaining players. In this case, he is a 3:1 dog to EMG, but is a 3:1 favorite to Bob. EMG smooth calls a pretty large reraise after a limp. Bob should be suspicious about this play, but calling with 3.5:1 pot odds with big cards is an okay play here. The main pot is about $24.50, and EMG and Bob will play on the side.

The Flop: This is a scary flop for any hand that doesn’t hold a club. Even though Bob has an up-and-down straight draw, he could easily be beaten by a made flush/straight flush, the J of clubs is freerolling against him, and QJ has a made straight. EMG checks, so Bob wants to isolate for the main pot. His $10 bet is a little small, but he’s probing for information. He’s asking EMG, “Do you have a made hand or a big flush draw?”. EMG flat calls the raise, which probably says, “Yes, I have a big flush draw or a J.” The side pot is now $20, with the total pot around $44.50.

The Turn: Good news! You hit your straight with the Q. If EMG has a lone J, you are now crushing him with the nut straight. The Q is also not a club, meaning your opponent has not made a flush if he had the Ac or Kc. If I’m Bob, I feel pretty good about my situation. In a somewhat surprising move, EMG goes all in! You immediately have to replay the hand in your head. He limp-calls preflop, check-calls a decent bet on the flop, then pushes all in on the turn on that board? The likely hand range here: the made nut flush, AJ with a lone club, A-x with the Ac, a small made flush (like the 4c-5c), or KJ with a club. In real life, Bob thought about this for a long time before folding. It was an agonizing decision, and if he saw my cards, he would have instacalled. However, from his perspective, I played this very oddly, and he was completely caught off guard by the play.

The River: With Bob throwing away the best hand (correctly, as I noted), Fat Tony has the made straight, and it holds up for a decent pot. EMG scoops the side pot for a small net gain.

Analysis: Going through the hand from Bob’s perspective after the EMG all in, I have to eliminate the made flush. If EMG had the nut flush, he’d likely check-raise the turn to get all the chips in the middle. If he had a smaller flush, he’d probably fire on the flop and push the turn to protect his hand against a big club draw. If I’m in his shoes, I probably put him on a set of 8’s, maybe KJ with the Kc, or maybe a hand like A-10 or A-Q with the Qc. Getting 3:1 on my money, I am getting the right price. I’m almost certainly beating most hands he could have bet that way with. Folding is not the right play there mathematically unless I am definitive that he has a made flush. It is a ballsy play by EMG, and I let him off the hook. Regardless, I (Bob) definitely put it in my memory bank for the future.

From my perspective (as EMG), I read physical weakness in Bob when he called Fat Tony’s all in behind me pre-flop. Even so, I checked a scary board on the flop, hoping to get a free draw at my flush. I expected a bet from Bob, but I read definite uncertainty in the way he bet that $10 on the flop. I flat called with pot odds to hit my flush and with an idea that I could push all in on the turn and probably take the side pot. I probably should have went with my read and reraised there (representing a made flush) and taken it down. I played a little scared, and it could have cost me dearly. The Q was actually a bad card for me because it made my opponent’s hand and strengthened my own. My read was that Bob had J-10 with no clubs. I determined that I was about 80% likely to take the side pot right there with a shove, and I and might even be ahead of Fat Tony for the main pot. If I’m wrong, I still think I have the biggest club out there, so I have up to 9 outs on a redraw on the river.

Overall, that is a scary, scary board. It takes heart to fire out there to begin with, and it takes a ton of heart and discipline to make a fold like that. Hats off to Bob for playing well. Even though it turns out he didn’t make a correct decision based on the results, he made a read and trusted it. That is the important thing to take away here. Edit: In reading comments from others, Bob likely didn’t make the best play. With 3:1 pot odds, he pretty much has to call.

Overplaying QQ: Another Case Study

Let me start off by saying that I am a huge fan of QQ. Not only is it hot girl-on-girl action, it is a hugely powerful hand that can win you a big pot in NLHE. At the same time, it is beatable, and I have lost a lot of money with the hand. By sheer coincidence, Hulk busted early in a SNG tournament just yesterday by overplaying the hand. If played properly and in the right situations, QQ can do a lot for you. However, this situation last night is a clear case of overplaying the hand. It cost “Orange” his entire stack and may have caused him to tilt away more cash later.

http://www.pokerhandreplays.com/flash/replayer.swf?pokerhandid=287822

Preflop: As you can see in the graphic above, Orange raised to $3 UTG. Not a typical play by some standards, but in our 25/50 cent game, raised go from $2 preflop to $5 or even $6 depending on the number of players in the pot. By raising, Orange is trying to limit the chances of marginal hands calling (and beating him). He would prefer to play this hand heads up. The loose-aggressive Pinata calls, and the tight-aggressive (but also tricky) EMG raises to $10.25. With action folded back around, you have 2 options because you’re almost certainly not folding. You have significant set equity at the very least. You could also reraise if you put your opponent on a move. The fact that EMG reraised here should set off warning signals for Orange. While EMG will call preflop with a wide range of hands, why would he reraise preflop with 2 players already in the pot and field behind him and 5 players left to act? The hand range is small. AA, KK, QQ, maybe JJ, and maybe AK suited. QQ is unlikely, so you have to put him on AA or KK here. In this case, Orange smooth calls, a play that I agree with. There’s no need to pot commit yourself with QQ against 1 tighter-aggressive opponent with a loose-aggressive player behind. Pinata also calls, but he’s not getting reraised and can see a flop with a pot of $31.50 for $7.25 more, plus plenty of implied odds with some bigger stacks out there.

The Flop: Obviously, the flop missed you, but you have a big pair. The likelihood is that the flop missed EMG, but Pinata has to be watched. He could have flopped a straight draw, a set, or even 2 pair. In my opinion, you have to bet to see where you’re at. Going for 1/3 to 1/2 of the pot or so is the best way to go. If you have the best hand and your opponent has AK or JJ/10’s, you build the pot with a huge edge. You also get to read physical tells when your opponents think it through, and if you get reraised big, you can fold. Even if you get flat called by 1 or both opponents, you have 2 outs for a set, so there are implied odds. In this case, Orange tries to buy the pot with a $25 bet. I don’t see this as a good EV play. You’re likely only getting called by hands that are beating you, and if someone has a draw or a smallish pair, they’re probably not calling. You’re also pot committed with only $19.75 behind. Given the action, a huge overbet into 2 opponents, including a reraiser.

The Result: Here, Pinata folds (he was probably check-folding anyway), and EMG goes all in over the top. In this case, you have to know you’re beat. In a tournament, you have to call here with the size of the pot. In a cash game, you can just fold and reload. No need to throw good money after bad. Orange calls with his QQ and EMG has KK. EMG rakes in a giant pot, Orange has to reload anyway.

Analysis: Most of what needs to be said here has already been said. Orange played way too first level and overbet his hand without a clear value proposition. When I am playing my best (and I definitely wasn’t last night), I try to put my opponent on a hand range based on history, the betting action, and physical tells, then I try to plan out the hand in my head. There is also no shame in giving up a big pair or a made hand if you really think you’re beat. As Mike Caro says, “Poker players get paid to make the right decisions. Money you don’t lose needlessly is money won.” No hand is unbeatable, especially on that kind of flop. Poker is about people more than anything else, and you have to get to that second level (what does my opponent have?) in order to make money consistently. Orange is normally better than that, but we all have blowups. I’ve been there, and I know that he will remember how he felt when he saw those Cowboys, and he’ll learn and improve.