Hey all. Just got back from a very long weekend in Vegas. I was there to check out a condo my Mom is buying and of course grind some poker. I had a blast on the trip, but the poker result was not what I wanted it to be. A couple of good things did happen so at least there was some good news finally about poker.

First of all, I have to send out props to my friend Nipun, who finished 6th in the 3 day Wynn Classic. The buy in was $550.00 and had a $250k guaranteed prize fund. There were 3 starting days and the event lasted a total of 5 days.

Nipun played great all 3 days and kept the mistakes down to a bare minimum. He stepped on the gas when he needed to but did not spaz out like a lot of the Internet Kids do. Nipun spends a lot of his time studying the game by watching videos from training sites and reading the 2+2 message boards. He knows he is good but is always trying to get better. All of his hard work is paying off by making deep runs in big events. He will win a title in something very soon. Congrats bro on the run and even though you only got 10k instead of the 50k, it still was a nice score.

Nipun is in seat 1.

On Sunday night before the final table, Nipun, Rick, and I met at the Venetian to have a beer and discuss Day 2 that Nipun just played. We got into a deep discussion about some hands and a very interesting concept came up that I wanted to talk about.

We were talking about a hand I actually played that day at Caesars in the $240.00 Winter Classic. I missed cashing by 10 when my AQ lost to KQ AIPF when he made a straight on the river. It was a standard spot but that wasn’t the hand we discussed. It was about a hand where I raised pre, got 2 callers, and flopped middle set on a draw heavy board. They both checked, I bet a little less than half pot, first guy folded, and the second guy made a big check raise. I thought about raising or flatting, and this is where the concept came up.

The concept is this:

Nipun read a book written by a heads up specialist that said there are meaningless spots that come up in poker and there are meaningful things that you should be working on in reference to your game instead of worrying about these smaller decisions.

My small decision came in my hand when I decided to raise him after he raised my C bet. What amount is the perfect amount? Min click it back, 2.5x, 3x, or just jam? All three of these amounts would have been fine, but the bigger question is what was I trying to accomplish? Every bet you ever make in poker has to have a reason behind it. You should NEVER just bet to bet.

We talked about the amount and then realized it really didn’t matter. The thing that mattered was that I had worked on my game enough that I knew exactly what I wanted to accomplish. This was the meaningful part. In the old days I would have bet to protect my hand against the draws and get a better hand to fold. Now, I want to get him to stick his stack in because I am ahead and if you are ahead in the hand, you never want him to fold. You don’t win money or chips by getting the worse hand to fold. It does suck when you get it in and they hit the draw and beat you, but trust me, getting it in good more times then getting it in bad will be very profitable in the long run.

So once we looked at the hand after discussing this concept, we all agreed my raise size just didn’t matter. I did end up raising a little under 3x because I felt he had a hand he wasn’t going to fold and I wanted to get him to commit his stack right now and hopefully just jam it in on the flop. He tanked a little, and did end up jamming. I snapped and stacked him. He did have top pair top kicker but really no draw. He was almost drawing dead which was good for me.

Another concept I want to discuss is about when bad players make a big bet like this guy did when he raised my flop bet. In my hand, the blinds were 100-200 and I had about 22k and he had about 24k to start the hand. There were a couple of limps early, and I raised to 750 with 1010 on the button. A good player in the SB called, the first limper folded, and our villain called. The pot was 2650 pre flop which was pretty bloated already.

Flop was Q10hh6c. They checked to me and I bet 1250. Not a great bet size. I should have bet at least half pot or maybe more to try and not only build a big pot but to make the draws pay a little more but this amount really didn’t matter (small decision).

After I bet, SB folded and the villain made it 3600. So before he made his raise, there were 13bb pre, I bet 6bb more, and he raised 18bb, which was basically a pot sized bet.

Now to the concept. When a player in the lower levels makes a pot sized bet, they are NEVER folding on the street when they make the bet. They have a strong enough hand to not only make a huge raise like that but to call a big chunk of their stack, if not all of their stack if you shove. Sometimes people to get a little scared when they hear the words all in, but most of the time it really doesn’t matter. They think they have the best hand and they are willing to commit and just go with it at this time.

The lesson to be learned is this…when you see a player make a bet like this, he has a big hand and if you think your hand is bigger, raise an amount that you think you will get him to shove and beat him in the pot when he does shove. On the flip side, if you have a mediocre hand that you don’t want to play a big pot with or you need to hit your draw to win, release it and move on.

For all you results oriented players reading this, I raised back to 10k, he tanked for 20-30 seconds, stacked his chips and jammed. I snapped and he had AQo. He was almost drawing dead. It did come running hearts so I am glad we got it in there because the hearts would have killed my action. I will discuss action killers in a future blog.

By the way, I learned this concept from Bart Hanson on one if his podcasts. He is a very good poker player and makes a living playing 5/10 at Commerce. He is also a great teacher and a solid hand reader.

As for the rest of my trip, even though I didn’t win anything, I felt I played really well. Playing in a couple $100.00 events got my confidence back up to where it should be. I had been down on myself this year due to the bad results I was getting, but after this trip I know I am a good player and this bad run of luck will turn around. I just need to grind through the bad variance and let it run it’s course. Hopefully it ends before Rincon in a few weeks because I really want to make a deep run and take a shot at getting a lot of points for the million dollar WSOPC free roll in May.

Lastly, I wanted to let everyone know I met with John Kim on Monday for lunch. He is the owner of StackemCoaching. Stackem is the website I am becoming a feature student on starting in the next couple of weeks. John is a great guy and dedicated family man. I truly respect him now as a person, not just a great poker player. I am looking forward to getting trained by him and Joe Tehan. It will be fun and they will make me a better poker player.

Thanks again for reading this and have a great week.

Dan

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