This is a mistake many of you may have not considered because you usually win the hand.

Let me set it up for you with an example, I was in the big blind a couple days ago with AQs, blinds are 50 100. There was one raiser for 300. I call. Flop comes down Q,8,3 rainbow. I check, he bets 300. I promptly raised all in 2000. He folds quickly. Pretty much your average winning hand.

Immediately I knew I made a mistake. The mistake being committing all my chips with the only possible calls being hands that beat me. Sure occasionally, I might catch a KQ here, but if get that call, I don’t want it.

So I order, what likely did he have. Being a raiser before the flop he likely had 2 big cards or a pair. Likely, didn’t have AA or KK because in this game, those were trapping cards, not a standard 3x big bet. Possible but unlikely. The bet on the flop told me he wanted to take it down right there. A good sized bet that represented the Q. There were no draws to speak of so I wasn’t worried there. I knew he wasn’t trapping with the joint, such as QQ or 88, because of the bet. Rarely will someone bet a big hand like that heads up on the flop from the button almost everyone traps, at least one round.

So what should I have done based on my read I had the prohibitive best hand here. Remember, I believe strongly you should gamble with the best hands you have not the worst.

In retrospect, I believe either a call or a raise to 600 was appropriate, both being better plays than an all in crash play.

The call would have extended a little rope for a truly aggressive play on the turn on his part to really take all his chips. The raise getting him to commit 300 more chips to get lucky then bet him out on the turn.

In this spot, taking the range of hands he could have had what are my odds of winning letting him have another card. If he had Kx he had 3 cards to hit, if he had an under pair he had 2 cards to hit, if he had AX he was drawing dead to one more card, if he had J10, J9, 109, he had 4 cards to hit. If my read was right, and I am sure it was based on the quick fold, he had anywhere from 0 to 10 percent chance of drawing out on me giving one more card. Now in a pot of a value of 950 chips is it worth giving some one a card for 300 chips when there average chance of drawing out on you is say 5%. The answer is an emphatic yes.

The other issue is giving him a chance to make an inferior hand he is really proud of. If he has Ax and hits the ace on the turn I get all his chips.

By the way, with 5 cards to hit in this situation, you actually have more chance to improve your hand than your opponent.

Lets just say your read is wrong and he has the joint, you’re screwed so don’t worry about it. Sign up for another.

One way you know your in sync with the game and playing well is how well you take the pots that are for sale cheap. For instance, the flop is rag, rag, rag in a 4 way pot, everyone checks, turn 1 more rag, what do you do? When you’re playing your confident A game you throw out a bet of about 2X the BB reflexively without even thinking about it. It doesn’t even matter what you have, you are playing pure poker, your hand is irrelevant.

Now when your playing your bad game, you will find yourself concentrating on your cards, your number of outs, the miracle you need on the river to begin to make a hand, the possibility that so and so is trapping with a set, the last time you played this hand and how that turned out and so on. In your bad game, see how the negative energy builds? In your B game you become so paralyzed you cant even bet, but somehow you can call. What irony.

Taking small pots when you should has benefits beyond a few chips. It keeps you focused, it positively reinforces your ability to win a pot, it maintains a table image of a winner, its just good poker and your emotions know it.

The larger picture is in your A game, you make a read and go with it, it allows you to make the big plays that build a big stack. You play confidently not arrogantly. You are focused, yet relaxed . Poker is fun and there’s nothing else you’d rather be doing.

So if you only have your bad game today, what do you do? First of all, if you cant turn it around quick, quit playing. Secondly, go exercise for a few minutes at least . It is amazing how much negativity can dissipate in a few minutes of hard exercise. Do 100 push ups or something. Thirdly, act as if you do have your A game, visualize a great win over and over, put as much detail as you can into your imagery, how did you body feel, what did you smell, what types of things did you hear, what were you drinking at the time, etc. You create your own reality. Reality, after all, is nothing more than what you choose to focus on. (some of you may recognize this as NLP, it is)

This post is incredibly easy to write. Coming off a big win last, the world seems a little cheerier. I love waking up a winner even if I am groggy from 3 hours of missed sleep. So how did I win? The above quote says it all.

I went all in over and over at the right times. I stole some pots with timely bets. I reraised the really big hands for large pots. AK stood up and was counted on my team. I was a player in all the pots and attacked the favorable situations. I stayed firmly focused on the goal, making that final table where all the money is.

What I didn’t do was focus on bad beats? Sure I had them, but they were just flesh wounds, not fatal. I didn’t think about all the previous loses on days gone by. I wasn’t worried about what you all thought if I lost ( well maybe a little, I did tell some of the guys in the chat I was likely to shove em all at anytime and I didn’t want any crap, if I lost)

I was in the elusive zone, so easy to imagine, so hard to achieve. Completely willing to go all in at any time without regret, yet only picking the best situations. Taking all the free pots as they were offered, not forcing the situation, just willing to accept the gifts gratefully. Patiently waiting for blessings, even at the final table.

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Win MTT Poker 09 - Big Hands, Stealing Pots
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