$175,000 cash in Punta Cana
At the last minute, I decided to travel to Punta Cana to play the Party Poker Caribbean Poker Party, mainly because they added what I hoped to be a juicy $10,000 and $25,000 buy-in event. I hopped in the first event, the $10,000, and while it was far from juicy (it consisted of almost entirely pros!), I managed to run well and take 2nd for $175,000. That is nice!
Below are the two parts of the video. I have included times to some of my fun hands, as well as my brief thoughts. If you have questions about any of my other hands, feel free to ask in the comments section below.
My tiny flop bet was quite standard on dry boards that should connect well with my range. The turn provides an interesting scenario where I would generally like to bet large to apply immense ICM pressure to Hallaert’s medium stack (Sonthemier had a short stack of about 10 big blinds). Also, in general, Hallaert will almost never fold an Ace and I don’t mind if he folds a draw, so the only hands a big turn bet misses value from are marginal pairs that likely won’t pay off a turn and river bet anyway.
I thought I could open a bit wide due to ICM pressure because Greenwood and especially LeFrancois have to fear going broke before Sonthemier. That said, my open is probably a bit too loose, given Greenwood can play and not risk going broke. I like Greenwood’s call with A-A as it gives both blinds the chance to push much wider compared to if he 3-bet.
Once Papazian limps, my preflop raise for value is fine and normal. On the flop, I can either check or bet. In general, I like betting when you can force your opponent to fold most of his misses (again due to ICM pressure). Also, I have lots of backdoor draws. I could keep betting the turn to try to make him fold all his hands worse than a Jack, but I decided not to this time, given my hand has some showdown value.
The river is a tough spot because, in reality, I would probably keep betting Q-9 and 9-7 on the turn, although he can’t know that for sure. I would definitely check T-T on the turn and raise the river. When developing a bluffing range on the river, I must be sure to consider all my hands containing a 9. Most of my range on the river should either call or fold, and should rarely raise, but given I could have some effective nut hands, I should bluff from time to time. Since I have almost no better hands containing a 9 to bluff with (unless I find myself in this spot with 9-3 and 9-2), I think going for it is fine. This time, he had absolutely nothing, but I wonder if he would have folded top pair.
K-3s is again probably too loose to open, but I thought Stokkan was playing a bit too tight in the big blind. While that may be true, from watching the replay, he simply didn’t get many playable hands.
This is a fine spot to 3-bet with the intention of folding to an all-in, regardless of ICM pressure. Calling would be fairly insane unless I expected him to be pushing with lots of A-xs.
I found myself in lots of river spots with marginal made hands at this final table. I think this one was the closest to a fold due to having the Queen of diamonds in my hand. Looking back, I probably should have folded this one, mainly because he would likely not value bet with a worse hand and I block so many of his bluffs.
I am not going to address the other “incorrect” calls because I think those were much more reasonable. Some people may see my calls and think “No one is going to bluff you because you call every time.” While it may appear like that, I did fold correctly and incorrectly a few times and in general, you simply have to call against strong players with bluff catchers some portion of the time because they are good enough to bluff the correct amount of the time. Remember, I am playing against some of the best players in the world, not straightforward nits.
Here is Part Two:
There is no way he should fold on the river. I for sure push all straights, as he almost certainly does not have K-T. Sometimes you just get unlucky.
I have been experimenting with 3-betting A-x, K-x, Q-x, and J-x some portion of the time from the big blind when facing late position raises. Online kids tell me it is good. It worked amazingly well. My flop bet is mandatory and my turn bet is probably fine, given I turned a draw.
I think both betting and checking the river are fine. I have the best hand on the river a ton, but when I bet and get called or raised, I am not so sure. It is quite easy for him to have a 7 or flush.
This is probably an easy fold on the river. I could easily have a 4, flush, or Queen (that had a backdoor flush draw). His only bluffs should be the gutshots that did not make a flush. He is also likely good enough to value bet a Queen and possibly a Jack that had a backdoor flush draw on the flop. That said, he has to be careful to not bluff too often because the range I arrive at the river with should be quite strong.
Leading top two pair on a draw-heavy board is nice, given I would also lead some semi-bluffs.
Heads-up lasted quite a while. I am not going to go through all the hands, but in general, Stokkan held over me and when that happens, you are simply not going to win without winning lots of all-ins.
I will address the bustout hand where he open pushed for 27 big blinds because lots of people on Twitter (@JonathanLittle) thought my call with 3-3 was insane, mostly citing “What are you ahead of?!?” While he had pushed a few previous hands for about 25 big blinds I thought his pushing range looked something like this:
Given I needed to win about 48.5% of the time to break even, if my assumptions are correct, this is an easy call because I will win 52% of the time. Even if he is pushing with a much wider range, I still have 50%:
In spots like this, it is important to try to construct a reasonable range that you are not getting the correct pot odds against and see if that range is anywhere near reality. Basically, he has to be pushing with almost entirely overpairs and strong big cards, while also not pushing A-x. That simply isn’t practical, so this is a somewhat easy call.
Some players may be thinking that getting in with between 50% and 52% equity when you need to win 48.5% of the time is not a big enough edge to justify calling off for all your money, but remember, Stokkan is a world-class player. He could very easily have an edge in this match. If we are equally skilled, I should be thrilled to take any profitable spot I can find, and that is exactly what I have here. So, I called and lost to A-5. Seeing A-5 makes me at least somewhat confident in the range I gave him (as did seeing him previously push A-4, A-4, and A-8 in the video). Seeing something like 8-8 or A-J would have made me feel much worse.
That is all I have for today. I hope you enjoyed this blog post. I will likely have a full video blog recounting the trip ready to share with next week. Thanks for reading!