The skilled Player: finding the Superpower within to let go of strong hands
AA v KK (an amusing casino story)
Let me begin by talking about a trip with some friends long ago to Brighton Casino to play in a £20 buy in poker tournament. We were all still attending a sports course at University then. I proudly finished fifth in the tournament (and therefore better than my two friends who were both already knocked out by that time) and cashed in for £120.
I went to join my friends over to a table at the far end of the room where they had begun to play a very relaxed side cash game with two or three other poker players, also early knock outs, who they had befriended. After a few minutes, one of my friends, blonde haired James, headed off to the toilet. As soon as he did, one of the strangers we played with suddenly whipped up all the cards and ushered us in.
Bob said: "let's have a bit of a laugh with James there." "Ooookaaay." we said, looking uncertainly at each other. He quickly arranged the cards so that when James returned he would find that the first hand he picked up would be the cowboys (KK). The only thing is, the stranger (called Bob) had given me the AA which he had shown to the rest of the guys! We all suppressed our laughter as James looked at his hole cards and almost jumped out of his seat. I stared down at AA. The flop came A K 2 giving us both a set, me top set, and I really struggled to stop myself grinning like a Cheshire Cat or burst out laughing at this point, and as I looked around I saw the same expression on everyone else's faces. The turn card came an A and then a river was a K giving us both quads (surely he must have figured it out by then) but poor James proceeded to go all in for all his money. Of course I called him as I was supposed to and as I showed the AA saw him stare dumbly at my cards while he held quad KKs ...it took him a few seconds until he smiled and realised he had been had!
A bit naughty of us of course but it was funny at the time and don't worry, no one lost any money in this hand, it was all given back to him. Motto of the story: beware even of your friends in a Poker game in a casino while leaving the table for the WC! But should James have folded? Don't be silly...he had quads KK...of course he shouldn't!
BE CAREFUL NOT TO PLAY 'TOO TIGHT' DILEMMA
At University the same two friends James and Duncan and I used to head off together either to the Casino or a card room in a nearby city to play cards, if we didn't fancy the local games that happened in some underground grimy pub somewhere in Eastbourne. I fancied myself as a bit of a player, but in these events every time I would get knocked out of the tournament about mid way through. And get as angry as the 'poker brat' himself, embarrassingly storming out of the card room. Why was I getting run over so easily? In reality, I was folding too much. I was far too easy to read.
As Helmuth would say, I was a mouse. The secret to folding is to get the balance and the timing right. If you fold too much, you are easy to read and prone to get bullied (like I was) because you only go in with big cards and so other players either fold to your 'meaningful' raise or attempt to steal the pot from you with raises on the flop and the turn if they sense your weakness by missing with say AK or AQ.
On the flip side, if you don't fold enough then you can get in to trouble as well, so the aim is to get somewhere in the middle. In the article I recently read (blackrain79.com), the writer quotes Ed Miller in his poker book 1% who suggests you should be folding about 70% percent of the time and playing 30%. I definitely agree with this as otherwise you'll make it too easy for your opponents. Sometimes chase down gut shot straight draws due to implied odds even if you don't always make it. Sometimes call flop and turn bets so as not to make it an easy ride for the other players, otherwise they know they can dominate you!
THE MASTER PLAYER'S WISE FOLD WHEN THE TIME IS RIGHT
However, while it it can be good to make it more difficult for opponents by calling or raising their bets, sometimes by making very timely folds this can be a very good thing for your own tournament survival, which is crucial of course.
I've been checking out the top five best folds to highlight this point, as all of these players survived to play another hand...
Here were my favourite 3, in order from third to best.
Number 3: STANDARD FOLD
3. Grospelier QJ 💎 v Tan's hand of A 💎 Q ♥️ . Grospelier bet strong pre flop, then bet the flop of 2 7 Q and got re raised, but managed to lay his hand down...okay this one was easy.
Number 2: PRETTY IMPRESSIVE 1. Two final table players Dimov with 10 ❤️ 8 ♥️ v Parlafes' Q ♣️ 8 💎 on a final deck of 7 ♣️ 9 ♠️ 2 ♠️ 6 ♣️ 5 ♥️ giving both players a straight, but Dimov the absolute nuts!! Dimov (pretending to look super bored) makes a final raise of 1.2 million and somehow his opponents Parlafes manages to get away from this one! Top player. Truly top fold.
Number ONE: ABSOLUTELY STUNNINGLY AMAZING 1. Finally, the best lay down I've seen so far. Dutch Poker player Van Den Blijgaart with A ♥️ 9 ♥️ v Wilinofsky's pocket AA on a flop of A ♠️ 2 ♣️ 9 ♣️ and gets put all in (drawing dead, after Van Den Blijgaart had put almost a third of his stack in already). After ages of thinking somehow the Dutchman folded top two pair here!
Phil Helmuth: A great fold in a tournament can be the difference between winning or a losing a WSOP title
Helmuth highlights this point in his book 'Play Poker Like the Pro's' when he says: 'In NLH all manner of plays are possible. You can fold K-K before the flop or move all in with 7-2 off-suit, bluffing before the flop, if your judgement is good enough. By the way, I've folded K-K before the flop only a few times and every time I did I was right, they had A-A! One thing you'll learn as you play more Poker is that when someone has the best possible hand, he or she is often easily readable.'
MASSIVE LAY DOWNS KK V AA AGAIN
Thinking about folding pocket kings? Very, very rarely, but it has been done! I never have. According to the article by blackrain79.com if you ever encounter the difficult decision of folding KK preflop (because you think you are facing AA) you should think about where the action is. To put it simply, if you sense real genuine strength and the betting comes from early position you may have to fold, but the advice from the article is that from late position raises NEVER fold your kings (cowboys). Players are naturally prone to bet with a much wider range from late position, and not so from early position.
Thanks for reading everyone - I'm really enjoying reading all the latest posts coming in. Good luck at the tables.