The beauty of poker is that 10 players could play the same hand 10 different ways. Granted, most of us would raise with aces preflop, but the amounts might be different. Or maybe the way we'd play them against different opponents would change our strategy.
The World Series of Poker always provides a venue for the best of the game to succeed. The structures often make luck take a backseat to skill. This week, we really see skill step forward at the final table of one of the preliminary events. Bluff's managing editor Lance Bradley joins me for this week's debate.
Leave your feedback on this week's debate and your response could be featured in the next debate column.
Let the debate begin ...
Situation: In a mixed no-limit hold 'em/limit hold 'em tournament, our hero is sitting in the small blind three-handed. After a button raise with the blinds at $30,000/$60,000, hero looks down to see 8-8.
Bradley: Given that the button could be raising with any connected or suited cards, it's important to reraise to take the lead in the betting.
Feldman: I think you're right here, especially with an aggressive player still left to act. In limit hold 'em we also want to get as many chips in if we have a solid hand. Granted pocket eights aren't stellar, but I think it is important to try to isolate with a reraise.
Bradley:Our hero is also taking advantage of the fact he's at the table with two players whose best game is no-limit hold 'em. With the limit his reraise is also putting him in position to outplay his opponent on the flop.
Feldman: There's no doubt in my mind he should raise here, but doing so also puts him in a tough position postflop being first to act (if either player calls).
Action: Hero raises to $90,000.
Feldman: Hero felt the same as we did and that he had to raise in order to reinforce a strong image preflop. Given the fact that it's limit poker, I would assume that the button definitely calls, but the big blind might have to wake up with something to join the party.
Bradley: Calling two bets here with another aggressive player to act might be considered foolish, but the big blind shows little fear in situations like this and may feel that the button can't raise.
Action: The big blind calls, as does the button. The flop is 4s-Ah-5d.
Feldman: Well, if he reraised preflop, he has to continuation bet here and hopefully his opponents will put him on an ace.
Bradley: It's not a terrible flop for our hero, with no flush or realistic straight draws out there. He has to bet here and find out exactly where his opponents are while still keeping the pressure on.
Feldman: Absolutely, plus, if he receives any pushback, he'll know that he's in bad shape.
Action: Hero leads out for $30,000 and the big blind calls. The button decides to fold. The turn is a 7d.
Feldman: Now our hero has a tough decision to make. Our hero made a continuation bet and was called. His opponent is trying to represent at least a pair in this situation and given the fact that he called a raise, it would seem probable that he has an ace. Should hero shut down or bet again?
Bradley: Our hero is still confident that he's in a pot with an aggressive player capable of getting this far without a hand so I don't think he can give up control just yet.
Feldman: I agree and I think he should bet again. If his opponent has a four, five or drawing hand, I'd expect him to come along to the river, given the pot odds, so he might as well bet to see if he can get some additional value. If his opponent has an ace, I'd expect a reraise from him, but in any case, we know his opponent has aggressive tendencies and might raise with air.
Bradley: Right. If his opponent does have an ace, he'd have to reraise here unless he was 100 percent sure his kicker was good. However, if his hand was that strong, ace-king or maybe ace-queen, his preflop action would have been much different.
Action: Hero checks and his opponent bets $60,000.
Feldman: Our hero gave up control over this pot and now has to figure out where he stands. By checking here, he has to understand that his opponent would fire anyway. That under consideration, what does he think his opponent has? If hero has his opponent on an ace, he has to fold. If he has him on anything else, he needs to make the call here and go to the river. Remember, he also has a gutshot straight draw in addition to his pair.
Bradley: Our hero could also use this opportunity to check-raise provided he put his opponent on any pair other than the ace. If he's thinking that he does have an ace he can call and hope the river is an eight or six.
Feldman: But do you really check-raise in a situation where you have second pair given all the action up to this point? I think this is a clear fold or call situation with the big asterisk that if your hand doesn't improve, or an undercard hits the board, you need to get out of the way.
Bradley: Against a random opponent, you're right. But the range of hands this opponent plays is very high -- even with the preflop shenanigans. The best way to counter that aggression might be more aggression here. I'm not advocating it as the best play, but it's certainly worth considering depending on how strong your read is on your opponent's hand.
Action: Hero makes the call and the river is the queen of clubs.
Feldman: The queen was probably a card that our hero didn't want to see. In no way did he improve and with another overcard hitting the board, the chances that his eights are best now greatly decrease.
Bradley: His only action here is to check-fold. If he bets he's throwing away a bet and he has to know that. His only hope is that his opponent checks and the eights hold up.
Action: Hero checks and his opponent bets $60,000.
Feldman: He's getting an amazing price to make the call here, but saving bets is extremely important in limit poker. Do you call $60,000 for a chance to win $570,000? Even if he's wrong, how much is the information worth?
Bradley: Knowing that he's beat (and that he doesn't want to give away the information of what he held), it's an easy fold.
So what happened?: Our hero, Erick Lindgren, made the laydown and folded his pocket eights. His opponent, Justin Bonomo, turned out to have rivered two pair with Q-7. Click the video to watch the hand in action during the Planters Good Instinct Moment.
What would you do if you were in this situation? Leave your comments below and we'll take a look at your thoughts next time.