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Poker : Pocket Tens with Big Blinds

One characteristic that I use to judge my own play is how often I move all-in and get called during any given poker tournament the fewer all-in shoves the better. By that measure, I played great poker in a $1,500 buy-in no limit Holdem event at this years World Series of Poker.

During Level 6, right before the dinner break, I went all-in and got called but luck was on my side as my As-10s outran my opponents A-Q when a ten hit on the river.

Fast forward to Level 23 on Day Three.

I hadnt been all-in and called since that ten hit me on the river. Now, with blinds at $10,000/$20,000 and only sixteen players remaining, I was sitting on a short stack with $260,000 in chips when this hand came up.

I peered down at 10-10. Everyone folded in front of me but four players behind were still in the pot, including the small and big blinds. I studied for a while before deciding to open for $65,000. The player directly behind me called and everyone else folded.

The flop came A-K-6. I checked as did my lone opponent. A seven fell on the turn. I bet $20,000 and got a call. A trey hit on the river. I checked, my rival bet $60,000, I called, and then he showed down K-J offsuit to collect the pot.

Lets take a closer look at this hand.

Todays internet math kids probably would have advised me to ship it all-in with my pocket tens, especially having only thirteen big blinds left in my stack. In fact, having that few big blinds remaining, theyd recommend shoving with a lot of hands from my position, including any pair, any ace-high, and even hands like king-high or Q-10.

Shove all-in with Q-10? Really? Well, heres their logic.

Even if I did get called, I probably wouldnt be in horrible shape. For example, had I been called by A-K, Id have been about a two-to-one underdog. If Id been called by A-J, Id only be a three-to-two dog. And if Id been called by pocket nines, Id be a very slim six-to-five underdog.

Perhaps most important, though, theyd argue that most times I wouldnt be called at all, and as a result, Id be looking at picking up $54,000 in blinds and antes virtually risk-free.

Look, I just felt like 10-10 was too powerful a hand to move all-in with so I decided to open for $65,000 instead. It was a big bet by internet poker standards but the traditional bet for brick-and-mortar play.

I hate my opponents $65,000 call with K-J offsuit. Id been playing super-tight, had studied the situation quite deliberately, and was seriously contemplating an all-in move. Also, K-J is nothing but trouble when you call-raise with it. And importantly, Im the type of player who could have easily punished my opponent for all his remaining chips.

I like my little $20,000 min-bet on the turn but a $45,000 bet might have been better. It would have offered more protection to my hand and would have let me know that I was beat when my opponent called.

On the river, my opponents $60,000 bet was a solid play. He correctly figured that I probably would have bet out if I had an ace.

As to my $60,000 call, I simply went with my read. Though I was wrong, I dont regret my decision.

Sadly, I went on to finish in fifteenth place when I moved all-in and was called for the first time in sixteen levels of play when my Q-9 fell to A-6.


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