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Pocket Queens in the Big Blind

On Day One of the 2010 WSOP Main Event, at the ESPN televised table, the following hand came up.

With blinds at $150/$300, an aggressive and loose young player opened for $700, an older woman -- let's call her Lady X -- who was playing tight and passive called, two other players called, and I smooth called with a big hand - pocket queens.

The flop came 10c-9d-8s. I checked as did the other four players.

The Kd hit on the turn and I bet out $1,500. The kid and Lady X called and the other players folded.

The last card was the 6h. I checked and so did the kid, but the lady fired out $1,000.

I quickly mucked my hand. The kid, however, agonized before making the call. He probably thought that the lady's bet was so small that he had no choice but to look her up.

Well, Lady X showed down 8-8 and scooped the pot with a set of eights.

What happened here?

I like Lady X's $700 pre-flop call. That being said, since she had already established a reputation as a tight and passive player, it might have been better for her to raise in this spot, especially against a known loose and aggressive player who very possibly was playing a weak hand.

Here's a tip: If you're the tight and passive player at the table, occasionally use that image to win a few pots before the flop with a well-sized bet or reraise.

As to my quick pre-flop call, it was really a judgment call. Had I studied the hand for a while longer before making that call, an opponent might have assumed that I was actually pretty strong and was just trying to set a trap.

On the other hand, the math kids on the internet will probably argue that a raise with pocket queens was the better play. It's true, a raise of around $3,500 would have eliminated at least a few of my opponents, and might have allowed me to win the pot right there.

Okay, even I agree that a pre-flop raise would have been the preferred move about eighty percent of the time. But this was the Main Event and I was determined to play small ball poker! There was no good reason for me to risk a ton of chips with pocket queens early on in the biggest tournament in poker when I felt I could skate along and reach the $100,000 chip mark virtually risk-free.

As to my check on the flop, well, I probably missed an opportunity to bet there, but checking did give me some flexibility. If one opponent had bet and another had fired in a big raise, I could have easily folded. Or, if everyone had checked, I could have bet the turn with what would have looked like the best hand. And if only one opponent had bet, I could have raised or smooth called, depending on what my reading abilities were telling me at the time.

I absolutely hate Lady X's check on the flop. Why give the other players the chance to see a free card after you've just flopped a set? I realize that it was a semi-dangerous flop but she should have bet anyway. A bet of seventy percent of the pot would have been about right.

My $1,500 bet on the turn was acceptable. Everyone could have folded or I could have had the best hand, got called, and won the pot later - you never know.


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