The Problem with Playing Poker Too Aggressively

Back in 2005, at the World Poker Tour's World Poker Open Championship Event held in Tunica, Mississippi, 100 players remained from the starting field of 540 players when I witnessed this showdown hand between 2004 Player of the Year and perennial fan favorite, Daniel Negreanu, and 2003 Player of the Year, Chip Jett.

With the blinds at $500/$1,000 plus a $200 per player ante, Chip opened for $3,100 with Ah-8h and got a call from Daniel with Kc-Qc. That's when the deal got real interesting.

The flop came Jd-5c-3c and Daniel found himself with a pretty strong hand – a king-high flush draw and two overcards (his king and queen were higher than any of the cards on the board). Daniel pushed in an $8,000 bet.

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Chip took a few moments to carefully study the situation. At the time, he only had $22,000 chips left in front of him. Finally, he made his decision and announced, “I'm all-in.”

Daniel calmly replied that he had to make the call.

As soon as both hands were flipped up, I remember thinking that I hated Chip's play in this situation. What could he possibly be thinking? Well, probably this. Either he thought that Daniel's hand was weak enough that a $14,000 raise would get him to fold or that Daniel was on a drawing hand – in this case, probably a flush draw – and if so, that his own ace-high hole cards were probably in the lead.

But what Chip didn't fully consider was that Daniel's opening poker bet of $8,000 out of his considerable $90,000 chipstack was a clear message. Daniel was committed to playing his hand and would certainly be prepared to call a relatively small $14,000 raise from his opponent.

Bottom line: This simply was not a good spot for Chip to move all-in with nothing more than a bluff!

As it turned out, of course, Daniel indeed was on a drawing hand so a piece of Chip's plan was theoretically s till in play. And even though Daniel was on a draw, he was still the favorite. Chip's ace-high hand was the best on the flop but he was a three-to-two underdog to win the pot.

Daniel was the reigning Player of the Year and his bet deserved a little bit more respect. The better play would have been for Chip to throw his hand away and save his last $22,000 to fight another battle. He should have recognized that there just wasn't enough money in the pot when Daniel made his bet to justify playing out his bluffing hand.

I mean, was it really worth it for Chip to get involved in a pot that small with no pair and no draw? No, definitely not. Look, winning no-limit hold'em tournaments is all about choosing the right place and time to get your chips into the pot and this wasn't it.

In Chip's defense, though, he did make his play because he correctly figured that Daniel might be on a bluff. Perhaps he sensed some weakness in Daniel's $8,000 bet and acte d on his hunch. In fact, Daniel was on a semi-bluff with his flush draw but he was still plenty capable of betting in this situation.

Chip Jett simply made a bad read; he mistakenly thought that Daniel Negreanu was weaker than he really was.

How does the story end? Well, the 7c hit on the next card to give Daniel his flush and Chip was eliminated in 100th place. Daniel went on to make the final table and eventually ended the tournament with a very respectable third place finish.

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