Untitled Document Hard poker truth: You must have the discipline to fold, perhaps up to 80 percent of the time.

Harder poker truth: You must have the discipline to fold with pocket jacks.

Jacks, you see, are just good enough to get you excited and just bad enough to get you wiped out, even when your jacks are an overpair to the board.

So you have to be good to make a big laydown, because there is much to consider, as Scott Fischman displayed in a recent no-limit hold ’em tournament.

Fischman, a 20-something who quickly became one of the top players in the game and has two World Series of Poker bracelets if you need proof, was one of the chip leaders when he drew wired jacks.

With the blinds at $1,500-$3,000 and a $400 ante, Fischman made it $8,000 to go. Billy Duarte smooth-called the $5,000 raise, as did Jeremy Tinsley in the big blind.

The flop came 7-2-2. Tinsley checked to Fischman, who bet $14,000, a strong play representing about half the pot. Duarte folded, but Tinsley check-raised Fischman $28,000.

Now, Fischman had to re-evaluate the strength of his big pocket pair, and he had to start by re-evaluating his opponent, also one of the chip leaders.

"I know Jeremy is a super-solid player," said Fischman, who represents imallinwear.com, a line of poker gear. "He never gets out of line. I thought about it. I don’t think he’ll check-raise me with a deuce right here. Then I kind of figured after thinking about it over and over, I knew he read me for having a big pair."

Next, Fischman had to read Tinsley’s check-raise for the minimum amount. Sometimes, it shows strength. Other times, it’s a probing move to see if the other player was trying to steal the pot.

"He wanted me to come back over the top of him and he knew I had a big hand," Fischman said. "He didn’t think there was any way I could fold a big pair there, so there’s no point in him slow-playing.

"If he slow-plays, and say I have kings or queens, and an ace comes on the turn, it’s going to scare me.

"When I knew that he knew that I had a big pair, I had to fold. He showed me pocket 7s. He flopped a full house."

Poker is a game of incomplete information. For Fischman, it was even more incomplete.

But Fischman knew this much: He had no idea what his opponent held, but he knew that his solid opponent, who also was one of the chip leaders and would not try to bluff another chip leader, had nailed down Fischman’s hand and was betting as if he could beat it, and maybe beat it for big money if Fischman didn’t have the discipline to know when to lay down even jacks.


Smooth-call: Calling a bet or a raise with a strong hand as a way of enticing other players to join the pot.

(Steve Rosenbloom is a sports columnist for the Chicago Tribune. He can be reached at srosenbloom@tribune.com.)

© 2005, Chicago Tribune. Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.