The pros have a term for it: land mines. That’s what they call the flood of Internet players and newbies who confound them by playing unorthodox hands in big ways.
The most frustrating part to pros – and by contrast, the biggest advantage that less experienced players have – is that it hurts the pros’ ability to put opponents on a hand, one of their defining assets.
“The land mines are the people who get in there and truly don’t know what they’re doing, and they will blow you up,” poker pro Clonie Gowen says. “You will lose all your chips to them because no matter what you’re doing, they don’t understand what you’re doing, and so they don’t have that same thought process as you, so they are coming in with inferior hands that can totally cripple you.”
In the 2004 World Poker Tour Championship at the Bellagio in Las Vegas, Gowen had about $74,000 near the end of the first day, leaving her in good position to make a move in Day 2. She picked up pocket eights in late position.
With blinds at $500-$1,000 and $50 antes, Gowen made it $3,000 to go. Only the big blind called.
“It’s a young guy,” says Gowen, who is part of FullTiltPoker.com. “That’s usually a good thing when a young guy calls, because older men always seem to give women more respect than younger guys. Younger guys just can’t be beaten by a woman.”
The flop came Q-8-4, two spades, giving Gowen a set of 8s. The big blind checked. Gowen bet out $5,000. The big blind came over the top with a raise of $6,000.
“When he does this, I know I’m not looking at a set of queens,” Gowen says. “I put him on a draw, because a set of queens wants me in there; they don’t want to reraise me at that point to have me drop out.
“I reraise him another $15,000. At the start of the hand, he had about $250,000 to my $74,000. He instantaneously without even thinking reraises me another $50,000, which gets me all in if I make the call. I make the call because I’ve already put him on a draw, a spade draw.
“He goes, ‘Well, I guess I’m going to need some help with this hand,’ and he turns over a 9-10 offsuit.”
Gowen’s opponent was semi-bluffing with a draw, but not even a flush draw. He was betting about one-third of his stack on a less-inviting gutshot straight draw that left him almost a 6-1 underdog.
The turn came a 6, giving the big blind a double-bellybuster, but still leaving him a dog of more than 4-1 to a 7 or a jack to make the straight. The river came a 7.
“Boom, I hit a land mine,” Gowen says. “He busted me. “There was no reason I should go broke with that kind of blind structure with a guy hitting a miracle.
“With all the Internet players coming in, your game has to adjust. It has to adjust to them. You have to avoid the land mines.”
Gaming: Poker [Land Mines]
Land Mines: Adjusting Your Game for Play With Newbies
By Steve Rosenbloom
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Article posted on 3/29/2006
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