Blind’ed at HSP
“High Stakes Poker” on Game Show Network is a one-hour television program that is basically a high-stakes, no-limit Hold ’em cash game, where the minimum buy-in is $100,000. We shot 12 episodes of “HSP” over three days. On Day 2, the players were: Daniel “Kid Poker” Negreanu, Jennifer Harman, Sammy Farha, Bob Safai, Eli Elezra, Brandon Adams, Jamie Gold, and, of course, yours truly.
With the blinds at $300-$600, we had two noteworthy pots come up. But before I begin telling the tale of these two hands, I should add that almost every pot had the “live $1,200” blind on it, which means that the player to the left of the blinds voluntarily put up $1,200 as a third blind, and that that player then retained the option of raising it up. A “live blind” — sometimes referred to as a “straddle” — doubles the size of the game. It is often employed by someone losing a lot of money who’s hoping to get lucky and win a big pot.
On the first hand, I was the small $300 blind, Harman was the big $600 blind, Adams put the “live $1,200” blind up, and then Farha put the “live $2,400” fourth blind up. Farha wanted to gamble! Safai called the $2,400 with Ad-10d, Elezra called with 8s-5s, Negreanu called with Ac-4s, and then I looked down at pocket queens. I decided that the game was wild, and thus I decided to try to win the pot right then and there or at least charge my crazed opponents a lot of money to try to beat me. So I called $2,400, and raised it up a whopping $25,000 more! Farha called $25,000 more with Kc-7s, and everyone else folded. The flop was Kd-9d-4h, I checked and Farha checked. The turn card was the Js, I checked, Farha bet $50,000 and then I called. The river was the 8c, I checked, Farha bet $75,000 and I studied awhile before I folded.
Let’s take a closer look at this hand. I do not mind Safai’s $2,400 call with Ad-10d or Elezra’s $2,400 call with 8s-5s, but Negreanu’s $2,400 call was a little bit too loose in my book; still it wasn’t a bad play as Negreanu was on the button, and thus in great position. My $25,000 raise would normally be way too much to raise it up, especially because the pot only had $14,000 in it. Most times I would like to see a $10,000-$14,000 raise with pocket queens in this spot. However, this game was off the hook, and players were calling huge bets with weak hands in order to try to get lucky and win a big pot. So my big raise was designed to clear the field and protect my hand. I hate Farha’s call with K-7 off suit!
Farha was in early position, and he knew that I had a super strong hand. I guess that he called the bet in order to try to outplay me later. Thing is, K-7 is just not the hand that you want to play for a huge raise before the flop. K-7 is simply too likely to be dominated (like when I have A-K or K-Q), or to be a 2-1/2-to-1 underdog (when I have a pocket pair between pocket sevens and pocket queens). On the flop, I like both of our checks. On the turn, I like my check as it simultaneously keeps my loss down — if Farha has a king — and induces a bluff from Farha. I love Farha’s $50,000 bet, and my call was a natural one. On the river, my check was by the book, and Farha’s $75,000 bet was genius. He somehow knew that his kings were the best hand, and he bet an amount that I could easily call. I made a really nice fold on the end when I decided to trust my instincts and my read on Farha, which was this: Farha seemed like he wanted me to call!
The second pot of note came up the very next hand. Farha put the “$1,200 straddle” on, and Gold called $1,200 with A-K. Everyone else folded to me, and I loudly announced, “Raise it again!” And then I pounded out $9,000 in chips with my Ad-Qd. Since I had just lost a big pot to Farha the hand before and now I had another strong hand, I shouted a bit and forcefully pounded the chips on the table because I wanted it to seem like I was on tilt (emotionally off keel). Harman made it $32,000 to go with the Js-Jd. Gold studied for a full minute before he moved all-in for $263,600. I folded immediately, and Harman studied for awhile. It would cost Harman her last $120,000 to call. Finally she folded. I feel like we all played this hand well. Gold was sneaky, then properly aggressive (after all, Harman didn’t have A-A or K-K, and he forced her to fold); I was deceptive; and Harman made a good reraise, and then she was forced to fold.
A “Live blind” is:
A) A straddle.
B) A third blind.
C) A fourth blind.
D) All of the above.