Shannon Kicks Behind!
A few weeks back, I went to pick up tennis star James Blake and two of his friends to take them over to the Bay 101 card club, in San Jose, for some poker action.
In my last column, I talked about how Blake had busted me twice, and then bluffed me in a poker session a few days earlier, sigh.
When I arrived to pick up Blake and friends, I was pleasantly surprised to see that actress Shannon Elizabeth was with him. Elizabeth knows her way around a poker table, and she has spent quite a bit of time on the poker tour. In fact, when we walked into the Bay 101, the first thing that we saw was a “Shooting Stars” World Poker Tour poster with Elizabeth’s picture on it. (On March 9, Elizabeth and other top poker pros and I will be playing in the World Poker Tour Shooting Stars at the Bay 101, with a $10,000 bounty on our heads. If you bust one of the shooting stars, then you collect $10,000 in cash.)
We decided to play spread-limit Hold ’em, with $3-$5 blinds. Spread-limit is basically no-limit, except that the most you can bet is $200 (as per the local laws of San Jose). Also, the max buy-in is $200.
As the game progressed, Elizabeth was having a great time, but she was a bit annoyed at Player A — one of the players at our table — because he kept moving all-in.
If the pot had $30 in it, then Player A would bet his last $170. And Player A was moving all-in quite often. When you have a player at your table moving all-in too often, it really does disrupt the flow of the game. No one can call a $30 bet into a $30 pot with a drawing hand, like a straight draw or a flush draw. It makes you commit all or nothing, and in the case of calling with a drawing hand, the wise choice is nothing (folding). Thus Player A was forcing us to fold an abnormal number of hands (which makes playing Hold ’em more boring, and thus less fun), with not much benefit to Player A. Yes, Player A was winning a lot of pots, but they were all small ones, and they were won with great risk to his stack, as the following hand will show.
In first position, Elizabeth made it $15 to go with K-Q, Player A called on the button, Blake called in the small blind, and I called in the big blind. The flop was Qh-8h-6s, Blake and I checked, Elizabeth bet out $35, and Player A moved all-in for $220 or so. Blake and I folded and Elizabeth insta-called (a poker term meaning that she called very quickly, which also indicates she was very strong). The next card was the 5d, followed by the Jh. Most of the straight draws had hit (10-9 and 9-7) and the flush draw also hit (a heart), as well as a dangerous looking jack, which meant that Q-J would now beat Elizabeth as well. It didn’t look good for Elizabeth as she flipped over her K-Q, and politely asked Player A, “What do you have?” Player A replied, “That’s good, I have a queen as well, but with a 10 kicker.” I think that Elizabeth was especially happy to bust Player A, because his reckless style was disrupting the flow of the game, and annoying her. Blake then said, “Remind not to annoy you!”
Let’s take a closer look at this hand. I like Elizabeth’s opening raise of $15 to go with K-Q, although $20 to go would have worked just as well. I don’t mind Player A’s $15 call with Q-10 on the button. On the flop, I like Elizabeth’s lead out bet of $35 into about a $60 pot. Some pros would say that she should bet more on the flop in order to protect her hand from losing to a drawing hand, but I like the bet as it lures people with weaker hands into calling, and it sends a message that you’re weak. I do not like Player A’s stack off (poker slang for moving all-in) with Q-10. I would prefer that Player A called the bet, or made a smaller raise like making it $80 to go. When he stacked off here, the first solid indication that he had that Elizabeth was strong, was when she insta-called, and by then it was too late for Player A, as he already had all of his money in the pot. If Player A made a mini-raise ($80 total), and then Elizabeth stacked off, Played A could then fold his hand, saving him $140. For the record, Elizabeth is now proficient in movies, television, tennis (she was a tennis champ in high school), and poker!
If I stack off and get insta-called:
A) I bet all of my chips and was called quickly
B) I may lose because insta-call means strength
C) I moved all-in
D) All of the above.