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Hand Analysis: An Excerpt from “Thinking Tournament Poker” by Nate Meyvis

Nate Meyvis

A new contribution to poker strategy has arrived for those interested in thoughtful hand analyses and tournament strategy — Thinking Tournament Poker by Nate Meyvis.

Hand Analysis: An Excerpt from “Thinking Tournament Poker” by Nate Meyvis 101

Readers of PokerNews are well familiar with Meyvis’s perceptive strategy articles, and many also likely know of the long-running podcast Thinking Poker he co-hosts with Andrew Brokos who has also contributed numerous helpful insights here at PokerNews Strategy.

The podcast provided the impetus for Thinking Tournament Poker, a book devoted to scrutinizing hands Meyvis played in the 2014 World Series of Poker Main Event. Meyvis has experienced success in the WSOP Main Event before, making it inside the top 100 finishers in 2011 and getting back to cash again in the tournament this year.

During the 2014 WSOP Main Event, Meyvis took notes of every hand he entered, both small and big, then in Thinking Tournament Poker provides detailed analyses of his play in those hands incorporating feedback from Brokos and a couple of frequent Thinking Poker guests, Leo Wolpert and Gareth Chantler.

This first volume covers Day 1 of the 2014 WSOP Main, including 46 hands from the day’s five two-hour levels. We’ll share a review of Thinking Tournament Poker soon, but for now, here’s an excerpt from the book describing a hand occurring early in Level 3 (blinds 150/300) with Meyvis’s analysis as well as thoughts from both Brokos and Wolpert. By this point Meyvis has build the starting stack of 30,000 up to 45,000.

* * * * *

Hand 23: 45k

I raised {9-}{9-} from late position to 700. The four-seat made it 2,200 from the SB. The BB tank-folded and I called. With a strong hand in position against an active opponent, I was happy to call; I think that folding in this spot would have missed value and that four-betting would have been an overplay of a hand like {9-}{9-}. (I would rather four-bet with a value range narrow enough that it doesn’t include {9-}{9-}, balancing the value range with some hands with blockers that aren’t good enough for a call.)

Flop (4,700): {8-}{7-}{6-}.

The four-seat checked and I checked. I thought that he would likely check for pot control with many better hands than mine, and I didn’t fear free cards very much. Moreover, I would also check this flop with many worse hands than this, and I was happy to balance this range with a stronger hand.

Leo would consider putting {9-}{9-} in my bet-3-bet range to balance out my sets and straights with a hand that has lots of equity against the four-seat’s check-raise value range — however, he also thinks that this play might be too spewy for the WSOP Main Event.

Andrew would also bet the flop, and thinks that I am underestimating the value of protection here. Moreover, he likes the semi-bluffing effect of a bet and the fact that it allows me to keep semi-bluffing on future streets.

Turn (4,700): {8-}{7-}{6-}{10-}.

He checked, I bet 1,625, and he called. Once he checked my range did well against his: of course, this hand made a straight and is therefore in good shape, but it also matters that I could have enough other good hands in this situation that I should strongly consider bluffing if I were weak. If I were bluffing here, I would likely have chosen a bet size like this (to make no pair and some weak one-pair hands fold immediately, and sometimes to set up a river bluff against better one-pair hands).

River (7,950): {8-}{7-}{6-}{10-}{4-}.

He checked, I bet 5,625, and he folded. Again, betting fairly small on the turn and significantly bigger on the river would have been a reasonable bluffing strategy; moreover, this opponent had previously believed my smaller bets to be value-bets. Finally, even a bet of 5,625 was only 70% of the pot or so; that’s a pretty big bet for a tournament river situation, but it’s not an overbet.

Leo agrees that I might be mimicking a bluffing line with this bet sizing, but he thinks that because my range has plenty of nines, and because I’m trying to get value from one-pair hands, he would bet smaller on the river.

Andrew disagrees with the claim that my range has plenty of nines: I would fold many of them before the flop, and he advocates betting some hands with nines (including this one!) on the flop.

* * * * *

Thinking Tournament Poker by Nate Meyvis is now available both at Amazon and at Be sure also to check out Nate and Andrew Brokos on the Thinking Poker podcast, and for more from Nate visit his blog at

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  • "Thinking Tournament Poker" by @NateMeyvis shares tourney strategy with close analysis of his WSOP Main Event play.

  • A review of "Thinking Poker" co-host Nate Meyvis's new strategy book, "Thinking Tournament Poker."

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