Hold’em with Holloway, Vol. 16: Chris Moorman Tells Me How Badly I Play Poker
In last week's Hold'em with Holloway, I highlighted a hand from a $60 buy-in nightly tournament, one that presented me with multiple decision points. I suggest you review that piece before proceeding here, as we'll once again be taking a look at that hand, albeit with the help of online poker's most accomplished tournament player — Chris "Moorman1" Moorman.
I actually had the opportunity to review Moorman's new book, Moorman's Book of Poker, which was co-written with D&B Publishing's Byron Jacobs. Suffice it to say the book is written in a similar manner to what's laid out here — that is to say, a hand played by Jacobs is presented, he offers an explanation as to why he played it that way and then Moorman weighs in with a critique and his opinion.
Let me provide a quick review of the hand in question for those of you who don't want to go back to last week's article. It happened in the first level of a nightly tournament with the blinds at 25/50. Players started with 12,000 in chips, and four players limped to me in the big blind. I checked my option with , the flop came down , and I checked. Two players followed suit, the cutoff bet 300, and the player on the button called.
I just called, the two other players folded, and three of us saw the turn. I checked my top pair and flush draw, and the cutoff continued for 700. The button called, and I sprung to life with a check-raise to 2,700. The cutoff called while the button folded, and that led to the on the river. I bet a modest 2,500 with my flush and my opponent paid it off with for trips.
I wasn't exactly thrilled with how I had played the hand, and was anything but confident I made good decisions each street. So how does one of the world's best poker players feel I played it? Here's what Moorman had to say:
In this hand there are a number of different options available at various points that will impact the latter streets significantly. The first of these is preflop. I’m not too concerned about the preflop action here as I think either of your two options are ultimately fine and it is largely down to a preference thing as well as any reads that you have on the individual limpers in the hand.
Checking here to see a cheap flop out of position multiway with -suited is a fine option because it’s a hand that works well multiway when you hit big. Even though the pot will be small initially compared to the stack sizes, your opponents are likely to misplay their hands often by overplaying them because of their inexperience.
In turn I could be convinced that it is better to put in a large raise here to narrow the field and be able to credibly represent hands such as or later in the hand with the backup of making a big hand which your opponents won’t put you on. This move has a lot more variance associated with it because as the preflop aggressor you will be bluffing and semi-bluffing more often so can potentially lose a lot more chips when you don’t make your hand and get called down. However, if you do make a strong hand the pot will be much bigger than if you had simply checked before the flop. A problem with raising preflop here is that your opponents might be very hard to bluff because of the small buy-in and gambling nature of the tournament.
On the flop, as played, I would be looking to check-raise here especially after the initial bettor gets called. On such a draw-heavy board I would expect anyone with a big hand to be raising here so I would figure the caller to have a marginal hand or a draw. Also when you over-call in this spot you turn your hand face up as either a flush draw or a weak made hand.
By raising here it allows you to win the pot on a latter street without making your hand and by just using pure aggression instead. Also if you do make your flush on a latter street the pot will be much bigger and your opponent will feel more committed to their hand and find it harder to lay it down. If you are re-raised on the flop, it will be an easy fold for you because although your hand is strong your draw isn’t to the nuts and you will likely be up against either a straight, a set, or a nut-flush draw.
After just over-calling the flop you now find yourself in a very weird spot on the turn after you turn top pair to go along with your flush draw. The initial bettor bets for a second time and the caller calls again. The initial bettor is most likely pretty strong here because they bet a semi-wet flop four ways, and after being called twice have barreled again on the turn. I would be putting them on either a possible slow-played overpair preflop, a set, two pair or a very strong flush draw. You are doing all right against this range overall, but are actually probably behind the majority of the time right now.
I can understand why you wanted to raise with the other player in the pot likely to be way behind your hand, however I think it is a mistake because it is very ambitious in a tournament like this to try and get a better hand than yours to fold and you are likely driving out any worse hands than yours. One reason why you may have decided to raise here is because you realized your mistake on the flop and wanted to rectify it. Also a raise here makes little sense because is the only big hand you are really representing after over-calling the flop on such a draw-heavy board three-ways out of position.
On the river you make your flush after semi-bluffing the turn and narrowing the field to one opponent. This opponent likely has a very strong hand so I would be looking to bet big — somewhere around 70% pot — because people hate to fold big hands especially in this type of tournament, at least in my experience. I would be a bit worried my opponent could have a bigger flush such as or of hearts; however, there are more combinations of smaller flushes as well as other strong value hands.
One mistake I often see players make is to bet on the smaller side when they hit a big hand because they don’t want to scare their opponents off. However, these same players are often betting big and raising as a bluff because they see it as being so powerful. It is important to be consistent with your bet sizes and tell the same story with both your value bets and bluffs so it keeps your opponents guessing as to which one it is this time.
My Final Thoughts: The hand is certainly filled with multiple decision points. I'm happy with the limp preflop, though I agree a raise would be fine, too. But I'm definitely disappointed with my play on the flop. As Moorman notes, I basically turned my hand face-up by over-calling.
He also makes a great point on why I shouldn't raise the turn after pairing my 10. Truth be told, I think he hit the head on the nail when he said I may have been trying to rectify the mistake of not raising the flop. Bad play on my part, and I'm fortunate I hit my flush on the river. However, again I made a mistake by betting so small. Ultimately it proved a favourable hand, but I didn't do myself any favors.
If you've enjoyed reading about this hand the past two weeks, then I highly recommend you check out Moorman's Book of Poker. The book is written in a similar style and examines a vast array of online poker hands, most more complex and interesting than the one described above.