Daniel Negreanu reflects on 2015 WSOP – Two Mistakes that Busted Him

2015-wsop-main-event-negreanuOne thing that’s admirable about Daniel Negreanu is that he spends a lot of time reflecting on his poker game. So it’s little surprise that, after finishing 11th in the 2015 WSOP Main Event and earning $526,778, Negreanu looked back at some key hands. And he felt that there were two mistakes that really hurt him down the stretch, relegating him to the 11th-place finish.

Negreanu recently uncovered his biggest mistakes through a blog post at Full Contact Poker and gave some in-depth analysis on why he felt they were such huge gaffes.

For example, Negreanu believes that he made a really huge mistake in a hand with 14th-place finisher Justin Schwartz, particularly from a bet-sizing perspective. Based on Kid Poker’s actions, be believes that his bet sizing gave Schwartz a great chance to check-raise him out of the pot. You can see the description and analysis below, and be sure to check out the entire post at Full Contact:

Hand #1 Justin Schwartz threw out a 500k chip in the cutoff with 80k-160k blinds and didn’t say anything. I know limping is part of his game plan, but he had smaller denomination chips that he could have called with. My thinking was that he did this on purpose to make it look like he meant to raise so that the rest of us left in the hand would be less likely to attack his limp.
I picked up 7d 8d on the button and limped. This is exactly the type of hand that plays well post flop and I didn’t think it was necessary to isolate Justin. The small blind folded and the big blind checked his option.

The flop came Kd 7s 6c and both players checked to me. Here is where the mistake comes: I bet 250k. The big blind folded, and a short stacked Justin check raised to 600k. I called with lots of back door potential with a 3 card straight, 3 card flush, and a pair.
The turn was the 3 of clubs and he went all in for about 3 million. I didn’t think about it for very long and folded my pair.

So what is the mistake? My bet sizing on the flop allowed Justin enough room to check raise me as a bluff. If I bet 450k he would have to risk a million or so to bluff me and that wouldn’t have left him enough wiggle room. By betting just 250k in a spot where I could easily be bluffing myself, I opened the door to get outplayed. I found out later that he had QT of clubs so he turned a flush draw but I was still ahead. I don’t think folding the turn is a mistake, besides, he had 15 outs to beat me, but that could have been avoided had a I made a more substantial bet on the flop.

All you Need to Know About Playing the River in Poker

A river is the final card played especially in reference to community cards. It is important to estimate the strength of the player’s hand, opponent’s hand and the size of pot to decide the way the river needs to be played. All the information gathered through observation can be applied while playing the river. Read more

Small Ball Poker- The Most Popular Style of Tournament Play Version of Poker

Small Ball Poker is a playing style which is widely adopted in poker tournaments. Although this style was practiced by many players, Daniel Negreanu is credited for naming it. Small ball comprises of tactics that uses a wide range of starting hands with small raises and bets to protect the player from becoming broke. Read more

How to Play Marginal Poker Hands

Although playing marginal poker hands, technically speaking, is not considered to be a very good style of playing hands. However, it needs to be played on and off to allow a player to keep his playing style disguised. In poker, revealing your style can become the most fatal of all mistakes. So, even when marginal hands are not appreciated much, these are played mixed with good hands; quite often to lend a sort of cover to the strategy of a player. Your bets and raises can otherwise reveal the kind of cards you hold if you play only quality holdings. Read more

All you Need to Know About Sit-n-Go Tournament

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Flopping a Monster: The Nirvana of Hold’em

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Tips for Playing Against Short Stackers

Short-stackers are those players who buy-in for the minimum. In other words, they take less than half of the buy-in at the table. It becomes very frustrating to play against such players, as you won’t get a lot of opportunity to play post-flop poker against them. Even the expert poker players find it a little difficult to adjust to their style of play. Most of the time, these poker players are the beginners whose sole aim is to minimize the risks and escape from the various traps before they put in any amount at stake. The remaining short stackers are the robotic players with different skill levels. Read more

All You Need to Know About Blind Stealing

A blind steal is the act of raising a pre-flop with the only aim of fetching the blinds. It is normally carried out with a really weak hand. The importance of steals becomes more evident as the size of the blind increases. This is because a major chunk of the chips can possibly be stolen at the table and the stack will only get short, which in effect means that the stack ratio is going to increase. Read more

The Semi-bluff – An Essential Move in Poker

Bluffing is an important technique for poker players. When you bluff, you can lead the other person to believe exactly what you want him/her to believe. A semi-bluff is when you have the potential to get a better hand, but you bluff that you actually have a poor hand. This leads your opponent to make a wrong call and you have an option to improve your hand by raising or betting.

A semi-bluff can be used in most poker games as long as there is a draw or multiple streets of action. Like with any bluffing strategy, it should be done correctly, else there will be adverse consequences.

The difference between a total and semi-bluff

A total bluff is when your chances of winning are nil or extremely few. For example, if you raise with an A diamond and a four of diamonds on a flop of K diamond, Q club and 2 diamond, it would be considered a bluff as it is not likely you have the best hand at that time. But if you manage to get a diamond on the river or on the turn, you would get a flush and the best hand, making your move a semi-bluff instead of a bluff.

The larger the chances you have of improving, the larger share of the pot you shall get. With a bluff, the chances of getting a share of the pot or any equity are nil.

Why semi-bluff is a good poker strategy?

A semi-bluff is important to buy time to be able to make a raise or call a bet. With a semi-bluff, you have a cushion to bet and stand chances of getting a share of the pot. The advantage of a semi-bluff is that you can stay in the game with more money in your hand. You can save more money in the long run with the equity cushion with semi-bluffs. Also, it gives you an initiative in the hand which will make other players check to you in future streets rather than you checking them.
It of course works as the best way to disguise your hand so when other players expect you to check or call with drawing hands, you can instead raise or bet.

How a semi-bluff can be done right

Keep in mind the following things while you semi-bluff:

  1. Identify if your opponents are tight or loose ; or have a particular pair of hands that they are attached to and based on which they make most calls.
  2. You should be able to deduce what kind of hands your opponents may have and assess the texture of the flops on the table.
  3. Keeping a track of how the game unfolds at the table will help you decide how you should semi-bluff. Overcards and big cards are good bluffing cards on the turn and river because they strengthen your hand while they undermine the hand you predict your opponent to have.

The importance and advantages of semi-bluffing

To be able to semi-bluff correctly, it is important you do not keep the two concepts of bluffing and semi-bluffing as two separate concepts. The bottom line is that both tactics are used to disguise your real hand and induce the player to make a move that will cause irreparable damage to their hand, if not also benefit you to strengthen your hand.

Semi-bluffing gives you a cushion which you can rely on while betting and you don’t miss on getting a share of the pot and win the hand. When you have more equity in hand with each semi-bluff, it also means you are accumulating a little money with each hand and you save lot of money over a long period in the game. Not all semi-bluffs have to be straights or flush draws, though.

With a semi-bluff, you get an initiative in the hand. So if you decide to bet out instead of checking, this will lead to your opponents check to you in future streets so you and it becomes much easier for you to make future calls and decisions. With a semi-bluff, you mask the hand you actually have and when you hit your draw, for example, you have higher chances of winning because your opponents would not have expected it from you.

The good and bad hands to semi-bluff

Some hands are suitable for semi-bluffs. They have good amounts of equity against formed hands like pairs which makes them suitable for semi-bluffing. They are big flush draws, flush draws combined with an open-ended straight draws and open ended straight draws on their own.

Weak flush draws and Gutshot straight draws, on the other hand, are bad hands to semi-bluff with for the simple reason that they don’t have much equity.

When not to semi-bluff and its evaluation

The two main scenarios in which you should not semi-bluff are when you are certain your opponent will not call or will not fold to your semi-bluff because the whole purpose of semi-bluffing in these two instances are negated.

Some hands may not be the best to have but they may earn you a reasonable share of the pot. And if you are new to poker and are not sure about bluffing convincingly, it is better you semi-bluff and have a better win rate. Semi-bluffs do not replace bluffing completely but are better techniques to use at times.

So before you decide to semi-bluff, it is important you read your table correctly and semi-bluff when you know your opponents are sure to fold. Till then, it is better you save this arsenal till you are sure it is a good weapon to use.

Importance of Table Image in Poker

There is a reason why the term poker face originated from the game of poker. This is because the table image and the mannerisms of the players at the table can be their biggest advantage or flaw. In the simplest terms, the table image at a poker table is your comportment and bearing at the poker table. Your table image is essentially how other players perceive you and what they think your playing style is. The table image is mainly gleaned from the way players play poker, the way they behave at the table and their composure.

Your table image could give away a lot about your style, allowing others to adjust their playing style and vice versa. For example, if a poker player is calling raises quite frequently and enters many pots, other players at the table will perceive him/her to be a loose player. Expert poker players are able to build a table image that works to their advantage. In a game where there is so much guess work, table image can be the difference between winning and losing.

How is table image influenced?

The most important influence on your table image is that way you play poker at the table with other players. However, your table image, or the way others perceive you can also be influenced by your comportment at the table and your behaviour during the game. Amateur players often have a hard time creating and maintaining a table image while being good at the game as well. Expert poker players are able to cultivate a table image through the way they play and they use this image to their advantage.

You could cultivate a table image of being tight or loose but often, other players can be more influenced by what you do and say at the table rather than your style of play. Players can change their table image to throw off opponents by overshadowing their image by what they say or do at the table. This is why you will see many players being talkative and loud, portraying the image that they are having a good time. They also play a number of hands because they want others to think that they are loose players, which may be very different from their actual style of play.

Others try to be quiet and reserved at the play, calling very rarely for raises and being very cautious when they play to create a table image that they are tight and serious poker players. However, such tricks don’t work all the time and experienced poker players can see right through them to figure out the real table image or style of play of the players around them. Proficient poker players observe the way others are playing their cards to understand their true table image and are rarely thrown off by other shenanigans at the table.

Benefits of having a loose table image

If others perceive your style of play to be loose, this means that they expect you to play large pots and call for raises frequently. If others think that you have a loose table image, they will be more willing to take part in large pots with you as they will think that you have lower requirements for the starring hand than tight players. When you have a loose table image and you are playing with tight players, they will be more likely to fold if they think you have a big hand. As a result, you are more likely to find success with big hands if you cultivate a loose table image. Creating a loose table image requires you to raise frequently and place bets more easily on previous hands. Other players will think that you cannot have a strong hand every time and will try to call your bluff. With a loose table image, you will be able to get other players to call you down more frequently than a player who has a tight table image. It does not mean that you will strike success with every big hand that you have.

Benefits of having a tight table image

If you have a tight table image, this means that others perceive you to be very cautious and they think you will not raise frequently on hands and will place bets very carefully. With a tight table image, your opponents will be hesitant to get into pots that include you, as they think that you enter pots only when you have a big hand that could very well lead you to win the pot. As a tight player, you will be entering pots only when you have a good hand and this means that you will enter pots only when you know that you have a high chance of winning. This is why as a tight player you are bound to win more pots than you lose.

You can always keep your opponents on edge as they will constantly be worried about the strength of your hand. So you will be able to pull off bluffs more easily if you have a tight table image than a loose one. This means that you may just be able to pick up pots even if you have a really bad hand. On the downside, other players may fold quickly, thinking you have a strong hand and this means that you may not get paid off on winning pots as much as you would like to.

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