Why check down?

As I cover some of the events here at the WSOP, I see a lot of interesting plays and strategies. I'd love to be able to ask certain players why they made the play they did and what was going through their mind, but I am responsible for acting professionally and staying 'behind the scenes'. I don't want to interfere with or bug the players. In one of the early $1,500 NLHE events, I witnessed some players involved in multi-way pots where one person was all in. These instances I'm talking about are not in the money, or on the bubble, or deep at the final table. They are in the early stages of a tournament when we have tons of players left in the field.

The scenario occurs when the other players in the hand check it down until the river to try and eliminate the all-in opponent. When someone bets and then ends up doubling up the short stack, the others players that were in the hand and folded seem to be upset with the player that bet them out. Claiming "I would have won." or "Way to bet us out and then double him up." and so on. What I don't think these players understand is that when there are so many players remaining in the field, it is more advantageous to allow yourself a better chance of winning the hand than eliminating the all-in player. If you can bet out to get heads up with the all in player, you only have to best his hand. Whereas when you keep everyone in, you are slimming your chances of winning the entire pot, even if it is just checked down. So with a small bet, you can almost always thin the field and increase your odds in the hand. If everyone folds and you still lose to the all-in player, you only lost what you would have lost if you kept everyone in the hand and had checked it down.

If you do chose to bet and everyone folds and you lose, you'll often hear the comments start to fly at you. "Why'd you bet?" or "Why didn't you just check it down?" Even, "What a dumb bet that was?" This usually comes from people that want that player eliminated when it really doesn't matter at all. 2,000 players left compared to 2,001 isn't a big deal and shouldn't make a difference, but a lot of players swear that checking down is the only play that you should make. They say you should only bet with the nuts, or damn near close to it. I don't agree and I have been talking to some people around the WSOP and in Vegas that agree with my thoughts and believe those that check it down just don't get it. But I must stress that this is a completely different scenario than when you are on the bubble, in the money and approaching a pay jump, or at the final table. In all of these cases, eliminating one person often has great advantages.

Ladies NLHE Final Table Recap

All I have to say is wow. Wow this final table was just so slow. The play was as tight as all hell. We rarely saw flops and then if we did take a flop, a bet would take down the pot. The women just played so amazingly tight trying to money-up that it was unreal. Svetlana Gromenkova, the woman that eventually would go on to win, was my heavy favorite. She was just worlds above the other players in skill and also had a big stack. She controlled the table from the get go and just worked really well the chip away at people.

Sue Porter was the first to go out and she just played awful. She would call raises for half her stack and then dump the hand on the flop. She was playing way too many hands and was eliminated shortly after the start of the final table. She was the only person keeping the table lively and when she went out, things just locked up completely. People were folding big broadway cards and small to middle pairs like they were 2-4 off. It was quite ridiculous the amount of passiveness at the table. I really believe that this gave Gromenkova a huge advantage. She is a pro and knew just how to run over the field.

When we got to heads up, Gromenkova got all in with her opponent Anh Le and had Le drawing to three outs. Le seemed to be getting her money in all day with the worst of it and coming out on top. This time was no different as Le pulled her three-outer to capture the pot and the chip lead. Gromenkova looked like she was going to just break down and cry. She was so close to the win and then to have it snatched from her when it was within reach seemed like it'd be too much for her. With the help and encouragement from her railbirds, she buckled down and began to chip away again at Le. She soon regained the chip lead with solid, solid poker. And then, another misstep from Le and that was all she wrote. Le took her A6 up against Gromenkova's pocket kings. The kings prevailed and Gromenkova was crowned champion.


Update to come...

I know I haven't posted anything in a few days. I'm been busy working and then when I get off, I've been trying to pay as much as possible. I hope to get some stuff up later on when we get break or when this final table ends. I'm covering the $2,000 LHE final table today. Daniel Negreanu is the only really big name there.

Posts to come:
  • Women's final table recap
  • Checking down strategy
  • Session analysis
  • 2-7 gambling event
  • Limit final table


WSOP Day 6: $10,000 Mixed Championship, Final Table

So I found it quite annoying that this final table wasn't going to be televised and in the No-Limit Lounge for ESPN to film it while fans crowded the bleachers to watch. The field has all the big names in it and the final table included high profile stars such as Eli Elezra, Sam Farha, Jeff Madsen, and Tom "durrrr" Dwan. Michael DeMichele also made the final table and some might know him from his great showing in the US Poker Championship a couple years back. I felt this would be a much better final table to air than another NLHE event that got the spot instead. They say that the poker buzz is dying out and I think people are just getting tired of seeing the same types of things over and over again. So why not air this event. It includes some crazy games that may just intrigue more fans to watch and want to try them out. it also included PLO and NLHE so it wasn't barren of those games. In fact, throughout the tournament the biggest pots seemed to be played in 2-7 triple draw.

As much expected, Dwan blew up at the final table. We started off playing PLO to Elezra's and Farha's delight. Amnon Filippi came by to check out the action and the three were seen talking about how they expect Dwan to blow up. Well, in the first few hands, Dwan doubled up Elezra twice and then a few of the other short stacks as well. When we hit 2-7 triple draw after, he was able to get a lot of his chips back. We all know that game has a lot of gamble involved in it and Dwan has a ton of gamble. He would just jam every 2-7 hand knowing he could toss all his cards away if he wanted. This wasn't that bad of a strategy and it helped his stack out a lot when he needed it. You could tell during the HORSE games that Dwan's opponents were getting the best of him. He's pretty much dominated PLO and NLHE online to the maximum and I'm sure he'll be dabbling in these others game after this event to further improve his game.

After it was all said and done, Anthony Rivera took the crown. He really played well throughout the event and was a silent force at the final table. He didn't do too much gambling or mixing it up with the others, but when he did enter a pot he usually won it. This guy's only 22 and a high stakes mixed game player from California. What I found a little fishy was after Matt Glantz busted in third place, it took only one hand of heads up play. Both Rivera and second place finisher James Mackey are 22 and went to the University of Missouri. I'm not sure if they know each other, but it seems like the only reason this would happen would be because of a deal that could have been made. Mackey already has a bracelet so we'll never know. Harrah's and the WSOP doesn't allow for official deals to be made, so any deal cut is to be done so without the knowledge of Harrah's or the WSOP. Maybe if I see one of them around, I'll ask them and see if I can get an answer.

I'm covering the $1,000 Ladies No-Limit Hold'em next. I know it says ladies, but it's not ladies only. Discrimination laws prevent the tournament from being a ladies-only event, so I'm sure we'll get a few male participants in there. We might even get some bigger name males because of the the prop betting going on to win a bracelet. We may even have a few dressed in drag as accustomed to many 'female' tournaments on the circuit.

As always, live updates will be on PokerNews.com.