IDEALLY, YOU WANT to get your money in the pot in a no-limit Texas hold 'em tournament when you have an opponent dominated, but that isn't always possible.
Sometimes your stack will be below average, you will draw a nice hand, even if it isn't the best, and you will see a big pot brewing. You have to gamble.
It happens to the top players all the time. They don't always like it, but one part of their strategy is to pick a smaller stack to gamble with so they can't bust out, as Josh Arieh showed at the World Poker Tour's $15,000-buy-in Doyle Brunson Five Diamond World Poker Classic at Las Vegas' Bellagio in 2007.
With blinds at $500-$1,000 plus a $100 ante, the player under the gun limped, as did stylish Dutch pro Marcel Luske and two other players.
Arieh, who finished third in the 2004 World Series of Poker main event, found A-Q offsuit on the button. He also found a chance to make a move to improve his below-average stack of about $24,000.
"There's $4,000 in there with the limpers. Plus the blinds, it's $5,500. Plus the antes it's $6,500," Arieh said. "I noticed the original limper's stack of about $14,000 total, and I'm short and I have A-Q. That's a hand that I don't mind playing for all my money in that situation if he shoves in because nobody else can call. It's him, and I'm going to call him if he moves in."
Arieh raised to $6,000, trying to isolate the original limper.
"There are two big stacks that limped behind him, and I don't want to make it $4,000 and let them call for just another $3,000," said Arieh, who has won two WSOP bracelets. "I'm kind of making myself look pot-committed, but if they move in, I'm folding. But $6,000 is enough to make it look like I'm ready to go. I'm representing A-K. The guy who limped doesn't have to have two aces. He limped earlier with small pairs and let them go immediately. If he had a big hand, I was going to go for it for $14,000, because that's what he had total.
"The best-case scenario is I'm risking $6,000 to pick up the $6,500 in the pot."
The original limper moved in the way Arieh figured. Everyone else folded. Then Arieh's opponent turned over pocket aces (spades, diamonds). Arieh's gamble made him more than a 9-1 underdog.
Miraculously, the board came K-J-8-10-9 to give Arieh the winning straight.
"I'm picking the chip stack I want to play against," Arieh said. "If he had more chips than me, I would've limped with A-Q. But the fact that I had him covered and the money in the pot is such a big percentage increase to my stack made it the correct play for me. I like gambling in spots where I can't go broke in a hand."
Limp: To enter the pot only for the amount of the minimum bet.*
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