Strategy Snapshot: My Schwartz Is Bigger Than Yours

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28 February 2008, Created By: Daniel Skolovy
Strategy Snapshot: My Schwartz Is Bigger Than Yours
Today's hand comes to you from Day 4 of the LAPC, with 37 players left laboring under the weight of a mini-bubble: 37th place will take home $31,280 and 36th will make $36,390.

Players: Noah Schwartz and Weikai Chang

Tournament: WPT L.A. Poker Classic

Situation: $5,000/$10,000 blinds; $1,000 ante.

Stacks: Schwartz - approximately $400,000; Chang - over $500,000

The hand begins with Alan Goehring (who was crippled in the hand before) all-in in the small blind for $2,000. Noah Schwartz limps in from late position.

Weikai Chang in the big blind raises his option to $30,000. Schwartz flat-calls the raise and the flop comes J 8 6. Chang continues his aggression by firing $40,000. Once again Schwartz just flat-calls.

The turn brings the J. Chang bets $125,000 and Schwartz moves all-in over the top. Chang makes the call and the river brings the brick of spades. Schwartz tables the 9 8 and is no good versus Chang's A J.

Noah Schwartz
Schwartz: Why you have to be a hater? Why can't we just check it down?

Breakdown

Now let's break this one down. Noah Schwartz makes a questionable limp from late position with 8 9. Usually I advise either bringing this in for a raise or folding. However here I can almost understand his limp.

Schwartz is probably thinking that with a player all-in in the small blind there's no point raising and then taking the flop heads-up with a speculative hand. That could possibly double up the short stack (although even if Goehring did double up, he'd still only have one big blind).

So I imagine Schwartz wants to see the flop multi-way and check it down with the other live player(s), to have the best chance of eliminating Goehring.

Chang in the big blind, however, sees it a little differently. With his A J he feels he is far ahead of whatever Schwartz's limping range may be and decides a raise is in order. So he makes it $30,000 to go from the big blind.

Schwartz now is being offered excellent odds. With his limp and the antes he is getting almost 2.5-1. With a quality suited connector in position he decides to make the call.

The board comes down J 8 6, giving Chang top pair. Chang makes a just-larger-than-half-pot-sized bet of $40,000.

Noah Schwartz
Did that just turn my hand, with relatively decent showdown value, into a complete bluff?

This smallish bet could have been designed to fool Schwartz into believing he's just making a regular continuation bet and that his hand isn't as strong as it actually is. Schwartz once again flats in position with his pair of 8s and a nine kicker.

The turn brings the J. This card is a fantastic one for Chang. For one, it gives him trips with the best kicker. But it also makes him less likely to have a jack in Schwartz's eyes. Opting against a slow-play, Chang once again bets $125,000.

I really like this bet. It looks really fishy - he first led the flop with a weak bet as if saying, "I give up, but I raised pre-flop so I'll bet the flop."

Now this bet on the turn is super-strong. He makes it look like he doesn't want a call, when that's precisely what he wants. This bet says, "OK, you just called my flop bet. So your hand can't be that strong. Maybe if I bet more you'll fold."

Alan Goehring
Alan Goehring: Never look a gift $2,555 in the mouth.

Taking the bait Schwartz now moves all-in. This move I really do not like. Yes, I believe in a thousand trials of this hand his pair of eights will usually come out the best hand. Of course in this hand they are not.

The push however does exactly what I talked about in the Phil Ivey vs. Seda1 hand. It turns a hand with relatively decent showdown value into a complete bluff! No better hands are ever going to fold and no worse hands are ever going to call. The best-case scenario you could hope for is a fold.

I believe if you really think you have the best hand here with a pair of eights you just have to call. As I said, raising folds out all the hands you beat, and all the hands that beat you call. So you should just call and see the river.

Weikai Chang
Chang: Big schwartz.

If you're bet into again on the river you're in a very tough spot, but you can probably safely fold. That would be an extremely ballsy three-barrel bluff. More likely than not though, a bluffing hand will check the river and you can check through and take the free showdown.

Obviously Chang makes the easy call with his trip jacks, ace kicker and when the river bricks out he gets shipped a very nice pot at the expense of Noah Schwartz. Schwartz's blunder ends up costing him even more than the pot and his tournament life, namely, $2,555.

The powers that be at the LAPC make an incredibly strange decision: Alan Goerhing and Noah Schwartz have to split the difference between 36th and 37th. Thus they take home $33,835 each, rather than the 36th-place money that Schwartz would have been guaranteed if he had folded.

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