How the Wheels Slowly Fall Off the Wagon

Ken Lennaard

You seldom see the signs, even when they are right in front of you.

You can feel the wheels starting to shake but you keep riding until the wheels falls off and you end up in the ditch.

Last Friday I wrote about my last WSOP in 2012 where I cashed in the first two tournaments I played and was deep in the third.

But I failed to make the world-class fold where I knew I was right and the wagon was starting to shake a bit.

After that the bolts were still attached but I could feel that they were loose.

I had lost most of my maneuverability, but still had a decent chip stack. Then I got cold and this time around I failed to make a big call.

You Have to Go With Your Reads

I finally got the hand and the spot I had to go with — a split pair of jacks in late position.

Sam Grizzle
Sam Grizzle's not huge on folding

That’s a pretty strong starting hand in Seven-Card Stud, especially when your cards are live and especially when the jack is the high card on the board.

A ten showing, just before me, completed and I raised.

Sam Grizzle is supposed to be a good Stud player, but I’ve never seen him fold a hand. It’s kind of a trademark of a good player to be able to fold a hand, isn’t it?

It might work in cash games to never fold but is a cardinal sin in tournaments.

Grizzle called behind me with a nine showing. The initial aggressor called too.

I was worried about Grizzles hand, which really was supposed to beat mine - given the action.

But I made two-pair on fourth street and that was that. I was going with the hand.

But I got check-raised on fifth street by the initial raiser showing T-x-Q. He either was rolled up or just made queens over tens.

I hardly had any chips left, but two of my outs for a full house were gone — that’s 50 percent you know — and I also had to worry about the no-folding Sam Grizzle.

I did the math and came to the conclusion that a fold was the correct move. A wrong fold can cost you everything in Limit so you never really fold.

But then again, saved bets on the river is what keeps you alive in tournaments.

Sometimes You Need to Forget About Certain Hands

Jeffrey Lisandro
You gotta move on sometimes.

I had that earlier hand against Jeff Lisandro still in my head, which I should have discounted and gone with my read.

After a long time I reluctantly folded my jacks up.

Sam Grizzle didn’t fold his split nines that I would have folded pre-flop. He went all the way and made nines up to beat the other guy’s aces.

Aces in the hole was the one hand I had forgot to take into the equation. A hand that absolutely should have been in the equation, even though it would have been much smarter of him to raise again on third street to try to get Grizzle out with my re-raising help.

I was tired and had made a big mistake. The wheels were completely off in this tournament race and I was forced to put my faith in Lady Luck.

She put the dagger in my back a bit later and I was out.

The Butterfly Effect is Alive and Well in Poker

Chris Moneymaker
Chris Moneymaker

It really is scary how a marginal decision makes all the difference in the world.

Many times it changes the tournament completely for others as well.

Like when I folded pre-flop against Moneymaker on the first day of the 2003 World Series of Poker. That made a big difference to the poker world.

I had made it to Day 2 yet again but failed to make it into the money. I was tired and disturbed, and that is for me a bad combination when playing poker.

I needed a day off. But there was a $1,500 No-Limit tournament that begged to be played. So I played it. Like any other (in)sane poker player with enough money for the buy-in.

I once again made it to the second day.

I really needed a day off. The wagon was shaking and the road was bumpy but I had enough chips to be happy.

There is always the next day to sleep, unless you make the final table. But on the other hand that will give you enough adrenaline to go on without sleep.

About Ken Lennaárd:

Sweden's most controversial poker blogger Ken Lennaárd has been around the professional poker circuit for almost 20 years. Among his numerous accomplishments are Swedish Championships both live and online, three WSOP final tables and over $1.5m in live earnings. He's now bringing his singular poker voice to the English world via Look for new posts every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

Note: Opinions expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not represent the views of

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