Poker Strategy Snapshot: Play Scared; Get Bluffed

Published On: 4 April 2008 / Modified: 21 June 2018
Created By: Daniel Skolovy
William Thorson

This snapshot comes to us via the ongoing EPT Season 4 event in San Remo, Italy, and a key clash between two cagey Euro-rounders - William Thorson and Mads Wissing Andersen.

Players: William Thorson and Mads Wissing Andersen

Tournament: EPT Season 4 San Remo, Day 2

Situation: $1,200/$2,400 blinds ($300 ante)

Stack Sizes: Thorson $180,000;Andersen $160,000

Andersen Stone-Cold Bluffs Thorson

There are 77 players left and the top 72 get paid.

The hand begins with Thorson raising to $6,000 from middle position. Everyone folds to Andersen, who calls in the cut-off. Eric Koskas (sitting on a $240,000 stack)also calls in the big blind.

The flop comes A 4 8 and Koskas and Thorson both check. Andersen in late position puts a bet of $15,000 out there.

Both opponents make the call and the turn brings the 3. Once again Koskas and Thorson check and Andersen fires again, with $35,000. Koskas folds but Andersen makes the call.

The river drops down the K and Andersen moves all-in for the rest of his chips - around $120,000. Thorson tanks for a long time and elects to fold. Andersen shows 6 7 for the stone-cold bluff. After the hand Thorson told Andersen he had folded A-Q.

The Breakdown

Thorson raises A-Q from middle position to $6,000. This raise is a little less than 3x the BB but in a bubble situation is usually big enough to cause everyone to fold.

Unfortunately for him it's not enough to push out Andersen, who makes the call from late position with his suited connectors. The call is not bad, as it is a small raise and he will be in position with 67 big blinds, which is still a good-sized stack.

Mads Wissing Andersen

Koskas, who is chip leader, makes the call in the big blind. With a raise that amounts to around 2.5x the BB and a caller already in the pot, it's an easy call despite his holdings.

The flop comes down A 4 8 and Koskas checks. Thorson checks as well.

This check is a little peculiar to me. After taking the lead pre-flop and then flopping top pair, second-best kicker, it seems weird to not follow up on the flop with a bet. He may not have wanted to build a huge pot so close to the bubble with two live players in the pot.

For whatever reason, he decides to check.

Andersen, sensing weakness in both of his opponents, fires a bet with his gut-shot. This bet is a semi-bluff and can win him the pot two ways: by having his opponents fold or by hitting his gut-shot on the turn.

The bet of $15,000 into a $20,000 pot is a strong three-quarter-pot-size one. Unfortunately for Andersen, both players make the call. Note here Thorson does not check-raise with his top pair, good kicker either; he is content to play it slow.

The turn brings the 3, which changes absolutely nothing. Both players check; Andersen decides to fire a second barrel. He bets $35,000 into the ~$65,000 pot. He feels he can make both players fold as there is no reason for his opponents, both of whom have healthy stacks, to risk chips so close to the bubble.

This time Koskas folds but the original pre-flop raiser sticks around and makes the call. Once again Thorson is content just calling. His hand is very underrepresented here. He seems to be telling Andersen that he has a hand, but not a great one.

The river drops the K and once again Thorson checks. Andersen, now realizing the only way he can win this pot is by betting somehow, pulls the trigger on a massive all-in river bluff. The pot at this time is over $130,000. With just over $110,000 in his stack he shoves it all-in.

I can't say I'm a huge fan of the decision by Andersen to risk his entire tournament life on a bluff after getting called twice by the original pre-flop raiser. But I am a fan of the guts it takes.

William Thorson

Thorson must have been thinking that if he calls and loses he'll only have $20,000 left in his stack. He most likely doesn't want to risk being left crippled and likely eliminated before the bubble. So he tanks and eventually folds.

I don't believe the fold itself is such a mistake once he gets to the river, but the entire hand up until the river was a mistake. If you're going to play scared poker, you're going to get bluffed out of pots. That's just the way it works.

If he had bet the flop, or even check-raised the flop, he would have won the hand and he could have moved on. Instead he ends up putting 20% of his stack in, only to fold the best hand!

Andersen must have had a read that Thorson would have been playing tight before the bubble, because normally firing three barrels on a stone-cold bluff is suicide - especially against a pre-flop raiser.

The second barrel would have been especially difficult after he was called in two places. Andersen however did not give up and by sheer unrelenting aggression ended up winning the ~$130,000 pot.

Check out continuing coverage from EPT San Remo courtesy of our intrepid reporters, Matthew Showell and Arthur Crowson, over in the Live Tournaments section.

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Xay 2008-09-16 00:36:00

It's easier said after the fact but when you are sitting at the table, I bet he's thinking the guy must have a set. I've done this before. I have top pair with top kicker and wonder why the guy kept pushing the action like he wasn't afraid of my top pair. He went all in at the river and I called only to see what I was afraid to see. I don't blame him at all. Sitting there after the flop, he might think he have the best hand and called. But a guy shooting three bullets, you start to second guess everything. I do think he should have bet after the flop or check raise the guy to get an idea of where he's at with is top pair.

Matthias van de Raa 2008-04-04 23:42:00

I completely agree thorson is just screeming I've got AJ/AT and I'm happy to see a showdown . When he just called after koskas called he can't have a monster really with the two spades on the board. The turn bet size is excellent btw leaving him with a pot-sized bet on the river should he get called, if he's raised on the turn he can just muck it. I don't think betting smaller on the river was an option here as if thorson could have been left with 50 or 60k he might have made the call



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