Loose play can make sense some­times

Sun Sentinel Palm Beach Edition - Showtime - Palm Beach - - POKER - By Chad Hol­loway

At all lev­els of poker, there are play­ers who gen­er­ally will only play big­ger hands, and then there are those who are willing to mix it up with any two cards. In poker terms, mem­bers of the former group are re­ferred to as “tight” play­ers, and mem­bers of the lat­ter group are la­beled “loose.”

Tight play­ers tend to be one- di­men­sional, which isn’t nec­es­sar­ily a bad thing. In fact, of­ten­times their style of play will get them to the end of a tour­na­ment and put them in po­si­tion to win. On the flip side, loose play­ers tend to have more fun, though they run a higher risk of bust­ing early.

When short-stacked in a tour­na­ment, tight play­ers gen­er­ally stick to their blue­print and wait for qual­ity hands. Loose play­ers, who like to keep the com­pe­ti­tion guess­ing, will shove with lower-qual­ity hands that have po­ten­tial.

A Mid-States Poker Tour event at Can­ter­bury Park in Shakopee, Minn., of­fered a look at an ag­gres­sive move by a loose player with a dwin­dling stack. The tour­na­ment drew 475 en­trants and paid $110,220 to the win­ner. When this hand was dealt, 35 play­ers re­mained, all of whom were guar­an­teed at least $2,756 in Ja­son Sell’s hand: prize money.

With blinds at 4,000-8,000 plus an ante of 1,000, MSPT Sea­son 5 HoChunk Gam­ing champ Ja­son Sell moved all in for 80,000 from early po­si­tion hold­ing Js 9s, Ac­tion folded around to Nes Coburn in the small blind, and he called with Ac Qs.

You might be won­der­ing Nes Coburn’s hand: why Sell moved all in with such a mod­est hand. Jack­nine suited isn’t great, but it does play rel­a­tively well against bet­ter hands. Here’s what Sell was prob­a­bly think­ing:

First, he was no doubt hop­ing his shove would swipe the blinds and antes. Pick­ing up chips with­out hav­ing to see a flop is al­ways ideal. Sec­ond, if he did get a call, it was likely to be from bet­ter hands such as big pocket pairs or two big cards. Even in those in­stances, un­less his op­po­nent was hold­ing pocket jacks, J-9 stood a de­cent shot of end­ing up the win­ner.

In this hand, A-Q was a 61.4 per­cent fa­vorite. Even if Sell had run into pocket queens, kings or aces, he would have been only about a 4-1 un­der­dog. If he was called by a small pair, like pocket sev­ens, it es­sen­tially would have been a coin flip. The night­mare sce­nario for Sell would have been to run into pocket jacks. In that spot, the jacks would win 82.9 per­cent of the time. Not great odds for Sell (but not com­pletely in­sur­mount­able).

As it was, the board ran out As 5d 5c 3c 8h, and Sell’s gam­ble failed to pay off.

It’s easy to crit­i­cize Sell’s shove given the re­sult, but in re­al­ity, it wasn’t all that bad a move. Some­times the sit­u­a­tion calls for tak­ing a shot with a less-than-pre­mium hand.

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