Loose play can make sense sometimes
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.