Posted by on Mar 8, 2013 in Craig's Corner | Comments

I recently made a deep run in the Borgata 2013 Winter Open $1,000 + $90 six max event, finishing 28th and in the money out of 344.  This was especially sweet for me because it was my first 1K event, against a stacked field, in a super aggressive format.

Day 1 found me at the table with Amanda Musumeci.  For those of you who don’t know her, Amanda is a scrappy young pro from Philadelphia making big waves on the poker scene.  She’s had numerous cashes, including a deep run in the WSOP main event.  This year she is featured as one of the World Poker Tour’s “Ones to Watch.”

So back to Day 1.  With blinds at 75/150, I find QQ under the gun.  Amanda is in the small blind.  My stack was over average and Amanda was a little under average.  Because I wasn’t satisfied with winning the blinds only, and having Amanda and another pro, Vinny Pahuja, at my table, I limped in hoping one of them would attack my limp.  My plan failed and I took the flop four handed with two players in position.  The flop came A K 10 rainbow and it checked around.  The turn was a beautiful J completing my straight, but it was the second spade.  Now Amanda led into the field.

I thought about putting in the raise, but convinced myself (1) Amanda had a Q, (2) a raise would chase everyone else out, and (3) I would end up splitting the pot.  I wasn’t content with a split so I decided to get tricky and merely called, hoping for a third spade to fall.  The other players folded.  If Amanda did have the Q, she’d have to fold to my river bet if the flush came in.  Well, the flush did come in and Amanda led right into me.  Curses, foiled again.  Now I was in a position where the best I could hope for was a chop, and there was a chance I now held the loser.  I made the crying call and Amanda revealed the 8s5s.

Amanda and I made it to the table break and we said our goodbyes.  I wished her luck and told her I enjoyed playing with her.  She responded likewise.

So why is Amanda a Very Cool Person?  You see, my story doesn’t end here.  When I got home I posted the hand in a forum I frequent and got taken to task for playing the way I did.  No problem.  Maybe I played the hand poorly.  It wouldn’t be the first hand I played so, and it won’t be the last, but I had  questions about whether I did, in fact, play this hand poorly.

I, along with about 2,000 others, am Facebook friends with Amanda.  I sent a private message to Amanda about the hand to see if she remembered and to see if she would offer some insight.  Not only did Amanda respond, but we carried on a half hour conversation about the hand, all while Amanda was competing in another event at the Borgata.

I learned a lot about myself as a player in that conversation.  While we talked about the hand, the conversation was really about our images, both actual and perceived.  In addition, we discussed preconceived images.  Amanda pointed out how she viewed, or rather preconceived, me (and she wasn’t wrong) and also pointed out that I need to put myself in my opponent’s shoes and look at me.  Her point was, until I show that I don’t play like a typical mild mannered, middle aged man, the plays I make that fall into that pattern will be treated as such, allowing the pros to exploit me by playing perfectly.

Translated into the hand.  If I raise preflop with QQ, everyone likely folds.  If I limp/reraise with QQ, everyone likely puts me on a monster and folds.  If I raise the turn when I make my straight, everyone likely folds.  Why?  Because that’s what a player who plays fit and fold poker would do.  Take it a step further, after Amanda led out on the river.  If I considered how Amanda viewed me, I could have still won the pot.  How?  Put in a big raise on the river.  I had Amanda covered so I could easily make her sweat by doing that.  If my image is one of a “fit or fold” player, I might still get credit for that flush and Amanda has to make a tough decision with an 8 high flush.  I accomplish two things by doing that.  First, I might win the pot.  Second, if I don’t win the pot, I now shown that preconceived notions of my image may not have been correct and I will get credit for being creative.

Amanda knows that I play the Borgata tournaments, and she will likely face me again.  Despite that, she took time to discuss strategy with me to help me improve my game.  In my book that makes her a Very Cool Person.

Thanks Amanda.  I am a fan, and I wish you much success in your career…unless, of course, I’m at your table.

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