Posted by on Nov 17, 2011 in Craig's Corner |

As a student of the game I like to watch all the well done poker shows such as WPT, WSOP, High Stakes Poker and Pokerstars.net Big Game. Recently I was watching a rerun of Pokerstars.net Big Game show. A hand came up between Joe Hachem and Daniel Negreanu which is one of the most interesting hands I’ve ever seen.

This is a big game with $300-600 blinds with antes. The game is pot limit pre-flop and no limit post-flop. Hachem raises to $2,500 from under the gun with J 10 offsuit. Neither card is a spade. Negreanu calls from the big blind with pocket 4s including the spade. The flop comes Ace high, all spades. Hachem bets $3,500 and Negreanu calls. The turn is the Ks. Now Negreanu leads for $5,000. Hachem raises without a spade to $13,000. The river gives Hachem two pair, but he is behind Negreanu’s flush. Negreanu checks and Hachem bets $28,000.

Here’s where the hand gets interesting. Negreanu is sitting on the third worst flush with his 4s. He tanks, then says “The thing is, I’ve seen you do this before.” Negreanu starts talking about a hand Hachem played exactly the same way 2 years ago in High Stakes Poker. Hachem played the exact same pattern on a four flushed board against Howard Lederer, Raise preflop, bet flop, raise turn, bet river. Hachem had absolutely nothing in that hand. Although he had two pair this time, he couldn’t beat a flush, and he knew Negreanu had one.

In this hand, Negreanu was on the verge of calling until David “Viffer” Peat made a comment that led Negreanu to fold.

Because he played the hand exactly the same as an earlier hand, Hachem almost cost himself $50,000.00. This is why you need to mix things up, but more importantly think about the kind of memory and concentration you need to recall a hand your opponent played 2 years earlier against someone else and realize he has just played your hand exactly the same. The best, like Negreanu, can do this.

Everything you do at the table is being observed and mentally recorded by someone. You never know when you will find yourself at the table with someone you played years earlier. It happens to me all the time. I’ll head down to an Atlantic City tournament and find myself seated next to someone I had played with the year before. I am so far ahead of the game when I not only remember who I played against, but how they played as well.

I’m happy to report that when Hachem made his play against Negreanu, I recalled the hand he played against Lederer also. Although I had the insight of seeing both hands as the hand played out, it doesn’t change the fact that I recognized Hachem’s pattern and remembered it from his earlier play.

Keep in mind that whatever play you make, you are being observed by one or more opponents. They are making mental or physical notes of your play. In the future, maybe later in the session, maybe two years later, you will be at the table with one of those opponents who will open up that mental notebook and make a play against you because you failed to mix up your play.

That opponent could very well be me if I see you again

On the felt.

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