The f*** did you lay that down?? The best televised fold [Friday Editorial]

The f*** did you lay that down?? The best televised fold [Friday Editorial]

Friday, 8 April 2011

Anyone who has ever played a cash game or a tournament in the ante stages with me will know that I’m not too keen on folding. This is great at a table full of passive nits who, in an MTT, might as well just pay me the blinds and antes instead of putting them in the pot. It’s not so great in a cash game when my VPIP climbs into the high fifties, especially when I have two pair on a river completing broadway and pay off my opponent instead of thinking through and letting the hand go.

As hard as it is to pull off a big bluff – telling a convincing story across flop, turn and river; balancing your range between air and monsters; having the balls to sit there and say nothing when you’ve just put your chips in with sweet F.A. – it’s probably harder to let a big hand go even when you know you’re beaten. When you flop two pair, or a set, or a flush then in your mind you have already won the pot. You feel subconsciously entitled to the chips in the middle because you happened to get lucky enough to hit the right three cards – it’s foolish but we’re all guilty of it.

Imagine this scenario: you bet the river with top two pair and your opponent moves all-in. Wait... well, he could have hit that gutshot or been slowplaying a set... but I have top two pair. I mean, he could be bluffing, would he value bet worse? I don’t know... sod it, I call. SHIT! I knew he had a straight, dammit... is that internal monologue familiar? We’ve all been in situations where it’s clear that our powerhouse hand has close to zero equity against the range our opponent will bet or raise with but in the heat of the moment it’s difficult to think clearly through the “ZOMG I HAVE A FULL HOUSE!” in your mind and actually realise that you might as well have seven-deuce.

Every poker player has at least caught themselves thinking “I knew he had that hand!” after calling and losing the pot in a straight-up cooler. The difference between you and I, though, and the people making the big folds that make my top five is that they could actually summon the will to push the near-nuts away from them and concede a pot that they were sure was theirs.

This one didn’t make my number one spot but it’s close. It features Annette Obrestad at the 2010 World Series of Poker Main Event. Before the hand I should point out that Ms. Obrestad, despite her permanent Ice Queen demeanour, has a lot of pressure on her in this tournament. More so than the average player, anyway – after her 2007 win at the first World Series of Poker Europe and incrediculous online results including a Sunday $250k win (entering an $11 tournament two months after winning £1m is awesome in itself, to win it is fantastic) and the infamous tournament she won without looking at her cards.

In this hand Obrestad fires three barrels with a flopped full house before being raised on the river. Her opponent holds J-7 on a J-4-J-7-Q board and Annette flopped the goods with 4-4. The raise on the river is from 5,050 to 12,000 and gives Annette more than 3-1 on the call – non-poker players note that means that she only has to win the pot around 25% of the time to make the call a positive EV play. Instead she mutters “so ugly” and asks her opponent if he made a flush. It takes not that long – on the ESPN edit anyway – for Obrestad to muck the full house and preserve 6,950 of her 18,200 remaining chips. She would go on to... not cash, but then again 5,400 or so people fail to cash in the Main Event each year and some of them must have folded full houses too.

Tags: Annette Obrestad