Episode 75: Sam Grafton

Sam Grafton’s post-graduate studies in critical theory make him the first guest capable of schooling Andrew on Foucault. We talk about staking and swapping, the importance of social capital to success in poker, the blurred line between poker and gambling, the extent to which the poker world operates independently of traditional government and economic institutions, and Sam’s political activism.

Sam is a video producer at Run It Once. You can read his columns in UK PokerPlayer and follow him on Twitter @squidpoker.

For more great strategy content, be sure to pick up the Thinking Poker Premium Podcasts and sign up for Tournament Poker Edge.


0:30 – Hello and Welcome
3:58 -Interview: Sam Grafton
57:30 – Strategy: Queens with a King on the Board


Blinds are 200/400/25 ante. Hero (42,900) opens to 1600 in MP1 with QQ. Villain (57,675) calls in the CO, and the Button also calls.

Flop (5900): Kc 6h 5c 3 players. Hero bets 2500, Villain calls, Button folds.

Turn (10,900): Th (board Kc 6h 5c Th). Hero checks, Villain bets 10,000 into 10,900.

River (30,900): 2d (board Kc 6h 5c Th 2d). Hero checks. Villain bets 20,000 into 30,900.

What’s Your Play? Jacks in Multiway Pot

What's Your Play?This hand is from a $5/$10 game at Maryland Live, currently playing 7-handed. Both Villains seem pretty competent with regard to sizing, bluffing, value betting, etc and have no blatantly exploitable tendencies. My best guess is that they have a similar view of Hero.

UTG opens for $35. I call Js Jd in the CO, the Button and BB call.

Flop ($145 in pot) 5c 4s 2h. BB checks, UTG bets $105, I call, Button folds, BB calls.

Turn ($460 in pot) 9h. BB checks, UTG bets $275 with $670 behind. I have about $1500 behind, and BB covers.

What’s your play and why? Post your thoughts and comments here, and I’ll post results as well as my own thoughts this weekend (maybe as early as Friday, maybe not until Sunday, going to be a busy week).


Evaluating Bluffs

I’ve got a new series now going live at Tournament Poker Edge. It’s called Evaluating Bluffs, and it’s a hand history review with an emphasis on considering whether and with what range I should have bluffed in various situations. More than that, it’s a case study in how to conduct a hand history review more generally, as I believe that focusing on a specific topic and trying to come away with some specific items on which you can take action are important.

This series is only available to members, so if you haven’t already, you should sign up for Tournament Poker Edge now to get access to all of my videos plus hundreds more.

Episode 74: Clayton Fletcher

Clayton Fletcher, professional poker player and comedian, talks about growing up in a poker playing family (his mother is also a professional poker player!), how his two careers complement each other, and what he’s learned from each. Then, we talk about the strategic implications of playing against world-class players in a tournament with a generally soft field.

Clayton first came to our attention when he mentioned our show on Dennis Has a Podcast. You can follow him on Twitter @claytoncomic and learn more about his upcoming shows from his website. Be sure to hit him up on Twitter if you want to check out the Clayton Fletcher Show at the New York Comedy Club.

In the opening, we mentioned a few of our past episodes, specifically our interviews with John the Lawyer and Ben Wilinofsky. The Premium Podcasts are available at www.nitcast.com.


0:30 – Hello & Welcome; Andrew gets shunned
14:36 – Interview: Clayton Fletcher
59:01 – Strategy: Clayton Fletcher vs the World

What’s Your Play? Over-Limp-Back-Raised Results

I was pleasantly surprised by the great discussion of this week’s What’s Your Play? I nearly didn’t post it because it was “just a pre-flop spot”.

How Likely Are Better Hands?

Everyone was rightfully quick to recognize that it’s rare to see people overlimping the biggest pairs in late position. A few of you asked a very good question about whether there was someone in late position or the blinds who could be expected to raise with a high frequency; there was not. This is indeed a good reason to think KK/AA are unlikely.

However, Villain is also committing 64, and quite probably 145, big blinds to the pot before the flop. Though there could be other explanations for this, which we’ll get into in a moment, this is evidence of a big hand. The more money someone is willing to put into the pot, the stronger he’s likely to be. Sometimes hand reading is that simple.

We have no reason to think this is a spazzy or gambley player. Quite the opposite, he’s very young, usually plays smaller stakes, likely relying on poker income, likely undercapitalized for this game, and initially bought in short. There’s nothing here to indicate that he has the stomach for putting so much into the pot on a lark.

Dealing With Aggression in Tournaments

My latest poker strategy article, Dealing With Aggression in Tournaments, is now appearing in 2+2 Magazine. The title is pretty self-explanatory, but here’s an excerpt that gives you a better idea of how exactly I address the subject:

The key to minimizing these headaches is to anticipate and prepare for the situations you’re likely to encounter. You want to avoid giving the aggressive player the opportunity to put you in tough spots. When you do get involved in pots with him, you want to have ranges that will be difficult to exploit and hands that will not lead to a lot of uncertainty about where you stand.

The article draws on a couple of examples from a live MTT I final tabled recently and should be useful to anyone who, well, has to deal with aggression in tournaments.

Episode 73: Matthew Hunt

Matthew “theginger45″ Hunt is one of the newest video producers at Tournament Poker Edge. After several years of traveling and living abroad, he’s returned to his native England to focus on poker and writing. He talks to us about why he gave up his nomadic life for poker, how he’s using poker to support his aspirations as a writer, and how many poker players could benefit from some life coaching. We also discuss a strategy hand from the Tournament Poker Edge forums.

Members of TPE can watch Matthew Hunt’s videos, including his latest series, Life Coaching for Poker Players. If you’re not a TPE member, you can still read Matt’s articles, but you really should consider signing up!

You should also consider picking up our WSOP Premium Podcasts. Nineteen dollars gets you more than five hours of strategy as Nate and Andrew discuss key hands from the 2013 WSOP Main Event as well as important concepts in any poker tournament.


0:30 – Hello, welcome, & thank you
4:53 – Interview: Matthew Hunt
52:20 – Strategy: Playing nines when a ten flops

What’s Your Play? Over-Limp-Back-Raised

What's Your Play?Sitting in a nitty, ten-handed $2/$5 game that isn’t even really worth playing but I’m out of the tournament and waiting for the $5/$10 to start so what else is there to do but collect hands to discuss with the good people of Thinking Poker Nation?

Villain ($725) is a very young guy, probably like 22, who I think is a professional of some sort. He seems to be a casino fixture, which means he must play a lot of $1/$3 because bigger games run infrequently and mostly on the weekends. He usually plays $2/$5 when it’s running but I don’t think I’ve ever seen him at $5/$10, and we have little if any history together. He initially bought in for not much more than the minimum $200, but I’m pretty sure he added a few hundred on at some point, as I don’t remember him winning enough big pots to have $500 profit. Early in the session he played two pots, neither of which went to showdown, which made me think he was likely overvaluing hands. He’s been quiet for the last two hours, though.

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