Sunday, January 04, 2009

Using distractions as advantages, by Steve Rosenbloom - Los Angeles Times - 4th January 2009

If you're playing in a typical no-limit hold 'em tournament at your local casino, you don't have to worry about such things as cameras and boom mikes crowding the table.

But if you play in the World Series of Poker, those things can become a factor, and wily pros such as Kirk Morrison will try to exploit them.

In this hand from the 2008 WSOP $10,000-buy-in main event at Las Vegas' Rio Hotel, with blinds at $50-$100, Morrison found K-10 suited on the button. The player in Seat 7, who had beaten Morrison in several earlier hands, open-raised to $350. The cutoff called, as did Morrison.

"I'd call with anything in position," said Morrison, owner of one WSOP bracelet. "I'd call with deuce-6 offsuit in position in this tournament."

The flop came Q-8-7, two hearts, giving Morrison the second-nut flush draw. Seat 7 bet out $650, the cutoff folded, and Morrison called.

"I thought he was strong," Morrison said. "At that point, I thought he had kings, even though I had the king of hearts."

The turn came the 9 of spades, giving Morrison an open-ended straight draw to the jack or the 6 to go with his flush draw. His opponent bet out $1,200.

"That was a scary board," said Morrison, who won more than $2 million when he finished second in the World Poker Tour Championship in 2007. "When he put out $1,200, I thought there was a good chance he might've flopped a set of queens or a set of 8s."

Morrison called. The river came the 4 of hearts, completing Morrison's flush. Seat 7 checked.

Morrison immediately said, "That's me," and he threw out a $5,000 chip.

"With this gentleman, if I take my time, he was capable of laying it down," Morrison said. "So I had to throw it in quickly and look like I was steaming. If I slow down, I don't think I'm going to get a call.

"Plus, there was a boom mike hanging over the top, the cameras were there, and people don't want to be bluffed. I tried to take advantage of all those nuances that don't get written about in books."

The player in Seat 7 said, "I don't think I can lay this hand down." He didn't. He called, then mucked his hand when he saw Morrison's flush.

"You have to decipher different people's mentality," Morrison said. "That kind of thing wouldn't have worked against 70 percent of the field. I wouldn't have gotten a call. He was the kind of guy who, when you have the cameras in there, he wouldn't want to have it shown that he was bluffed. With his personality, if I slow it down, it gives him more time to think. He probably would've made the correct laydown."

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Second-nut flush draw: Holding the second-highest card of a suit that would complete a flush. (Credit: Los Angeles Times)

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