Avoid The Blowup

When playing in a long lasting multi-table tournament it’s essential that players avoid the ‘blowup’. When I say blowup I am not talking about Phil Hellmuth’s reaction after he takes a bad beat although that does classify as a blowup. The blowup I am talking about fall’s more along the lines of the Mike Matusow blowup that we often hear about on ESPN. It’s when you are late in a tournament, you make an unorthodox play that cost you all of your chips, and it’s the end of your tournament life. Whether it’s a bluff gone horribly wrong , or an overplay of a weak hand. It’s essentially the hand where you know you shouldn’t be involved in, and at the end of the hand you are sitting on the rail. To be successful in multi-table tournament you must be mentally tough, and you must avoid making crucial mistakes that will cost you your tournament life. Hence the ‘blowup’.

Most poker players, if not all of them, are guilty of making a mistake deep in a tournament. I have done this many of times, and I know I still struggle with laying down hands I need to lay down. It’s alright to make mistakes in a tournament, because like anything in life one must learn from his/her own mistakes. The thing is if you don’t learn from the mistakes that you make in a tournament then the mistakes will pile up, and you will have blowup after blowup. Most of us have held a hand in a tournament where we are unsure whether or not we should make a play or fold our hand away. Tough decisions are a part of the game, but it’s the hands where deep down you know it’s a fold situation yet you proceed to make a play for the chips. After the hand is over you find yourself on the losing end, and THEN you say to yourself, ‘I knew I should of folded’. This in my eyes is a blowup. The hands where you are 99% sure it’s a fold, but you still find yourself in the pot. Yes sometimes you will get lucky and that’s the nature of the beast. Doing this over and over will cost you money in the long run which ultimately put a damper on your poker career.

Blowups can come in a couple different situations. For instance say you make a pre-flop raised with A9 from the cut-off. The button comes along for the call and both blinds fold. The flop comes K J 7 which is a blank for us and we have no draws. You make a continuation bet and the button comes along for call. The turn brings a meaningless 5. At this point it may be best to let the hand go and surrender defeat to your opponent. I have often seen players hang themselves by making a ‘blowup’ move. I have seen players make ridiculous over bet all-in moves trying to steal the pot, and the majority of the time I see these players going to the river drawing dead. This is a blowup move trying to pick up a pot. It’s fine to try to a bluff a person, but do it reasonably. Another scenario I see is watching player overplay their small pocket pairs. For instance a short stacked player moves all-in and a player in front of you makes the call with some chips behind him. Say you are holding a hand like 77. You may have the best hand, but you are pretty certain you are beat. You decide to raise the pot anyway to isolate the all-in player and wouldn’t you know the initial caller flips over JJ. Good game 77. I have made these mistakes before, and I am still learning how to avoid the blowup myself. It’s important to be 100% sure when putting all of your chips into the pot, so that you can avoid the blowups without any worry. Good luck at the tables my friends.

Craig Fleck

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