Difference between good and great poker

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If someone asked me what the difference was between a good player and a great player, my answer would be this article. Jared “Harrington25” Bleznick is one of the best high-stakes pot-limit Omaha players in the world, and I got to witness “the difference” this month while watching him play a PLO cash game online.

The blinds were $25-$50, everyone had about $5K and he was in the small blind with A-8-4-4 double-suited. Preflop, the under-the-gun player min-raised, the button called, Jared called and the big blind called. The flop came A-10-4 with two hearts. Jared checked, the big blind bet $300 into the $400 pot. The UTG player called AND the button called. Jared then raised the pot to $1,900 with the intention of never folding his hand. However, the big blind moved all-in, the UTG player called, AND the button called! The pot was around $17K and it was roughly $3K for Jared to call (almost 6-to-1 odds) with bottom set.

What would you do? I asked at least 10 of my friends what they would do in this spot and everyone said call. I sure as hell know I call when the pot is $17K and I have a set. But what did I witness? I watched Jared take about five seconds and easily fold his hand as he explained how he only has the best hand on the river roughly 5 percent of the time. I was astonished he could fold a set in this situation, but he did it without hesitation.

Not to be results-oriented, but what did the other players show? Top two pair. A set of 10s. And a gutshot with the nut-flush draw, of course. Jared was right and was drawing to the case 4. 

The reasoning for his fold gets complex with there only being one player who can have the king-high flush draw and a four-way pot, Jared held an ace in his hand, along with other table dynamics. But the simple fact is he folded a set on the flop getting almost 6-to-1 odds.

He lost $2K on the hand, but did he make any mistakes? His preflop call is standard, and his options on the flop are to lead and get it in, or to check-raise the pot and go with it. He can never just check-call on that board with that many players in the hand. That would be HORRIBLE. So did he play the hand optimally by losing $2K? Yes, because he ONLY lost $2K, and that is something great players do, minimize their losses.

— Jay Houston is an instructor with DeepStacks.com and is a sit-n-go specialist. You can email him at editor@anteupmagazine.com