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Annie split the $5,000 limit hold’em poker with Eli Balas at the 1998 WSOP. Annie played an exciting hand with Ali Sharasheik (a good pot-limit Omaha player from London) at the final table. Neither hadh the hand been fascinating due to its effect on Annie’s chip position, since not many chips had been won or lost, nor were the two of them eliminated or crippled due to the hand.

To be more precise, the hand was exciting because it demonstrates well some mistakes that could be made at the final table, and how one could allow players to play well against one by patterning one’s play too strongly. Annie had been third in the chip count with $73,000 when the day began. Ali had begun with $75,000 in chips, which was almost the same amount as Annie.

The following hand came up when Annie couldn’t get a good hand nor maneuver much, and she ended up with depleting her chips to roughly $45,000, while Ali had managed to win several big hands through the day and building his chips to more than $100,000. Six players remained, and Annie was on the button. Annie went pretty low on chips since the level was $3,000-$6,000.

There had been 18 players left the previous night when Ali drew Annie’s table and he’d been playing with Annie since then. Ali was playing extremely tight poker, and he had been calling only big pairs. Annie only saw him reraise once, against a button raise, this was when he had a fairly weak Ace and nine. Previously Annie had raised Ali’s big blind from an early position, and Ali had shown Annie an Ace and Jack before folding.

It made Annie realize that at the very least Ali was in a comfortable position. Mickey Appleman had been in the small blind, and Ali was in the big blind, while Annie was on the button. Annie raised her button with an unsuited Queen and Jack when all the others folded to her. Mickey also folded whereas Ali chose to call. Annie immediately realized that she needed to play with caution. Ali’s hand was certainly better than Annie’s.

Annie figured if he had a random Ace he would reraise, fold if he had most of the King and X hands, and he would call if he had anything better than that. Annie decided that it meant he had a pair or an Ace, which was strong. So Annie was determined to play very carefully after the flop. A king, a ten and X came down at the flop. This flop had been good for Annie, since she had missed. Annie checked when Ali checked she had hoped he would have folded a miss in case he had a bad Ace or an underpair nines or lower.

However, he called. When Ali called, Annie understood that Ali had beaten her, and she expected him to have an Ace and King at the very least, going by his actions. The turn was of no use. Both of them checked. The river didn’t do much good either. At this time, Ali flipped his cards to reveal a pair of Aces and won the pot, which was rather small. Annie felt Ali misplayed his hand, given the fact that Ali was principally a pot-limit poker player and not a limit poker player.

Here’s a look at the play as it occurred on each street. Annie was extremely pleased with her pre-flop raise. If Mickey didn’t have a very good hand then he would not have defended his small blind as he was running short of chips. And Ali had been playing very tight even though he had plenty of chips; this meant Annie was expected to pick up the pot right then. How then do we explain Ali’s flat pre-flop call?

Annie felt that this play was much better in a pot limit, as one could trap an opponent into betting all their chips on later betting rounds, than it is in limit especially when one played versus an opponent who had few chips and whom one could cripple. Annie would almost always have to call if her opponent reraised, because that would mean she would get 5.5-to-1 odds on her money.

Her opponent could guarentee himself at least one more small bet with a reraise, and since the opponent would be reraising out of the big blind versus an aggressive button raise, it would mean the player wasn’t really announcing his hand. As a matter of fact, Annie would have guessed he had a weak hand, from the way he had been playing, and perhaps she would have played very tight aggressively if she had flopped a Queen.

And yet Annie thought that his flat pre-flop call was a justifiable option at this point, as it does, ordinarily, lend mystery to the one’s hand. Annie bet with her unsuited Queen and Jack when Ali checked at the flop, and Ali only called. As Annie mentioned earlier, she had bet because she had hoped that he would have laid down a pair smaller than nines. Incidentally, by betting at the flop, Annie thought there was a slight possibility she’d win the pot (by having Ali fold) versus Ali’s pair of Queens or Jacks, at the very least an Ace and ten or an Ace and Jack, or an Ace and Queen right there - taking into account the snug manner in which he’d been playing.

Annie felt it was a mistake to make a flat call on the flop 9 after his check and Annie’s bet). He could have check-raised at this point. If Annie had missed the flop, Ali should have known that Annie would bet on the turn if he wanted to make any more money, and Annie had not been doing that through the day. But Annie would have certainly called if she had hit the flop and he had check-raised. She would not have reraised except if she had him beat, because he’d been playing in a snug manner and he almost certainly knew it.

But he would get a call against any King and X, an Ace and ten, an Ace and Jack, an Ace and Queen, or a Queen and Jack. The only way he would get reraised by a pair of Aces, apair Kings, a pair of tens or a King and ten. Since it was highly possible that Annie would bet out of turn, except if she had precisely a good King, check-raising was the best way for him to guarantee more money over here.

Annie didn’t even like the fact that Ali checked at the turn once again. Annie mentioned earlier that she’d been checking the turn all day. Thus Ali had to hope that Annie had hit her hand hard so as to get a bet out of her. In her opinion, in most situations, Ali would only be giving up a free card to her, this would be very risky for him, except Annie had completely missed the flop, particularly because he would not know where he stood when any scary card came on the river especially if it were that devastating card, a third Ace that would give him a trio and Annie a straight.

Besides, if Annie’s hand had been weak, such as an Ace and ten, Ace and Jack, or Ace and Queen, the pot would have been won right then and there. Moreover, he would have won an extra $6,000 against a strong draw like a Queen and Jack, when Annie missed, because she would call. Also, Ali would have charged Annie some bets to draw. Ali checked once again on the river. This according to Annie was his worst move, because by this time he should have realized that Annie did not have a hand, which could beat him.

More so since a blank card had hit on the river. In order to win $6,000 Ali was hardly risking anything with his bet those odds sounded good to Annie. She guessed he had hoped she would bluff on the river; then again, she hadn’t been playing in that manner all day long. Furthermore, there was a much lesser chance of her bluffing than there was of her calling with a weaker hand, such as a King and X, an Ace and ten, a pair of Queens, or a pair of Jacks all of these hands would make her check against him on the turn.

He played the hand as one would in pot limit poker he played slow and attempted to trap her. However, in Annie’s opinion, when playing poker especially when six players are left and when one is playing poker against someone whom on has well outchipped and can cripple the best strategy would be to win as many chips as one can on every street. Nevertheless, Annie only lost $9,000 on a hand where she should have lost $1,800.

Similarly, a hand on which Ali should have won $19,500 he only won $10,500. When the level was $6,000-$12,000, and Annie had only $12,000 in chips, she felt that the $9,000 she had saved was extremely significant to her ultimate splitting the poker tournament with Eli Balas. This incident goes to show that a hand, which appeared to be an unimportant hand, can have a decisive effect on what happens at the final table later.

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