Making the right move and getting punished for it


Editor's note: Send your poker questions to Steve Rosenbloom. He will answer as many as he can each week.

From Chris in Boston: I find that oftentimes I'll deposit say $50 online and build it up to around $300 playing sit and go and small tourneys, and when I attempt to play cash games, even say just .50/$1 and sit with about $50-$100 that I'll lose almost all [of it] when I get my money in more often than not [as] a 2-1 or even 3- or 4-1 favorite and lose to draws on the river. It seems the players are far too erratic and will put me all-in with weaker hands that suck out on me. Recently had Jd-Qd in a .50/$1 cash game, raised to $3 from the button and the big blind called. The flop was 8c-9d-10c against only one other player. With about $6.50 in the pot and $35 left in my stack, my opponent bet out immediately $4. I raised to $13.50 and he called. I put him on a draw. The 2s didn't help, so I moved in. He called with 5c-Kc and hit a flush on the river to bust me, and I lost $50 on one hand. Did I play it wrong or get unlucky?

Rosenbloom: You bet it right. You just got unlucky. By my count, the pot had $24 on the turn. You pushed in for $21.50, giving him about 2-1 on his money, but he was a 4-1 underdog. You made the right bet to punish a chaser. Unfortunately, the chaser caught a killer river card.


From txjosh82: I've heard other players recently called a "grinder" besides Michael Mizrachi. What exactly does that mean?

Rosenbloom: A "grinder'' is someone who grinds out a living in a card room. A grinder is the offspring of a rounder, the term used to describe players such as Doyle Brunson who made the rounds to hit poker games in private residences or back rooms before card rooms were legalized.


From Matt in North Dakota: At the end of a hold'em tourney when you're playing heads-up, there is usually controversy over how to deal to the last two players. I'm thinking that during heads-up, the small blind gets the button, gets the first card dealt and then is first to act before the flop. The big blind is then first to act after the flop until the hand is finished. Is this wrong? I've been told many times that I'm wrong.

Rosenbloom: Nope, you're right. In heads-up play, the small blind gets the button and must act first before the flop. The big blind has the option if the small blind calls, then must act first the rest of the hand.


From Stu in Chicago: With four players left in a tourney, three players go all-in. The chip leader has the other two covered and knocks them out. Who finishes in third place?

Rosenbloom: If two or more players get knocked out in the same hand, their placing in the tournament and their payout is determined by the size of their stacks before the hand began. Sometimes, even the pros aren't sure how it works. In fact, during the World Poker Tour's Bay 101 Shooting Stars event several years ago, play was three-handed when Masoud Shojaei moved in with his short stack and was called by chip leader and ESPN Poker Club columnist Phil Gordon. Chris Moneymaker was next to act. As he debated moving in, Moneymaker called over the floorman to ask that exact question. Moneymaker, who had a bigger stack than Shojaei, was told that if Gordon knocked both of them out, then Moneymaker would get second-place money. Gordon knocked both of them out to end the tournament. Put a heck of a crimp in the WPT's money presentation that is reserved for when play gets to heads-up, let me tell you.


From Sal in Florida: My question involves Omaha hi-lo. I play the game regularly and I am pretty sure I know how to decipher the winning low, but it becomes tricky when a fourth low card hits the board. I know it all starts with the highest card used in the low, but does it work its way down? Which low wins: A-2-3-6-7 or 2-3-4-5-7 and what are the ultimate rules to decide?

Rosenbloom: The rules are simple: Count backwards. In your example, you should ask whether 7-6-3-2-A beats 7-5-4-3-2, and it doesn't because the 5 in the second hand beats the 6 in the first one. The ace doesn't play.


From Karl in New York: I was at the World Series of Poker in 2005 and I play in the [WSOP] Circuit events in Atlantic City. My problem with the WSOP is the amount of starting chips they give. It makes for bad play in the end when blinds are so high. The only move is all-in. Why don't they let the players play and give us enough chips? For example, the $2,000 event at the WSOP, they gave us $2,000 in chips. Many I have spoken with have similar complaints.

Rosenbloom: I've heard the complaints, too. Danish pro Marcel Luske commented on it during a $1,500 buy-in event at last year's WSOP. He sounded frustrated that he was able to try one or two moves before putting all his chips at risk. But the WSOP always has been dollar-for-dollar, and whether the WSOP organizers intended it or not (doubtful), the various buy-in levels create different circumstances that allow a variety of playing styles to win. If every event called for starting stacks that were twice the buy-in, then it would favor players with the money to enter all the events instead of skill sets and the ability to adapt. There's no rule that says every event is right for every player. You know the situation before you enter, and somebody is finding a way to play under those circumstances. I mean, the first open event at last year's WSOP, a $1,500 buy-in, was won by pro Allen Cunningham, who defeated a final table that included such respected pros as Scott Fischman, David "Devilfish'' Ulliott, Can Kim Hua and Liz Lieu.


From Dave in Texas: In a totally non-legal-advice type of way, what would a pro do if he hypothetically played poker online illegally and made a lot of money come tax time? Do they pay U.S. taxes on that money? If so, do they have to submit any forms, or do they just list it under gambling winnings?

Rosenbloom: I'm not a lawyer, and I don't play one on television, but I don't know of anybody who declares their online winnings.


Steve Rosenbloom's book "The Best Hand I Ever Played" is available at bookstores everywhere. A regular contributor to ESPN.com, he is also author of a syndicated column for the Chicago Tribune. To leave Steve some feedback or ask him a question for his column, check out his mailbag.