Rock's winner is wary of monsters

July 21, 2011  

The Poker Room at Rockingham Racetrack held a $250 big stack tournament on July 4 that drew 157 players. After 11 hours the four remaining players agreed to a chop, with the short stack getting a smaller cut. Chipleader Jim Sleiman, of Waltham, Mass., shared some interesting perspectives on his winning strategies.

Are you a professional player? Not a professional. I own three stores in the Boston area (Boston Flower Bouquet) and those keep me pretty busy. I play no-limit tournaments several times a week at the Rock and Foxwoods.

Was there a pivotal hand for you in this tournament? We were down to five tables, and I had {a-Clubs}-{j-Clubs} under the gun. I called, and so did Seat 5 and the small blind. The big blind doubled the bet, I called along with Seat 5, so it was three-way action. The flop came {k-Hearts}-{5-Clubs}-{6-Clubs} giving me the nut-flush draw. There were more chips in the pot, about 120K, than in my stack at this point. The blind checked, so I pushed all-in and Seat 5 folded. The blind snap- called and flipped over pocket aces. The turn was the {4-Clubs}, giving me the nut flush. Now I had a huge stack. I never looked back after that hand. The guy with the aces was really pissed about my play.

Could you lay down pocket aces? Maybe, pocket aces, kings, you know, they’re not really monster hands. They are just a pair. Whenever I have pocket aces and get called, I am uncomfortable. Early in the tournament, one of the room regulars made a move I really respected, folding pocket kings on a raggy rainbow flop.

When another player made a huge bet against him, he tanked for a while, then laid down the kings, saying it was too early in the tournament to play a big pot. It was an excellent fold, his opponent turned over pocket aces. Big pairs sometimes are big losers. When you have suited or connected cards, you have more options going for you.

How long have you been playing? Three years, and I’m ready to move up to the next level and will be playing $300-plus entries twice a month at Foxwoods.

Best Player Series

The River Room in Milford, N.H., has relaunched its popular “Best Player in New Hampshire” championship this year. There are daily qualifying tournaments, and players accumulate points for entering and additional points for cashing. The top 15 percent point-winners advance to a $30K championship event on Jan. 7. The series runs through Dec. 21. Check the riverpokerroom.com for tournament times and more information.

— Kay Fitzpatrick is a freelance journalist who recently wrote a series of strategy blogs for Everest Poker and is an avid player at New England’s poker rooms.