Beware the "isolation play", it can backfire if not executed properly…

Basement Isolation Booth
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In Texas No Limit Hold ‘Em the “isolation play” can be used in an attempt to get all other players to fold so that you are just heads up with one opponent.  When you think or know that someone has raised with a worse hand than yours and you want to play against him only, you try raising an amount that will cause the remaining opponents to fold.  There is an art to this and I ended up finding that out the hard way.

I was just two positions to the left of the big blind or UTG-1, “under the gun” minus one. I was dealt KsKc, a very good starting hand and I raised to $2 or twice the big blind, 2BB. Four other players folded and it was up to the short stacked player in the cutoff position to play.  As was the case most of the evening, he raised to $8 or 8xBB which he had been doing all night. I took this as an attempt to steal the blinds and my raise. The big blind called his raise. I knew that the short stack had been making moves all night and I decided that this was the time to put him to the test.

Generally, the isolation play requires that you make a pot sized or double the pot size re-raise in order to get other players to fold, but I got a little to0 fancy, and shoved all in. I expected that the short stack would call as he probably had a small pocket pair, but I failed to take into account the fact that the big blind had already called the $8 raise.  The short stack called as I expected he would.

My shoving in $98 into the pot was not such as good idea. The only reason I did not lose all of it was because the big blind called me with his remaining $40, leaving me with $50. I had started the evening with $75.

The short stack turned over a pair of eights, as I expected. But the big blind was an altogether different story as he turned over a pair of Aces, one of them being a spade.

The flop was 7d 2s 5s with two spades on the board. The turn was a 10 of spades. The river was a 9 of spades, giving both the big blind and myself a flush, mine King high and his Ace high, the best hand to win the pot. The short stack was busted and left the table, perhaps in search of other opportunities to double up with a pocket pair.

As for myself, I had not given myself a chance to fold pre-flop. I should have put in a pot sized bet and then if the big blind raised or called,  I would have been able to decide what to do next. As he was a fairly tight player, I could have folded to a raise and saved some of my dollars.

You can be sure that I will pay more attention to what the players are doing when I find myself in similar circumstances in the future.

Do you ever try to execute the “isolation play”? How do  you do it? What has been your success with this play?

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4 thoughts on “Beware the "isolation play", it can backfire if not executed properly…

  1. Pingback: Beware the “isolation play”, it can backfire if not executed …

  2. I think for this particular hand, there's no shame in losing with KK to AA. If you had made a pot-sized re-raise, and the BB had re-raised all-in, would you have folded? I know personally wouldn't have.That said, yes, I do normally try and isolate players. I'm grinding the 2c NL on Pokerstars at the moment, and generally I raise my entire range to 2bb + 1bb for each preflop limper (up to 2 limpers). I think it can definitely be profitable, it's a question of bet sizing, and picking the right spots (and opponents).On a completely different note, I didn't know you were Chris Brogan's father! I've had conversations with him in the past (in my non-poker life, I'm decently involved the social media scene).

    • Derrick, Thanks for the comments. I probably would still have called, but I gave myself no options to be able to fold. As I had no real history with the big blind, I would not have had any idea what his range of hands were. And yes, I am Chris’ dad. Small world. 🙂

  3. I think for this particular hand, there's no shame in losing with KK to AA. If you had made a pot-sized re-raise, and the BB had re-raised all-in, would you have folded? I know personally wouldn't have.That said, yes, I do normally try and isolate players. I'm grinding the 2c NL on Pokerstars at the moment, and generally I raise my entire range to 2bb + 1bb for each preflop limper (up to 2 limpers). I think it can definitely be profitable, it's a question of bet sizing, and picking the right spots (and opponents).On a completely different note, I didn't know you were Chris Brogan's father! I've had conversations with him in the past (in my non-poker life, I'm decently involved the social media scene).

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