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Poker Mental Game & Planning

David Sands Poker Strategy

3,430 Views on 29/1/18

David plays poker in a very smart, aggressive way and in this article we're going to take a closer look at some of the hands from his successful career.

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David 'Doc' Sands made a name for himself by smashing major online tournaments on every network possible. Back in 2008 he won Ultimate Bet 200K guaranteed and the Absolute Poker 150K guaranteed tournaments in back-to-back days earning around $80,000 in the process and letting the poker world know that there's a new kid in town all players need to watch out for. While both Ultimate Poker and Absolute Poker are now a thing of the past David Sands is still winning big like he was a decade or so ago.

'Doc Sands' made a successful transition to the world of live poker and while he doesn't have any WSOP bracelets he managed to win a WPT title and with $8,459,921 in lifetime earnings he's ranked 79th on the All-Time Money List which is certainly impressive. David plays poker in a very smart, aggressive way and in this article we're going to take a closer look at some of the hands from his successful career.

Giant Slayer

Putting Phil Ivey in an awkward spot is a feat that very few poker players were able to achieve and David Sands is one of the members of this exclusive club. In the hand presented above, 'Doc Sands' decided to make a very standard open with Ah5h and Phil Ivey went for a considerably more controversial play by defending with 5c2c. That being said, in a live poker scenario timing usually reigns supreme over hand selection, deepstacks allowed for a fair bit of creativity and - last but not least - it's Phil Ivey that we're talking about, so we can be fairly certain that he was able to make this scenario +EV for him in the past.

On the flop David Sands flopped top two and that made his line fairly simple. Going for two barrels with the top of one's range isn't exactly a rocket science, but turn play in this hand was still extremely interesting. Ivey decided to go over the top of Sands barrel with his combo draw and blockers which was certainly a fine play, though unfortunately for him, David was also holding all the blockers. This combined with the flop texture made him reasonably sure that Ivey had to be somewhat draw heavy, and he was also committed to the pot because of how 'Doc' managed to pot on previous streets.

Sands gave himself the opportunity to eliminate an extremely tough opponent in a fairly innocuous spot and that's definitely a mark of a great tournament player.

Setting Them Up, Knocking Them Down

While there's plenty of value to be had in analyzing a single poker hand, analyzing said hand in a wider context is usually much more interesting. Poker is, after all, a game of incomplete information and the more data we have the clearer the picture becomes. That's why this drama in two acts that unfolded during 2013 PCA between David Sands and Vanessa Selbst is so interesting to watch.

The hand number one was a pretty standard affair with solid play on both sides. 'Doc' opened the hand with KJ and Vanessa called with AK which was a great play considering the position of her opponent and the stack sizes. While 3bet would also be a +EV play (it's hard to go wrong with AK as long as you're not folding the hand) it introduced a risk of some severe reverse-implied odds scenarios, which was especially relevant in this very tough table line-up.

Once David flopped top two his line became fairly simple, though just like in the Ivey hand his betsizing was impeccable and it's important to go for those small edges even in obvious spots. Selbst managed to make a good lay down on the river and that's where the magic happened. This seemingly ordinary spot ended with a well-placed needle. Doc showed his hand again to the table camera, cleverly implying that there was something special about it, making Vanessa doubt her solid decision. To add to this effect, Sands made a comment about "reliving the moment on TV" which got another needling aficionado, Scott Seiver, visibly excited.

The second hand in the clip makes a lot more sense with the shade of the previous one looming over it. We got another preflop raise from David and call from Selbst in position. This time, however, something has changed. While Sands was as composed as he usually is (almost annoyingly so) Vanessa made so-called string call, adding chips to the pot in small chunks which is considered to be a sign of bad table etiquette. 'Doc' most certainly noticed the Selbst was noticeably annoyed, given how he most likely aimed for that outcome with his behavior in the previous hand. That made it all the easier to take a passive line with his monster draw and give Vanessa as much space as she wanted, to bluff her stack into him. While we might question the morality of this situation it's hard to argue with the results.

David Sands is not just a technical online grinder, he's a great poker player through and through able to get the edge in every context with every tool at his disposal and that was no doubt the main reason for his long-term success.


Matt VIP

Matt is predominantly a mental game and planning expert, with a terrific knowledge of science, meditation, practical methods of improvement and of course, a good level of poker skill! Look out for his strategy articles and follow him for hi ... Read More

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