Friday, February 26, 2010

Managing Mr. Pietzak

Woe is me in the Thursday night cash game when Mr. Pietzak sits on my left. His handreading skills and position become a thorn in my side unless I (or the poker gods) do something about it.

I actually made a bunch of money early tonight on other players - stacked Tony with 2 pair from the blind (he called it a night early after dropping 2 buy ins in an hour), and pushed someone out of a pot with a mere top pair but on an all-flush board. He check-called all the way to the river - sure looked like he had the ace of spades to me, but the fourth spade didn't come and I got a river fold.

Mr. Pietzak was calling my raises in position all night. In an early hand I had queen-jack suited and raised it up. He called. Whiffed the flop and cbet - he called. Hit a queen on the turn and checked, thinking about a checkraise, but he checked behind. River wasn't scary - I thought I was good, but I decided to check again to see if he would fire. He did not, so I showed my top pair, which was good.

I made a similar play with an ace-rag hand against him later (hitting the ace on the turn), but this time he bet the river small and I called, again winning a small pot.

This was a fine result. Mr. Pietzak now knew that my check on the river did not mean I was giving up, and that I was trying to induce him to bluff. He could not simply bet/bet/bet when I checked.

This kept me out of trouble on yet another similar hand. I had an ace that paired up in another tangle with him, but my kicker was lousy (5 or 6). When I checked the river (a ten), he made a near pot-sized bet. I reasoned that he knew I was capable of check-calling a top pair hand, and that a bet of this size, if a bluff, was sort of stepping off the ledge. It was much more likely to be a value bet trying to get paid off by a bluff catcher, so I folded. He told me later that he had pocket tens and hit a set on the river. Nice play by me.

I did have my one shot with Mr. Pietzak for a big pot but it didn't come. Raised up pocket aces to $3 and he three bet me to $7.

Everyone folded back to me. My range for him was TT+ or AK. This game gets pretty straightforward in a 3-bet pot - one usually doesn't find someone 3betting with pocket sevens or suited connectors. I had to decide on merely calling for deception (and giving him the chance to hit his set) or 4 betting. In most cases, 4 betting in this game pretty much turned my hand face up - or did it? I had been pretty aggressive tonight - I had been all-in twice, showing down the 2 pair, but not showing the other. Maybe the old reverse-dipsy-doo was in order and a 4bet would look like a bluff, or a tilty overbet. Or, maybe he simply had a hand too strong to fold and it was cooler time.

I made it $18 more. Mr. Pietzak was not pleased - he was thinking hard, shuffling his chips. "You got aces?", he asked - I tried not to react. He said "it's 50-50", and, after careful consideration, he stated "well, I've only done this once before, congrats Matthew" and flipped pocket kings into the muck. SON OF A BITCH.

A great fold, surely - but like I said - the most likely read of a 4bet in this game is aces. The signs were there, and he read them well. A flat call of his 3bet would have had a better chance of getting the money this time.

My early big pots and a couple small ones along the way carried the evening to a $43 profit.

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