Monday, June 21, 2010

trading punches

Sunday night cash game(!) Our cash game is really an amalgam of two smaller games - the "neighborhood" guys and the "original" guys. The original guys were a group that played twice a week many years ago, but now barely at all. I'm part of the neighborhood group, and me (along with Tony) kind of serve as the "bridge" that brought the two groups together.

Anyway, one of the original guys can't really play much on Thursdays anymore, so he decided to try and re-stoke their old Sunday game. Tough sledding this week with Father's day and all, but we did manage to find 5 degenerate gamblers players ready to play.

The original guys, overall, are much more accomplished players than the neighborhood guys. Relying on getting value for your decent hands is not enough against this group. Many of them are capable of c-betting, floating cbets, donkbetting into the raiser and so forth.

Three of the other four players I had played with before - the last guy was new to me. I felt like the one weakness that these three guys shared was being a bit too tight, preflop, and definitely not aggressive enough (still plenty of limping even 5 handed). Therefore, my strategy going in, especially at a 5 handed table, was to LAG it up a bit.

This worked to some effect early one with blind stealing and such. In the first hour, I showed down two pocket pairs that became strong postflop hands - sixes that became a boat (won a small pot vs. someone whom I knew wasn't strong enough to call a big bet) and sevens that plugged the gut of a one card straight (slightly bigger pot, more hidden hand, more two-pair possibilities to call me). But I think my preflop raising of these smaller pairs perked up the radar of the table and they started opening up a bit to defend me. I got pushed off two pots with strong donkbets and didn't have enough information to decide they might be bluffing.

I won my biggest pot of the night from the new player. As I was trying to figure out his style, I watched him play a hand against another player that raised my radar. The flop came jack high and he bet. The turn brought a second diamond and he bet again. The river brought a third diamond, and another jack, and he quickly bet a third time. This could not have been a strong hand, in my estimation. That river brought a third jack and a flush wasn't met with any thought or decision on how to extract value - it appeared to be a blind "I have something and I'm going to bet" type of thing. No thought of aces being cracked or trip jacks getting flushed out. My suspicions were confirmed when he was forced to show down his hand - pocket tens. Not a bad hand, sure (and a winner this time), but not much thought on what the opponent might be holding. Could I use this information to my advantage?

It turns out that I got my opportunity. I checked my option with ace-nine-off in the big blind in a limped pot. A flop of ace-jack-six rainbow came out. I checked and the new guy bet out. I could checkraise, certainly, but I felt like a different line might earn me some more money based on my observation of his previous hand. I called.

The turn paired the bottom card with another six. This was mostly a good card for me - I no longer had to worry about ace-ten outkicking me, and I discounted bigger aces because this was a limped pot and not a raised one. Him holding a six was obviously a problem, but I decided to stick with my plan and check-call to the river unless he bet really large or something.

The river brought a queen - a pretty harmless card - one more likely to help his range a bit (maybe a two pair jack-queen, or a single pair), and more likely to let him fire one more time. I checked. This time he thought for maybe a second or two before making a solid bet. I thought equally long and called - he mucked without showing. (not great etiquette, by the way, I paid to see those cards, but I made the mistake of showing first. I should have held my cards out face down and waited for him to show, but I think he would have mucked even in that case).

He appeared to be steaming a bit afterward on his bluff gone bad, and this dynamic changed the table condition for awhile. Soon after, I raised a button with jack-queen suited and he defended from his blind. The board came Ace-three-four and he checked. I glanced over at him and he seemed fully engaged, fully interested in this board. My radar went up. "Checkraise coming", it said. I checked behind. The turn brought a low card and he checked again. Now, I might have been on the lookout for a trap, but there's no way I let someone check twice out of position without me stabbing at the pot. I stabbed away, and he called. I knew right away what was going on - he was trying to return the favor of letting me bluff down the river with a hand he intended to call to showdown.

The river brought another baby card and he checked again. I had deciphered his intention was to call (oh to have hit a bullshit wheel straight here!), and I had queen high, so I checked behind. He revealed pocket queens! A bit stronger than I thought, but my general read was true - he was waiting for me to bluff my stack away, and I didn't oblige the request.

Only 3 hours of poker as we chose to break up to get some semblance of sleep for the week ahead. I ended up +30 big blinds.


The Poker Meister said...

+30 BBs is a good show. Did you read Ed Miller's "What to do when they won't fold?" You executed (although a bit different opponent) the exact same strategy; let your opponent hang himself. I play live against a similar player who frequently goes busto bluffing off his stack. It's nice to just sit back and let him go nuts.

Memphis MOJO said...

Tough sledding this week with Father's day and all, but we did manage to find 5 degenerate gamblers players ready to play.

It's Father's Day - what's better than let Dad play some poker!