Posted by Dr Fro 1:45 PM
Last Tuesday was the $1-$2 NL Hold’em game at Scott’s. Things started out rough. For the first 1.5 hours, I won a $3 pot when everyone folded to my raise and then split a big heads-up pot to take down $1.50. My stack was missing $50 from a few hands that completely missed the flop.
At this point, I noticed, based on my opponent’s folds and comments, that I had developed a Tight-but-Aggressive table image. They preferred to fold if I came in, knowing that they likely had the worst of it. Following Mike Caro’s advice, I avoided the temptation to try to change my table image. Rather, I tried to exploit the table image that existed.
My plan was to steal a big pot with a big bet. So I loosened up my starting hand requirements to give myself more opportunities to implement my plan. Three key hands were dealt:
Hand #1 I got AK and saw KsXsX lop. I bet $100 into a $60 pot, and I drove out all players except Ted. Ted is a gambler and he wanted 1.6:1.0 payout when he had a 2:1 odds of making the flush. To boot, he had only a pittance left in his stack, so even if the flush came, he would be unable to bet it. Of course the flush came, and he won. What is particularly interesting is that he played 8s5s, so he wasn’t even drawing to the nut flush. (Type A&B Bad Beat).
I can’t remember my exact hand, but I do know that I made a big bet with rags and lost to Ted, who held middle pair, bad kicker. Ted likes to call. I like Ted.
Hand #3 I fucked up. Don (Scott’s dad) had been “playing the fool” all night long. He kept acting like he didn’t know how to play. I should have caught on. Clue #1: Don is Scott’s dad. Read earlier post on Scott, but he also does a bit of a Hollywood routine, pretending that he has less experience than he really does. Clue#2: Don won every showdown he was in but 1 and always had the nuts. Maybe he was too tight, but he certainly wasn’t foolish enough to dance with a bad hand. Clue#3: He made a very smart bluff once when he sensed weakness. He got called (by Ted) and lost that one. I had ignored these clues and played with him on Hand #3. The turn made a possible straight with 3 suited cards. Based on his betting and my (incorrect) assumption that he was a fool, I decided that his $50 bet on the turn was on the straight and that he didn’t appreciate that the flush had come. I had a draw to a higher straight, a draw to a middle flush, and lots of chips, so I called. I missed the river and called his “come on over and kiss me” $5 river bet to see the nut flush that had been flopped. That’s when I figured out (upon flashing back to clues 1-3) that Don knew poker and was no fool. Me=fool. Mr. Hollywood took $55 from me.
Change of strategy again.
At this point I had bought in $200 twice and had $100, so I was stuck $300. It was time to implement the Junell House Strategy. The JHS involves 1) very low starting hand requirements followed by 2) a very disciplined approach to the flop and then 3) tricky play on the turn. Part 3 of the JHS is successful at Junell’s because the players are either very good or very bad, with very little in the middle. So, I run away from Morris when he bets big on the turn, but go for traps, slow plays, induced bluffs, etc against inferior competition. Part 1 of the JHS just gives me more opportunities to implement part 3. Part 2 keeps me from being another sucker quoting Rounders, wears sunglasses, and acts like a pro (or an assclown – it is a thin line) but steadily loses money. On fantastic side effect o the JHS is that the good players see me show 43 on the river and win with the wheel and conclude I am foolish. This gives me more calls. More calls give me more profits.
The JHS only works when a) I have an accurate read on all players b) there are a number of poor players that can be outplayed and c) I have deep enough pockets to bully when that is the right trick. The JHS would be destructive in Vegas or even the Top Hat because I don’t have a read on all players, there are few if any horrible players and my pockets are relatively shallow (except perhaps in comparison to Don Murphy). Plus the preflop raises against good competition keep me from coming in the pots.
Scott’s house shaped up perfectly for the JHS. I definitely had a read on everyone (app ½ good and ½ not-so-good).
I played a ton of crappy hands (but no J9o!!) but folded on almost every flop. Since my reputation of Tight-but-Aggressive was set, nobody noticed my playing 90% of the unraised flops. I got credit for holding good cards and stole some pots on the turn when the flop checked around.
I won maybe 7 of the last 10 hands of the night. On one, I played 56s to see a flop of 56X – all hearts. Vijay made a small bet, and I called knowing that he token bets on the come. Turn was a 6 ( FULL HOUSE!). Only a fool would bet here, so I check, he token bets and I call. River brings a heart. BINGO. He made a flush. I bet, he raises, I re-raise and he calls all-in. His King high flush was surprised to meet Mr. Full House. He was a gracious loser and I was a $150 winner.
Next I hold J4 (much better than J9o) to see a turn of 4433. Ted and I tangle and the 7 comes on the river. I know he will bet if he has any hand (I put him on 3x) and I KNOW he will try to steal if he doesn’t. Check. He bets like $20, to which I make a big raise, knowing Ted loves to call. He called with a straight (56) and he was surprised to see my boat.
Another hand in this streak involved me having high pair nut kicker versus Ted’s draw (again). This time, his loose call didn’t payoff and I won $60.
All the other wins blur together, but I took Dolly’s advice to go with the rush, and I bet, bet, bet, knowing that the powerful winning force that surrounded me (that phrase in Caro’s) suggested to my opponents that they should fold. And fold they did.
All together, this rush took me from $100 to $646, making a net profit of $246.
The whole point of this post is not that each unique game determines a unique strategy. The point is that over the course of the evening, the texture of the game changes, and you should continually adapt. I went from T&A Strategy to Big Bet Bluff Strategy to Junell House Strategy to Powerful Winning Force Strategy. And although I only won money during the last 2 of those 4, I believe that each strategy was correct at the time I used it.
Pay attention to those key turning points in a game that change the texture - a big hand, people leave, new people sit down, people are consuming alcohol, a big bluff is called, whatever. Constantly adjust to the new circumstances and you will be glad you did.