The night started out with immediate aggression: I sit down to a $6 BTN straddle (I'm in late position) and one of my favorite fish has already limped in. FWIW, I sought out this table because I know the player very well and he's sitting on a $~600 stack. I know him to call far too often, both out of and in position, when facing a raise. He gets downright stubborn, and you can begin to see a mental separation between his rational self and his ego. It's almost as if he says, "oh... you raise? On my limp? Well let's see how you can handle this! I call!" All I'm thinking about when he does this is, "come at me bro!" As an aside, he also has a ton of tells including defensive chip grabs (when threatened with a raise, he'll grab his chips to act like he's going to call in order to dissuade his opponent from betting) and betting tells (small bets mean draws / weakness, larger bets are more value oriented).
Therefore, against him, I always make my value raises on the larger side, and my speculative raises on the weaker side. I know full well that I will make a huge amount of money PF with value hands where he'll check / fold, so my real chance to pump him is PF. On a straddle pot ($6), I look down at AJo after his limp [and perhaps one other] and raise to $35 (more value-oriented; a larger percentage of the time, my hand is ahead, if not way ahead of his range). He calls as the only caller and we see a heads up A 8 3 rainbow flop and he checks to me.
Top pair, good kicker is way ahead of him. I don't think there's much merit to betting here, because I'll fold out all his non-Ace hands. I think for a second or two and check behind, also hoping that he'll hit the turn, because his bluffing frequency is far too high IMO. He somewhat disappoints on the 6s turn (setting up a 2 flush board a potential straight draw) by leading for [only] $10. Here's where I considered calling or raising. If he has an Ace, I'm better than most of his Aces and he's rarely folding to a raise. If he turned a spade draw, he's absolutely calling to see a river. If he's bluffing, he's folding and maybe not betting a river regardless, because if he bluffs, he tends to bluff one street. He knows his $10 bluff was a weak bet into a $70+ pot. I think my options are pretty clear, and the optimal choice is to raise since I get value from draws and fold out the rare chance his bluffs continue to bet the river. I raise to $65. He folds. Optimal, but I folded out 55 as it turns out.
A few hands later I look down at AQo. I raise to $15 after a limper; both blinds call along with the limper. The flop comes 3 3 5dd (I don't hold a diamond). I cbet $35 to take it down. Love the paired low flop. Unless someone is getting sticky with a small pocket pair, I'm always taking it down here, regardless my raise, and I don't want to dodge potentially 6 cards on the turn. Realize that a low paired flop like that on a PF raised hand is particularly hard to hit: 34, 23, 35, 45, 56, 57, 33+. Not too many combos to provide resistance save for a diamond draw which, since I have position, I'm not too afraid of a caller and can pot control later streets if need be.
Within the 30 minutes (now I'm playing for around an hour) I look down at 78hh, facing an $11 raise from the aforementioned fish above. I consider a 3bet, but I'm the first in and 78hh plays very well in a multi-way pot, so I actually want more players in. I get my wish, as 5 others make the call. $66 to go in the pot.
The fish cbets $30 into a 7 3 2 rainbow flop. I'm first to call with my top pair -- and as it turns out, the only player to do so. At this point, I'm trying to define the fish's hand; he'll lead out very often here, without consideration to the players in the hand, but only looking at the relative strength of his hand. I think he can have overcards as the PF aggressor, as well as pocket pairs in his range, including smaller pocket pairs (i.e. 55, 66, 44, etc.). The pattern with him in these kinds of spots is to cbet most of his range, but check the turn if he thinks he's behind.
The turn brings the 8c, putting a backdoor club and straight draw on the board and giving me top two pair. He bets $65 this time, and now I've defined his range: TT+ -- more likely JJ+. Sticking with his aforementioned pattern, he believes he's good here almost all the time. I can also mix in 33, 22 to his hand mix, but I don't know how likely that is because I don't think he raises small pairs in such early position. On the other hand, he did PF raise very small for the 1/3 stakes. I think he's nervous about the backdoor draws and the only obvious straight draw (45, A4, based on my flat on the flop). At this point, I'm ready to play for stacks, I have a very masked hand, and we have $385 effective on the turn. How do we play for stacks? Raise, obviously! I think for a bit, look at him and consider a large or small bet. I opt to look bluffy, making a "large" raise to $175, which is meh big compared to the pot size of $256 - a $110 raise, about half pot. He snaps it off without even thinking about it. Oh..... he's on autopilot now - get to showdown with his overpair.
The point of interest in the hand is a little prior to the dealer flipping over the river card, he blind shoves his remaining $210 effective (he has me covered by $~200) as his river bet. From my perspective, I think he has a made hand, doesn't care what the river is, and makes my decision oh so much easier. I think this is a100% call regardless his river action, but the blind shove discounts a rivered set or backdoored flush (the dealer shows the Tc after his shove). I hesitate for a second or two before making the call and he shows JJ. I scoop with my two pair, and my night is off to a very good start.
Further hand: I limp 56o in late position with a $10 straddle as do 2 other players. We see a 4 way flop of K Q J. Complete whiff. Checks through. Turn is a blank. Check please. River is a 9 and it checks to me. $40 in the pot. I try to steal it with a $22 bet, representing a Ten and it folds around to the guy on my right who snaps it off with 99. Hand meet cookie jar; some people just won't lay down their sets :-).
After that, my notes get really wonky because the table became very gregarious. The drinking started. The crazy play started. 95o was suddenly a raising hand. An $8 raise at some point later in the night with J5o would flop 5 5 J and stack some poor unwitting soul (i.e. the fish above who walked away VERY pissed off)...
At one point, deviating away from my customary hand selection, I decide to call an $15 raise on the BTN from the fish above with 53o. It so happens that we're heads up to a flop of K T T cc. He leads for $15 and I sense weakness so I call the bet, planning to take him off the hand at a later point.
The turn brings an offsuit 3 and he leads for $25. Another weak bet... he's drawing. I start to count out a raise and he immediately goes into his defensive chip grab tell, "ready to call whatever I bet." I choose to raise to $75 and he instantly calls. I raise here not for value but to set up a river story no matter the card, so that I can credibly represent trip Tens or Kx (more likely skewed toward Tx).
The river is an offsuit (redundant; yes I know it's impossible for it to be suited) K making the final board K T T 3 K. This is a great card and a bad card. My hand is devalued to at best a chop, but most likely his two cards are higher than my 2 pair (KKTT) / 5 kicker.
Here's the problems with the King river:
- With my turn raise, I can't change my story and all of a sudden represent Kings full. It's a hard sell without a little showmanship. Remember, I value raised a blank turn card, giving me a pretty tight range consisting heavily of Tx and very very few Kx hands. I'm usually not value raising Kx, but he's weak bet me twice, so I guess a Kx raise is perhaps in my range according to his view? According to his view, I should be fearful of him holding a Kx type hand since he was the preflop aggressor.
- The King obviously counterfeits my lower 2 pair giving me no showdown value.
- It counterfeits all of his 99- pocket pairs. In fact, it gives those small pocket pairs no showdown value. He's smart enough to know that 2 pair, Ace high will take down this pot vs. his 2 pair 9-2.
- Time to talk ranges: Enough of the small pocket pairs, because we know they can't call. Let's assume he was on a straight draw (gutter or more likely open ended QJ). Without the AQ/AJ gutter draws calling 2 pair Q kicker is a pretty hard call. I don't think he's capable of hero calling Q high, and he's probably not smart enough to hero call A high either. The same can be said for a tight-ish raising range of flush draws. JJ, QQ, AA have a huge crying call but I think he bets more strongly on the flop / turn with any of those hands... particularly with AA as an overpair. I think I weight him very heavily towards QJo.
He checks to me and I think about it for a good while. I have represented trip Tens on the turn. He almost 95% never has a King or he's betting the river fearing that I'll check through with my bottom boat, because I can certainly do that if I perceive I'm beat. The way the hand has played, I feel like he's never having a Ten either; he's at least considering 3betting on the turn instead of snap calling with the defensive chip grab move.
I start to count out chips and he goes into defensive chip grab mode once again, making me feel far more comfortable in my value bluff. (FYI: Please don't think that "he snap called you on the turn, why wouldn't you think he'll do the same on the river?" My understanding on defensive chip grab tell means he's trying to dissuade me from betting, not always that he's going to fold. Furthermore, at worst, he's just calling my river bet. He's never raising which is a pretty reliable tell that he hold neither a King nor a Ten. That helps me skew his weighting towards missed draws and counterfeited small pairs.)
$230 in the pot, and I want to make such a sizable bet that only the very very top of his range can make the call, all the while realizing that this is a near impossible call for anything in his hand except RARELY two pair Ace high as a total bluff catcher. He smart enough to know that even if he has a small pocket pair, it's only worth the kicker at this point since the 2 pair on the board by the river counterfeits his flop and turn 2 pair. He also knows I've owned him the whole night... perhaps he even knows I've owned him his whole life, and that plays into the psyche here. I'm sure he's thinking, "a bet means The Poker Meister has to have here it every single time." I'm sure he's also thinking, "I'm not going to pay off that SOB twice in one night for a good chunk of the stack that I worked so hard to earn back!"
The showmanship part of the equation? I have to act like I'm carefully considering the hand and the way it went down / played out. I need to act through figuring out if he checked his Kings full to me, trying to trap me and my supposed Tx hand. Remember, on the turn I've mostly represented trip Tens. We're effectively on $~400 to the river, so I need to make my bet sizing such that he can't come over the top of me as a bluff, because I've seen him get a glint of creativity at times. I need to make my bet sizing feel to him like I'm committed to the pot. That's why I make a nearly impossible-to-call-without-the-nuts (either K or T, or crying AA, QQ, JJ) $200 2 red stacks, nearly full pot bet. I definitely take my time with figuring out my bet sizing in order to walk him through my thought process without saying a word nor making eye contact with him. I want to talk with my body language rather than my mouth. With all of his showboating with the defensive chip grab, he instantly mucks and we breath a silent sigh of relief, in the process scooping a decent pot that we had no business scooping.
What would you do?
Given the table dynamic, the almost the whole gregarious table (well, maybe 5 players) limps to my SB and I look down at QQ. I'm not wasting any time slow playing out of position with what should shape up to be the best hand preflop. I decide to raise to $25, getting folds from everyone save for a decent hyper aggressive player in mid position and the aforementioned fish. We take a 3 way flop of 6 6 2r with about $85 in the middle. This is a perfect flop - only 2 possible draws (both gutters 45, 34), but otherwise totally dry.
I'm out of position for the hand, which sucks, but in this case, I want to get stacks in on such a dry flop. How do we get stacks in? We raise / bet! I lead for $50 and the decent player pauses for a second before shipping his whole $320 stack. The fish folds and we're faced with a $270 decision (I have around $800 total at the time).
Perhaps this is more difficult than I'm making it, and it's a fail as a WWYD. He is indeed capable of showing up with a 6 in this spot; he's been tilted since aggressively donking off his $800 stack to other bad players around the table. That said, he's also capable of just about any other hand in this spot.
FWIW, I think it's a pretty clear "if he got there, he got there with 6x or 22, if he slow played KK, AA, good game" call. I think the table is too loose and this player is too aggressive to fold to a bully non-value raise. Constructing a range? 34, 45, 6x, 22-99, oddly played TT, JJ, KK, AA, and a healthy smattering of bluffs. I think overcards are less likely given his aggressive play preflop (i.e. he rarely has shown to limp in).
What would you do?