I was having a decent session at Maryland Live last Friday - I was up approximately $200 from various incremental wins; no hands of particular note - make the nuts, get paid kinds of hands. The table had 3 huge fish at my right, a current or retired (not sure) police officer who will be at the center of this post, and 2 other very splashy players. The police officer and I have been amicable - he's a tourist and is looking to have a good time, as evident from his play. He's talkative, sharing stories, and the whole table is involved with the ongoing conversations.
The police office (PO henceforth) had built up a sizable stack by continually raising / betting - purely aggressive. I also had lost a decent chunk to him in an earlier hand - perhaps $100 or so - on a set over set situation where he limp / called a raise blind (he wound up with JJ vs. my 99), while I overall broke even on the hand when the original opener shoved his AA on the Q J 9 flop. PO had built his stack up to $400 but was probably in for about $200 of that stack. Emboldened by his success of bullying the table, he started raising all in on many rivers, making massively oversized bets which were rarely called. On occasion, he'd take to calling PF raises dark, only looking at his cards when the betting on the flop & turn became significant. I was watching this unfold until I finally found a hand from UTG+1:
I'm dealt KK with a $400 stack at a 1/2 game from UTG+1, facing an UTG limper. I opt to raise to $15. It folds around to PO in the SB, who instantly 3bets to $45. It should be noted that I hadn't seen him 3bet any prior hands - if nothing else, this was out of character. UTG folded the action to me, where I began carefully considering my options: I could raise to $75-100, but am I prepared to fold to a 5bet shove for $400? If I'm playing a 100BB stack, this is simplified - I feel comfortable getting 100BB in PF with KK; if I'm dominated by AA, so be it, but it's a lot less costly than 2 buy ins, and a lot less of a mistake (moreso a cooler than anything else). 200BB becomes less of a cooler and more of a bad play IMO. My other consideration is if I 4bet to $75-100, he's most likely folding his worse hands and raising AA, QQ. Perhaps I'm giving him too much credit; he may also be 3betting / raising AK, QQ, JJ and flatting all of his pocket pairs. But the main thought I had is I don't want him folding his bluffs and I want him to continue with the hand with all weaker cards. He's been aggro and winning a disproportionate amount of pots due to aggression - I don't want to shut him down before he can get more money in the middle. Therefore, I opt to flat call his raise to $45. After calling, he tells me he checks in the dark (WTF???). The only conclusion I can draw by his check in the dark is that in his simple mind, he's repping AA and doesn't care what the flop is? I digress.
Anyway, as scripted (why do KK's always get an A on the flop!??!?!), the flop comes A T 8 - 2 clubs. Outside of that stupid Ace, not a bad flop for a 3bet PF with KK - no Q, J. If I was crushed before the hand with AA, now it doesn't even matter, but I'm not too happy about the board - I'm trying for pot control. I decide to check through the flop.
Here's where the hand deviates from the standard: Going into the turn, PO tells me he hasn't looked at his cards - that he 3bet the PF dark. The turn is dealt - a non-club 2 I think. He picks up his cards to look at them, and then leads out for $60 into the $90 pot. I think for a moment, then call given his check in the dark, his talkativeness, etc. If he looked at his cards, he has to have AK, AA perhaps AQ? If not, the chances of him holding 2 random cards where one is an Ace is not all that likely given the Ace on the flop.
The river is a beauty - a non-club Ace. To me, this is an awesome card, because there are now only 2 Aces in the deck - making his story far less credible. He verbalizes all in - $300 - a quick instant bet. Now I'm caught, because logic dictates he doesn't have an Ace, but his bet is certainly trying to represent that he has the Ace. There are two tangential arguments here: If he did look at his cards, he's saying he has quad Aces or AK. If he didn't look at his cards, he has 2 random cards, and the likelihood of either being an Ace... or either being a flopped set is somewhat outside the realm - particularly given the 2 Aces on the board. Moreover, this move falls in line with his prior moves; he's been shoving / over shoving a lot of rivers like this, making the other players very uncomfortable with calling those large bets - in fact, no one had called the bets to this point. I took a while in deciding, and was probably 60/40 in favor of calling, but 60/40 for a 150BB call is not great...
I told the table that I was sorry for taking so long - then I flipped over my hand to show the table why I had such a hard time deciding on my action. FWIW, I'm pretty sure the fish at the table looked at me like a fish, and the better players understood my predicament. I told the table I didn't want them thinking I was showboating - but what I was really trying to get was a read on the PO. I got it - his reaction was almost instant: he first made the real face of horror / shock but quickly turned it around to the sympathetic look of confidence, nodding his head in acknowledgement that my decision was a tough one. It was all the additional information I needed. Standing up, I made the call and waited - he flipped 76o for a complete bluff / busted gutshot draw and I scooped. I think he had $5 in remaining chips which he threw to me as well, saying it was a great call on my part, patting me on the back, etc. He made an unceremonious exit after that, and I found myself up $600+ for the day :-). FWIW, I flipped the dealer a red bird of my own and his remaining chips.
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