This post is a little out of order; this session happened about 3 weeks ago, prior to the last post (What would you do – A blatant violation of the rules).
I had a mostly uninteresting session last week; kinda standard stuff: AA, KKx2, QQ, JJ – all cracked. AA on my very first hand of the session and I paid off a flopped set for $180 on top of my preflop raise of $20. Not a good start. I didn’t show, so I suppose I could have an image of loose aggressive with my immediate stacking.
Anyway, a few hands later, I limp K6hh alongside 6 others. We see a 2 heart, 9 high flop; I think it was something like 9 3 7 hh. Facing an early position $10 bet, I call along with a host of others – 3 or 4. Seat 9, a youngish hoodie wearing kid in the BB (going off a week-old memory here, so details are a bit fuzzy) opts to check / raise to $45. Given the money in the pot, I call again; not sure whether anyone else called the check / raise, but now we’re heads up. Turn is a 6 and hoodie guy opens for his remaining $120 or so. I look at him; he looks very uncomfortable. Clearly, the 6 helps me, but my read is my 6’s are good – at least on the turn – so I make the call. Now I wish I could remember whether the 9 was the 9h, because it makes a difference to the hand, but I definitely don’t. He is definitely not happy that I called, confirming to me that my 6’s are good. The river peels a blank – no clue what it was, but it wasn’t a heart. I wait for him to flip, and he motions for me to flip first. I wait motionless, doing nothing but stare at him. He starts to flip, then decides to muck, conceding a $300+ pot to me without showing. I immediately muck my cards as the pot is being shipped, and he storms off. Wow. The table is puzzled, as am I. To summarize: ye went broke on a limped pot, with a semi-bluff (or maybe full bluff) into a handful of people, and capped it off with not wanting to show at showdown even though he’s leaving the table.
Now, I have no doubt my 6’s were good there, but I can’t envision any time where I will concede a pot without showdown, especially when I’m leaving the table if I lose. I’m not keeping my opponents from future information because they won’t see me again after this hand if I lose it. If I win it (with Ace high, for example), I can opt to leave the table regardless the result. I’m still scratching my head about this one; JThh? He can’t have 56hh because I had the 6h. 24hh? What hands are c/r’ing the flop and shoving a heads up turn? Moving on…
The one interesting hand of the session involved a complete noob. Although she claimed the last time she played poker was in grade school, this young chick was somewhat aware of hand strengths and aggression. I believe that this was her first time playing poker in a casino (she almost folded 6’s full on the river to a big bet, not realizing that she had a full house), but had an extreme case of beginner’s luck. She proceeded to get quad Aces (she had pocket Aces twice during our session together), hit 2 or 3 boats, and always had a strong hand to go to showdown. She simply amassed chips.
I find myself in mid position with KK in a $6 straddled and 3 limpers to my right. Action rolls to me and I decide to raise to $40 to narrow ranges down to more predictable cards. Well, that was a huge fail to say the least; I get 5 callers including the noob. The pot has around $240 and we see a flop of Q Q 7 ss. Action checks to the noob who gets real quiet. It should be noted that prior to that moment, she’s been completely sociable – we’re all having a good time at the table. Now, she’s dead silent. She puts out a $100 bet. Action is immediately to me. What do you do? $100 is a sizable bet for her, I have 2-3 players yet to act, and my KK is looking pretty marginal at the moment.
I thought for a bit and eventually came to the conclusion that she’s not bluffing here; her physical tells of silence combined with the sizing of the bet leads me to believe she hit a Q; I let the over pair go. I just can't imagine she's thinking to bluff in that spot. Everyone else folds and we’re on to the next hand.
In retrospect, I feel like the silence is such a huge huge tell. Between Zachary Elwood's books and Mike Caro's older stuff, I feel like the silence, especially from a new player, is the instinct of not wanting to scare the prey. A basic instinct of a non-thinking / irregular / noob player is to get very quiet when they're going for value. It's the hunter instinct in all of us; we silently tiptoe through the forest in order to catch whatever it is we're after.
At the poker tables, situation dependent (i.e. playing against a more experienced player, trying to use a reverse tell, etc.), I've found consistency to be the best line of defense to counter any tells I may throw off. In other words, instead of acting silent when I have a big hand, I try to continue the same conversation I was having prior, or try to continue acting as I was acting. I'll occasionally stare down a more experienced player as a reverse tell of a strong means weak, but I find that rarely works; the more experienced players are able to make decisions in isolation, valuing their relative hand strengths regardless the tells they're receiving from another experienced player. Anyway, I hope this little diatribe helps you with your game.