Thursday, February 25, 2010

Poker: Don't be a patterned player

The other day, I was playing a 10 handed 5-10 NL game. I was in UTG + 3 with J7o. 5 players limped to the flop. The flop came out T 3 6 rainbow flop. Everyone checked. The turn came a J and a flush draw is now on the board. It was checked to me, and I bet $30. Dealer and UTG called. The river was a K and now a flush is on the board. UTG and I checked. The dealer bets $125 into a $150 pot. UTG folds. I thought for a little bit. I called him with a 2nd pair and he revealed he had blanks. I won a $400 pot.

To most people, this might be a borderline bad call. Here is why I was over 75% sure I was good. The villain in the dealer position is a loose raiser who c-bet and buys the pots somewhat more than usual. I do not usually power bet, so this may be seen as a weakness to him. My weak bet on the turn gave him an opportunity to bluff on the river if a club came out. When the club did come out, the villain's action was consistent with a value bet with a made flush. However, there are a few things that stuck out in my situation.

1) He is capable of making bluffs to buy pots, and his style of play is consistent with a person who likes to bully others with his chips.
2) My weak half pot bet on the turn is probably interpreted as a person either buying the pot or has a weak hand. It is a sign of weakness.
3) I usually do not bet often, and I rarely check raise, so I am not aggressive. Another sign of weakness.
4) He "merely" called my turn.
5) My checking on the river is a third sign of weakness.
6) Villain betting a $125 into a $150 pot on the river is a very strong bet. Too strong actually. Usually a person bets, at most, half the pot if they are value betting against a weak hand. There is no reason he would believe that I would have a strong hand. So if he was value betting with a flush, he would probably not have made such a big bet. Also no one would make such a big bet with a K either, so he probably does not have a K. If he rivered two pairs with Kings up, he would not bet such a big bet either because a flush is on the board.

So after considering all the information, and especially the river bet size, I came to the conclusion that his chances of having a flush is very little. So I called with my bluff catcher mid pair. Catching people bluffing is always a very costly experiment. Even if you're right, you still have a chance that you are wrong. And when you're wrong, you unnecessarily lose a big chunk of chips.

Poker is not a game of ego. Catching people on bluffs is fun, but remember what you are there for. You're there to make money. Seeing someone's face after you outplayed them is just a side benefit :-)

In conclusion, don't always play a certain way all the time. Switch up and be passive sometimes when you have an aggressive table image, and vice versa. Otherwise you'll find donkeys like me who "think" they can actually play poker and call you :-p

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