When you’re running hot at the poker tables, even when you play bad, you still come good
If I could start with a little poetry this month…‘I can think of nothing sweeter than to be on a massive heater.’ Thanks – I was up all night working on that one. Actually I’ve been up all night quite a bit recently – winning cold hard cash, because I, my friends, am on that far too rare a phenomenon, a ‘heater’. Everyone has them, just the same as everyone has brutal downswings, but we forget they exist because we play so long between them and we fail to enjoy them enough. At the moment I’m trying to enjoy every day – my sleeping pattern is paying the price.
It’s not that I’m doing anything differently – I’m simply luckboxing my way to supreme glory. All I do is sit down, play and win – it’s becoming routine. Confidence, that elusive mistress, helps of course, because sitting down at the virtual felt expecting to win is a pretty good start. The danger now is that I’m becoming over-confident. The beast is well and truly out of the cage at the moment and I’m re-raising way too lightly and bluffing far too much.
Playing a typical four-table Hold’em session a few days ago I was a couple of hours in and winning. On two tables I had position on the same player and I’d been attacking him a lot. He wasn’t a poor player as such, just predictable and unlikely to make a move against me; he was folding a bit too much as well, but every man has their breaking point…
For the hand in question we had effective stacks of about 130 big blinds. He made a standard raise from the cutoff and on the button I three-bet him with 9h-8h. He called and I put him on a medium strength hand – two decent Broadway cards or a pair. The flop came Ts-8c-3d and he checked to me. I made a standard c-bet of two-thirds pot and he called. At this point I know he has to have a hand but probably isn’t super-strong; he’s the kind of player who goes into check-call mode when they have a hand they think is good but don’t want to play a big pot with. (That’s actually not a great strategy, unless you’re going to call down very light, because once other players pick up on it, they’ll force you to make really big decisions by firing on multiple streets.)
Anyway, the turn brought the 7h, giving me a straight draw to go along with my pair. Almost instantly the villain bet out about two-thirds pot, which was a weird line for him to take with me having the lead in the hand. Often when players do this they’re a little weak, because, after all, I’m the one who’s supposed to bet. I thought for a while but probably not thoroughly enough – remember, the beast is out of the cage at this point. I had about a pot-size raise left in my stack and decided I could get him to fold something like A-T or 9-9, maybe even stronger. So I shoved my stack in and waited for him to think before letting me have the pot.
Once my money was in I realised he was getting just over 2-to-1 on his call, which would look really tempting to me if I was facing a bet from a player I knew was being overly-aggressive and I had a decent hand. After thinking for an age and timing down long enough to convince me he was folding, he called and showed Js-Jc, which is an awful hand for me as he has me beat and it takes away two of my outs.
But, as you can probably guess, the story has a happy ending. Down to just eight outs the beautiful 6c hit on the river to give me a straight. What can I tell you? I had outs and I’m running hotter than Usain Bolt!
On reflection I don’t like how either of us played the hand. I can’t see many benefits to his line – unless on the turn he knew he was ahead and was playing to make me spazz out; however, the time he took to call would suggest that wasn’t the case. I also don’t like my semi-bluff shove. He obviously had a hand of some strength, I didn’t really have enough chips to make him fold and the dynamic between us meant he was much more likely to call.
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