Welcome, poker fans! Thanks for checking out the first of what I hope to be many blogs on my day-to-day poker dealings and “lessons,” for lack of a better term. I spend most of my poker career playing 8-16 and 15-30 limit hold’em, and in turn, will discuss mainly scenarios in these games.
That said, I found myself in a 15-30 game just the other day. The table was typical of a 15-30 game, in that, players were extremely aggressive, but studious and intelligent. In addition, however, this particular game was especially loose. A raise would get called in three to four spots on a regular basis.
My strategy was simple: sit tight, play a small number of hands, but play these hands aggressively. This sounds simple enough, as a winning poker strategy is defined as being both tight and aggressive. But as we know, winning poker hinges on card cooperation as much as it does solid strategy.
I had played for perhaps an hour with little drama, when this hand comes up. I pick up 6-6 under-the-gun. Small to medium pocket pairs in this position are as difficult to play as anything, and a case can be made for folding, calling, and raising. Because I wanted to take control of the hand, and because I had been playing so few hands to begin with, establishing a tight image, I decide to raise. The action folds to the button, a kid who has recently joined the game, and has yet to give any indication of his playing style. He three-bets me. The blinds fold, and I call.
The flop comes 2-9-A, rainbow. Once again, a legitimate case can be made for a number of plays, including check-calling, check-folding, and check-raising. I decide, however, to once again take the lead in the hand, and bet. This play gives me a number of options, depending on how my opponent reacts, perhaps limiting the dead money I would have spewed into the pot by calling. The determining factor when deciding to bet this flop, however, was simply its texture: a board with no draws and a single Ace. If I bet into a player who has three-bet me pre-flop, it absolutely looks as if I have a hand like A-10, A-J or A-Q. He will almost certainly raise me if he holds an Ace, allowing me to decide on whether or not to fold cheaply; OR, he may call, and fold to a turn bet with a hand like J-J, Q-Q or K-K. Therefore, to execute this play, you must be willing to bet the turn.
So, I bet. And he calls. At this point, I do figure him for a large picture pair, and hope to take him off of it with a big bet on the turn. The turn is a 4, completing the fourth suit, so as to disregard any possible flush draws, and I once again bet. He thinks for a moment, and calls again. At this point, I am somewhat confused, but have more or less resigned to the idea that he has the better hand. I am not betting the river without improvement.
The river brings a 10. I check. He checks behind me. I roll over my 6-6, and say, “Well, you must have this beat.” He flips his cards: J-10 of diamonds!! Scroll backwards in this post to remind yourself of the flop. Go ahead, I’ll wait…
Yes. 2-9-A. Oh, and of course the 4 on the turn. I stand up at the table, studying the board, wondering if it’s possible I’ve missed something. I’m afraid not. The man called the flop with Jack high, no over cards, and no draw. He once again called the turn, a big bet, with just as poor a hand. And then, lo and behold, thank you poker gods, you reward the man with a 10 on the river.
Dear poker gods,
Thanks for nothing.
Signed, Jacob Westlin
The session ended here. I needed to leave. Better luck next time!