session strategy

When They Adjust

In a recent hand I played at 5/10 I was coolered but learned a valuable lesson.  Against the same villain as in this interesting spot, I three bet a premium over a standard open and a call, and only picked up said villain, the original PFR.  On J73cc, I cbet and was raised all in (stacks were only about 90 bbs to start).

In evaluating a three bet pot like this, the first thing that sticks out to me is that there is very little incentive for the caller to raise.  If I have the aces, all the money is going in anyway.  The second item is how few draws there should be.  Third, villain snap called preflop and did not even remotely consider folding or raising.  This is indicative of a hand that performs very well against a perceived strong holding.  I can discount, for many players, all kinds of suited holdings or random jacks.  In other words, villain should be almost absurdly polarized.

However, against this fellow, who likes to see flops above all else, it is not so easy to use this information.  If I could name his hand exactly based on what I observed and without any history between us, it would have to be three sevens, but because of who he is, I decided there was far more to his range, even down to 45cc.

My problem here is that we’ve now played a long time together and are on a first name basis.  I created a fictitious scenario wherein he wanted to take a shot at me out of frustration or desire to change the pattern of our engagements.  This possibility is what led to me call and lose to bottom set.

Away from the table, however, in thinking through everything I know about him, I realize he has been making a different sort of adjustment against someone he had lost a lot of pots to, and that this was not just a lucky flop.  Instead of playing his usual more tricky, almost humorous game I originally came to know, he had reverted at some recent point to a more fundamental approach, and was concerned about getting the money in good before anything could happen.   It dawned on me, too late, that he had also flopped gin and proceeded very aggressively against me only a few weeks ago, but being that he had a vulnerable hand and we looked committed, it had made more sense.  All in all, this change in his reaction to me over the year is beginning to look very much like the Banker’s overall caution in our fewer and fewer hands together, whereas my reaction to the Banker was always to raise the aggression with lighter holdings, culminating in a spot where I four bet shoved KQo for perceived value.

However, villain’s adjustment in this 5/10 game has to be the more natural reaction to our history, and I was levelling myself to think otherwise. He is tired of making mistakes, and his adjustment is to avoid marginal spots, balance, or guesswork, and so simplify the battle… exactly as the Banker did up until my last report about him.

I also don’t like how I disregarded physical tells in this hand.  Aside from the speed of the call, the dryness of the board for a three bet pot, villain was leaning very far forward, indicating strong engagement and connection to the board.  While I think I am right in deducing he has a limited range to shove over me, this was a time add up the information and make use of it, and not rely on the great spews in his past.

We have a lot of poker ahead of us, him and I, and what I need to do is get back ahead of the curve.

Adjustment: more simplicity, trust the hand reading, less fancy levelling.

See you next week, buddy: don’t spend it all in once place.  (Actually he did, immediately.  That, as they say, is poker.)


Happy New Year, everyone.  I have summary thoughts on the game and why we should be grateful for it, but I decided to close out the year on a simpler note.  Good luck and best wishes.

About persuadeo

Chris Murray, poker player and low stakes coach. persuadeo@gmail... etc.

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  1. If you have AA, I would think most of what you’re beating in the described spot is QQ, a tricky KK, and the nfd. Do you know if he would 4b the big pairs pre most of the time?

  2. I think he is going to four bet AA/KK, and will think more with qq. I think he has a set or a draw here in the past, and the adjustment is that he is not bluffing me as much any more, so that I can fold more often here.

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