You’re sitting in the WPT Borgata Winter Poker Open. Many players are raise/calling goofy hands out of position., . You haven’t had many hands go your way.
You get dealt Jacks UTG+2. The blinds are 250/500. You open to 1700.
It gets folded around to a Latino gentleman in the big blind. He has played 30% of the hands during the day, but he limps generally. He likes to call preflop when someone else raises, and then calls when someone squeezes.
He looks at your raise and asks the dealer quietly, “how much is it?”
He then stamps out 5800 and stares you down.
You have 22K in your stack.
What do you do?
(Actually come up with an answer before you scroll down. It makes the learning process more fun and memorable).
I’ll tell you what I did here.
The guy was jacked up, leaning back and forth in his seat.
Have you ever watched a great pitcher? He realizes life is a rhythmic experience.
If you get in a flow state as the batter you’re likely to succeed. His job is to deny you that while he finds his flow.
You see them try to time their wind-ups perfectly. They call off pitches.
Batters do the same thing. If they see the pitcher keyed up and ready to go they call time to “adjust their batting gloves.”
Many of you deny this part of your game.
This guy was jacked up and ready to go. That means he can tell me something.
He’s energetic. What hands make you energetic?
If you’re bluffing, do you draw attention to yourself? Or do you sit there and try not to be detected by the passing predator?
I thought he would give me more information if I waited, so I did.
I jam here 98% of the time, but that number is not 100%. You should never do something 100% of the time in poker unless it’s calling all-in with Aces.
We’ve all seen the 209-year-old at our cardroom cold fivebet jam. We know to fold KK there preflop.
There are many spots like that in No Limit Hold’em if you look for them.
By the way, don’t you find it interesting he instantly threebet me?
That’s why I love larger opening sizes. People are awful at threebetting them as a bluff. I have the data to prove it.
When they do threebet me live with less than a premium they do this…
“How much is the bet?”
If your whole life you’ve been hitting fastballs, then what is going to happen when you see your first curve?
You need a couple seconds to process it, and decide if you really want to run the play. Perhaps you’d normally threebet small here with TT, but would you do it versus that open?
There are only one or two hands that don’t really care what you opened to preflop. What hands are those?
How much time did he take? Did it seem like he cared about my open size, or does it seem like he didn’t care?
This guy didn’t care. He didn’t need a few seconds to debate calling with TT.
I don’t think he threebet/calls with TT here even 50% of the time. If that’s the case, what am I beating?
This is an old clarification trick I use in my lessons but I always forget live. Ask yourself, “Would he do this with ___” and fill the empty space with the best hand you beat.
If he doesn’t do that action with that hand, what exactly are you beating?
If you beat nothing why would you jam?
I did a ton of research for my new project Master Tournament Poker In One Class. I was trying to to find the 5% of inputs that gave you 99% of the gains.
One of the biggest concepts I latched on to in those lessons was, “do not end your tournament.” When I got people to not do this, “well, I don’t know what I beat, but okay, I risk all of my money and tournament” then surprisingly they started doing much better in tournament poker.
But why didn’t I just fold then? Why did I timebank?
Well, 45 seconds later he got mad and called the clock on me.
The last time you threebet bluffed someone did you call clock on them after 45 seconds? Or did you try to not make a sound?
He’s jacked up about something. What does that tell you?
I wasn’t done yet, though. I did something.
I started laughing my ass off at him.
I didn’t have a good line to test his comfort, so I did what I really wanted to do, which was laugh.
He looked genuinely embarrassed when I did that. What does that tell you?
That’s a very natural emotion. It’s hard to do natural emotions when you’re bluffing. You tend to keep your face stiff.
Also, I may remind you, I’ve played with this guy for hours. His threebet was 0.0%.
I folded and said to him, “I just took 30 seconds” and smiled. I tried to keep it in good fun. I didn’t want to make the poor guy feel bad.
I didn’t see him threebet again for the rest of the day.
I’m very proud of this fold.
Oh, and by the way, if people are raise/calling with 5-high UTG, you don’t need to take these thin spots.
If you enjoy the full article you may be interested in Alexander Fitzgerald’s new book which is currently available for pre-order (paperback or ebook). It will be sent to you as soon as it publishes: Excelling at Live Poker