Jerry Bo: The Poker Chronicles - Inside the mind of a hustler
With the Champions League Final coming this weekend (tons of plays), and three weeks until the FIFA World Cup, we step back from the midweek slate to talk some poker.
This weekend I participated in what was advertised as a 100k Guarantee, hosted by Steel House Poker here in Houston, making it the largest purse in the cities history. The turnout was ridiculous and we exceeded the purse just in the first day of action. The total pot got to over 240K! Shoutout to all the people that put the event together and a special thanks to Susan, for the great hospitality. Also, a big thanks to the Sports Gambling Podcast for sponsoring me in this event.
I wanted to write a piece of the mental aspect of poker and the "Game inside the Game.”
When playing poker, playing familiar opponents and playing vs. complete strangers brings two different elements to the game.
1) If opponents are familiar with your style, tendencies come into play and after sitting for thousands of hands with the same players, you get a feel for what they play like.
2) Playing with strangers, you have no idea what the opponent likes to do in certain situations and what type of player they are. In this case, it takes some feeling out and that happens with time and hands being dealt. So essentially you go in, just playing your cards and position until you can start putting opponents on a range of hands.
I went in as a complete unknown, so I chose to play the role of a novice player, one that maybe shouldn't be sitting at the table. You can accomplish this by acting like you're completely out of your element, not having your blinds ready, asking over and over about blinds and how much you can bet, as well as stacking a dirty chip stack making it look ugly, will ultimately lead to your opponents thinking they can take advantage of you.
So I kept calling hands to begin the tournament but wasn't hitting any flops, so I routinely was forced to fold. With the image I had given off, I caught my opponents raising every hand into me after the flop to watch me fold.
In their eyes, I was a weak player that was limping with hands and gave off an easy read.
The reality, I’m far from that and was creeping in the fog trying to pick a spot.
As the table became more comfortable and the blinds went up, I sat in the 10 seat and was dealt Pockets tens (10 10). The loosest, yet most dangerous player at the table sat in seat 8, so he acted before me giving me the advantage to see his move first.
He raised 3 times the blinds, I called and we went heads up to the flop. The board came 6,9,10. I hit my top set but a possible straight was on the board. My thinking was his preflop raise wouldn't put him anywhere near this flop unless he was raising with a pocket pair, but then again, he was an aggressive player that saw me on the button and could be trying to make a move with his position in hope of the three hands in front of him folding and an easy blind steal. He had me out chipped to begin the hand, so his flop bet essentially put me in for 40 percent of my stack. If he was on a stone cold bluff, trying to continuation bet with say an AK or AQ, if I reraise I won't get the rest of my chips called. Again you pause, act as if the moment is too big and timidly call. The next card, a nine that paired the board giving me a full house and the second nuts only behind 9 9. The aggressive player pushes all in, you snap call and you throw over your cards quickly. The villain mucked, but swore on the 9 drawing him to pushing all in, he must think I’m a fool?!?
Now the overconfident player is still remembering the way you started and knows that anyone can play a pocket pair that hits a set on the flop. Now, he wonders how can he get his chips back vs. an inferior player.
Again we meet, a few levels down the line, and this time I wake up with pocket Queens (Q Q), he limps with a few others, I raise a substantial amount and the villain once again calls in hopes of outplaying me on the flop. The flop comes 3 undercards, 2,7,10 , again my thinking, if he had a big pair he would have reraised my preflop bet, at this point, I put him on two over cards. Again he thinks about it, and raises half of my chips, I instantly go all in a sloppy fashion, purposely, to give off the impression of anxiousness. I do this knowing I have the best hand hoping he will call and the table will see the hands I’m playing, or if he folds Im going to show the table my Q Q anyways, as a matter of a fake respect for the villain. Now, it's a war, and you are slowly blowing your disguise.
After a few breaks in, and now Im feeling comfortable and I raise on the button with a K 4 suited (spades). My image, an extremely tight player that has shown monsters when called, and the recent queens also comes to memory. Again the table folds around, and you guessed it, the same villain calls. Flop comes 6,8,Q, He checks and I continuation bet about 2.5 times the pot, He thinks and smooth calls. The turn comes a 2, I consider this a blank, and the villain decides to make an extremely small raise out of position into me, the original raiser. The bet makes no sense. Im positive the 2 didn't help him.
1) If he had a Queen on the flop a check raise would have been the move when I made the continuation bet.
2) Maybe he has a set and is enticing another raise as he makes sure he gets some of my chips in before the river.
3) He is on a complete draw and thinks that making the small raise might make me smooth call and he gets to see a cheap river.
I go with option 3 and reraise with nothing, knowing my trash is just a strong as his but I have a position. Again, he smooth calls.
The River comes and pairs the 2. He Checks. Another blank, at this point, what is my move? If he was bluffing, a bet here won't get me any more chips on a call.
If he has a made hand, he might be checking in order to get me to push the rest of my stack, which at this point is my only move.
A simple check here, is the perfect move, he gets up agitated and throws over a missed draw 7 9. He flopped an open ended straight, called my big flop bet with 8 outs, on the turn he tried to buy a river card with a small bet, at which point it cost him more than checking. Your reraise prohibited him from making the final bluff on the river and bought you a free check. King high wins and the villain walks off for a smoke break.
THE ALARM GOES OFF
Your cover is blown and now the table knows you're a player.
We played down to 45 players and I ended with 190k in chips. slightly under the average but fourth most at my table to start the final day.
To be continued......
I'll be discussing my final day big hands in my Friday edition of Bookie Busters.
"Play the game, don't let the game play you"