Monday, April 07, 2008

Trapping The Trappers

"Be fearful when others are greedy and greedy when others are fearful."
-Warren Buffet

We went away for the weekend, then drove 5 hours back to Vegas last night. Upon our 10 PM arrival I made the absurd choice to play poker for 3.5 hours. I sold it to myself as a great test of discipline and focus, but quickly realized that I didn't have too much of the discipline part.

Yep. That's me limping in on every hand. Real hard to win money that way. So I decided to give myself a chance. I told myself that I could still play every hand, but if I was going to be involved, I was going to raise.

This immediately turned me into the most dangerous player at the table. I was the guy playing any two cards and betting at every flop. The guy giving action. The guy you'd normally want at your table. But not for this group of fearful opponents. They played scared poker and wouldn't bet back at me without holding the nuts. And truth be told, I was stealing enough of these pots that I really didn't mind taking the worst of it when players did find the courage to stick around.

One surprising discovery was that playing this loose actually took the pressure off. You'd think it would be more nerve racking to raise all the time. Yet if I'm only playing a few hands an hour, I really better have the best of it preflop. I really better not lose a big pot with moderate holdings. But when I'm playing too many hands, I expect to lose plenty of them. So the art isn't my winning every pot. It's about winning the big ones.

The hardest part I'm having with employing a loose aggressive style is having to reveal my cards at the end. Part of me still feels embarrassed to see the other player's reactions. Even though (logically) I know it's great business for me when people gasp at my cards at showdown. Even though the comedian in me wants to enjoy the comedy of it.

"He called a raise preflop with that hand?"

But in fairness to me, if I'm going to play crap hands all night, at some point they will hit. I'm the guy at the table giving action. And everyone loves me until I out flop them. Then we'll have some guy with aces who needs to know how in the world I could have played 10,5 suited.

Uh...because I'm playing any two cards?

Another thing regarding my raising too many hands: Most of the time no one else at the table bothered to raise. It felt like I took the life out of them. From their point of view, there was no need to raise. If they picked up a good hand they knew I'd usually raise it up for them.

I did pick up pocket aces at one point and the way life works, there was a raise and a reraise in front of me.

There hadn't been anyone else raising and now we have two raises in a hand where I have aces?????

How can this be?

And my reputation was so good and loose that when I put in a 3rd raise here, both guys still called me!

If Tight Robert makes this raise and goes all in, player 1 (pocket jacks) or player 2 (ace king) might fold. What else could my raise mean? I'm pushing all in despite 2 players showing strength in front of me. I have to have a big pair.

But neither of these players were going to fold a real hand to Maniac Robert.

The flop?

King, king, jack.

Oh dear.

If I had won this pot my stack would have snowballed. Luckily for me I had them both covered and didn't lose all of my chips. (I also swallowed my pride and protected my image by NOT showing my aces once I saw I was beat at showdown. Why let them think I ever get a real hand?)

I'm a trapper. I know how trappers think. I've spent my entire poker career trapping guys who play too loose aggressive.

I've been at the poker table plenty of times before where a maniac took me off my game.

Last night I was finally the maniac.

Now I must learn to be okay with that image.

To be okay with people calling me names.

I must learn to sit back and genuinely enjoy the show.

1 comment:

Check Raise Chin said...

Nice post Rob.

It's interesting to play that style it can be fun but it really can be profitable especially if you can bust someone with a strong hand.

I would think that there's a lot of stress involved

Ultimately, I think that mixing up styles and speeds works well.

Keep up the good work bro!