Sheep For the Slaughter
The other day I was sitting at a short
handed 6 person poker
table. The game had been fairly conservative
and with only 3 of us there no real pots were developing
and no betting of any value was taking place.
To clarify, ever since the other 3
players had left their seats, and their money on the
table, our biggest preflop action had been a raise
of 2 big blinds. That was never followed with anything
substantial betting during the live hand. Maybe a
1/3 to a ½ pot bet and those weren't usually called.
It seems as though everyone at the
table was too used to easy money and didn't want to
take chances anymore. In other words the game had
entirely dried up.
Someone who had been losing earlier
sat back down and immediately raised preflop, it was
obvious that everyone at the table was thinking the
same thing - here's a nice snack.
As was expected this player quickly
depleted his stack. What options were there?
One conceivably profitable strategy
would have been to start playing looser. This could
be done by either raising more preflop and trying
to pick up blinds, or by limping in more frequently
and stealing the pots on the flop. Or by calling preflop
and stealing it on the flop regardless of the board.
Although this was an idea worth toying with, the fact
that the other 2 players were decent meant that it
wouldn't work. They would recognize what was going
on within 3 or 4 hands and take back any earnings
on the following hands.
Without much action on any other tables
it seemed that the best idea was to try to rattle
this game up a bit. I realized the wild
card was right beside me. The next hand
that the player raised, I decide to flat call all
the way to the river with ace high.
I lost. Did I expect to win? No. Was
calling his all in on the river with nothing other
than an Ace-high in Omaha a sane and rational, and
more importantly profitable decision? Yes.
In most situations it wouldn't be
advisable to give a loser at your table money. The
four simplest outcomes to consider are as follows:
1) The short chip
stack is delighted at doubling up and leaves with
the money. This is bad.
2) The short stack uses that
money and doubles up off of you successively through
a string of lucky breaks. This is the worst case scenario,
and most unlikely, not really of concern.
3) One of the two other players
takes down the short stack and you have given a good
player some money and probably won't get it back.
This is worse than situation 1.
4) You take the player down
and get your money plus his back. This is a decent
So with those possibility branches
dealt with, and only ¼ of them being anywhere near
profitable what else is there to shoot for? The answer
is the good players' stacks.
They have just seen you call on the
river with Ace high, the board didn't have obvious
draws so they can't assume it was a value call or
an information call. There are now in their opinions
two reckless players at the table. That's what poker
is about, giving people the wrong opinion of what
you are holding and how you are angling.
To top it off they aren't going to
try to bluff you, they will probably also limp in
with strong starting hands instead of wasting money
on preflop raises that won't limit the field.
The short stack is going to be thinking
that money is easy to come by at the table due to
his amazing last hand and will probably be throwing
bets in every direction, without a high draw it is
unlikely that one of the other two players will call
him because of the added factor of your sloppy calling.
Ideally one of the other players limps
in with a high starting hand and makes trips or two
pair against your straight. They may let the short
stack bet for them even though it will be for less
than they should be betting and this can give you
better than expected odds while you draw.
The important thing is that you appeared
to change into a looser geared game when in reality
that was a bluff and now you are waiting for them
to slip up. When the time comes you will need to take
position into account for betting, don't let them
draw for free if you are on the button and hit something,
bet it, because they shouldn't believe you.
to next essay
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