Barrel Fishing

I mucked King-Queen suited on a connected board where I could have easily made the nuts. The problem was that my opponent didn’t seem to know how to fold, and I felt like any kind of betting would just be torching my money. I checked back the river on a Three-Ten-Jack-Eight-Seven board. The drunk guy looked over to me as if to say, “You’re good.” I knew I didn’t have the winning hand. I smiled as I waited for him to table his hand. Slowly he picked up his cards and one by one he flipped them over. Ten-Three off suit…

As I mucked my cards the player next to me told me, “I think you could have won that.”

I responded, “He just doesn’t seem like that type to bluff.”

“It’s like fishing out of a barrel”, he said. “Just need some patience and have to wait for them to bite.”

I laughed but that comment stuck in my head. He wasn’t wrong but what kind of strategy is that? At the low-level stakes of poker, is there much of a strategy to play? All I had really been doing all night was betting my hands and just folding when the board didn’t favor me.  I was still playing my range, but it was obvious to me that my opponents would not fold to my bluffs if they had a piece of the board. Looking back at the session I probably could have just abandoned any theory of the game I was using in my strategy and just made a bunch of continuation bets. That isn’t poker though, that is just a hope and a dream.

When the guy next to me sat down, he recognized that the chip stack I had in front of me wasn’t a fluke. I didn’t care if he figured it out, I wasn’t there specifically for his money. The idea of players at the table thinking I am a professional cardplayer doesn’t bother me as much anymore. I know in the long run it isn’t going to affect the profitability of the game.

His comment got me thinking. If it’s like fishing out of a barrel, then it’s only a matter of time before they start to bite. Should I stay and win more? There was only one player left from the time that I had arrived. The table basically had flipped and some of these guys didn’t seem to be willing to pay me off. The player who had won with Ten-Three off suit had started to warn other players about me. Telling them that I was a dangerous player, and they should watch out when I was in the hand. I had gotten him to pay me off earlier but when he played Ten-Three off suit he barely won a total of $20 from me. I wondered if I had made another bet if I would have gotten him to fold his hand. Nah, he flopped two pair. He would probably call me down just to keep me honest. Still, I wondered, was there a way that I could have bluffed him off the hand?

I was getting tired and slowly losing interest in the game. It was time for me to go, but maybe I could wait around for another fish to bite. Most of the table were playing a short stack, so even if I had gotten it in with someone I wouldn’t be risking much. Was it worth it? This game really was like fishing out of a barrel. All I really had to do was sit there and wait for the players to shove their money into the middle and I could just pick them off when I had a hand to call with.  

This is where the months of focusing on my mental game of poker came in. I can’t sit there just because there is a chance of winning more money. I also needed to be focused on the game. I needed to pay attention to what was happening. I had already accidentally tipped the cocktail girl more than I thought when I wasn’t even going to order a drink. If I made a mistake there, what kind of mistake was waiting to happen on the felt where it mattered most?

There was plenty of action, but I needed to practice discipline. So often I hear other players saying that when a table is splashy, they will stick around longer than they normally would play just because there is a chance to win more money. You can see the greed in their eyes as they begin to imagine a big payoff. The problem I see is that most players will stop playing their A game and start playing their B or C game. These players will sacrifice their EV just because they see someone throwing money around. I am starting to realize that I can’t always chase those kinds of things. Sometimes you just call it a night. As hard as it was to peel myself away from the game, I knew in the long run it was going to be better for me. Vegas has plenty of games going on any given night and if I start to see them like fish in a barrel; they won’t be going anywhere. They will still be there the next time I want to go play… Waiting for me to drop my line and give them something to bite.


Bizzy’s 2023 Gains: $307.80

2 thoughts on “Barrel Fishing

  1. Michael Southard says:

    Hey, coming back this year for the WSOP. Hopefully we can meet up again. Be there on the 8th. We played together just about every night last year. I’m Mike tall guy from Virginia. We had one of the best tables I’ve ever played one night. We always seemed to end up at the same table.

    1. Bizzy says:

      Just saw this comment. I remember you! I plan on playing a few events this year but we can for sure make sure to play some cash during the series.

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