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 opened 2.5x from UTG with KK in a $1/$2 game. The pot was a little over $200 and I won. My opponent accused me of slow playing my hand but he was over betting into me from out of position post flop.
— Criminal Bizzy (@Criminal_Bizzy) April 18, 2023
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.