Adjustments in-flight

I sat down at a 100k 2-max SNG table and was joined a few minutes later by a player who I had no history with, ranked <10000.

Game gets underway, and to start out I’m playing pretty honestly, and not getting very great cards I am limp-check-folding. V quickly learns that min-bet on the flop, min-raise will win the hand more often than not, making it profitable, low-risk.

I proceed to drain my bankroll for several hands. Occasionally, I catch a face card and raise with it, or I’ll catch a pair on the flop and bet it, and V lets the hand go.

During an extended cold streak, it’s obvious V is betting simply because I’m not; no way he can be hitting every single hand. I’m pretty annoyed but with hands like 53 and 42 and 93, there’s not a whole lot I can do about it. I bide my time patiently.

I manage to lose a fairly big pot early on, chasing a draw that doesn’t fill, and let the hand go, and this only embolden’s V to continue applying pressure to me. And why not, it’s working for him quite well! He goes up about +1000 over me, and I’ve yet to have a hand I felt like I could play back with.

When I do get one, I raise to 2BB, and V folds preflop. If I can only wait for “good cards” to play back with, I’m going to get crushed. I’m counting on those good cards to hit and pay off big for me to make up for the death of 1000 cuts that I’m suffering while I’m card dead. But… if V is just going to fold at the first sign of life out of me, then I can play a very bluff-heavy game, and make up a lot of ground.

Usually this doesn’t go to plan very often, as players will stand up and call, and you can only sell a bluff so many streets. But over the course of 3-4 hands, I quickly get the feeling that this player is really a pushover. He’s not calling even the 2BB raise very often, and he’s a virtually guaranteed fold after 1-2 streets of c-betting. Neither of us are showing, so it’s like we’re playing hypothetical hands.

Very quickly, I’m back on top, and have reversed our stacks so that I’m the one who’s up 800-1000 chips over him.

Finally, he goes for a 2BB raise into me when I’m holding AKo. Blinds are 100/200, so he’s put me to 400 to call; I normally am getting him to fold by re-raising from 2BB to 4BB, but this time I have a hand I wouldn’t mind playing for stacks preflop against a heads-up opponent, so I go for a pot-size raise, 6BB to 1200 chips. V has apparently had enough of being bet off of his small raises, and jams.

I call; he flips up A9o. We both miss until the river pairs my King, and the game is mine. For once AK all-in preflop actually runs out as-expected against a dominated Ace, instead of him flopping trip 999s or something, like I typically have happen when I get a favorable match-up at these tables.

In my experience it’s been pretty rare to see such an immediate reversal from making such a simple adjustment, so this feels like a remarkable game. I wouldn’t expect this outcome very often… against most players I’ve faced in HU games, they’re quite happy to call 2BB raises preflop all day long, and will usually call a flop bet, often up to pot-size, making these kind of super-soft bluffs untenable. But it’s a just about textbook example of how making an in-flight adjustment based on a read of your opponent’s behavior can completely change your game from bleeding slowly out to printing money.

This was also a remarkable game in that I won most of the hands that I won with bluffs, or without showing down when I did have a hand I was betting with. V was actually very soft, and didn’t have anything the vast majority of the time, or didn’t have any confidence in whatever he had holding up. He only played back, raising me or calling me in 1-2 hands, and was pretty easy to get away from when he did.


Against an opponent like this, I don’t tend to raise when I get a hand, because that just warns him and often makes him fold. Check and let him bet, raise the river if you are pretty sure you are still ahead. They often bet more than I would’ve bet out, so the pots I tend to win this way are usually bigger :slight_smile: You can bluff a little more too, though my bluffs usually have some showdown value.


Agreed, and I did that to him a few times, too, when I hit something. But once I discovered how averse he was to playing against me if I showed any life at all pre-flop, beyond just calling it was better to check-raise him or just 3-bet him preflop and win without showdown, and without even seeing a flop. With any showdown value to my hand, I would call to the river, and then put in a bet or raise on the last street, but I won a lot more of the chips that I did win by 3-bet bluffing preflop with hands like 45 and 62 and 87. Obviously this was an exploitative playthat worked against this particular player, and not a general approach to the game that would work well with most decent players.


Firstly: you should always look to adjust your game Vs Villain to get MAX exploitation. That said you should always start with a good aggressive starting game strategy. I’ll start decently aggressive but with a defensive and tight TAG game plan. Aggression just works and is hard to defend against. As you allude to V discovers this & implements it with much success. I’ll always start with this basic strategy bc it works easily against most RP players easily.

Second: you don’t want players to perceive you as “honest.” Table image is extremely important. “Honestly” is your words, but a decent Villain will have some ability to judge you which is called table image, and an “honest” player will struggle to get value or “paid”, which you allude to many, many times. This is why I’m always encouraging a good aggressive strategy. Also its good at least in this match you have stopped showing your hands bc it “honestly” kills your action.

Don’t be afraid to throw away the button and save 1SB with garbage cards. In SnGs your chips are very valuable simply bc you often will have much less than the +100BB in ring games. Use the chips you save by folding & invest them in aggression & a decent hand etc. I don’t mind folding the button a little & probably more often than I should but I will try to show some aggression early on to establish & build a table image that isn’t a “passive weak pushover”. Select & define your range & play it with aggression & a preflop raise. If your not getting cards you can raise semi garbage: Q2Suit, K2Suit, 22, JTo etc. Villain doesnt know your holdings but if you haven’t been getting cards or showing any aggression it will often get respect & force a fold. Even if your called your have has some playability. If you flop really bad you can either bluff weak occasionally depending on the board or give up. Im also slow playing flops often HU with strong made hands too, so my action isnt predictable.

Low ball aggression is very profitable HU. You both get random cards so its often garbage Vs garbage so a decent aggressive player will mop the floor with a player that can’t learn how to play aggressive HU poker. I have learnt to play HU better & more aggressively but I still play a fairly tight game compared with really good HU players.

If Villains min betting to get folds after you check, you can make small check raise bluffs back occassionally with inside straight draws & backdoor flush draws etc. Garbage draws that have some outs. Villain is likely semi bluffing or betting weak often if your getting run over.

Your table image is honest & tight so OFC Villain will fold.

Yes if you wait for good cards your going to get crushed, but your already getting crushed. Most average players just play like this. Its why aggression works bc on average your both getting garbage after garbage but aggressive garbage will win most often.

It does illustrate that aggression wins hands down though. The player was a pushover or whatever you want to call him but he used it profitably & consistently for a while. If he had some moderate level of skill & patience he would probably win especially with a chip advantage.

You play fairly tight so players wont pay you. They believe you always have a hand etc so OFC your bluffs should often work. Also Villain lost his patience with A9. I’m not playing A9 Vs you unless I have a read & think your on tilt.

The most I take from this is I hope you continue to stop showing your cards as often as you previously did. You not showing a winning hand is indeed remarkable & I think its improved your game?

I don’t show my cards as often as you may think based on the game you saw where I was doing that a lot. I show for various reasons, usually to prove that I had it, which I think can help sell future bluffs, but I think you’re right that it could also be killing my action.

I also used to bluff more, and I don’t as much as used to, because it stopped working for me. I used to be able to get players to fold on the flop pretty often, but anymore it seems that the rule everyone plays by is mandatory call any size bet on the flop and see what happens on the turn. If they actually have anything, just don’t fold no matter what. If they throw in some raises too, even better for them.

I’d say I’m likely over-folding, but it’s hard not to when I get the cards I get.

When I started out on this site, I was limping just about any face card down to J7, dumping to raises, and betting pot if I hit top pair or if no one bet ahead of me, and it won decently often, but not profitably. I hit top pair quite frequently back then.

Now, I play a tighter range, and I open it fairly small for as tight as I am. It seems like a lot of players I’m up against now have no problem handling aggression from a player who misses the flop and the entire board about 80% of the time.

I guess my range is too obvious so when flops come 7-high and I check, it’s time to bet. Min, pot, or shove, I’m folding, and they know it, so they do it, and they get away with it. If I do c-bet, they know that they can call or raise, and a great big raise will make me assume they hit for two pair and better, and if I do call, I just find out that this was the time they really did have it, or they hit something on the river. They never seem to give me credit for possibly having a pocket pair, except for when I actually do, then they can get out of the way.

I feel like I need to be changing up my game more, but it seems hard to do that once people have an established image for how you play.

I do not play consistently the same way all the time. I do mix it up, and it varies based on a number of factors from position to stack depth, number of players in the hand, how close the bubble is, and so on. But mostly I just play hands where someone either has a better hand from the get-go, or they stay in and get rewarded for an outrageous hero call, or I blank the board. I can’t tell you how many hands I’ve posted where I had great starting cards, bet aggressively, got called, and they hit for trips while I whiff.

I would NOT be complaining about it nearly as much as I have been if it happened roughly evenly, or if it was a small pot. But it’s nearly all the time for 2-3 days at a stretch, and never any small pots, only the big ones. And 5-6 games in a row where I get a 4:1 stack advantage and still lose despite putting the small stack all in 3-4 times is especially frustrating. I beat them, they put in their last chip, magic happens, they double back up to healthy, I wear them down again, and magic happens again, 3, 4, 5, 6 times, and I can’t put them away, despite beating them for 30-40 minutes and getting a lot of good hands, then the blinds go up, right as the cards go cold, I can’t get a couple of decent cards for 10-15 hands, and the game gets away from me. Once is fine, 6-10 in a row and I need to figure out how I’m manufacturing this so I can put a stop to it, but I can’t figure it out so I go crazy.

First of all, I know how you feel. Aside from the Weds. donk game and RTC (both still on old tables), I am only playing Oceanic league every day, so when I have a week where I can’t even break the top 25 (finishes from 26th to 29th), I understand how you feel. I just kept playing my normal game and eventually it got better. I was actually relieved when I finished on the wrong side of the top 30, because that signaled that if I could do worse, I could also do better :slight_smile: Since then, I have been placing well. Sometimes I think that if you believe you can do it, you are more likely to succeed. If you expect to fail, you will. JMO


All I will say is emotions in low stakes poker has an exceptional influence. When I say low stakes I mean RP across the board free poker. It doesn’t matter the stakes, on RP its all free & emotional.

If you haven’t felt the tilt of a terrible loss on RP… well your either cheating or a robot

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