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.