Revenge! | Poker Podcast #118

Should we want revenge?  This poker podcast is about dealing with troublesome and tilt-inducing players at the tables in a smarter and bankroll saving way.

In episode 117 I presented you with my 4 steps to H.A.N.D. Reading in Poker.

Revenge!

Doyle Brunson: “Poker is a war.  People pretend it is a game.”

To win this war of poker, you must understand your opponents.  You have to figure out their weaknesses and devise strategies to attack them.  But all the understanding in the world won’t help you if you allow your opponents to put you on tilt.

We’re at a table and a particular villain, let’s call him Victor, just seems to be holding over on us:

  • He keeps showing up at showdown with better hands than us.
  • He stays in longer than he should and turns or rivers his hand.
  • Victor seems to be able to read our soul and bully pots away from us.
  • He keeps stacking the fish at the tables, the same guys we’re targeting, and all the chips seem to be flowing his way.
  • He’s using his position and aggression to make life difficult on us.

Things are getting so bad that Victor’s putting us on tilt!  So, we end up giving in to our baser instincts and we start tilting and going for revenge.  “I’ll get my money back” is something keeps repeating in our thoughts.

This is a disaster in the making.  Instead of going for revenge, there are some better tactics to take.

Switch Seats

This is easy to do in a LIVE cash game setting, but not so easy online and impossible to do in a tourney or SNG.

As soon as a better seat opens to the left of Victor, pounce on it.  Toss a chip over there and say, “Dealer, seat change.”  You can even preempt it and tell the dealer ahead of time that you want a seat change, and when one becomes available, he’ll lock it up for you.

This might not relieve you entirely of Victor, but it’s a step in the right direction.  Having position will allow you to act after Victor and will make it hard for him to use his aggression against you.

If you’re playing online cash games, some sites might still allow you to leave a seat and click on another one to take it.  If your site allows it, do it.

Switch Tables

This is a no-go for tourneys and SNG’s, but in LIVE cash or online cash, this is piece of cake.  This will relieve you of that irksome Victor, unless he happens to be at the next online table.

Tighten Up

For some reason, this didn’t occur to me for a very long time.  If you’re getting bullied, tighten up your range (ditch the K7s and go with KJs+).

By having smaller, stronger ranges, you’re opening much less frequently and you’ll be able to defend vs Victor’s bullying aggression way more frequently.

Looking the numbers, let’s say you’ll only defend with a 5% range vs a 3bet.  If you’re opening a 20% range, you’re folding to the 3bet 75% of the time.  On the other hand, if you’re opening 10%, then you’re folding to the 3bet only 50% of the time.  He’ll have a much harder time 3bet bluffing you, and when he does, you’ll have a hand that can stand up to him half the time.

Take a Break

Sometimes all you need to get back in the correct head space is to take a quick breather.  Sitting out of the tables, hitting the head, going for a quick walk, doing some pushups, playing some Angry Birds, those are sometimes enough to clear the anger away and be able to get back to the business of poker.

Victor’s out, we’re in

So, if you’re getting owned by Victor, just avoid him.  If he’s in a hand, you’re out unless you’ve got a strong hand willing to battle him.  If he’s directly on your left, this is a tough one to accomplish, but, if he’s 2 or 3 spots away from you, this is definitely an option.

End the session early

For some of us, the only way to avoid this situation and to not tilt our stack off is to just end the session.  Of course, changing tables is a good option, but if we’ll still be tilting even without Victor at the table, then we’re just better off ending the session.

If this is the case for you and you find it hard to prevent the tilt from ruining your session, then I suggest you read Jared Tendler’s ‘The Mental Game of Poker.’  It is such a great book and an eye opener to dealing with tilt, anger, fear and everything else that leads us away from our A-game and causes us to stay and challenge Victor to get revenge on him.

Off the felt studying of Victor’s play

This is something that won’t help you in the session right now, but will help you the next time you deal with Victor.  Let’s talk about studying Victor’s play in two scenarios: LIVE games and online games

LIVE Games

The key to dissecting Victor’s LIVE game play is to take copious notes.  Pay attention to every hand he’s involved in and take note of bet sizings, the board cards, plays like c/r and donk leads and how often he seems to 3bet or cold call or open raise.  Of course, showdowns are extremely important.  So for every showdown you see, take note of what he has and the board cards along with his street by street action.

I’d recommend doing this surreptitiously.  Don’t let him know you’re noting his play.  You can take notes on every hand at the table with Evernote or another app, but just pay particular attention when he’s involved.

Noting that he likes to donk lead with fd’s or he calls down with 2nd pair or 3bets seemingly any Ace will help you understand his game and devise strategies to combat him.

The next day when you’ve had some time away from Victor, whip out the notes and start figuring out how Victor plays in certain spots, what he likes to do with certain hands and draws, and use this knowledge to formulate a plan for the next time you face him.

Online Games

Everything above is applicable to the online Victors of the world, but with online poker we’ve got a leg up on our studies… we’ve got PokerTracker 4.  This program does all of our note taking for us.  We can review every hand that we’ve seen Victor play.  All of his showdown hands are easily seen, as well as every check-raise, donk lead, 3bet and river bet.

We can filter through our database of hands on Victor and use it to devise strategies to turn the tables and start soul reading him.

Challenge

Here’s my challenge to you for this episode:  Make a plan now for how you’ll react the next time you’re being put on tilt by a player at your table.  Don’t wait for it to happen, because you know it will.  Plan now so you can react with a calm mind instead of tilting your stack off in pursuit of revenge.

Now it’s your turn to take action and do something positive for your poker game.

Up Next…

In podcast #119, I recorded a session commentary while playing one table of 25NL on ACR. I discussed blind play, post-flop bet sizing, exploiting opponents, PokerTracker4 and my Smart HUD.

Until next time, study smart, play much and make your next session the best one yet.

Sky Matsuhashi