The tight table flop steal

After a too-long hiatus, I hit the 5.10 tables hard tonight, albeit only for 40 minutes. I managed to rack up $131 in 40 minutes on 2 tables, and my stomach started growling so I bailed out to eat some pizza. Interestingly, I sat down to play after I got home from an after-work martini session, paid for by a co-worker who is running for Congress (vote Rick Bell for Congress!). His campaign picked up the tab, so I didn’t feel too bad about drinking 3 martinis at a posh West Hollywood restaurant (next to work). Celeb sighting: Tim Allen, king of the midwest, strolled in to have a nice dinner. Just like his character on TV!

Enough of Hollywood. My results were somewhat interesting, but perhaps the most interesting thing from tonight’s session is that I picked up a possible algorithm for bluff steals in tight games. Both of the tables I was at were very tight, but one was so tight that a preflop raise from any position won nearly 50% of the time without seeing a flop. I noticed that if 2 or three players did see the flop, it was pretty easy to get them off their hand with a bet, as long as no high cards came out. It’s a pretty safe assumption that tight players will only play premium hands, so they either have a medium pair, or 2 picture cards. So suppose the flop comes rags, like 3 5 9. If they are weak tight, and everyone checks to you. It is almost mandatory to try a steal here, no matter what cards you hold. If you think there is a decent probability they will fold (usually the case for weak tight players), then we might as well bet out. If you called a pre-flop raise, it may still be worth a bet, because you may even be able to get a super weak tight player off his ace-king or whatever. If you’re raised, then you can throw your hand away. It’s not rocket science, but I never realized that this bluff-steal on the flop is a high EV play. It was successful for me once, but I only picked up on it after I’d watched the table for a while.

On to the hands…
Table 1:
$44 win when my AKo holds up unpaired against one other player holding KJo.
$69 win when my AKo beats out QQ when I flop a king, and turn is A, river K. Beautiful.
$30 win with KK after caller folds on raggedy flop.
Hmmm… hard work! I guess sometimes you get really lucky.
I did lose 20 on my last hand, when I limped in with KTs and called a raise, making it heads up. Flop was Jh 2s 2d, and I called his bet, not wanting to be weak tight. But the turn came another 2, and I figured that the Ace I put him on made him a big favorite, so I folded.

Table 2:
Nothing real exciting here. I pulled off a couple of late position steals (one with 43o!), but the biggest pot I took was $30 on a hand I sort of misplayed. Here’s how it went down:
Pocket Jacks 2 off the button. I raise, and the button calls, everyone else folds. Flop is 4s Jd 6s, and I bet, he calls. Turn is 3h. Now how would you play this? I feel that if I fake weakness here he will bet out and try to take the pot. But I’m also a little afraid of those spades, so I’m not sure if I should lead out or not. I put him on big cards, maybe AT or better. I decide to check, and sure enough, he bets. Now I have to decide whether to reraise, and hope that he’s dumb enough to call. Or just call, hoping the last card isn’t another spade (would reject a free card if he did have spades anyway?), and bet the river. I decide to reraise, and I’m a little surprised when he folds. If I do call, I’m not sure he bets the river anyway, so I probably would have to bet out. So I think reraising was the right move here, but I’m not sure.

As an indication of the table’s tightness, every pot I won (5, including the above) didn’t make it to the showdown. Also, the 3 hands I lost didn’t make it to a showdown either. It looks like 4 of the 32 hands at this table actually made it to the showdown.

There is a lot of tactical action going on in games like this. Bluffing works, and so does slowplaying. I love the psychology involved when there are 2 or 3 players in a pot, and I think I am much better at these type games than the no-fold-em style that is more common at Hollywood Park. Hopefully I can win enough to move up, although I’ve heard the 15.30 at HP is like 3.6 at Party. That is a scary thought.

I’m still trying to erase the Vegas travesty from my brain, and after a short but profitable hour on Party, the game is coming back to me. The poker gods seem to be forgiving.

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