I recently joined a local Thursday night 1-3 game. I’ve played the game a handful of times and find that, for the most part, the game is super soft. One player in particular stands out as the weakest link and he is the inspiration for this post. Last night he took a couple of river beats. They were unfortunate, but as I sat and listed to him mutter and curse under his breath I couldn’t help but think to myself “Instead of bemoaning your luck, you should be fixing your game.”
This player plays any two cards from any position regardless of the action in front of him. He will literally see a flop 80% of the time. The list of things broken in this man’s game is extensive, but here are a few of the standouts. I will use one specific hand as an example.
A late position player raised to $20 pre-flop. The only caller was our subject who called from the small blind with K7o. The flop came out K 10 x rainbow. Our player led for $20 and the raiser called. The turn was a blank and our player led for $20 again. The raiser called. The river was a Q. The player put the rest of his chips in, a little less than $40 and was instantly called by AJs
1) Buying in short – The max buy in at this table is $300. At the time our subject arrived at the game, the shortest person at the table had about $300 in front of him. This player sat down in the only available seat in front of a row of loose players, but behind two players with stacks in the $500-$700 range. He then proceeded to buy in for $100. In my opinion you should never buy in short. First, you give away too much value when you flop a huge hand. Second, you never have enough money in front of you to protect your hand against a player who is chasing.
If you are going to buy in short, do so with the intent of getting your chips in pre-flop or on the flop and make sure you have a hand that plays well against a raiser because you do not have enough in front of you to deter a player from calling.
2) Bet sizing – This goes hand in hand with buying in short. When you buy in short, the intent should be get all your chips in the middle pre-flop or on the flop, not bleed them off street by street. If your opponent has any reasonable hand, making a $20 bet into a $40 pot on the flop, followed by a $20 bet into an $80 pot on the turn is just plain bad.
I have no doubt the villain in the hand knew he was playing a super weak player. I am sure he figured if he hit his A he was good. He might have even figured if he hit his J he was good. For sure the Q was a wanted card. So the villain knows he has 7 clean outs, and possibly 10 outs total. The $20 bet on the flop laid the villain 3-1 odds. The $20 bet on the turn laid him 5-1 odds. If he has 10 outs with one card to come he will win the hand approximately 20% of the time so he is getting the correct price to call. If you factor in the additional $40 the villain can win the call is a no-brainer. Instead of using his stack on the flop or turn to chase the villain out of the hand, our subject made weak bets that kept the villain in and gave him the correct price to chase.
3) Learn to fold – You have $100 in front of you. Calling is not suggested. Calling with K7o should not be in your book of plays. Calling with K7o out of position is just plain ridiculous.
When you sit with this kind of starting stack and the pot is raised you should be shoving or folding, never calling. If the pot is limped, or it folds to you, you should be raising, never limping.
Your hand selection needs to be super tight…pairs, Ace face hands, big suited kings. You can even hope to score with hands like 9 10 suited, J 10 suited and others in that arena, but K7o? Unless the flop comes 77 rag you can never be comfortable about your hand. If you hit your K your kicker is terrible. Even if you flop a miracle 77K, you can still be beat. You cannot make a straight or flush using both cards. The moment you look at a hand like this your next thought should be “what’s on TV” as you pitch the cards into the muck.
4) Seat selection – Our subject took the seat in front of 3 loose aggressive players and behind two tighter players (one of them me) with large stacks. He put himself in a no win situation. Because he plays any two cards, he would be calling a lot of raises with trash similar to K7o. On the off chance he was the initial aggressor, he would only get action from the players behind him if they had him crushed. No matter where he chose to put his money in, he was at a disadvantage.
Bad players are going to play bad. But when you do and you lose, the first thing you should be saying to yourself is not “Damn river…how do you call?” It should be “What did I do wrong?” Once you start asking yourself about your mistakes, you start to plug the holes in your game. Instead of walking out of the weekly game felted, you will start to become a winning player, and a better player.
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