Poker Friends, Poker Foes, Collusion, Lending and Borrowing
No matter where you play Poker, there are going to be people who know each other. Pre-Pandemic, I usually knew between four and six people at the table by first name. I mostly knew how they played, and I knew if I should stay out of there way or not. Players knowing other players at the table, is the way it is in smaller rooms. If you do not know anybody when you sit down, consider yourself lucky.
To a casual outsider watching the game, all looked normal at these tables. There were bets, raises, and re-raises. Some pots were multi-way and some were heads up from the flop. To all the players sitting in the game all was normal, at least to the extent that any poker game can be considered normal. Everyone sitting at the table wants to win.
Perhaps there are a few less really big raises and all-ins, or some players decide to check it down when heads-up (generally frowned upon), but that is pretty normal action in smaller poker rooms. Somebody has to lose, and no one is that good to run over anyone. Everyone plays a little more cautiously when they know each other because they either do not want to lose or lose as slowly as possible.
New(er) Players usually sit down at their assigned seat feeling pensive. They assume everybody knows everybody, and they are all going to be gunning for Him/Her. This is partially true in my experience. Everybody smells fresh blood when a new player sits down. Everybody wants a shot at taking chips. If they can hold their own, over confident players will lose chips.
If the new player is a poor player, it is a bloodbath. Players who are the luckiest in the next hour or so take the new Players money. When the skirmish is over, the rest of table gets to figure how to get some of that money.
New(er) Players do not understand this because they do not have the playing experience. Every Player at the table tries to take chips off other Players. Someone has to pay the rake, and the scramble to make sure it is not us goes on as long as we play.
A last thought to be added is do not get overly friendly with the Player's at the table. They are the Foe. Chat with them, trade a joke or two with them. Poker is a somewhat social game at the levels most of us play so enjoy yourself and chat or not.
Do not discuss your hand play, what you held or what you would do with a hand. Follow the common rule, "One player to a hand" and keep your Hand ideas to yourself. It does not take a lot of hand chat for a Foe to learn how and what you will play in what position. They will take your chips if you reveal too much about how you play. Let them figure it out without your help.
If you are playing in a legal card room with more than a few tables, you usually do not need to worry about Collusion. Collusion is when two or more players purposely play against you by cheating with each other against you. Card rooms need repeat Customers, and generally take action against colluding players before it becomes serious. I have seen players who tried to collude, banned from the card room for a year with a plea to be allowed to return, to a lifetime ban, depending on the seriousness of the Collusion. It rarely happens in a legal Card Room.
Looking at Collusion from a Table perspective, there are usually two to three players colluding. Whatever money is won between them is split up away from the Card Room. One obvious sign of collusion, is over raising the flop (for example), and then folding the turn to a brick and a bet by another player. This type of action happens all the time and in itself is innocent. When it happens with the same two or three players a little too often, it MAY be collusion.
There is safety in numbers, and Poker Rooms usually have cameras and people watching the play. If you feel two or more players are colluding against you, you have three reasonable options. Ask for a table change if a table change is possible. Do not play any hands against possible colluding players unless you have a really strong hand. Call it quits for the session. As you gain experience, you will develop a feel for the rhythm of a game, and notice when it does not feel right.
With that being said, there are questionable actions at times that may look like Collusion and aren't. Generally these actions are brought on by your play or another players play, and there are Players at the table who become aggressive.
They bet bigger and raise pre-flop, then they slow down on the flop and beyond. It's not fun folding, but it is generally not collusion, though to a new(er) player it may feel like it. They have determined one or more Players are willing to fold against aggressive play (betting bigger and raising), and are taking advantage of the situation. Aggressive poker is generally rewarded.
The last idea I want to touch on is lending out your MONEY. I had a valuable, cheap lesson in lending money. I had a Poker Room Friend I had known for a year or so. One day out of the blue, he asked me if he could borrow $20.00. It was only $20.00 and he was a friend so I said sure and gave him $20.00. He never mentioned it again. I am still waiting for that $20.00. I knew he did not need the money, and I knew, but he liked me well enough to teach me a lesson. It was a cheap lesson by Gambling standards. When you need your money back, they won't have it.
On the other side of lending is borrowing. "Don't", is the simple answer. If you can not win with the money you brought with you, you won't win with borrowed money. While not very common, there comes a time when someone has borrowed too much and someone wants their money back. If you do not have it, they will collect in other ways, making you an example. Don't fool yourself. It does happen outside the movies. You do not want to be that person. Do something else if you get broke.
Thursday, October 14, 2021
Poker Friends, Poker Foes, Collusion, Lending and Borrowing
Sunday, October 10, 2021
|Aces At The Races Seldom Lose When Played Correctly|
Learning at the Table, LAG's, TAG's, Fish, and Lies
$1 - $3, Nine Players with one or two mostly missing.
I had a Lag two seats to my left and a second Lag three seats to his left. Having Lags competing to out Lag each other makes for a difficult game. I also had a player on my right, who smelled a little green, but acted confident in his play. I soon learned in his situation, you don't know what you don't know. The rest were apparently normal Players.
The Lag on my left took a break, so the table slowed down to only one active Lag. I was dealt AA in the Small Blind. Early position raised (go baby go). Lag two decided to take a chip inventory and decided he could fold this round. It was Raise, Call, Call and I Called, with a few folds mixed in.
Flop came out blanks. Raiser bet, folded to me and I called. Rinse and repeat on Turn and River. I turned over my AA, and other player mucked face down. Player on my right, looking for a free Poker Coach, asks me, "Why did you play Aces so softly?" This was a $15 question I thought. Of course I lied and told him, "I could not put the other player on a hand".
Hands later I am dealt 76o in late position, and I call a min-raise with a few other players. Flop is 4, 5, X. Checked to a Middle Position Player who bets $25.00. I call, rest fold, it is Heads Up.
Turn is the money card, an 8. I made my Straight. Middle Position bets out $50.00. He has about $85 behind. I glanced at him and he is ready to scoop, almost salivating. I put him on a set. No idea what he thinks I have, but he is quite sure, it is less than he holds. After a responsible pause, I announce, "Raise $100", to put him all in.
Doubt creases appear in his forehead, and he ponders and ponders with a few squirms thrown in for good measure, Finally he Folds and gives the Player on his right a speech about why he folded and why I called Pre-Flop?? It must have been a coded speech because it made no sense to me, and made no mention of what he thought I had, other than the possibility of Air, which I found curious because he did fold after all.
As I am stacking my chips, Player on my right, asks, "Why did you play like that? You could have called and taken all his chips on the River." I am thinking this is a $30.00 question, but he seems to be fairly green as a player, and I don't mind spewing another lie. "I did not want to see a River Card. I could be put in a bad spot."
My lie was a good stock answer, but not the truth. I'm not his Daddy and I am not his Poker Coach or Buddy. He repeated, he thought I should have called the Turn and taken all the money on the river. I let his comment float off into the sunset.
I do not know how you play Poker. I don't know if you play consistently, or change it up every round. I don't know if you are Lag, Tag, or Dangerous. I do know most of the players I have been playing with have one basic style, and they stick with it. It seems to work for them, because they play consistently, session to session.
I told my two lies to the player on my right. I try to tell lies to the table as well through my play. Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt are powerful weapons. Keep Players guessing and they have a harder time thinking. Why did he check? What did that call mean, is that raise a bluff or the Nuts? Makes it harder for them to play their game when they are bogged down arranging ideas and possibilities of other Players action.
Remember when you saw that hand where the quiet player suddenly check raises the Turn against the field? How about the hand where the player shows Air after a tough player mucks the River? That is the type of Poker I enjoy watching. And the Poker I want to play. Watching them play is being in the front row, watching a command performance on the poker table, for free. The Winner bides His/Her time, until the right situation presented, then confidently charges and scoops.
When you get good cards, you play good cards. Almost anyone can play big pairs correctly - until they did not pay attention to the story the Winning Player has been telling. It takes time to get comfortable and move beyond, what you hold in your hand playing style to, are they consistent in how they play, to what does His/Her action mean?
Every time I play, there are always Players better than I am on the table. I mostly stay out of there way, but I follow their play and try to learn. Hopefully, I am not in many hands with them. Like the two competing Lags in my first hand above, why play against a Lag? Lags rarely see a hand that does not have potential. Lags often win by accurate target selection and effective barreling. What kind of story can you tell a good player or a Lag? I think this would be difficult as they are good at what they do. Some Lags that are play all day, almost every day are in the moment very good at what they do.
I used to read twoplustwo posts with the poster claiming they are seen as a Tag (Tight Aggressive Player). I always found that statement humorous. First of all, I doubt anyone thought all that much about their play until this hand. Finally, why are they questioning or lost in their play if they are a Strong Tag? Drop it down a notch or two and be honest with yourself about your ability.
I would rather be seen on the table as an incompetent idiot who wins in spite of his poor play. I also will not be asking Players next to me why they played a hand the way they did. That is what Poker Coaches, Books, and Forums are for. If you ask me why, I will probably lie to you. The next time you watch someone play in manner that makes no sense, pay closer attention to their play. You can only hide so much. For me, I will be silently watching and thinking about what I see.
Monday, October 4, 2021
Thinking through a hand, Better Poker Through Chemistry, Tilt and Lifetime Losers
$1 - 3 NL, full table.
Player on my left is Cutoff and has about $330. I have $243.00. Two of Limping Preflop Players have $600.00 - $800.00 each, the third limper about $500.00. I find the action in this hand curious.
Preflop, three players limp, I limp. CO raises to $20.00. Three Limpers call, I call. Limp-fests are fun poker for me as they create lots of dead money. I imagine a lot of really bad hands in play from other players who will miss the flop.
Flop comes Kc, Tc, 7h. Checked to me, I bet $25.00. CO calls, Limper's fold, heads up.
Turn Kc Tc, 7h, Jc. I bet $50.00. CO calls. With this board texture, I am expecting a raise and there is no raise. No Flush or Straight for him?
River Kc, Tc, 7h, Jc, 6c. I bet out $100.00. Tic, Tic, Tic, wheels on the bus go round and round. After about 40 seconds, CO folds. I think he decided the only hand I could have is a set, and he can not beat a set, so he folds. I had put him on two pair at best when he did not raise the turn.
I suspect CO was on auto-pilot until the river, oops on his part. If he was on auto-pilot, he woke and realized he was faced with two main courses of action, and he did not care for either. I give CO credit for thinking the hand through on the river. I think he determined I probably did not have a flush or straight.
Two of the Limpers were older players, so any line for their play is mostly limited to big hands. Perhaps they were playing a little to loose and caught themselves about to step over the ledge? Or because I had been folding for a while, they gave me credit for a real hand? Or maybe they were protecting their wins?
What surprised me is none of the Limpers tried to represent a flush/straight draw on the flop. I did not understand the check/fold flop play when they called $20 preflop and my flop bet was only $5 more, they had the chips and the odds in their favor.
Maybe I took them off their game, their hands were air, or they were not sure how to play me, so they decided to fold and be done with the hand. Maybe I am overthinking their play, and they were playing on auto-pilot and caught themselves. Maybe I was stepping out on the ledge myself. They all folded too easily. I think we all played the hand in a less than optimal manner.
I enjoy watching table dynamics when I play Holdem. I identify who I can push around, who has too much imagination, and who is making too many mistakes. It is a lot easier to play against a Player who is likely to fold the turn with any hand less than the nut hand. Unfortunately, some action makes no sense to anyone but the players involved in the hand and they are not speaking.
Speaking of bad Holdem - "Better living through Chemistry", or "Drugs, Legal and Not", comes to mind. I used to watch 200 pound plus Players gulping their can of Red Bull, so they can be, "more aggressive", maybe wanting to rip off arms and legs instead of making good bets and folds. I used to enjoy watching a Man at their table, weighing maybe 115 pounds soaking wet, take them to the cleaners because he could lift his chips to the felt at the right time.
I enjoy poker where alcohol is served - mostly. The more they drink, the worse their decision making and patience becomes. As long as they don't drink themselves into the irrational zone, drinking players can be generous players. Drunks are occasionally as bad as loose aggressive players to play against. No rhyme or reason in their play.
There are the sugar junkies gulping cups of soda, hour after hour to keep their, "mind sharp". I notice some Players are playing stoned on now legal Marijuana in its many forms. Obviously they have little experience watching Junkies playing for their next mainline fix and losing what little money they had. Playing good poker takes knowledge, skill, spider sense and patience. Why a few Players are choosing to mix poker time with party time is beyond me. But I am not sad to see it. I like their money too.
Sad but true, some people play to lose. For some Steady Losers, it may be their life script driving them. Others lose because they are angry or otherwise on Life Tilt. Some players lose on purpose for reasons known only to themselves. I used to feel sorry for all of them, and cut them some slack if we were heads up. Then a few hands later, I would watch as another player took them to the felt. These days, I play everyone the same, and do not feel bad about it.
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