Friday, March 09, 2007

Passivity Pays?

I ran into a guy I used to know from New York the other day, and as often happens in such situations, I ended up in a random poker game at 3 AM. I lost $40 in the usual way, (1) I get Q6, limp, flop Q 6 3, I move all in, get called by AQ, turn is an A;(2) I get AK, someone bets, someone raises, I go all-in, get called by Td9d(!) board comes T 7 A 3 T, etc.) But what was interesting was what happened with one player, who I'll call Player "X".

Player X could have been right out of a classic sitcom. You know him, he's the guy who comes to the game saying "oh, I just learned how to play and what beats what." He's the guy who never seems to know when it's his turn to act. He's the guy who sends the cards flying whenever he tries to shuffle. And he's the guy who walks off with everyone's chips.

What was particularly interesting though, was the strategy he used to win all the chips, which was this. He never raised. Ever. Even if he had a monster and was last to act on the river, he did not raise. If he was the first to act, he would never bet. He was pretty much the classic calling station, letting everyone do the betting for him.

This had a twofold effect. First, before anyone caught on, he won massive pots by showing weakness all through the hand, then picking off huge bluffs on the river. Since he took a long time to call and then never raised, no one put him on the flopped flush or two pair or full house that he often seemed to have when someone tried to move him off the pot on the river.

Second, once everyone caught on, no one knew how to play him. Anytime he would call a bet, anyone else who was in the hand would slow down, knowing the call could mean he just had no idea where he was in the hand, or it could mean he had a monster. On one hand, three queens flopped, and the two people in against this player both made full houses, and neither of them would put in a chip, quite certain Player X had the fourth queen, even when he checked on the river. Using this "strategy" this player amassed over $100 in a 50 cent/$1 no limit game with a $20 initial buy-in.

Who says you need to be aggressive to win at No Limit?

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