1. 5/10 NL, eff. stacks ~900.

Russ opens to 35 in early position, PJ calls in hijack, I have K9s in cutoff.

Russ is a young doctor who plays at Motorcity somewhat regularly. He wears glasses and often watches sitcoms on his iPad while he plays. He used to play online poker and his fundamentals (understanding ranges, taking lines that make sense, using appropriate bet-sizing) are strong. However, since he plays mostly for fun, he plays too loose and sometimes makes bad plays even when he knows better. I’ve discussed PJ before: he’s simply the biggest nit of all time.

In this spot against these opponents, K9s is a nearly automatic squeeze for me. Russ opens tons of trash that he’ll fold, either to the 3bet or subsequent aggression, and I can make PJ fold everything but the nuts by barrelling off. My actual holding, K9s, is close to the worst hand I can call profitably, making it a good candidate for a 3bet bluff. My normal sizing here is 140, but this time I made it 150 for some reason; not a big deal in any case. Russ folds and PJ calls, somewhat surprisingly. I would expect him to fold most of his speculative hands on the spot. When he goes call-call, I think he can have AK or AQ (yes, he usually plays them passively) and probably all pocket pairs, all the way up to AA — he does like to slow-play sometimes. Maybe some other suited hands like AJs or KQs. He hadn’t won a pot in awhile, and as he does allow frustration to affect his play sometimes, he might occasionally show up with some weaker hands as well.

The flop comes 843 with my flush draw, pretty much a gin flop. My plan now is to bet flop and shove all turns to fold him off of pretty much everything but sets. That means I want to choose the biggest flop bet-sizing that still allows him to call with marginal hands, while still leaving myself enough for an imposing turn shove. There’s 350 in the pot and I have 785 left. I bet 175 and PJ calls. It looks like he might have an over-pair, but I think he’ll also call once with 55-77 to keep me honest. PJ is acutely aware of his image as a nit and doesn’t like to be pushed around, but he’s still never stacking off without a very strong hand. I don’t think he’s likely to slow-play sets out of position with multiple draws possible.

The turn is an offsuit T. Certainly he can have TT and made a set, but I’m still following through with my bluff. I think he’ll often fold even QQ on the turn. I shove 610 into 700 and he folds after some thought, commenting, “I’m still not completely convinced.” As long as they keep folding…

2. Same session, eff. stacks ~1500. Russ opens to 35 in the cutoff. It folds to me in the big blind with 87s. In this spot all three options — calling, raising, or folding — could be valid, depending on opponent, game flow, etc. Since Russ had been opening nearly 100% in the CO and tends to give my 3bets a lot of respect (he thinks I’m nittier than I am) I was happy to 3bet. I make it 140 and he called.

Even though I said he gives my 3bets some respect, I think he still has a pretty wide range here. First, we’re somewhat deep, so he’s going to play more speculative hands in position. Second, he’s a positionally aware player and knows I am as well, so both of our ranges will be wider in this steal position scenario. I think he’ll call with all pocket pairs and various speculative hands like suited connectors, suited aces, and probably some random other stuff as well.

The flop is QJ4 with my flush draw (yeah, I was flopping pretty well in 3bet pots). There’s 285 in the pot and I have 1400 back. With my flush draw equity I decide to bet with the intention of shoving over a raise and barreling a lot if called. I fire 180, being careful to leave him room to raise-fold. He thinks for awhile and makes it 400. I stick with my plan and shove. This is far from an automatic spot — against a lot of people it could be correct to fold or call — but against someone as aggressive as Russ I think I can expect enough folds to make it a profitable shove. It sucks if I get it in bad against a set or a higher flush draw, but against a tough opponent you can’t just wait for sure spots.

He folds after thinking for awhile, which is a bit weird — he shouldn’t really have a decision after raising there. I suppose he’s just trying to save face. The table cajoles me to “show the bluff,” but I resist the temptation. It’s important to keep Russ in the dark about how out of line I’m getting against him and I want to keep the gravy train going as long as possible. I push my cards in face-down as I rake the pot.

3. Same session, eff. stacks ~1000. John limps in early position, I isolate to 50 in middle position with JTs. It folds back to John and he calls.

John is a middle-aged accountant whose game incorporates both nitty folds and spectacular spazzes. The flop is 854 with my flush draw. I make a standard continuation bet of 75 and he instantly check-raises to 300. I’m not really sure what to make of that timing. His sizing is a little on the big size, but it’s not ridiculous. Big, careless, even-number bets are sometimes bluffs, but they can also just be the nuts. I do know that John has a tendency to overplay top pair on early streets, but ultimately fold once he realizes he’s baked himself into a shit pie. He also seemed to be in a spazzy mood on that particular day. He had played an unbelievable pot where he limp-reraised 44, then led 500 of his remaining 700 into a pot of 400 on JT7, called off the last 200 to a shove, and held up to win against KQ. He’s the type to bet “to find out where he’s at” and then take that information to the bank. If I call, I actually think he’ll put me on a flush draw a lot and be willing to stack off on non-flush turns. Of course you never want your hand to look like what it is if you can avoid it.

Taking into account the spaz factor, the desire to play my hand deceptively, and the possibility of him raise-folding top pair, I shove for about 1000. He folds after a lot of sighing and lamenting, making me think he may well have had a hand like A8.

I guess these three hands make it seem like I’m going berserk with every flush draw, but that’s not really the case. The other factors in the hands made them good spots to play aggressively.

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