When I walked out of the Palms at 5:30 am on Monday to fly back to Oakland I was thinking "I do not want to bet on anything for at least a month." Fast forward 36 hours and I was at the Oaks playing $2/$3/$5.
Most players go into a no limit session thinking "I'm going to wait for a big hand and take someone's whole stack with it!" Stacking other people is great, but the only problem in you need a big hand AND you need your opponent to have a worse, but still big hand or make a big bluff. It just doesn't come together all that often.
Lately I've been going in thinking "I hope I run into a lot of spots where my opponent can't call."
I bought in for $500 and had a hand where my opponent couldn't call come up right away. 4 of us saw a flop for $25 each and it checked around. The turn brought a 3rd diamond to the board making a flush possible and the big blind bet out $50. I had the ace of diamonds in my hand and had two options: call the $50 and hope to hit or put the heat on. I made it $175 to go and after some hemming and hawing my opponent folded, and I picked up the $150 in the pot.
One thing in play here is what David Sklansky calls "The Hammer of Future Bets." From my opponent's perspective he's trying to decide if I made a flush on the turn or not. If all he had to do is call the raise on the turn he might have done it on the off chance I was bluffing or raising a hand that wasn't a flush that he could beat. But if I did have a flush he doesn't just have to worry about the $175 I just put in, he also has to worry about the $300+ I have behind. If I had a flush I'm certainly going to shove that last $300 into what would have been a $450 pot on the river.
I had almost the exact same thing come up on the very next hand. I made a big raise on the turn after calling a flop bet when a third card of a suite came out and won the pot. Again I had the ace of the suit, but not a made flush.
Close to 100% of the time there is 4 to a straight on the board and it's checked to me I bet 75%-100% of what's in the pot and I don't think anyone has called me in the last 6 months.
This sounds simple enough, but believe me it's hard to put in a big bet without a real hand.
Here is another great example that is both frustrating and a learning moment. A player to my right raised to $25 in early position and I looked down at AA. I was sitting on a stack of about $1,000 at that point and he had about $900. I made it $65 to go and after some hesitation he called.
The flop came down J 6 3, he checked and I bet $80. He started asking me if I'd show if he folded. I didn't say a thing. After at least a full minute of asking me if I'd show every 10 seconds he folded QQ face up! NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!
It might look like this is a great play, but it's not. It's fear. He wasn't thinking about the $80 I bet on the flop. He was thinking about the $150 that I was going to bet on the turn and the $250 on the river. He's thinking "I'm not sure I want to put $500 or $600 or my whole stack in on this one." He's both getting ahead of himself and he's thinking that most of my three bet range is AA and KK. I happened to have AA, but I could have easily had AK or AQ or TT.
I realized in this moment that I need to be three betting way more. For almost everyone else at the table a 3 bet means JJ-AA or AK. I need to start putting the heat on people regularly because they are going to panic and put me on pocket aces.
I managed to run my $500 up to about $1,400 and then had a slow but steady decline. One guy gave me a lot of trouble and by gave me a lot of trouble made a few huge hands and dodged my draws.
On the first hand he had KK and I had top pair and a flush draw (I missed).
On the second hand he flopped an ace high straight against my straight draw (I missed)
On the third hand he flopped trips against my straight draw (I missed)
On the fourth hand he made a flush against my two pair.
My normal go to is to push pretty hard with draws in the hopes of picking up the pot without having to make the draw, but in all of these instances I luckily read him as being strong (i.e. not likely to fold) and he bet small enough that I was getting the right price to draw. I'm really lucky I didn't get crushed on that first one.
In the end I booked a $274 win on the night. A little disappointing given that I was up $900 at one point, but a little move in the right direction. I'll be back in action Thursday or Friday.