Sunday, January 25, 2009

How to become a very frustrated playing poker

As I mentioned in my last post, Tuesday night was the regional tournament for the last league event. Regionals take the top 15% of the point leaders from each bar in a region and play for entry into the state tournament. State tournaments are usually played in a casino so they can give out very large prizes. Poker cruises, WSOP/WPT entries...things much larger then $200.

My bar has a reputation for being some of the toughest poker you will find in the area. I've learned a lot playing here. There is a great mix of players from total LAGtards to rocks to complete fish, but at least there is a variety.

Tuesday. Oh, Tuesday. I knew going into these events that I'm entering a tournament filled with top 15% of the players from bars where the play probably sucks. Tuesday did not disappoint. I sat down to an 8 person table with 6 calling stations. These people would call every raise. It was not uncommon to have 4 people showdown at the river.

The range of hands people were playing were, any two suited cards, any king, any ace and cards that had been lucky in the past. Good gawd. I was putting people on any two cards. It was just easier.

Getting reads on people of this caliber can be extremely difficult. Sure, you know they think they are strong, but that could mean 3rd pair. I found reactions to the turn and river to be more telling about the strength of their hands. Most of these people didn't need much to call a flop bet, but their reactions to the turn was where the truth was.

These tables for me are the most challenging there is in poker. I get very frustrated because you know that tight aggressive play will not work unless you can show down a hand. Loose aggressive play only works if you actually connect big to a flop. On Tuesday night, I only played one pot that actually didn't go to a showdown, but even that one, I fired 3 bullets with only ace high. Had she hit her flush on the river, I'd be stuck.

So my question for you is how do you play tables of calling stations? Just one at the table isn't too bad when you spot them, just bleed them dry. But when there is a lot more then one, now you are staring at the numbers and know that someone has to have improved. This situation gets me very frustrated. Tight would seem right, but you can only fold for so long.


cmh76 said...

I sympathize with you on being frustrated when faced with a table of calling stations. It drives me insane too when I end up at a table where players feel any 2 cards are worth seeing a flop... and of course they connect more times than not just to irritate the piss out of you even more.

Snuffy said...

That's free poker for ya. Its the right price for these jokers. You have to value your top top and two pair hands much more than you normally would. I would look at a few more flops than normal though.

Paul Ellis said...

Sunffy is pretty right. It's tough playing against freeroll style caliber players. They'll just about anything with almost nothing. It drives me nuts.

I found that playing small ball with these types of players is generally the best strategy. You don't need to bluff, or even semi bluff at all because odds are that they'll be calling anyway. So you're moving chips only when you're ahead. Then when you've got a monster, you're making larger than usual raises (ie, betting 400 into a post flop pot of 350 with a monster to more clearly identify what your opponent has). If you know that the player is a calling station, over bet the pot when you've got it.

Otherwise, check and take the free rides on your draws. No need to pay money to fish, and no need to lead out when you're behind. Just push the action when you're way ahead. Eventually, you'll be able to set the tone at the table and take control of the action, getting people to fold when you make a standard 2.5 raise of the big blind.

Baywolfe said...

Pick the one you like the best and shoot the rest of them in the head.

Like you said, one at the table is great, but a whole table of TuckFards is just too much for my nerves.

Any chance of just playing super tight and waiting for a table change?

Riggstad said...

Free rollers and "tough" should never enter the same sentence.

Most free roll bar poker tours/leagues have accomplished players as well.

They just don't play that way while playing free poker.

It's supposed to be fun, and they treat it that way. How many times have you heard "well, I gotta go home anyway", and call off their stack with a gutterball or somehand that would normally be folded in a live game?

THAT'S free poker. As it should be.

Bayne_S said...

play 2 connected and 2 suited cheap pre and try to get paid when you flop huge

yestbay said...

I agree that about all you can do is wait (or hope) for big hands so you can get paid off.

Another thing you can sometimes do once you have some chips, if you have opponents who will see the flop but fold later, is raise preflop with connectors or suited cards. Then, if you flop a big hand, you can trap with it, but if the flop comes with big cards that would fit a preflop raising hand, you can represent the big cards and often get your opponents to fold.