We have all played poker against people who were ruthlessly aggressive and made moves with every pair of hands. The truth is, sooner or later you have to take a stance against these players. The key is to choose the right moment to do it. There’s nothing more painful than an asshole who pays you money when you actually played a good game. But being the one to take all the crazy guy’s chips when you make an ill-advised bluff is only an occasional gamble.
On the first day of the 2008 Australian Millions, I was at my table with these aggressive players. He is an 18 year old online gambler, I believe he is from Norway. It didn’t take long for him to realize that he was playing it safe: he was stuck with a bunch of hands, had to call some bets, and had to make some raises.
I was sitting two seats to the left, so I had to be careful entering the pot and be prepared to face his re-raise at some point.
This opportunity occurs when the blinds are 150/300. I had a medium stack with about 19,500 chips, while the Norwegian had the biggest stack on the table with about 44,000 chips. When he pressed the button, the MNO appeared. The player under the gun raised 800, the next player called, I watched KC-JC call, the cutoff called, and then he raised again on the button. I noticed that the Norwegian would make this aggressive move whenever five or six players folded or raised and several players called. Something deep inside me tells me that he has nothing most of the time and that he made this move to collect dead money.
Of course, he did it again with this hand. In all, another four thousand or forty-eight hundred people gathered together. Everyone was folding around me and I had to consider how much it would hurt me to follow this bet. I don’t have a lot of chips and will bet a quarter of my chips. But something tells me this man has nothing. So I called.
We were evenly matched, and the flop brought Q-J-8 3 of a kind. I folded and felt like I was still going to fold on the flop. But he also checked, and the turn brought a jack, placing two spades on the table. I looked at the cards again and he bet 4,000 chips. I hesitated for a moment, pretending like it didn’t matter, but finally agreed. I don’t think he has any hands at all, so there’s no point in raising.
Then the king came up on the river, giving me a full house. I checked again and he went all-in for about 10,000 chips, which I immediately called. He didn’t even want to show off his game, but he eventually did and made it 10-7 from outside the paint.
I am proud of my performance in two areas. At first I read that he wanted to act on absolutely nothing and I relied on reading and implementing pre-flop thoughts. Then when I got the big hand, still confident in what I could read, I gave him the rope to hang himself on. If I bet on any of these options, I will probably lose. But these aggressive players often think they can bully you with an all-in move. In my case, I had an agreement with Huluzhuang that allowed me to use their aggressiveness to my advantage.