Poker; a grand game of Chicken

by PokerAnon ~ December 15th, 2010. Filed under: Poker aggression.

Sometimes poker feels like a game of chicken.

You raise preflop.

  • He could 3 bet you with garbage with the plan to fold to a 4 bet.
  • He could 3 bet because he’ll be out of position and has a hand but would rather take it down preflop.
  • He could 3 bet because you have been stealing his blind too often.
  • He could 3 bet you because he has Aces.
  • He could 3 bet you because he has position and because he thinks that you’ll fold almost always.
  • He could 3 bet you because he’s a 3 bet monkey.

Or, he could call.

  • He could call with Aces, hoping to trap you.
  • He could call with a small pair or suited connectors, hoping to flop big.
  • He could call with a decent hand and position, planning to try to outplay you post flop.
  • He could call hoping that the fish that you iso-raised or that is behind him in the blinds will also come along.
  • He could call because he’s a fish and that’s what he does is call.

The problem is that if you don’t know him well you won’t have a good feel for which of these situations is more likely.

Thus begins the game of chicken.

The flop comes. Do you bet? Did he bet? Will he raise if he has a hand? How often will he raise with air when the flop is dry?

# # #

I was playing $25nl FR on 4 tables the other day because I’d been away from poker for a month and I like to restart at $25nl FR. One player 3 bet me three times in position. The first and third I folded, but the second I had AKs. The problem was that a player behind him flatted the 3 bet and at that point I had very few hands on either of them, so I flatted. Flop came mono K high, I checked, he bet into two others, 3rd player folds, I called. We checked down and he had AJo which indicated to me that he was 3 betting light, especially for $25nl. On another table I raised 87 from the button and that same player from the other table flatted from the small blind. Flop comes 886, goes check/bet/call. Turn is a brick, check/bet/call. River is another 6, check/bet/minraise, and I call. He thought it was worthwhile to call down with KJo and then check/minraise the river as a bluff.

In this hand I’m way ahead of my range for making these postflop bets so in some ways his play is understandable, but on the other hand why bother, especially out of position? (Why I didn’t shove the river over his minraise is another question.)

I think this player just likes the game of chicken.

# # #

Who’s going to give up first? Or are we going on until we’re committed? How big of a bet will he call? How big will make him fold? Do I need to fire two or three bullets before he’ll fold his weak hands?

Maybe since we refer to them as “bullets” and “barrels” (as in barrels of a shotgun) it should be viewed as a duel rather than a game of chicken. And the shorter the effective stack size, the closer the firing range; ie. a single bullet may be fatal at 10 bbs.

A hidden issue is that, unless the effective stack size is extremely short, like 10 big blinds in a tournament, there are going to be more situations to handle. Continuation bets, donk bets, blocking bets, check-raises. The aggression can continue and it’s not always easy to give up.

I don’t know how often I’ve said to myself, ‘bet this flop, then give up’, only to disregard my own advice.  He minraises my bet, or a scare card comes, or I convince myself that he’s chasing a draw and he’ll fold to another barrel, or I gain some outs with a gut shot draw and I fire again.

Once the game of chicken has begun, it can be tough to quit.

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