How to deal with desperation

When I read players in a poker game one of the biggest things to ask yourself is this: “Are they desperate?”

I don’t mean desperate like you might be thinking (sicko), but rather in poker-sense. Are they so short stacked that they are uncomfortable with post flop play and more likely to simply let it all ride. A lot of times (and usually with good reason) a short stack is forced to make a move preflop for all his chips with mediocre hands, and it is mine and your job to take advantage of this.

I was playing in my weekly game and we were down to the final 2 tables. I was sitting with a decent sized stack and the player to my left (a player whose game I really respect) was getting low on chips. 2 out of the previous 5 hands he had pushed preflop and taken down the blinds, and I was just waiting to get him to do it when I had a hand. We were both in the blinds (I was the small blind) and it folded around.

I looked down at 10-10 and quickly limped, hoping he would take this as weakness and push to take my blind. What did he do? He pushed for little over $6,500 (I had $13,000) and I quickly called. He cursed under his breath and showed A-2, I was a decent favorite to win the pot and knock him out, if only Holdem was a two card game.

The flop gave him a pair of 2s and the turn gave him another, leaving me with $7,000 and him with $13,000, a quick and brutal reversal. I struggled back and had a good chance to knock him out again but it just wasn’t meant to be. I ended up finishing in 12th place while he made it to 8th.

One of new players newbie mistakes involves playing against short stacks. It is not smart to push small stacks around because they are desperate. Instead of giving them the option of folding a mediocre hand, make them want to push with it instead. Let the short stack try and push you around instead of the other way around. If you do happen to have a large stack the players to push around with it are the mid-stacks. They aren’t desperate enough to push with anything and have enough chips to fold and feel fine about it.

Good luck!

I've been playing poker for almost four years now (well before it was legal for me, woops!) Besides poker I enjoy playing the guitar and I'm very enthusiastic about pursuing Dentistry as a career. I'm currently at The Ohio State Univeristy studying Microbiology, living with three of my close friends. I'm dating a lovely girl from Australia and am looking forward to the oppurtunity to study abroad over there as well.

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