Unpredictabilities & Points for Style

We have to sink or swim on shows that have energy, movement and unpredictability.” – Tom Bergeron

During the last couple of weeks, I’ve spent many hours on reading strategies, tactics, counter-tactics and so on and on and on… One of the many lessons that stuck to my mind, though, was about making crazy, unpredictable moves – but within reasonable limits. Now, we all know that there’s only a very thin line between genius and insanity, and a few days ago I must have been straying so far on the wrong side of that line, that it would have looked like a dot. I wouldn’t be surprised if I found this story in the bad beat section of pocket fives’ forums.

It was very early in one of the 10 seated $2 + 0.30 No Limit SNGs on Ladbrokes. I was sitting in mid position with 72 of hearts. During the previous three Sit’n’Goes (in all of which I busted out) the going was very slow, many limpers early in, one or two betting rounds later the games would be over. Just a few hours earlier, I read a post about how weird plays can mix things up and confuse the heck out of other players. So I decided, with 72 suited, playing them pre-flop strongly could be fun. The stakes were still very low, so I decided to pretend they were AQ off-suit.

Three players in front of me limped in with $20 each. I type into the chat window: “Strictly: No Limping” and raise to $40, after all, having my fake AQo I want to get some action and maybe some more callers for post-flop fun. The guy behind me calls, the next one folds, and the cut-off raises to $60. I see the BB calling and everyone else involved in the pot thus far, feeding the pot to a solid $490 with 8 contenders for the candy.

The flop came down Qh 9d 2s – a great flop for my fake AQo! As fate wants it, the three guys in front of me try to get away with a minimum wager of $20 each. “Strictly: No min betting” I type into the chat window, and push it up to $40. I may have AQo, but I should find out if anyone else hit two pair or even trips, keeping an eye on the player at the cut-off. And of course, cut-off guy bumps it up to $90, 2 folds and 2 calls behind him. “$90? That couldn’t even scare the weakest player out of this pot.” I think and call, too. The last player behind me calls, too. Pot standing at $940 with 5 contenders left.

The turn brought a 5h. “Nah, my AQo should still be superior”, I thought. The first player bet out for $80, the one following bumped it up to $160 before it was my turn. I decided this should be the time to return to reality. I’ve thrown roughly 10% of my stack into the pot pretending to have some nice cards, but now they wanted even more than that. I had the lowest pair and a flush draw, possibly facing two pair and maybe even a larger flush draw.

In a rather optimistic scenario I’d have 14 outs or a 2.3 to 1 against me, in a more pessimistic case it would be 2 outs for trips with only 22 to 1 against. The pot gives me a 7.3 to 1 pay-off, even if no one else would call. A tough one, but I thought the style points for pulling this off would be priceless, so I called. The guy after me folded but then cut-off guy pushed all-in. GULP. The low-bettor folded, too, before the guy in front of me called the all-in, pushing his entire stack in, too.

Make that a double GULP. Now it was time for very quick thinking: What could they have? Both probably armed with a Queen, the first one of them more than likely to have stolen my AQ and now trying to push out any drawing hand – like me. The calling one, probably two pair, maybe even trips. I thought it rather unlikely that he’d have trips, because at this level most players play any pair as if they were the nuts. So, two pair it is. This leaves me with only a flush to aim for, and another deuce. 11 outs would give me 3.182 to 1 odds. The pot had $3740 in it now, I would have to add my last $1170 to gamble for that amount. 3.197 to 1. “Don’t forget the style points”, I thought as I called.

This call was probably wrong but it sure was fun. And the best part was the river spilling a 4 of hearts onto the board. The cut-off guy showed Kd Qc (didn’t steal my AQ after all) and the caller turned over Qd 5c – two pair. And lucky me, I score both, massive points for style and a pot of $4910. This win put me far ahead of the field, and from there onwards I was able to bully the other stacks as I pleased, ending up winning the SNG.

Points for style aside, in that situation I forgot to think of the other benefits I ultimately gained by that reckless move. The tighter players seemed to loosen up considerably when playing against me, thinking I’d call about any bet with any hand. And the rather loose aggressive players never were too sure which hands they were up against, making them feel uncomfortable playing against my big stack, and therefore folding a lot more often than usual. And those players unaware of what is happening around them (the majority at this level) were easy targets. They seem to hardly notice anything but the stack size of their opponents.

This was the first time I had a “maniac” image at the table, and I must admit that I’ve enjoyed it a lot. Something I can definitely recommend trying to do every now and again.

4 thoughts on “Unpredictabilities & Points for Style

  1. Great story, I thoroughly enjoyed reading that, haha! While I was reading I was thinking the caller would have Q5, and the call with the 72h was ballsy as hell, haha, well done!

    Little bit of advice: mixing up play doesn’t usually imply playing 72 strong, haha, but I guess it did exactly what you hoped it would.


  2. Yeah, I also laughed a lot – but mainly because it worked out, I guess.
    As for mixing it up with 72h, I was willing to pour 10% of my stack into the flames, just to get the “donk” stamp onto my forehead, hoping I could capitalize from that later.
    THAT certainly did work out…

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