There are many casinos in Reno and I have tried to visit them all to get a read on the local talent city wide. One of the casinos I have visited is the "Grand Sierra". This casino, oddly enough, has more tourists per capita at the poker tables than regulars. There are a few regulars that frequent the casino, but I know who they are and they now know who I am. We manage to play around each other occasionally running into one another. So far I hold the lead in these situations, but they are good and I know it can spell disaster at any time If I get involved in hands against them too frequently. Every now and then I have to remind them that I won't allow them to push me around. One of these situations happened tonight. I won't go into too much detail, because I know many of you don't know much about poker.
It is important to establish that you will not tolerate being pushed around at the poker table because a large number of hands are not won by the best hand, they are won by the best played hand. To do this you have to accurately deduce what cards your opponent may be holding. There are some hands where they will not be able to call a large bet, even if they might be in the lead. The regular player at the table had decided that he would play very aggressively and he was raising in often to control the action at the table. He would follow up by betting aggressively after the flop to steal pots. I could not let that go on because it would eventually interfere with my ability to play my hands and the size of the pots would quickly get out of control creating a situation where people would not be able to lay their hands down to a raise. It is much better to win the hand with a good bet than by having the best hand after all of the cards have been seen because you can make the best bet a lot more often than you can have the best hand. I had to do something to curtail his behavior.
My opponent raised in with $17. The action folded around to me. I looked down and saw that I had 9, 7 of clubs. This is not a great hand, but I decided to call because if my opponent had high cards, these cards were the best with which to face high cards and if he held a middle pair, I could get him to fold his middle pair if high cards hit the board. I had position (he always had to act before me during this hand so I knew what he would do before I had to act. I would never have tried this if I had to act first.). Everyone else folded and the flop came out: K clubs, 9 diamonds, 2 clubs.
This was a perfect bluffing board for me. I had middle pair and a flush draw just in case I could not get him to fold his hand. I decided to act as if I were slow playing ace king. He declined to bet on the flop and I checked my option to bet allowing the next card to come (This way I might just hit the flush and actually have the best hand.). It was a 3 of spades. I had to put him on a middle pair at this point (tens, nines, eights, sevens or sixes), because he would have bet if he had hit the king. You have to remember that he was playing very aggressively before this hand. Because he had checked his option to bet, I had to figure that the king on the flop had scared him. I had a nine, so pocket nines were not likely, so he probably was holding pocket tens, eights, sevens, or sixes. These were all hands I could make him fold with a good bet. He bet out $30 and I paused pretending to think and examine the board. I then raised him to $90. He looked disgusted and folded his hand face up. He folded pocket tens. My read was right on.
I waited for the money to be pushed to me and then turned my cards face up. I had won the hand with inferior cards and he had actually been ahead when he folded his hand. The money was not as important as the message I sent him that I would not be messed with. Prior to this he had been raising in frequently attempting to steal pots. This practice stopped and now I was able to captain the table. From now on I knew that if he raised in, he would have a good hand. We got involved in a hand later on and I came out ahead there too. He slipped 3-$100 chips into his chip-stack after the second hand and I made sure to point out that I did notice. I asked him if the chips at the bottom of his stack were one hundred dollar chips. He looked at me exasperated and said, "Yes". I asked him how much he had in front of him and he told me. I had enough to cover him already, but took $200 more dollars out of my wallet and added that to my stack. I played for about 45 minutes and left around $400 ahead. He looked relieved when I left the table, but there was no point in me staying at that point as his was the only chip-stack worth playing against. Everyone else had less than $100 sitting in front of them. I could find easier and more lucrative targets. I had accomplished what I came to do. I decided to head back to the Circus Circus casino to take a crack at their $180,000 bad beat jackpot.