Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Your Best Defense Against Leveling: The Reset Switch

As you all know, when playing against the same opponents day in and day out, a dynamic will ensue against one or more troublesome players.  Occasionally, the leveling war will become so indecipherable to onlookers that it will appear as if both players are raging donkeys.  Check raises on the turn with gutshots, river over shoves with bottom pair for value, you name it.  While these things certainly have their place in the game of poker and most specifically in heads up matches, a much simpler and, more importantly, a much more appropriate solution is to apply what I have come to call "the reset switch".  Simple and easy, the reset switch is mostly just instantly switching gears back to an ABC game and pounding your opponents into oblivion. Notice how I used the word "mostly".

You see, when a leveling war develops, the first guy to drop out is the winner.  If one party wishes to continue a leveling war without the cooperation of the other party and insists that every single hand requires massive amounts of trickery, than the resistant party is literally no longer distinguishable from a donkey.  Just ask my friend Travis.  I used to bluff constantly in our heads up matches 5 years ago and these days he won't fold bottom pair to me despite how ugly the board gets.  I now bluff him like once every 3 months or so in our home game to reinforce this image of dishonesty.  Donkeys love catching bluffs.

Back to the matter at hand.  "Oh no!" you must be thinking.  "I can't let him insta-profit on my blinds or by not defending my steals!"

Ahem... A topic to be extrapolated on more another day, to be crudely to the point: insta-profit is a bullshit poker concept.  To be clear: the math checks out on paper most certainly, but it doesn't gel with how the game is actually played, specifically with regards to the attitude and paranoia of the aggressor.  Anyone who wishes to fully take advantage of the concept of the insta-profit scenario is gradually pushing the boundaries of a careful balanced strategy.  Said aggressor is also expecting that the targeted nit will eventually make some random play back. This often results in the aggressor going broke with something stupid, like bottom pair or ace high (think of poor Travis).  But...more on that topic another day.

For now, let's focus on the second component of the reset switch, which is to not chicken out.  Stop being a pussy and forget the #3 (yes, I am skipping #2 for now) and by far most offensive bullshit poker concept, "protecting your hand".  I can't wait to extrapolate on the many flaws of this one, but I will give this tip: the desire and tendency to "protect" one's hand is the basis of virtually all hand reading.  By selectively violating this basic poker tenet, you are well on your way to becoming an expert at the game.  Here are two quick examples of how this concept can be used against you when protecting your hand causes you to become "too honest".

You are the PFR in each scenario:

You raise 6h 5h and the flop Jh Th 9h.  Someone donks into you.  You are expected to raise.

You raise Td Ts.  Flop is 5 4 2.  You are expected to bet the flop.  If you check the flop, you are also expected to bet or raise the turn.

Challenge: ask yourself why in both scenario.  Look beyond the obvious answers.  I am absolutely NOT saying that raising is wrong or even bad.

So....back to the reset switch.  The first step requires that you start dumping your crappy preflop hands and let your opponent take a few extra blinds.  This will embolden him further.  Now, for your monsters:  getting full value means that you should violate the basic principle of protecting your hand, which means that you should slowplay both your monsters AND your semi-monsters like top pair in unorthodox ways for both maximum value.  What I mean by unorthodox is that you shouldn't be pulling the trigger and letting your opponent off the hook by raising.  For instance, if someone is raising your BB 80% of the time from the SB and constantly triple barreling with nothing, there is literally no rule that says you can't just flat 77 and call him down with 20 BB.  But let me re-iterate: if the flop is KQJ two tone, calling down here with 77 is just a fish move and you are being reined back into idiot mode.  A better spot would be to take a flop like 654 and just call away.  With a basic belief in the value of protecting one's hand, your opponent is likely to put you on a draw from the flop to the river and donk off all his chips.  So as not to lose the original point, stop raising! 

Final note: straight draws and flush draws with no overcards are now crap!  Sure, they have decent implied odds to a small bet on the flop, but against a guy who just isn't going to fold, becoming aggressive with these hands is suicide, since literally none of them have enough showdown power to make a profit against a belligerent calling station.  I suggest giving up on these frequently.


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