Sunday, February 10, 2013

Re: Re-raising. Patience Works Unless You Don’t Have Enough

Something that I don’t see enough of at the lower levels is smart re-raising.  Heck, I don’t see much re-raising at all except for the asinine all-in from the bingo players.  The re-raise is a valuable weapon in your arsenal, and it’s also something to be careful of if it’s tossed back at you.

When a re-raise is made, it should signify a strong statement – even though another player has committed chips to the pot, the re-raise stipulates that more are needed, because whatever hand the first player thinks he has, the re-raiser thinks his hand is better.  At least, that’s what a re-raise SHOULD signify.

Obviously, this is a good bluff, or semi-bluff, in the right spot.  If this occurs on the flop, and the flop contains “scary” cards (all of one suit or three-in-a-row) so that a re-raise could mean a straight or flush – that could be scary.  It’s also a case where there are two like cards (9-9-4) which could give the re-raiser trips.

In any case, it’s a situation where I like to think there are only two possibilities:
  • I’m way ahead, as he’s bluffing, or
  • I’m way behind.
This also holds true if I’m the one doing the re-raising.  In 70-80% of these situations I have a great hand – two pair, trips, or a made straight or flush.  I have the nuts or damn close to it.  In 10-15% of hands I am semi-bluffing – I am one card away from the nuts.  In the other cases I have air. 

Of course, the goal is to not tip off when I have what.

Last week I was on the other end of a great re-raise.  I was up and down all tournament, and was trying to knock out one of two really good (and aggressive) players at my table.  I don’t usually go after the strong players, but the weak players were not very active, I was the chip leader at the table by a good margin, and I saw a couple of opportunities to deliver punishing blows.  One player was on the ropes until a river 9 gave him trips, and two hands later he doubled up again through me having pocket aces to my pocket queens.  So two re-raises from me in a row, and neither worked.  I then set my sights on the other strong player, and tried a couple more re-raises on scary flops, and he conceded two in a row.  And then, he re-raised me on a 10-7-5 flop where I had top pair, top kicker, and I pushed all in.  He called again…and flipped over pocket Kings.  He waited a complete round before he continually re-raised me whenever I made a bet.  I tossed two mediocre hands away, and finally pushed holding pocket Tens…and damned if he didn’t have the Kings again.

I lost the ability to gain respect for my re-raises and never got it back.  And I should have been more patient and waited until I had a monster hand before challenging him again.  But…frustration + lack of patience + moderate cards = rail.

More on this later in the month.

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