Blog from E. Mark, the "e- Shark"



Too Stupid To Tie His Shoelaces

It's easy to overestimate the intelligence of the average limit hold'em player.

Take a recent 10-20 hand I played in Vegas.  I had pocket 10s in the small blind.  No point in raising, since the four players already in the pot were sure to call.  No ten and any overcards on the flop and I'm gone.

We took the flop five-handed and it came 10-6-3, rainbow. A dream flop.

I checked but to my dismay no one bet.

Another 6 came on the turn, giving me a top-set boat.  Sweet!  I checked again and finally someone bet.  I raised, and to my surprise the big blind re-raised!  When I three-bet, he insta-four-bet.

Could he have pocket sixes, for quads?

The intial bettor was long-gone.  I merely called.  The river was an 8.  I checked and the big blind bet again.  I called.

He showed 6-4, a very weak set of trips, but he played them as if he had quads.  I could have made a lot more money, but I gave this fellow WAY too much credit.

When I recapped this hand to my friend Jay, he quipped, "Don't you know the average limit hold'em player is too stupid to tie his shoelaces?"

Lesson learned.

- E. Mark the "e-Shark" Gross

3pips   MAKE MINE A DOUBLE (maybe): The Advantages of Over-Stacking (3/29/10)


Make Mine a Double (maybe): The Advantages of Over-Stacking

I played an interesting hand recently which demonstrates the advantages of over-stacking.

I was playing against a player who is a former major league pitcher with a World Series ring.  He had, pardon the pun, quite a few curve balls and the money to back his erratic play.  He limped into a pot that I planned to enter in late position, after three other players had limped.

I was sitting across from 'Jon' (not his real name) and I was watching him as I came forward with my hand over-stacked, so that I could either call the bet or raise.

As I watched Jon, his eyes lit up.  Instead of putting down a raise, I put down a smooth-call with my suited K-J.  Nobody raised after me and we went to the flop.  It completely missed my cards.  Before I got to act, the big blind bet (likely a small pair) and Jon raised.  I folded and got to see the showdown.  Jon had pocket aces.

The message: Give yourself the option of raising while coming forward with your chips.

Important note: Make sure that you're not in a setting like the Hard Rock Casino in Hollywood, Florida that requires you to bet all of the chips you're holding as you come forward.

- E. Mark the "e-Shark" Gross


The Art of Counter Punching

Intimidating your opponents is a big part of poker.  But not letting them intimidate you is equally important.

Let me show you what I mean.  While playing a $20-40 limit game session at the Borgatta, a tight player raised in middle position with everyone after the blinds having folded to him.  I re-raised him with 5-6 of clubs.  I 3-bet because I wanted to play the hand after isolating him in position.  I also wanted control of the hand.  I knew he would re-raise only with a monster like Aces or Kings - hands he had also maybe mentally given me (if he as most likely had a lesser hand), so I'd win if we both 'wiffed' the board.

We go to the flop heads-up.  The board comes 8-5-2.  He checks, I bet, he calls.  Another blank on the turn.  He checks, I bet, he calls.  Still another blank on the river.  He checks, I bet and he calls me down with A-K.  I drag a nice pot.

Of course, I really won this hand pre-flop, by showing I wouldn't be intimidated by his raise.  No weak, speculative call for me.  Just aggression that froze him in place.

You don't always need a big hand to counter-punch.

- E. Mark the "e-Shark" Gross


Look Left before Entering Traffic

It's amazing.  Even at 'small' no-limit tables, where stacks average 'only' $300, people often telegraph their intentions.

What do I mean?  I find it remarkable how often people to your left will tell you what they're going to do. This happens all the time preflop.

So pay attention.

There are players on your left who routinely hold their cards in a manner indicating that they're going to muck. They're tired and impatient to get to a hand they can play.  If players with this trait are NOT doing this, it's because they like their hands.

Also, some players will even play with their chips and thereby show you they intend to come into the pot.  This is one of those lessons that will save you lots of money.  Especially when you have hands that only play well against few opponents -- A-7 suited, for example.

If you see a player to your left preparing to bet his chips, muck those moderate holdings that can get you in trouble.  Saving money you would have lost is one of the best ways to a winning session!

- E. Mark the "e-Shark" Gross


Funniest Hand I've Ever Seen! A Nasty Complainer Gets His Comeuppance

I still smile as I think back on this hand.

About six months ago, I was playing a $20/$40 limit game in Atlantic City. There was a singularly unpleasant player in the seven-seat relative to the button.  All afternoon long he did nothing but complain.

After another half hour in which he played not a single hand, an Ace being dealt to him opened.  The dealer immediately apologized as he took back the Ace that had rolled over (it would be the burn card).

Everyone after the blinds folded, and when it was this fellow's turn to act, he took the replacement card and without looking at it, open-mucked it to show his disgust and to disrespect the table.  It was an Ace! He seemed so satisfied, the dealer's 'error' had cost him Aces, and now he could rub in the guilt.

Then he took his first card, which he also had never looked at, and again open-mucked it.  Imagine his angst when he saw that it too was an Ace.  He had thrown away pocket aces.

We couldn't stop laughing.

He was flabbergasted, turned beet red.

Now here's the best part:  A late position player raised and got called by the blinds.  The hand went to the river with betting and the late position player won it with King-high (He had a King high flush draw which didnt come, and the blinds had missed their straight draws).

Punchline: The pot of over $400 was won by a suited king, queen, no pair. And all our nemesis could do was sulk.

What's your funniest story?

- E. Mark the "e-Shark" Gross


Preferred Seating -The Way To Go

Here's one of the first things I do upon joining a table, and I suggest you do the same: Request a seat change button.

Minor deal? Not quite.

Poker is the most situational of all games.

You don't want people to your left who constantly raise with air, unless you're prepared to play back at them with nothing, having read them as on a 'move.'  Having a habitual three-better playing over you can cost you a fortune.

When a particularly aggressive player joins my table, I use the seat change button to get to his left, then I three-bet him, often with any pocket pair.  He usually won't back down because he's into his power image.  This can pay off big-time, when he misses his draws.

Also, there is upside to playing over a player who routinely limps and then folds to a flop bet, after he checks the flop (to indicate he missed).

So, be fluid when you enter a game.  Pay attention to the characters at the table, and make sure you have preferred seating.  Put yourself in the best position.  It won't cost you; it will pay off.

Side Note: Ask for a table change, if there are better pickings at another table than the one you're playing.

- E. Mark the "e-Shark" Gross

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