Changing gears

Changing gears has a lot to do with being in the “zone”. The ques‐ tion is are you focusing on the poker game, or mindlessly playing standard poker? If it’s the latter then you’re in trouble. You might be doing fine but then cards will fall a certain way – for instance you get a few good hands in a row and raise the opponent and he folds. Now he doesn’t know you had good hands each time – in fact he’ll be pretty sure you didn’t have it one of those times because mathe‐ matically that is the most likely scenario by far. And if you raise him again soon he’ll be even more sure you are bluffing, thus you need to adjust. Your standard system of play isn’t going to work in this situation because an odd run of cards has your opponent suspicious and he is going to adjust, so you need to adjust to that adjustment – and that is what changing gears is about.

Example 1

$10/$25 HU, opponent has $2,200 and I cover. I open to $75 with A‐K and he calls. The flop is A♠‐K♦‐10♦ and he check‐calls my pot bet of $150. The turn is the 5♣ and he checks. If he has some sort of draw or made hand/draw combination I want to entice him to con‐ tinue the hand and also entice him to do so on terms unfavorable to him so I bet $300 here and he calls.

The river is the 3♣ and he leads out the full pot for $1,050 and my initial happiness and confidence about the hand quickly went away. My hand was so strong that I had to call, but the decision was either to call or go all‐in. In a spot like this where his bet really surprised me it’s easy to let that affect my decision and make me call or go all‐ in without thinking. But don’t do that – be meticulous, think and hand read.

He seems to be representing a strong hand but no really strong hands make sense here. The issue is that if he has a straight or a set from the start his hand is strong but vulnerable and so he would have raised at some point. Action like this could be a pocket pair that hit a set on the river but there is no way he could have called the flop and turn with 3‐3. One hand that does make sense is A‐3, but fortunately we beat that hand. So in the end it’s impossible to put him on a hand that beats us, so we raise all‐in. He called with A‐4.

Example 2

A couple of hands after that the opponent is playing with a $1,200 stack. I raise the button to $75 with Q‐8o and he reraises to $195. Normally this is an easy fold, but given his complete recklessness and the fact that I have position and that he doesn’t make a full pot raise it makes sense to call here and see what develops. I call, the flop is K‐8‐7o and he quickly bets out the pot of $390. Again this is normally a spot where people lose a lot of money by getting dragged into a hand early on, and then when they hit a hand they think they have to go with it.

Well I don’t have to go with it given his quick full‐sized pot bet felt strong to me and the king is one of the worst cards that could come. Also the stack sizes make it awkward. However, the most profitable play is not always the easiest play and that is the case here. The sim‐ ple fact is that his previous play with A‐4 was just so crazy and he lost his whole stack, so he could be tilting even more here and that makes it a call. I called and without putting any more money into the pot won against his 9‐4o.

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