Heads-up match #2, $25/50 vs. maniac, $5,000 starting stacks

Hand 1

I raise to $150 with A♥-5♥, opponent calls. Flop is 9♣‐J♥‐10♦, he checks and I check. It’s easy for him to have a hand. Turn is the 9♦, check‐check. River is the A♠ and he bets $300. He appears to be happy with his hand and he could very well have checked a good hand on the flop or turn to trap me. But it’s hard to put him on a specific hand that beats me and importantly if he has a pair of aces to have a better kicker he needs A‐K or A‐Q, which he’d reraise pre‐ flop – with all other pairs of aces we split the pot. I call, he has J‐Q. His river bet simply makes no sense. So at this point I will be play‐ ing under the assumption he’s bad.

Hand 2

K♦-8♦, opponent raises to $150, I call. The flop is K♠‐8♣‐5♦; since he appears to be crazy there is no need to take the lead away from him, especially since I dominate the board. I check, he checks. Turn is the 5♠, a bad card as it could make him a better hand, decreases the strength of mine, and most important of all, doesn’t improve his hand. I check, he checks. River is the 2♣, I bet $300, he folded.

Hand 3

Q♣-2♥, I raise to $150. It’s a marginal hand but it’s the beginning of the game and I want to establish myself as aggressive and take the lead in the game. He calls, flop is 6♦‐4♦‐8♦. Here I figured since it looks like he is the type of opponent who calls everything pre‐flop, he probably doesn’t have a good hand here. And even though I don’t have anything he wouldn’t be able to stand a bet. So I bet $300 but he called. I guess that was a mistake as he appears to be the type of opponent who not only calls everything pre‐flop but then is also crazy post‐flop.

The turn comes the A♠. Then I figured that if he is crazy pre‐flop and on the flop that means he still probably doesn’t have a hand, the board is scary and the turn is a scare card. So I will go ahead and play more aggressively than him to muscle him out of the hand and here I bet pot for $900. It’s quite possible for two opponents to be loose and aggressive and skilled, and then some pretty wacky hands can happen quite frequently. It involves a lot of aggression, bluffing, semi‐bluffing and close decisions. That’s what I was forcing myself into here, although it turns out the opponent is not skilled so strate‐ gically I didn’t need to force these tough high variance decisions. He is loose and aggressive but not so skilled so I can just wait. In the hand he raised me to $1,800 and won the pot.

Hand 4

He raises to $150, I fold K‐2o.

Hand 5

I raise $150 with 2‐2, he folds.

Hand 6

He raises to $150, I reraise to $450 with A‐Qo. This is a standard re‐ raise for value because my hand is far better than his range of hands. The flop is 8♠‐K♦‐2♥, I bet $700 because since he appears to be wacky it will be tough to try and showdown ace high and win the hand, and so I want to bet and end it right away. He would try and steal it from me at some point if I checked and then if I wanted to fight him for it I’d have to put in significantly more than $700 to fight for the pot. He calls.

The turn is the 6♥, I check and he checks. Since he didn’t raise the flop or bet the turn, there is a pretty decent chance he doesn’t have a king. But the combination of the fact that he might have a king, and that he might call a river bluff even without a king makes my plan to check down and lose the pot. The river comes a queen. It’s close and I want to bet but given that we’ve only played six hands so far my read doesn’t seem strong enough to justify making such a thin value bet. The pot is pretty big by now; I reraised pre‐flop and bet the flop and he called that, so if I’m going to bet the river it’s going to be a sizeable bet and if I’m wrong quite costly. I checked and he checked behind 8‐9s.

Hand 7

I fold 5‐2o.

Hand 8

He raises to $150, I call with J‐9o. The flop is A♣‐2♣‐3♠, I check and he bets $300. He’s too aggressive for me to sit back and wait around, and this is a good spot. My read is that he raises a lot pre‐flop, so there’s a quite good chance he doesn’t have an ace in his hand. And he will need an ace to continue vs. me if I raise. So I am playing the math here and raise him to $1,000, he folds.

Hand 9

I raise Q‐3s and he reraises pot, I fold.

Hand 10

He raises to $150, I call with Q‐9o. I think he is loose and a suspi‐ cious type who will float me when I bet with weak hands so I lead out into him on the flop of 10♥‐10♣‐9♥ for $300 and he calls. This is all part of the plan and I am happy as my hand is reasonably strong and he is loose so a medium strength hand is pretty good.

The turn is the 2♦ and I’m pretty sure my hand is best so I bet $700 here to get value and protect my hand, he calls. This is about the pot size I want to win with this strength of hand, as with a pot any big‐ ger and I’ll have to worry that he’s been trapping me. The river is the 5♦, I check and he bets $550. Given the pot size it will be tough to fold here, especially given the first hand where he shows he makes bets that just don’t make sense. I call and he has 10‐8. There is noth‐ ing to be unhappy about here – it was a set up. He is a nutty player and he got a very good hand vs. my good hand, so it’s inevitable that I’m going to lose money. In fact even though he won the hand I’m pretty happy as I could have easily lost more. He should have bet more on the river, and the board is draw heavy on straights and flushes so the fact that he wasn’t aggressive with his good hand is promising. Rather than being upset about losing the pot I am excited about the rest of this match.

Hand 11

I open to $150 with J‐6o and he calls. The idea is that since he plays bad pre‐flop, I want to build the pot and take advantage of my posi‐ tion, and in my judgment he plays so bad that even raising with J‐6o is profitable. He calls, the flop is 9♣‐Q♦‐10♥, he check‐calls my $300 bet. The turn is the 4♦, he checks and I bet $900. My logic is again that he calls so much he could easily be weak and fold, and even if

he calls it’s okay because I probably have a good number of outs and vs. a player like this there are implied odds even though the draw is obvious. Also it allows me to maintain and build a quite aggressive image when in actuality it doesn’t cost me much.

He calls, the river is the 2♦. This is a reasonable spot to bluff again. The factors to consider are that he is probably weak and I could easily have had a strong hand the whole way, but on the other hand he is loose. It’s a close decision, and I have to be prepared for decisions like this when I play the way I did on the flop and turn. In the hand I checked and he checked behind with Q‐7o. It’s unclear what he would have done had I bet.

Hand 12

He opens to $150 and I fold J‐7o. He is happy to play every pot I open out of position, so I’ll focus on those pots and just try and play in position as much as I can.

Hand 13

I open to $150 with A‐10o and he calls. The flop is A♦‐9♠‐J♥, he checks and I bet $300 – obviously versus this opponent I will not trap or slow‐play. He check‐raises to $600 and I’m not sure what that means exactly but I feel pretty good about my hand. The turn is the 8♦ and he checks. Time to make a decision here – he is bad but is he so bad that if I get all my money in here I am happy? I don’t think so, and since I have a good draw it would be bad to bet the turn and have to fold. Also by checking and being deceptive there is a definite chance it could trap this player for value on the river whereas on the turn he’d fold. So I opted to check behind. The river is the Q♣, he checks I bet $1,050 and he called with A‐3. Again his play is so bad and weird that it’s unclear whether I should have bet the turn be‐ cause he’s so bad or if he just made the bad play because he got con‐ fused by the turn action.

Hand 14

His stack is $6,000 now and I cover. He raises to $150, I call with 6♥-5♥. The flop is 9♠‐8♥‐2♥, I lead out $300 into him because I’d rather keep the flop to one bet than two. If I check against this op‐ ponent there is a good chance he not only bets but he calls my check‐raise, which puts me in an awkward position for the turn, so I try to opt out of that by leading into him, and there’s a good chance he’ll call but my hand is so strong I don’t lose much equity, and since I’m building the pot it’s not bad at all.

The turn comes the 9♣, here I checked just because I didn’t want to put more money in. However I didn’t have a plan, and if I had taken the time to think out what my plan was I would have seen that had he bet I’d have to call, and there’s a decent chance he’ll bet here. Thus it makes more sense to just make the bet myself (and control the bet size), and also to gain some fold equity. The disadvantage is that he could raise, which would be quite bad. And in the game that’s why I didn’t bet – I was afraid he had a 9 and would raise. In retrospect with more thought this fear seems unfounded based on how he played his previously. Earlier on when he had trip tens on the 10‐10‐9 board he called me twice without raising me. In contrast when he had top pair on the flop the A‐3 vs. my A‐10 hand he raised the flop. Both those factors lead to the idea that I need not be afraid of a turn raise.

I checked and he checked behind, which was nice. The river is the 10♠ and now I have a decision to make. The timing on when he checked behind on the turn made me think he had an 8. The ten is a perfect scare card because the exact sort of hands people lead out on the 9‐8‐2 board are semi‐bluffs like 10‐Q, 10‐J or 10‐7. So I bet out $750 and he called with A‐8. The fact that he would call there means my read on him and my play was bad, especially considering my read that he could have had a hand like 10‐Q himself, and thus defi‐ nitely call my river bluff. There are two parts to reading a person – first there is reading what hand they have, and next what they are likely to do with it. My ability to read him for A‐8 is useless if I can’t then read that he’s going to call me when I bluff.

Hand 15

I raise to $150 with Q‐4s, he reraises pot and I fold. Against someone like him I want to wait until I get a better hand to make a stand be‐ cause not only will I be calling the pre‐flop raise, if I want to go to showdown there is a good chance I’ll need to invest a fair bit more. Also it appears as if there will be plenty of chances to play reraised pots with him pre‐flop.

Hand 16

He raises to $150 and I fold J♥-2♥. Note the power of aggression. He keeps raising and reraising me and it works because this is HU and people don’t get good hands often HU. Also note that his strategy of calling my bets a lot has worked for the same reason. It can be hard to play against someone who raises and calls a lot because playing HU you don’t often get hands.

Hand 17

He now has $7,500 and I have $5,000. I raise to $150 with 9♥-7♥, he calls. The flop is 10♠‐8♦‐3♣, he check‐calls a $250 bet. Turn is the J♠, he check‐calls $750. River is the 9♦ and he checks. Well, he could have a queen, a seven, two pair or a set and there is no way of knowing. On the basis that he is bad and likes to call with bad hands, and also on the basis that he cannot bluff me here because it’s so risky and perhaps reckless for him, I went ahead and made a thin and aggressive value bet of $1,750, which he promptly proceeded to min‐raise and I folded.

Hand 18

He now has $10,000 and I of course immediately reload my stack to $5,000. He opens to $150 and I call with 9♥-J♥. The flop is 2♦‐4♥‐2♥, it goes check‐check. Turn is the 3♠ and with my two overcard outs and

flush outs I lead out $250, he calls. Since he didn’t bet the flop I think he is floating me with a weak hand on the turn. The river comes the 6♦, which is a scary card for weak hands and overcards. Note how much easier this would be if my opponent was a predictable tight opponent – but he isn’t, he’s a loose unpredictable one who gives us tough decisions, like should we bluff here?

The 6♦ seemed like such a good card to do so, so I bet $625, and he called with 6♥-Q♥. So it turns out my read was right – he had some weird overcard hand not a good made hand, and he would have folded but he just happened to hit the river card, which was impos‐ sible for me to know. This was an okay line and I just got unlucky. You should be evaluating all the hands to see who is outplaying who and if you should keep playing someone, if you should quit the game because they are outplaying you, or if they are bad but their style somehow matches up well against you and you just need to adjust.

Hand 19

I open to $150 with J♦-2♦, he reraises to $450, I fold. Now it’s obvi‐ ously time to really start adjusting my pre‐flop play, and this per‐ haps should have been obvious to me the last time he reraised me but I will begin the adjustment now. Poker is a game of adjustments to opponents – if I had adjusted before this hand and realized I needed to tighten up pre‐flop and limp and fold more against this opponent then I would have saved myself $150.

Hand 20

He opens to $150 and I fold K♦-2♥. This is standard, now my plan is to tighten up and just wait for good hands pre‐flop and get value post‐flop.

Hand 21

I open to $150 with A‐Qo, he calls. Flop is 8♠‐3♣‐3♦, he checks and I bet $250 because my hand is probably best, and this opponent is bad enough to call me with worse. He calls, the turn is 8♣, check‐check. The river is 7♥ and he leads out $550. Given my read and thoughts on the flop, and also that the board texture is extremely dry, it’s quite hard for him to have hit that flop so I think there’s a good chance my hand is best and that he called the flop to represent a hand later on. So I call, he has 6♣-9♣.

Hand 22

He has $11,000 and I have $5,700 now. He opens to $150 and I re‐ raise to $450 with A‐A; he folds.

Hand 23

I open to $150 with 7‐8o and he calls. The flop is 10♣‐6♦‐10♦, he checks and even though I have a lot of outs he calls so much that I can’t really profitably bet here. The turn is the 8♥, he checks, and now my hand is almost surely good so I bet pot for value and he calls. The river is the 5♣, a good card in my opinion as I still think my hand is good so I bet as much as I think he’ll call which is $700 and he calls with 6‐3s.

Hand 24

He opens to $150, I fold 7♣‐10♦. My strategy is to play hands in posi‐ tion.

Hand 25

I open to $150 with 8♠-4♠, he calls. The flop is 6♠‐K♦‐2♠, he checks

and I want to build the pot or make him fold so I bet $300 and he calls. There are two reasons to bluff here – the combinations of him folding enough times to make it profitable and the times I outdraw him and the implied odds. The difference between this and hand 2‐3 is that the implied odds are better (I’m comfortable playing a bigger pot with a flush then a pair of eights) and I have more outs.

He min‐raises to $600 – not really sure what he has, but it’s commit‐ ting too much with a flush draw and no overcard to reraise him and get it all in so I call and the turn is the 8♥, he bets $650. After I call there will be about $3,100 in the pot. Semi‐bluffing is a possibility here. I opted for less variance, wanted to hit my hand first and then get the money in later, which is possible vs. bad players, plus my hand could very well be good so I called. The river is the 9♥ he checks and I check. He shows 10‐Q and losses.

Hand 26

I fold 2‐4o.

Hand 27

He raises to $150, I fold K‐6o.

Hand 28

I fold 4‐7o; normally I like to raise a lot pre‐flop, regardless of my hand strength. And normally I can and do, but against this oppo‐ nent I need to adjust and fold more.

Hand 29

He raises to $150, I fold K‐2o. I can afford to play weak‐tight pre‐ flop and give up equity because post‐flop the opponent plays so bad and gives so much away there.

Hand 30

I limp with 4‐8o. He checks, the flop is 10♥‐9♠‐2♠, he checks, I check. Turn is the 6♦, he bets $100 and I fold.

Hand 31

He raises to $150, I have 7♣-7♥. Reraising is a possibility for value and to mix it up but he is so loose it will be problematic to play post‐ flop. So I call, the flop is 2♣‐6♠‐6♣. At this point my hand is probably good, and he calls a lot so I lead out for $250. He calls, the turn is the J♣, there is no reason to think the jack hit him, and no reason to think he had a hand as strong as a flush draw so I bet again for $600, he calls. The river is the 8♣. I have a flush, but even against him this flush is too low to value bet. I check and he bets $850. The pot is $2,000. It looks like a value bet but given his history of making bets that make no sense it’s a call because of the pot odds. He has 2♦-K♣ and wins. In retrospect there isn’t much to regret though. We put $1,000 in when we were significantly ahead, then he got lucky

Hand 32

I raise to $150 with Q♥-J♥, he calls, the flop is 9♣‐2♦‐2♠. He checks, I check. The turn is the 9♠, he bets out $300 – it’s not clear what he has but whenever I bet and raise he likes to call so I’ll just wait until I have a hand and not bluff him here.

Hand 33

He raises to $150, I call with A‐2o. The flop is K♥‐3♠‐3♥, I check he bets $300. Again will just wait until I get a hand because he likes to pay them off. I fold.

Hand 34

I raise the button to $150 with 8♥‐9♥, he calls. The flop is Q♣‐9♠‐6♦, he checks and normally I’ll check behind here with second pair for deception because generally only better hands call and worse hands fold or raise me out of the pot. However, given the opponent’s ten‐ dency to call, I value bet $250 and he raised to $750. He could be semi‐bluffing but even if he is he has so many outs (with a hand like 10‐K) that it’s not worth it to call. I fold.

Hand 35

He raises to $150, I fold 4♦-7♠. Hand 36

I raise to $150 with Q‐J and he calls. The flop is A♦‐8♦‐A♥, check‐ check. The turn is the 5♦, he leads out $300 and I fold. Basically we are getting a cold deck here, and there is nothing to do but wait it out and lose as little as we can.

Hand 37

He raises to $150 and I have K‐Qo. I reraise to $450 for value and to mix it up to disguise my better hands. He folds. He’s folded the two times I have reraised him pre‐flop, so I should start reraising him more to take advantage of his weakness there.

Hand 38

I raise to $150 with 9‐8o, he calls. Flop is 2♠‐6♠‐7♦, and he leads out into me for $300. I’m not sure what that means with him. So I’ll take a standard line here and raise him. Calling him is also reasonable. I raise to $1,000, the idea being that I’ve made the decision I am happy to go all in vs. him with my two overcards and open ended straight draw. Probably what will happen is he will call or fold. And if he calls then I can take a free card on the turn.

He calls, the turn is 2♣, he checks, I check. The river is 2♥, he bets $1,300 and I missed my draw, and there is no reason to think I can make a play here, and fold. Again we played fine but just didn’t hit.

Hand 39

He raises to $150; I fold 3♦-Q♣. Hand 40

I open to $150 with K♣-7♣; he calls. The flop is K♥‐6♦‐Q♦, I have top pair and will just value bet vs. this opponent. He folds, unfortu‐ nately. Some opponents are solid and if you bet with K‐7 there you wouldn’t even want a lot of action, but against this opponent we bet with the intention of getting action.

Hand 41

I fold 4‐6o.

Hand 42

He raises to $150; I have 9‐8o, and normally I’d call cause it’s decent but strategically there is no reason. He calls all my bets when I’m on the button so I can just wait and only play those hands and my best hands OOP.

After this he leaves. What happened here is that the opponent was bad, but his style was quite different from most people and happened to match up well against how we played. It took too long to adjust, and we also made some imprecise plays and were unlucky. If he stayed forever that would be great, but alas he did not and thus we finished down over $5,000 to him.

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