Skill #8. Exploiting Aggression – P3: THE GIVE-UP

Consider this scenario. Your opponent plays too many hands pre- flop. Nevertheless, he C-bets the flop nearly 100 percent of the time. Because you’ve identified this incongruity, you always call (or raise) this bet. It doesn’t much matter what you hold. All that matters is that your hand range is stronger on average than his, yet he’s the one that’s always doing the betting in this spot.

On the turn, your opponent has two options. He can acknowledge that his hand range is weak, and give up on a lot of bluffs. Or he can refuse to acknowledge this fact and storm ahead with another bluff.

Players routinely choose either of these options. Your goal is to try to guess which option your opponent is likely to take. Opponents that give up a lot are the easiest to deal with. You just wait them out. They bet the flop, you call. They bet the turn, maybe you call again. They check the river, and you bet and take the pot. (You don’t win every time, but you win more than your share.)

If you play some 5-10 games, you’ll see a lot of this giving-up tactic. Many players are willing to fire one or two shots, but usually give up if you refuse to go away. This is, indeed, the principle tactic employed by classic loose-aggressive players (LAGs). They play lots of hands pre-flop. Then, with many junk hands, they’ll bet twice, trying to get a cheap fold. If you don’t go away, they give up on most of their hands rather than launch a huge river bluff.

In fact, some players are so predictable in this style of play you can actually use Skill #2 against them, meaning don’t pay them off if there’s a third barrel. Say your opponent raises to $40 pre- flop and you call. He bets $80 on the flop, and you call. He bets $200 on the turn, and you call. Then on the river he bets $660.

You should fold to this bet, as a big river bet is often the marker that the LAG actually has a hand. There will frequently be a bet-sizing tell, as the LAG is trying to make up all the small losses he suffers with his style by duping you into paying him off in one huge pot. So he shades that river bet large, hoping you won’t give him credit (why would you, after all, since he plays so many hands, and bets the flop and turn so often?).

But if you watch this player for a while, you’ll actually see that while the $80 flop bet and the $200 turn bet are reliable from this player, the $660 on the river is a rarity. When he misses completely, he generally does a lot of checking back the river and giving up. Or he catches a pair, slows his betting down, and tries to win a showdown.

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