A few months ago when I was participating in my NL50 poker challenge, it soon become apparent that there were an awful lot of bad regs at this level in both six max and full-ring, but especially six max. In any form of poker, the fewer players that there is on the table the more skill you need to be able to beat the game.
The blind pressure in Full Ring is low so sitting and waiting for good hands is more viable than it is in six max where the extra blind pressure forces a widening of ranges. One of the factors that fascinates me the most about poker is the psychological aspect of it. Why do players do what they do at certain levels? What fears and apprehensions do they have? What are their views towards bankroll management? What has their poker education been based on?
But at that level I used to encounter a play that I saw pretty frequently. It was a decent regular calling my pre-flop raise and then floating me on the flop. A lot of players find this annoying and players who are versed in Harrington on Cash strategies may involuntarily move into pot control mode. This may be fine at full-ring, but not at six max. An example may go something like this:
Folded to me in the cut-off at NL50 and I raise to $1.75 with Jc-9d. This bet gets called by the button and effective stacks are $55. Both blinds fold and the flop comes 10s-4d-2c. I continuation bet, keep the lead, and make a bet of $2.75 into the $4.25 pot which gets called making the pot $9.75. The turn is the 4c which in the button's eyes hasn’t improved my hand. The button could have called the c-bet with virtually anything including air but the tactic of flatting pre-flop and then calling the c-bet with too high a frequency is exploitable.
I make a bet of $7 on the turn which also gets called, making the pot $30.75. Now here is where the going gets tough. We also need to have a look at how our opponent views us as well. If you are reading this website and are a keen visitor to FlopTurnRiver, then the chances are that you will be at least a capable player. So your ranges will neither be overly tight or aggressive from the cut-off, but they will be wide enough for slightly trickier regs to try and pressure you from pots post flop in situations where effective stacks are relatively deep.
The further we go into the hand then the more polarised our ranges become. The key factor here is in having the lead. As long as you have not been too greedy from position then you can exploit this maneuver by three barrelling.
It’s not easy to keep firing with air, but it sure does blow away these types of players. Here I make a bet of near the pot with $27 and they tank and fold……the tanking was merely for show. In my experience most players are either not properly bankrolled or they are not prepared to risk money beyond their psychological comfort zone with certain hands in certain situations…..in other words there will be a point in which they will not go beyond.
In the previous example where I open raised with J-9, let’s say that the button called my raise with pocket sixes instead of three betting. Their game plan was to pressure me post flop with the pocket pair being insurance. This premeditated line of play will work against many players, but on that 10-4-2 flop then my c-bet retains the initiative. If another overcard comes on the turn then the button is going to have a very hard time continuing, especially given the full-force of my $27 bet on the river.
If you are facing opponents who flat pre-flop and who float you post flop, then you are simply going to have to bet more turns and rivers. Players at NL50 and especially the regs will play a two street pot post flop with weak or mediocre hands and air either because they think that they are best or they are trying to pressure you post flop. They will rarely play a three street pot though and you can definitely take advantage of this. Players who multi-table and are playing at least four tables can often be good targets for this tactic as many will not know that your range is polarised when you three barrel.
Carl "The Dean" Sampson can be seen at his blog http://www.pokersharkpool.com