Poker Bullies
Monday, 7. December 2009

We all know what bullies are – the big, intimidating people who delight in tormenting those younger or smaller than they are yet generally fold when confronted with someone bigger than they are or something they never really expected to meet or handle.

You can find bullies in every walk of life and, not surprisingly, you will also find them at the poker table. These people however, are not your typical bullies – they don’t do it because they like doing it, they do it because they’ve discovered a winning poker strategy.

These poker bullies characteristically intimidate and ‘terrorize’ the people they play with. Their main aim is to win by default – bluff until the others drop out. When he comes up with a milking hand, though, he suddenly doesn’t know what to do. Or doesn’t he, really?

Poker Bullies’ Strategy
A normal poker player plays according to popular poker wisdom: play aggressively when you have extremely good hands and give up when you have bad cards. Most of the time, a normal poker player should forgo speculative play when one has to wait awhile (and pay while doing it) to see if his mediocre cards could turn out favorably. If he does see fit to wait, he must slow down the game until he finds what he’s looking for.

Poker bullies do not conform to above guidelines. As a rule, poker bullies want to maximize marginal hands by scaring everybody out of the game. They steal blinds right and left. They’re so aggressive that they cause other players to tilt, or they scare the fish and tight players to fold. In this regard, they are your typical poker maniacs.

However, they’re unlike maniacs when they get the best possible card combination. Suddenly, they slow down the game. When there’s a chance to check, they do. In other cases, they forgo raising and calls instead. In short, they play like someone holding unimpressive cards when, in fact, they’re just making their opponents contribute more money to a sure pot.

Unfortunately for you, poker bullies’ strategy usually works especially if they are playing with passive-tight players and novices.

Countering Poker Bullies
If you find yourself playing poker with a bully, you should not despair. At least, this player is fairly predictable so you have a pretty fair idea of how good his cards are. As a general rule, when he’s playing it slow he is holding the nuts and when he’s playing aggressively he has bad or mediocre cards.

As such, you should fold early when the bully starts slowplaying. Similarly, you should call his bluff when he plays aggressively. This type of counter-strategy may backfire though, when the bully actually shifts to normal poker strategy, slowplaying a drawing hand and aggressively betting with a strong one.

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