Sunday, January 22, 2006

Thoughts On The Teflon Don

Most of the guys I play against in the local games tend to be No Limit Hold Em STT and MTT specialists.

I'm something of an oddity as someone who plays mainly cash, and also varies the types of poker I play.

The subject of Omaha cash came up at the Friday night game. The question posed being 'do you get paid when you hit?'

Considering the run I'm on, the most honest answer might be 'no', but realistically I KNOW that you can get paid big time at these games. How is this so?

Well, I have the evidence to hand from last night's session - where, incidentally, I managed to recoup my entire loss for the month.

It was a long grind for me. I've been focusing recently on cutting out the loose plays that have been frittering away my winnings from big hands. For others, it seems so much easier.

Whenever I've played recently, there always seems to be one player who is almost untouchable. The identity of this player changes each time, but the presence of a complete and utter luckbox is unavoidable. A few posts ago I referred to this presence as The Teflon Don.

It's such a frustrating experience watching a truly awful player hit time and again, while good poker gains small rewards.

Last night the star of the show was genuinely awesome. I first spotted him when he called my pot size flop bet with nothing more than TPTK. We then checked it down and split the pot.

On the flop he had TPTK and no obvious redraw. I had top two pair. A king on the turn improved me to a bigger top two pair but levelled our hands up.

Previously I'd have kept firing on the turn with top two, but I've become accustomed to people who flop middle or bottom set passively calling down their hands. So, I tend to shut down if I fire on the flop and get called when there's no obvious straight or flush draws.

By the time I'd finished writing notes on his flop call, he had doubled through. As the night progressed, he trebled, quadrupled, quintupled, and, yes, sextupled through. What a player! Well, err, no.

We all know the Omaha basics, which include:

  • only play 4 cards that work together

  • don't draw to the 2nd nuts

  • don't slowplay big hands

The Teflon Don thinks and plays differently. His motto - 'I have a draw'

Where it all falls down is how they rationalise the draw.

Idiot straights, straights when there's a flush draw (or two) out, flush draws when the board has already paired. All of these are genuine calling hands.

Whether it be on flop or turn, and for quarter, half, or the full pot. No matter the odds on hitting. No matter how blindingly obvious it is that someone else is ahead.

Seeing a guy who plays like this hit time and again is intensely frustrating.

Thankfully last night I managed to avoid all of the monster pots he got involved in, otherwise I might have burst a blood vessel.

I say monster, and it's very true, that these guys tend to win a lot of BIG pots. The reason for this is simple. The guys with the genuine made hands and draws get priced in, then sucked out on.

Think how it feels to be the guy with top set, or draw to the nut flush and top straight, who loses to someone chasing a runner-runner idiot straight. Drawing to the wheel, when you are drawing to Broadway. It's crushing.

I hate playing against these guys when I have the made hand, since their money - which should be almost dead - prices in the more legitimate draws and builds huge pots. Which then slide their way.

Of course this is but a blip. A temporary phenomenon. In the long run (damn that phrase!) these guys are inevitable losers. But their results can be so spectacular in any one session that there's an insidious temptation to play like them.

The player who wants to improve his game, and values the long term, must resist. By all means, when in Rome do as Romans do, but at the tables remember you are an angler, not a fish.

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