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On Talking Too Much

January 15, 2011

I found myself in the Venetian poker room last night, which really isn’t much of a surprise. In fact, almost nothing about last night’s game was either surprising or exciting, though I apparently did miss a hand that featured quads over quads just before I sat down.

Still, I did find myself in one interesting hand near the end of my session.

About 30 minutes before this hand, a young Italian guy (from Italy) took the 3 seat immediately on my right and bought in for just $100. He wasted no time in throwing his chips around and quickly burned through his first buy in when he got aggressive with pocket 8s on an Ace-King high board. He reloaded for another $100 and won a couple of small pots before we finally tangled.

In this hand, the 1 seat straddled and the 2 and 3 seats both limped before action got to me. I looked down to find Ad-Jh and raised to $20. Action folded back to the 1 seat who looked at his cards and then across the table at me.

“You know, this is the fourth time you’ve raised my straddle.”

Honestly, I didn’t and I told him so. “I’m not picking on you. It’s just that I’m getting raising hands.”

I’m not sure he believed me, but he threw his cards into the muck as did the player in the 2 seat. The 3 seat took a different approach, however, and shoved the rest of his stack into the middle.

Against most players, I wouldn’t think twice about mucking my hand to such an aggressive play, but against this guy, I wasn’t so sure. His range felt pretty wide to me – anything from a monster like AA or KK to something much smaller like Ax or some kind of suited connector.

When I asked for a count, I found out the call would cost me $110 more, which certainly meant I wasn’t getting anything near the right odds to call. In my mind, I had mentally prepared to throw my cards when away when my opponent started talking.

“Just let me have this one. I just want the $20. You can have the next one,” he said. I held on to my hand for a few more seconds. “Really, just let me have this. Please,” he added.

The more he talked, the weaker his hand felt, but I still wasn’t sure so I did something I don’t often do – I gave away some information. “I’m not folding yet,” I said as I flipped over the Ad in hope of getting a reaction.

And I did.

He looked at the card for second and said, “You’ve got one of my outs.” At that point, I knew he didn’t have AA and my hand suddenly felt a little stronger. “Come on, just fold,” he asked one more time.

And those were the words that made my decision.

He sounded weak and I figured that my Ace might have him dominated or that, at worst, I was racing against a small or medium pair. So I called.

When my opponent showed pocket 10s, I had to admit he was a little stronger than I thought he was. He then proceeded to take a huge lead in the hand when the flop came 10-Q-6 with two hearts.

I started cutting out my chips to pay him off when a black 9 hit the turn, giving me an up and down straight draw. And, when the Kc hit the river, I had successfully sucked out my straight and won the pot.

Disgusted, my opponent left the table and I couldn’t blame him. I laid a brutal, ugly beat on him that really should – and would – never have happened except for one thing. He talked me into calling. Had my opponent just kept his mouth shut, I would never have given a second thought to calling that much money with just A-J.

After the hand, my call became the topic of discussion around the table. The dealer, Keith, analyzed my thinking pretty well. “As soon as he said you were holding one of his outs, I could see the gears in your head start turning,” he said. “He talked you right into that call.”

And that’s the danger of talking too much. Against any other player at that table, I would never have even considered calling a re-raise shove with A-J, but against a loose, aggressive player like the guy on my right, I felt like the decision required a few seconds of extra thought. And when my opponent started begging for me to fold, well, I had to think a little more.

Had my opponent just pushed his stack into the middle and kept his mouth shut, he would have taken my $20 instead of losing $130. Instead, he talked himself right onto the rail.

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