I was watching a poker instructional video last night on “Unconventional Wisdom.” Two professional poker players, Vanessa Selbst and Dan Sensei, put together 8 hour-long videos showing hands they played in an unconventional manner to achieve excellent results.
They do point out the need to be very careful trying this at home, noting “remember, we are professionals” and “we had to spew away a lot of chips playing hands this way to get a few that actually worked.” In other words, playing unconventionally is bad, even though sometimes you get away with a big bluff when the villain is relatively weak. I’m not convinced they ever got another player to make a truly big laydown with one of their naked bluffs.
But sometimes unconventional play only has to be mildly deceptive to work.
After the video ended, I was playing $1.00 / 2.00 NL online, and down about $80-100 when this happened.
I am in the cutoff seat with JJ. A player 2 seats to my right open raises to $7. Over 28 hands, his VPIP and PFR are 21 and 11. I have $186 on the table and he has $111. With position on him throughout the hand, I decide to just call and everyone else folds.
His range should be something like: 66+, 98s+, QJ+
Flop ($17): Jh Tc 6s. Cha-ching!!! Top set on a rainbow board. He checks. The unconventional play I decide to make here is a very small bet of $4, less than 1/4 pot. This is intended to look very weak, as if I’m just asking if he has total air. He then check-raises to $10. Cha-ching again!!! I have a chance to win a huge pot here. I pause a few seconds and call. Hopefully he’ll try to take this pot away on the turn.
Turn ($37): Ad, completing the rainbow. If he has exactly KQ, I’m in trouble. Otherwise this is a great card as he has many aces in his range. He leads out with a bet of $33. Hmmm… Now he’s got $68 behind and I have him covered. If I call, the pot will be $103. If he bets the river, getting him all-in will be easy. If he checks the river, I can ship all-in and hope he views it as some desperation stab at the pot with a weak hand. On the other hand, if I put him all-in now, he very well might fold as I would be representing much greater strength. Unconventional wisdom is our theme, and I call.
River ($103): Ks. He very quickly shoves all-in. Ohmygod. My big hand has just turned into a huge nightmare.
With his large turn bet, AQ is a big part of his range. It fits every street. I also consider he might have AA or TT. Or KQ. When he bet big on the turn, it narrowed his range considerably.
I think I’m going to puke. I have a history of calling in this type of situation, where my read is that he has the nuts, only needing a queen for a broadway straight. Is it AQ or KQ? Does it really matter? With aggressive flop (or turn) play would he have folded either of these (obviously not KQ on the turn)? Did I ever want him to fold on this hand (emphatically not!)? I’m having hot flashes. Some profanity drools out of the side of my mouth.
Hey you snarky professional poker player / instructional video producers… not what??? Why don’t you just produce a couple of videos on the merits of ABC poker, especially at this level? I don’t like high variance.
What if he’s bluffing? Could he turn TT into a bluff here? Has my awkward / unconventional play so underrepresented my hand that he concludes a snap-shove will move me off the pot here?
Ouch! Oy! Yuck! Grrrrrr… Ugh! Aaaarrrgh! Aaiiyyeeeeee! #$^%#$%!
I fold. Unconventional wisdom my ass!
Year-to-date online results: (- $403)
Month-to-date online results: + $105