How to play poker against Uncle Tilty

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When you beat an opponent out of a pot and make them feel dumb, don’t be surprised if they go on tilt and compound their error by making another one shortly after the first. These two hands came up in a $1,500 multitable tournament at Beau Rivage in Biloxi, Miss.

On the third hand of the tournament, I took a pretty standard bet-bet-bet line on 10-8-7-9-9 when I had 6-5 against an older amateur player. He was clearly upset, because he lost to a “bad” hand like 6-5 or because he paid me off on three streets with something that couldn’t beat a fairly weak hand. It should be noted you should never get upset at your opponents for playing hands that aren’t premium. When you hear someone complaining about someone’s starting-hand requirements, you should instantly know they are a weak player.

On the fourth hand of the tournament, I raised {8-Diamonds}{6-Spades} to 150 on the button out of my 12,000 stack at 25-50 and the big blind, the same older amateur player, called. He had around 9,000 chips.

The flop came {7-Spades}{5-Spades}{3-Clubs}. He checked and I made a standard continuation bet of 225. He instantly made it 600. This is now a great situation for me because if I hit my draw, I will almost certainly win a pile of chips, as my opponent was clearly upset. So, I made the call.

The turn was the {j-Hearts}. He bet 600 again, so I called. When he bet 600 again, he gave me excellent odds to call, which was nice of him. If he bet more, around 1,000 or so, I would’ve still called simply because I think my implied odds were huge. The river was the {6-Diamonds}. He bet 1,100 almost before the {6-Diamonds} hit the felt.

It was almost as if he was planning on betting no matter what card came on the river. This is usually a sign of extreme strength or weakness, and seeing how he was probably on tilt, it most likely meant weakness. Also, most players would be quite scared of the six on the river, as any four now makes a straight. With most strong hands, many players will simply check-call the river, as if they bet and get raised, they are usually beat.

The {6-Diamonds} also made basically every flush draw miss, while giving me a decent bluff-catcher. In this spot, I don’t think there is much of a difference between something like 8-6 and 10-10, as both are something like middle pair. Unless my opponent caught the jack on the turn, we are probably way ahead, as out opponent’s range simply has to be weighted toward bluffs, as there are many more combinations of bluffs than nut hands, especially since I have one of the sixes blocked and another just came on board.

So, seeing as I think his range is weak, he is on tilt, and he gave off a pretty clear tell, I think I have a simple call, which is what I did. He turned up {a-Diamonds}{2-Clubs} in disgust and I picked up another nice pot. It is always interesting to see players turn over stone bluffs in spots like this because I usually assume they must have some sort of draw to make a play. This goes to show you that when a player is on tilt, they sometimes go off randomly.

— Jonathan Little is the Season 6 WPT Player of the Year and is a representative for Blue Shark Optics. If you want to learn to play a loose-aggressive style, which will constantly propel you to the top of the leaderboards, check out his poker training website at FloatTheTurn.com.