Exploiting your table image in poker

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I attended the grand opening of a new poker club called Fatty’s, which now regularly gets celebrities to play there, including Montel Williams, Lacey Jones and Chris Moneymaker.
But I want to discuss the $5-$10 cash game that broke out afterward. Coming into the game, I understood many of these people knew who I was, and I assumed they would think I’d be a super-aggressive, young Internet pro who just started playing live. Also I had just played a tournament with a few of them. I was 100 percent sure they had noticed when I jammed with nine big blinds six hands in a row. All of these factors equated into my cash-game strategy. I was going to be opening a lot of pots preflop and making tons of continuation bets, but when I got to the river in a big pot I would generally have the blades.

After unsuccessfully playing aggressive preflop and failing to take down dozens of pots on the flop, this hand happened. I decided to limp with pocket deuces on the cutoff after three players had limped. The small blind completed and the big blind checked. The flop was J-7-2. Sweet. The SB led with $40 into five players, which is pretty strong. I was about 90 percent sure he has at least a jack. It’s unlikely he had two pair with the deuce because I have two of them and he probably wouldn’t complete with J-2 or 7-2 preflop. It folded around to me. We were both $2K deep at this point so I decided the best way to build a huge pot would be to raise the flop. I’d been playing super aggressive and it would look sketchy if I just called the flop. I raised to $140. After two seconds he called.

The turn was another jack. That’s a good card or a bad card. He checked and I made a pretty big bet ($250) to get as much money into the pot as possible. He called. The river was a nine. If he had 7-7 he probably would’ve check-raised the turn trying to stack me. If he has J-9 then it’s just a cooler, but there are tons of jack combinations that don’t have a nine in them. A-J, K-J, Q-J, J-10, J-8, J-6 suited and J-5 suited could’ve completed preflop. He checked to me. I decided the best way to get called on the river (considering my loose-aggressive 23-year-old image) was to make a huge bet.

He has a jack in this spot the vast majority of the time and I know he’s smart enough to realize there is only one jack left in the deck so it’s unlikely I have it. Also, why the hell would I raise a dry flop with a set? I bet $875. After some deliberation he sighed and called. I tabled the deuces and took a nice pot.

In conclusion, I’d like to say how important it is to keep on top of what your image is at the table. It will help you lose less when you’re beat and win more when you have the best hand. In the long run, it makes all the difference.

— Mike Wolf is a team pro at surebetpoker.net. Email him at MichaelJWolf33@gmail.com and follow his adventures on Twitter @mikewolf7.