Returning the Favor and other Slices of Life

Returning the Favor
Returning the Favor
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Thursday, January 04, 2007

Play the Players - the Rock

So I'm gonna try something different for a little while. Instead of charting my success, or lack thereof, or just randomly spewing into the ether my life and everything about it, I'm going to put together a series of articles on different types of players and how I think folks should approach playing against those folks. Some of these will be light-hearted, some serious, but all will be my opinion. And as we all know, everybody's stinks but yours, so fire away in the comments whenever you think I'm full of it.

Let's start with the Rock. The Nit. The old grumpy dude in seat 4. He's been playing poker since they played on carved stone tablets and wagered sheep or women instead of chips, and will quickly let you know it. Really, though, a rock isn't necessarily a bad person, just someone who is not very active at all at the table, and very hard to get money out of, kind like squeezing blood from a stone.

The rock isn't going to enter very many pots, that's a key element to being a rock - lack of action. The rock doesn't have a ton of gamble in him (btw, there are female rocks, too, but I've painted this picture of a grumpy old dude and I'm sticking with the male metaphor), so if he's in a pot, watch out, you're probably behind. The rock is the guy who gripes about the straddle, whines about the rake, and generally is pushing for his 2BB/hr.

So how do you play the rock? Don't. Once he gets in a hand, he's going to be almost impossible to push out of it, especially if he's caught some piece of the flop. So don't let him get in many pots. If you make it clear that you're there to have fun and fling chips around, the rocks aren't going to get involved with you, because you're too unpredictable. Nothing makes a rock grumpier than getting his aces cracked by "inferior" starting hands (see "G-Rob"). The more action you create at a table, the fewer hands the rock can see, even with his limited starting hand selection.

The rock is most vulnerable when he is in the SB. A button or cutoff raise will almost alway get him to muck, unless he has a top ten hand. He's almost as vulnerable in the BB, where a raise from the SB every other orbit will often pick up his orphaned blind. Don't go to the well too many times with this trick, though, because if he decides you're targeting him (and you are) he'll call you down on every street with his bottom pair, which frequently isn't good if your style, like mine, counts on people folding to your obvious aggression.

So you don't let the rock see many cheap flops. What if one slips past you and you're heads-up against the rock post-flop? Assuming you don't have the stone-cold nuts, because, let's face it, you've played 7 out of the last 10 hands with air and you probably don't have shit this time around either, you make one stab at the pot, then check it down with the rock and throw him as few chips as possible when his middle pair is good. Your not gonna push him off the hand without putting everything in front of you at risk, and it's just not worth it.

Your positive equity against these supertight players is in picking up small bets and blinds here and there, and on the rare occassion when you do hold the nuts, crushing them. They're not going to have any respect for your game, they're gonna think you're raising with the hammer all the time anyway, so put as few chips at risk as possible against them, and slowly bleed the stone dry. An occassional peace offering of tapioca may help ease the inevitable table tension from crushing too many rocks, as well.

So that's how I play against the rocks - I don't let them see cheap flops, but if I find myself in a hand with them, I try to play small ball unless I have the nuts. I don't apply to much pressure, because they're unlikely to crack, and I frequently just steal their orphaned limps and blinds and concentrate my efforts on other, more profitable player types for me to exploit.

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