Playing the player using metagame tells in poker

I have slowly started to play at the Aria and found that my experience has been changing. As a result, I find myself going more often. The general player pool there seems to know how to play poker but not necessarily about game theory concepts. I had not gone to Aria to play because I thought that it would be a grind fest and just didn’t think that was the kind of game I wanted to play in. Eventually I started to go check out the games there when a friend of mine kept insisting that the games were good. What I soon realized is that the games, in general, are very similar around town. I quickly learned that if I stuck to my overall strategy and just thought critically about the hands that I played in, that I could out play the average player.

I had decided to chase some promotions that were running at the time. I started out my night at MGM and when I arrived, I was sat at a game that seemed to be decent. For some unknown reason the game completely imploded on itself. One player went to a higher stake, then another player just left and suddenly, we found ourselves playing five handed. Once that happened, one player complained and the game was broken. I had been there about one hour and was down $40. As the table was breaking, I received a text message from a friend telling me that the games at the Aria were great. So, I decided to go over there instead.

Once I was at the Aria, I found myself in game that had some odd dynamics. I was in seat 2 and there was a very active player directly to my left. Then the middle seats seemed to be playing a tight game, but I couldn’t put my finger on it, something was off about the way they played. Soon I realized that they were playing a lot of hands with seat 3 and deviating a lot. After a while of watching their play, it became clear that they were just hoping to hit and get paid. Then there were some actual tight players in late position. Chips were starting to flow, and it felt like I was starting to get in a groove against these players. I started to put pressure on my opponents as I reached clarity on their plays.

By this point of the night, we are all at least 200 big blinds deep. I think I might have been the effective stack in this hand with about $700 but not by much. One player was within $100 of me and the third player in this hand had us both covered. The action folded around to seat 8 who was in the high jack and opens to $13. The cut off folds and it is now my turn to act on the button. I look at my hole cards and see that I am holding pocket Queens clubs and diamonds. I decide to make a 3-bet to $45. Seat 3 our villain in the hand makes a big show about calling and says, “I have calculated the odds and will call.” At the time I thought it was sort of odd to say something like this but dismissed it quickly. This player had said similar things before. The player talked about how easy it was to calculate statistics and that they used a lot of reverse psychology. Usually, the table would get this speech when this player had won a hand. The big blind folded and the original raiser in seat 8 called.

With a pot of $133 we were going to see a flop with 3 players. The flop came out the Jack of hearts, two of hearts, and three of hearts. Our villain in seat 3 donks out a bet of $5. Yes, that is correct, it was a $5 bet. In the moment my thoughts start to wonder if they have a hand. Why would this player make such a tiny bet? If they had a hand, wouldn’t they want to bet more? Is this an example of their so-called reverse psychology? Seat 8 called the bet and now it was my turn to act. I decide to raise it to $80, mainly for value but also to try and get a better idea of where I was in the hand. This is where things start to get weird…

Villain in seat 3 tosses in a black chip and at the same time says raise. The dealer looks at the player and informs the player that the minimum raise is $155. My raise was $75 plus the original $5 bet. The villain starts a big discussion about what they are trying to do. The player explains that they only wanted to raise $20 more and was very insistent about the amount of money that they wanted to raise. The dealer continues to inform the player that the minimum raise in this situation is a total of $155. Soon the dealer who is clearly frustrated by this conversation just gives up and calls the floor. As we sit there waiting for the floor I decide to try and explain to the player what will happen when the floor arrives. I explain that once the floor hears what has happened, they will decide that the player can either forfeit the $100 or complete the raise. The player turns to me and asks if I wanted their money. I tell him that it has nothing to do with the money, its just what will happen when the floor arrives and makes a ruling. We have some back and forth and I assure the player that what I explain is standard. There isn’t anything else that will happen. After a couple of minutes, the player agrees to complete the raise and we continue with the hand. I had forgotten that seat 8 was still in the hand but they immediately fold. Unfortunately, I go into the tank. I need to sort out my thoughts and see if I can make sense of what just happened.

My first thought is would this player make a bet at all instead of check raising if they flopped a flush. What makes this situation weird in my mind is the discussion that occurred about the minimum raise. Clearly villain had something that they would like to charge me for but is it a made hand? The player was adamant about raising it only $20 more than my raise. What kind of hands would do that? Not a made hand or the nuts. Does that mean they are drawing or have a medium to weak pair? After what felt like 2 or 3 minutes, I decide to talk to the player to see if I could get a read. I ask the player if they want me to call, if they have a heart, and few other questions you might ask an opponent when in a hand. While I have been the table, this player has always been direct when answering any questions made to them during a hand. This time they seem to be avoiding my questions and not answering me directly. It felt odd as if the raise was a bluff. Eventually I decide to rip it in. The player snaps me off and all of a sudden I am convinced that I am going to lose because I do not have a heart in my hand.  

The rest of the board bricks out. The entire time I am anxiously watching his hands to see if there is any reaction at all. The dealer looks at us to see who is going to show their hand. I look at the player and say, “Do you have a flush?” The player hesitates and I say, “You don’t have the flush? I am good.” I table my hand and villains shows Jack nine off suit.

Bizzy’s 2022 Gains: -$3,493.92

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