Setting a Trap and Getting Paid

published on 04/21/08 at 9:45 am

john_leontakianakos.jpgIn this article I wanted to explore two sure fire methods of trapping your opponent into paying you off in No Limit Hold’em. We will first explore setting up and opponent in the beginning of the hand and then we will look at how we can set up an opponent during the middle of a hand.

Slow Playing
Allow me to start this paragraph with a much need disclaimer. “Slow playing is a very dangerous practice especially when you are not prepared to immediately get away from the hand.” Slow play, when done right is extremely successful. When choosing to slow play a big hand like AK, AA, KK, QQ he have to be prepared to sacrifice the hand if things do not go as planned. When slow playing (usually in early position) the first thing you want to occur is for someone behind you to raise so that you can re-raise and isolate one or two players. In the event that no one raised after you and you end up in the flop with more than 3 limpers, you MUST hit the flop hard. If not and there is sufficient action between the other players (raise, re-raise, etc.) then be prepared to muck the hand immediately as you are most likely behind and will continue to trail in the hand, drawing to very few outs. It is the price you have to be willing to pay in order to increase your earning potential in the hand. If you do not feel you are capable of getting away from the hand post flop, then don’t slow play the hand.

Last week at the Bellagio WPT world championship I found myself on day 1, at the table with David Williams. David is a very solid player, one I happen to admire, especially at his young age. I have played with David on several occasions and I am all two familiar with his style of play. David tends to be aggressive in the early stages of a tournament and will fire at unraised pots pre flop if he has position. Half way through day 1 I found myself in a situation that may enable me to benefit from this. I was dealt Ac-Kc in early position. I decided to simply limp with the hand and see what developed. One other player limped behind me and the action came around to David Williams, on the button. David immediately raised 6x the Big Blind. The action folded around to me. With only one other possible player in the hand I decided not tore-raise, and simply called the raise. The other player folded and David and I went head’s up to the flop.

The flop was Kh-2d-8s.

All in all, a great flop from me. I checked the action and David immediately lead out with a pot sized bet. I called. The turn was a 7s. Most likely no help to either player. I decided I would lead out, hoping that it would appear that I was making a play at the pot. I placed out a small bet of 1/3 the pot. David immediately raised. I went in the tank for a while and re-raised All-In. After a minute of thought David stated “I am either making one hell of a call or a very bad one. I call.” David turned over Ks-3d, and was left drawing to a 3. The river was a Queen and I doubled up.

This hand worked out perfect for me. Had I chosen to raise pre flop I would not have gotten any action. Now that the hand played out, it also became obvious that a re-raise preflop would have also killed the action. By slow playing pre flop and then implementing a “stop & go” strategy on the flop and turn I was able to double up with the hand.

Changing gears Mid-Hand
All two often you will see players that have raised pre flop immediately lead out with, what is referred to as, a continuation bet. Most likely, 3 out of 4 times, they have missed the flop. Yet they choose to fire away nonetheless. This is common practice as the flop may have very well missed your opponent as well and you may be able to take the pot down right there and then. After implementing a continuation bet and facing the slightest signs of resistance a player is usually prepared to abandon the hand and move on. This is exactly the situation we want to exploit.

While at the Bellagio last week, I decided to partake in a little cash game action. The biggest game I could find on Saturday afternoon was a 50-100 No Limit Hold’em game that was about to get off. I took my seat and realized that two seats to my left was our current reigning World Champion, Mr. Jamie Gold. Much to my surprise a very nice and pleasant man, that was very courteous and gracious throughout the day. I decided to take it slow in the beginning and feel out the table. I soon realized that Jamie, given the opportunity, was willing to bluff his chips away at any pot, if he thought he smelled weakness, so I waited for the right moment to set up a hand.

In one particular hand, while I was on the small Blind, Jamie had decided to straddle. Two players limped into the pot calling Jamie’s straddle. I decided to place out a large raise (big enough to make it appear that I was trying to steal the pot) and so I raised to $1,900 (19x the Big Blind). The big Blind folded and Jamie called instantly. I was holding Qh-Qd.

The flop was 10c-As-Ac.

I immediately led out with a bet of 3/4 the pot. Jamie called (had Jamie had been holding an Ace, he would have, most likely, raised the pot especially with two clubs on board). The turn was a 7d. I immediately checked. Jamie misread the check as weakness and immediately led out with a huge bet putting me all-in, in an attempt to take down the pot. I called. Jamie was playing Js-Jd. The Big Blind admitted he had laid down J-10 and Jamie was dead to the case Jack. Jamie hit the case Jack on the river and took down the pot.

The play had worked out beautifully. He took the bait when I put the breaks on, on the turn, and tried to take down the pot, giving me the exact showdown I wanted. He assumed what most players would have assumed, that I had completely missed the flop and was going to lay down the hand at the first sign of resistance.

Unfortunately, even though I was a 97% favorite going to the river, I got cracked. At the end of the day, your hand still needs to hold up, no matter how brilliant your play was.

John “The Greek” Leontakianakos is a professional poker player with 27 years of experience. He is currently in the process of publishing a book on poker and runs his own website called JohnTheGreekPoker.

Be Sociable, Share!

Leave a Reply