When I play no-limit hold’em, sometimes I’m a minimum wager wagerer. And I don’t mean minimum wager wagerer as in “one who tries to bet the smallest amount that will get them to fold if they have nothing,” such as when the flop is A-A-6 rainbow and a bluffer bets half the pot or thereabouts. I’m talking here about minimum wager as in the absolute lowest legal limit. Sometimes I do it because I think it’s the best play and sometimes I do it because I’m a silly boy.
Last week I made three minimum wagers in one night, at The Venetian. The first two were about 20 minutes apart in a $2-5 blinds game.
Four players limped, including the small blind, and I checked in the big blind. The pot was $25. The flop was a scattered rainbow. I flopped no pair and no draw. The small blind lifted his hand to check, and I put my thumb on the trigger. As soon as his fingers hit the felt, I frisbeed a $5 chip from my stack. It landed without a bounce, just across the betting line. The script from this point typically takes one of two lines. If anyone raises, I’m out. If more than one person calls, I scrutinize, and usually conclude they won’t call a big bet on the turn, because hardly anyone ever does. Sometimes I’ll get a feeling that a caller is sandbagging with a hand that can stand a big turn bet, such as an overpair or a set or top-pair-top-kicker, because they give it away when they call the $5. It’s an awkward spot for them, but not for me, because I’ve often been down this road less traveled.
Two players called the $5 bet and the small blind folded. So now the pot was $40, and I would be first to act on the turn. As soon as the turn card hit the table, I bet $50, using two backspun green chips. I mucked and tipped in one motion, a few milliseconds after the second guy folded.
So now I was well on my way to establishing my preferred image, which is WET (weird-tight).
One round and two hands later, I was on the button with pocket fives. Several players limped, I called, the small blind called, and the big blind checked. The pot was $30. The flop was K-T-5 twotone. The small blind bet $20, and everyone folded to me. We both had about $1,000. I thought he was more likely to have a draw than a pair/two-pair/set, but I wasn’t sure enough either way to make any big calls or big laydowns based on this inkling.
I made it $60. He called, and based on the way that he didn’t fold and didn’t raise, I became more sure that he was on a draw, but not super sure. The turn paired the king. I didn’t think this was the kind of player who would call a half-pot-or-bigger bet here with a draw (possibly drawing dead), and I didn’t think he’d be able to contain himself if he had three kings, so when he checked the turn, I was ready. I bet $5 into the $150 pot. There were a couple snickers from the other end of the table, which is a common play from the kibitzers on a hand like this. The small blind took a little while here, I think he was tempted to raise, but then he just called the $5. The river was an offsuit ace. That card made a straight if he had QJ, and it made top pair if he had the nut flush draw, and when he checked, I didn’t get any kind of read on whether he had anything or not, so I went ahead and slung a $100 chip out there in case he did. He folded right away.
Soon after that I moved to a $5-10 blinds game. I bought in for the minimum $400. There was no maximum buy-in. Two rounds later, there was one guy whose stack had gone from $6,000 to $2,000 while I watched. He was frustrated and tilty. During his downswing, which spanned five flops, he had shown two hands to his neighbor before folding while saying, “So you think I’m running good?” This made me think he actually had run good to get up to $6,000, and his neighbor must have said something like “You’re running good.”
On my next button, I made my stack $2,000. I start many tables this way, buying in small and then adding on later. When I have the small stack, I play very few hands, and when I have the tall stack, I play a few extra pots against certain players.
The tilty guy opened for $40 UTG. Folded to me on the button. I had 86o. I called and both blinds folded. Headsup. We both had $2,000. This was the first hand of the session that I called preflop. (I had reraised preflop a couple times when my stack was $400, and everyone folded.)
The flop was 9-7-5 with two hearts, giving me the okeydokes. My opponent bet $100 into the $95 pot. I made it $300. Right away he said “Call” destitutely, and then he put two $100 bills in. Would he call like that with just two overcards? I didn’t think so. Would he just call with an overpair? I didn’t think so. So I had to put him on a flush draw. I was ready to bail if a heart came and he acted weak and bet strong. The turn was an offsuit deuce. He checked. I bet $700. “Call,” he said right away. Then he put the money out. The river was an offsuit three. The instant it hit the table, he pulled his cards up off the table so that his neighbor could see them and said, “Is this what you call running good?” I didn’t think he had even ace-high. If I had to guess his exact cards I would say jack-ten of hearts. He checked. I bet $10.