Who's the Bigger Donkey?
Imagine the following scene. A relatively good, well-read poker player, Mr. G sits across the felt from a known calling station, Mr. C. They have played together several times and are both aware of each other's playing style. An hour or two into a session of 1/2 NL Holdem the following hand comes up.

Mr. C is in middle position with about 300$
Mr. G is on the button with 115$
6 players including Mr. G and Mr. C limp into the pot.
The flop comes:
It gets checked around to Mr. G on the button who bets 10$ into the 12$ pot.
Mr. C calls and everyone else folds.
The turn brings a
Mr. C bets 25$ into the 32$ pot.
Mr. G raises 77$ to 102$ and is all-in.
Mr. C calls and shows:
Mr. G shows

I think most of us can agree that both of these players played the hand like world-class donkeys. Why on earth would anyone limp on the button with Q2? And how the hell can A7 call that raise on the turn? But who's the bigger donkey?

After giving this some thought, I believe the most agriegous error is not in any one particular play. The mistake here is at the "macro level" not at the "micro level"*. At the macro level it should be understood that making big bluffs against a calling station is a losing proposition. Therefore Mr. G is far and away the bigger donkey in this scenario.

Sadly, I too often find myself being a Mr. G. So, I've come up with a slightly unorthodox way of attempting to curb this behaviour. I've started playing $0.02/0.05$ NL holdem online. That's right boys and girls, you can now find me on the 2 cent/5 cent circuit on PokerStars and/or PartyPoker.

These games are filled with passive-ass calling stations. They will call you down with ANYTHING. So, by playing these games seriously (which belive me was hard to do at first) you are forced to take big bluffs out of your game completely. Even if you are certain your opponent has nothing more than bottom pair, you can be equally certain that he WILL call you down.

So, what are the secrets for crushing the 2 cent/5 cent game?
  • Play your position
  • Value bet your hands
  • Only draw when you have the correct odds (direct or implied)
  • Don't pay off players who draw out against you
  • Never make any big bluffs
Interestingly enough, I believe this exact strategy can and should be applied to most of the players I meet across the felt in our local 1$/2$ game. I have enough experience to know which players can lay down a hand and which players can not and there is no excuse for letting my pride in the knowledge that they are weak allow me to play badly by bluffing at these idiots. Because at the end of the day I am the idiot.

* for more on macro vs. micro see this article.



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