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Old 08-18-2016, 02:31 PM   #1
jc315
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How to adjust to a whale at the table?

Curious as to what strategies we can employ when we have a whale at the table (if any):



Example) Last night, had a mid-40s guy at the table sitting ~600bb. Has shown down hands like Q7/K5/A4 etc and just stacking people by hitting two pair/gut shots. He's made more 1 card straights than I've made pairs in the session. He's also called off huge bets with like just top pair no kicker (and of course sucked out on the river). ~50+% VPIP and PFR much less. Not a super aggressive player, but will get aggressive when he thinks he has the best hand/some type of made hand.



1) So my question is, how do we adjust to this kind of player at the table?

2) What are the biggest things most players don't do as an adjustment?

3) What are the biggest mistakes people make as an adjust?


i.e. a mistake might be trying TOO hard to stack the whale?

Should we expanding our range and trying to get into more pots with the whale if we know he'll stack with just TPNK? Or is this going to hurt us more than profit us?

If we want to expand our range with a whale at the table, what kind of cards do we want and what kind of hands do we not want?

Or is this all a mistake, and we should just stick to our game and if a good opportunity comes then it comes, if not then oh well?
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Old 08-18-2016, 02:48 PM   #2
Jamitontheriver
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Re: How to adjust to a whale at the table?

Hands that would normally be trouble hands now become fat value hands against the whale - KJ, K10, QJ, Q10, A10, etc. Don't be afraid to c/f if you whiff flop, your job is to make a pair and extract max value. Hands like 45s are way less valuable.

Edit: I should have said this is all true if you can ISO whale, so three betting or opening big will also be important to get heads up against whale.
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Old 08-18-2016, 02:53 PM   #3
MIB211
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Re: How to adjust to a whale at the table?

A few mistakes people make:

1. Misreading how and whether other people are adjusting to the whale. For instance, whale limps, we raise with JJ, OMC/nit re-raises, whale calls and action back to us. Now usually we'd fold JJ to an OMC's 3-bet, but here we think that OMC thinks we're raising light to isolate the whale, and thus he's 3-betting us light and so we shove. Instead, OMC is just playing his cards and has his customary 3-bet range of AA/KK, and we get it in as a huge underdog when we would have folded without whale being in the hand. Don't necessarily assume others at the table are adjusting to whale or that there's a dynamic until you see some evidence of it in place.

2. Risking a lot of money pre-flop just to get in a flip situation with whale. For instance, whale raises and we're looking at a hand that's probably ahead of his range, but not amazing. Say 77. We then reraise or shove to isolate since we're ahead of whale's range. Problem is, when we're ahead, we're very rarely a lot ahead, so while this is +EV just head's up, it's marginal. Everyone else at the table now gets an option to call, and when they do we're either up against AK or AQ and just adding another person to the flip, or completely smoked by a better overpair. So we're running a ton of risk just to get in a pretty marginal spot with the whale.

3. Playing too many hands trying to crack whale. I'm guilty of this too. A whale is in and limping a lot, so we greatly widen our limping range to play pots with him. Problem is we're not really playing poker any better than him at this point. Not to say that limping is always wrong by any means, but make sure that you're limping with hands that will be on the good side of the coolers (Axs, pocket pairs, suited connectors) and not the bad side (Kx, Qx, etc., random low cards).
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Old 08-18-2016, 02:56 PM   #4
Javanewt
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Re: How to adjust to a whale at the table?

I prefer sitting to the left of whales and trying to extract value. You can't let them push you off good hands. If you think you have the best of it, go for it. If he sucks out, rebuy. Speaking of which, definitely have enough to rebuy. Don't even bother playing "scared" money.

I don't open up too much. I actually stay with my normal play, which is tight, but probably a little looser than a lot of the posters here. Agree with the hands above given the right situations (other players, stacks, position, etc.).
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Old 08-18-2016, 03:14 PM   #5
PositiveEV
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Re: How to adjust to a whale at the table?

Grunch

1) We adjust the same way we adjust to a loose passive calling station player. Play in position. Limp with a speculative hands. Isolate with value hands. Value B/F thin for value. C-bet bluff smaller, then shut down or don't c-bet bluff at all on the flop. Bet smaller if you are pushing a draw and/or check for free cards. Do not bluff.

2) They don't know how to fold when the whale 'wakes up.'

3) They bluff too much.
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Old 08-18-2016, 03:27 PM   #6
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Re: How to adjust to a whale at the table?

You definitely want to play a many pots as you reasonably can with the bad player(s). This means opening up your raising range a bit when you can isolate and opening up your calling range when he is in the pot. These players are very likely to lose it all eventually and it is a race to get the money.

Post-flop, there is no magic adjustment. You need to play as well as you can. The only difference is you are up against a player with a wider range and different tendencies. Factor those in and you'll do fine.
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Old 08-18-2016, 03:33 PM   #7
Chief_fish
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Re: How to adjust to a whale at the table?

https://forumserver.twoplustwo.com/17...niacs-1514764/
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Old 08-18-2016, 04:06 PM   #8
jc315
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Re: How to adjust to a whale at the table?

@Chief_fish thanks for the link. search function fail.
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Old 08-18-2016, 04:44 PM   #9
DaveduFresne
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Re: How to adjust to a whale at the table?

Many whales will still notice if you play tight. Everyone is probably getting greedy, isolating super light or more likely just calling every time he raises. I've seen a lot of whale types still give credit to a tighter player who suddenly comes in and tries to isolate them. They may not care about losing thousands, but most don't like to give their money away. Wait for premiums, limp in in the back where appropriate and if someone else stacks him oh well.
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Old 08-18-2016, 07:09 PM   #10
KKingDavid
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Re: How to adjust to a whale at the table?

ABC TAG poker. Play in position. Value bet. Avoid bluffs, including C-bet bluffs. Be patient. Notice any other players who are over-adjusting.

Give whale credit for something reasonable when he bets aggressively. Don't turn yourself into limp/call station by wanting to get into every possible hand with the whale.

Increase pre-flop raise sizing with premiums.

The key is so simple... get max value with better hands that will win at showdown. How? Play premium hands, widen range on CO and button and keep sight of the rest of the table.


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Old 08-18-2016, 07:10 PM   #11
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Re: How to adjust to a whale at the table?

Quote:
Originally Posted by KKingDavid View Post
ABC TAG poker. Play in position. Value bet. Avoid bluffs, including C-bet bluffs. Be patient. Notice any other players who are over-adjusting.

Give whale credit for something reasonable when he bets aggressively. Don't turn yourself into limp/call station by wanting to get into every possible hand with the whale.

Increase pre-flop raise sizing with premiums.

The key is so simple... get max value with better hands that will win at showdown. How? Play premium hands, widen range on CO and button and keep sight of the rest of the table.


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Just re- read my own reply. Pretty damn good advice even when there isn't a whale there.


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Old 08-19-2016, 08:47 AM   #12
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Re: How to adjust to a whale at the table?

Um no. There's only two considerations here.

1. How fat is the whale?
2. Is anyone at the table going to adjust if I start iso'ing huge and often?


Waiting for premiums is total BS. That's exactly how NOT to get a whale's money. Look for hands that can make a good pair and ISO the f@ck out of them. The only thing that ever gives me pause is if there are other players at the table capable of punishing me for playing so exploitably. So far that's hardly ever happened even at the small sample of 2/5 I've played.

If you want a whale's money you can wait around and it might be your night to get some of it or you can grab him by the neck and take it. Play as many pots as you can with him by yourself. He's going to make huge mistakes. That's why he's a whale. If he's not making those mistakes in pots with you he's going to make them against someone else and then once he's busted out and gone you'll finally get those Q's you've been waiting on for two hours.
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Old 08-19-2016, 11:53 AM   #13
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Re: How to adjust to a whale at the table?

Get position on him. Iso him. I would open up my raising range when I have a chance to isolate. Maybe I'd raise the top 25% of hands otb if I normally would raise the top 18% or something at this table.

Yeah, some people force the issue. Your advantage lies in playing a stronger range than him. Don't give up that advantage by trying too hard to get in pots with him. But do try!
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Old 08-19-2016, 12:14 PM   #14
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Re: How to adjust to a whale at the table?

I say these things every time this topic comes up ..

1) I want to be on his right. I want to see what he does .. AND .. the rest of the table before I make my move to isolate.

2) Whales love to bet so don't take that 'privilege' away from them and do a lot of c/c on Flop and Turn. Then you can lead into them on the River. If you feel that he wants to get into bluff or fancy plays then you can also check on the River and pounce.

3) Don't make it obvious that the Whale is a target, some of them don't like it. Continue to play the rest of the table and make sure you talk a bit more as well to the whole table.

4) I don't really see the need to open lighter but I will limp/call wider. 3-betting wider wont work for more than a few hands since you are taking the fun out of the game for him. 3-bet from his right only to isolate with premium hands especially when there are a bunch of other players still in the hand.

Just my 2 cents. It's worked for me .. If you are on the whales left then other players at the table can trap easier depending on where the B is for that hand. When on his right, you always know what everyone else has done and can act accordingly yourself. GL
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Old 08-19-2016, 12:17 PM   #15
cannabusto
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Re: How to adjust to a whale at the table?

I like being on their right if they're maniacal but this guy wasn't really described that way.
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Old 08-19-2016, 01:18 PM   #16
MamaRolex
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Re: How to adjust to a whale at the table?

The real skill against big stacks is to understand how to play the 65% vs. 35%
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Old 08-19-2016, 01:29 PM   #17
spikeraw22
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Re: How to adjust to a whale at the table?

Quote:
Originally Posted by answer20 View Post
I say these things every time this topic comes up ..

1) I want to be on his right. I want to see what he does .. AND .. the rest of the table before I make my move to isolate.

2) Whales love to bet so don't take that 'privilege' away from them and do a lot of c/c on Flop and Turn. Then you can lead into them on the River. If you feel that he wants to get into bluff or fancy plays then you can also check on the River and pounce.

3) Don't make it obvious that the Whale is a target, some of them don't like it. Continue to play the rest of the table and make sure you talk a bit more as well to the whole table.

4) I don't really see the need to open lighter but I will limp/call wider. 3-betting wider wont work for more than a few hands since you are taking the fun out of the game for him. 3-bet from his right only to isolate with premium hands especially when there are a bunch of other players still in the hand.

Just my 2 cents. It's worked for me .. If you are on the whales left then other players at the table can trap easier depending on where the B is for that hand. When on his right, you always know what everyone else has done and can act accordingly yourself. GL
I think you're confusing whale with maniac. In my mind those are two completely different things and just blanket strategies like always sit in his right don't take into consideration the very important aspects of stack depth, level of aggression, and table conditions. Sometimes I agree that being on the right is best but quite often it's a recipe for disaster.
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