Bully Mode

Bully mode is a Poker Model style allowing us to be aggressive when we have chips and our opponent doesn’t. Picture a 3-handed final table where you have a towering castle and your two opponents have small fortresses. A medium sized bet against you may only eliminate one small section of your stack, while it could knock a small fortress off of the table. You gain an exponential advantage by being in this position of power because every one of your chips can give a crushing blow to your small-stacked opponent, without being significant if lost by you. Bully mode, or putting relentless pressure on your opponent based on their less than 20 big blind stack, becomes a winning strategy in these times.

In today’s example, I go into Bully Mode initially and then shift based on the texture of the board. Remember that as your opponent’s stacks breach the 20 big blind marker, you’ll have more opportunities to bully.

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I’m on the Big Blind with blinds and antes at $60/$300/$600 holding 10s-2s. I have 50 big blinds, which is right on the edge of being a large to medium sized stack. With this size stack, I shouldn’t be getting too tricky because a single unsuccessful play will put me below the large stack threshold. While the Poker Model rules are meant to be black and white, we’ve learned in “Bending our Rules” that there are times that we can bend them. Skysthelimit66, moneyhunting, and giimeyyochipz all have stacks below the 20 big blind mark. These are the players that I can bully with the right position as we will see later in the hand.

10s-2s does not qualify as a call behind hand from the Big Blind because it’s not two cards over 7, a suited connector, any ace, or pocket pair. If any of the other medium to large stack players choose to raise into the hand, then we will fold. As a review, we will not get tricky because we are right on the 50 big blind mark, but we are keeping are eyes peeled for opportunities to bully a stack that is below the 20 big blind mark.

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The action folds to giimeyyochipz and both players to his left fold. To start, I have 50 big blinds and am not obligated to make a play here. Folding is 100% fine with 10s-2s in this spot. There is a hidden opportunity to bully here, however. Bully Mode is about recognizing the differences in stack sizes between us and our opponents. In this situation, I have 50 big blinds and my opponent has under 20 big blinds. We care about this difference in stack sizes because, as mentioned above, our bets become more powerful. A 5 big blind bet with a 50 big blind stack is 10% of the stack, while a 5 big blind bet with a 20 big blind stack is 25% of the stack. A good general rule is to try these plays when your opponent is under 20 big blinds (The Poker Model’s definition of a small stack) and you are over 50 big blinds (The Poker Model’s definition of a large stack). Nothing is ever perfect in Poker, but this situation is definitely suitable to bully the small stack. Before we start to salivate, we must remain calm and consider a few factors:

  • Short stack players tend to wait for a big hand
  • Short stack players tend to go all-in with a wider range than they would min-raise with
  • Short stack players tend to go all-in with mediocre hands post-Flop

Keeping the above in mind, I formulate a plan. 3-betting would not be wise here because it will most likely induce an all-in from the raiser. Recall from above that short stack players tend to wait for a big hand and min-raise with the best hands. Interestingly enough, 3-betting against an opponent with 25 big blinds (instead of <20) will work better in this situation for us because our opponent can get away from the hand easier. For example, if he had 8-8 and 25 big blinds facing a 3-bet, a fold would be wise because of the potential big hands that are dominating 8-8. But with 8-8 and 10 big blinds, he’d be committed to moving all-in and gamble with the range of hands that would make an all-in call. So with 10s-2s, we wouldn’t want to play against an all-in or pot committed raise, but we may attempt a 3-bet in an effort to get a pre-Flop fold if he had more chips, making him less committed to the Pot. We’ll dive deeper into this topic when we come across some hands where 3-betting is the focus.  

With 3-betting of off the table, calling is an option. If we call, miss the Flop (which is expected), then the action will be on us post-Flop. We’ve mentioned above that we expect our opponent to have a big hand here. Big hands can be anything from 10-10+ to A-J+ in this situation. Because our opponent’s stack will be about 16 big blinds post-Flop, we can fire off a bully bet on the Flop essentially locking up our opponents ability to do anything but go all-in or fold. So we simplify the hand to “he either has it or he doesn’t”, similar to a continuation bet only out of position.

To reiterate, my plan is to call the bet, miss the Flop, and bet the Flop, forcing my opponent to either move all-in if he connected or had it pre-Flop and fold if he didn’t. Good news, this complex play should only cost me about 3-4 big blinds.

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The Flop comes 3s-Qd-6s. We wanted to bully here. We wanted to make a bet and force our small stacked opponent to fold, but the poker gods said, “No!”. We’ve flopped a Flush Draw instead, which is under the mediocre umbrella. This means that we’ll shift our play and see if we make the Flush as described in “Back to the Drawing Board” instead of executing our original plan.

I now can check or bet. I do not want to bet out here because if my opponent moves all-in over the top, then I’ll be forced to fold. We don’t want to call all-ins of this nature with only a draw because the odds will not be in our favor.

If I bet and my opponent calls, then he is leaving himself with even less chips and will be pot committed later in the hand. Most players will not flat call for this reason, it’s either all-in or fold with a short stack.

If I bet and my opponent folds, then I “bullied” and won, but may have missed some value because of my flopped mediocre hand. The idea would be to bet out here if we’ve completely missed the Flop in an effort to win the hand right now, but check and see if we improve later with our mediocre hand.

I’m going to check my mediocre hand and see what giimeyochipz does. If he makes a continuation bet, then I’ll move all-in over the top because of his short stack. Unlike a deep stack situation where we would check/call to see more cards, with his short stack we’re willing to put our opponent to the test and learn if he has a big hand or not. In the event that we are called, then our Flush draw will bail us out 1/3rd of the time. Calling our all-in and losing is tournament ending for him, but is a mere chink in the armor for us. But we stand to win a nice pot of over 20 big blinds if we make our flush in this scenario. If he folds to our all-in, then we’ll win a decent pot. If he checks behind instead of betting here, then we’ll see a free card.

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giimeyochipz checks behind and the Turn is the 4c. We now have an Inside Straight Draw and a Flush Draw. While our draw improved a bit on the Turn, we still are not in a position to call an all-in over the top if we bet here for the same reasons that we wouldn’t on the Flop. If we check, we’ll then be in a position to call and see the River. The reason we will check/call on the Turn, but check/move all-in on the Flop is because there are more cards to come on a Flop all-in vs. a Turn all-in. This gives us better odds of making our draw. For this reason we will check/call to a Turn bet.

To review, if giimeyochipz bets then we will not put him all-in because there is only one card to come. We would call giimeyochipz’s bet at this phase of the hand in an effort to see the River. If we miss our draw on the River, then we will check/fold. If we make the draw, then we will bet for value and snap call an all-in.

Take a minute to reflect on the massive shift that has occured. We started the hand out for blood, ready to bully only to be in a passive check/call situation going to the River. That’s Poker.

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We both check and the River is the 9s. We’ve hit our Flush. Now our hand is good enough to bet and be able to call an over the top all-in. Because giimeyochipz hasn’t made any attempts to win this pot, I’m going to make a average sized bet in hopes that he will call or move all-in.

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I bet $1,525 and he folds. The way he checked the Flop and Turn makes me think he was holding two high cards. A hand like A-K or A-J may min-raise with under 20 big blinds from the cutoff, then check in hopes of getting to the River and fold to a River bet. A bigger hand, like A-A or K-K, would most certainly bet the Flop in hopes of getting all-in.

In today’s hand I found a good spot to bully my opponent. I had a medium to large stack and he had a small stack. A true shift occured when the Flop gave hope to my garbage pre-Flop hand. After the shift, a check from my opponent on the Flop forced me to become passive with my Flush Draw. I hit my draw at the end, but ultimately didn’t gain any value.        

Remember to always be on the lookout for bullying opportunities. When you come out of the conflict with all of the money and a black eye, be sure to stand tall and proclaim to your friends, “You should see the other guy!”

Brett

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