Poker Words - A Poker Blog

Mostly a recount of my poker exploits along with a bunch of random other stuff just for fun.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Fancy Play Warning

A warning to low limit players.

Don’t try to get fancy. I’m not sure who coined the phrase “Fancy Play Syndrome” but I think I first saw it in Gary Carson’s Complete Book of Hold’Em Poker. Fancy Play Syndrome involves an overuse of sneaky tactics rather than just playing simple ABC poker. Check raising, bluffing at scare cards, and slow playing are all fancy play tactics are all symptoms of Fancy Play Syndrome, and they will end up getting you killed in a low limit game. I would guess that many players overuse the above in higher limits as well, but not having played them I don’t know for certain.

When I first started playing limit, I was the fancy play king. I would slow play my top pair/top kicker every time I could. And then I would watch someone suck out on me with two pair. Or I would try to check raise someone only to watch them check behind me and pick up the straight or flush they were chasing. And I couldn’t understand why I was such a losing limit player.

Recently, I’ve made an effort to play simple straight forward simple poker. If my hand hits on the flop I can almost guarantee you that I’m betting it. At low levels there is no need to be sneaky. Chances are that there are at least four other players seeing the flop with you. If you make a hand, and bet it, you are almost assured of getting a caller or two. This means three things. First of all, don’t bluff. With that many players in the flop someone is probably going to have hit something, and they are not going to be smart enough to fold even when you represent a better hand. Secondly, if you hit, and have the better hand, they are going to pay you off. There is no need to be sneaky, or greedy. Thirdly, with that many people on a flop, chances are someone is on a draw of some sort. You have to bet and make them pay for that draw. If you allow it to check around, then you almost deserve to have someone hit make their hand.

As I mentioned, lately I’ve been trying to play simple aggressive non-tricky poker and have been significantly more successful. I still take my share of bad beats but, no where near what I used to. Last week, I slipped back into my old habits and it caused me to get a whole bunch of really good second best hands. I lost twice with a full house, my high pocket pairs got crushed by flushes, and my flopped trips turned into someone else’s straight.

Here’s an example. I have A3o in the big blind and a bunch of players limp. The flop is A3x. I follow my advice for a change and bet it. A few players call. The flop is another 3, and I decide to get sneaky. I figure I more or less have the nuts here, so I just check. I wouldn’t want to scare anyone off. Let someone think their ace is good. Well no one bets and everyone gets to see the river for free. The river is an innocent enough looking ten. I can’t let it check around again, so I bet, and I get raised. I couldn’t believe how lucky I just got. I reraised, thinking how clever I was to have lead him into my trap. He capped, and my full house was revealed. I think Party intentionally waited a few seconds to reveal his wired tens just to make my loss more painful. Needless to say, I wasn’t too pleased with that. My threes full of aces just lost to his tens full of threes, which he picked up on the river.

Now, would he have folded his tens if I had bet on the turn? It’s tough to say, since the ace didn’t scare him on the flop, but I didn’t give him the opportunity to fold either. Unless you have the absolute nuts, you are only asking for trouble when you let your opponents draw to their hands.

So anyway, the moral of the story is not to try to get tricky. You are only going to end up costing yourself chips.



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