Out of pure, unadulterated spite I raised the ante!! I made a prop bet, pitting myself against our poker league’s dominant player… and friend…“Luke Brox” (fictional name used to protect the sanity of all parties involved). After calling out Luke, I challenged him and his dynasty as our league’s undisputed greatest; the player with the most points in the last 6 legs of our 32-player league’s season will win the spoils.
If we polled all the league members on who is most likely to win the bet, the results would probably be unanimous. Some might even say that I have bitten off more than I can chew. Based on previous league results, Luke is an overwhelming favorite to win this bet. We all joke about how lucky Luke is at poker, but everyone knows he has earned his tremendous results via fine play and great poker instincts. Facing a monumental challenge that I take extremely seriously, I have decided to break down Luke’s game and work out my game plan.
Before I go on with my analysis, you might be wondering why I have brought you into this conversation. The reasons why I have decided to blog about HOW I PLAN TO OVERTHROW THE RULER OF THE LEWISVILLE POKER TOUR are twofold:
1) I think every home poker league has its version of a “Luke Brox”. The “Luke Brox” of your home poker league probably shares very similar traits with the one in mine.
2) “Luke Brox” is strong but definitely beatable. Like any poker player he has exploitable tendencies.
Defining HIS Strengths
1) Luke relies heavily on deception at the table. He generally projects a very aggressive image yet plays fairly passively. He manages all this while still being capable of changing gears when necessary.
2) He plays a very strong psychological game. He knows how to benefit from confrontation at the table and knows when to retreat to appear almost uninterested in the table action.
3) Luke quietly gathers tons of information on his opponents. He insists on knowing what cards his opponents mucked and he is quite good at using this information to profile them.
4) He competes incessantly. Luke is massively competitive although he projects a non competitive attitude – this is yet another one of the many smokescreens he uses quite well.
5) He intuitively understands poker strategy without giving it any thought, his instincts are often bang on.
His Exploitable Traits
1) Luke doesn’t rely on the “mathematical” aspects of poker. For example, he has no idea about ICM, he doesn’t consider things like implied odds and has never once been preoccupied with the concept of balancing his ranges.
2) He plays “rushes”. How well he is fairing very recently affects his play. Look for him playing loosely after winning a bit pot or two and tight when he is running badly.
3) Luke doesn’t keep track of stack sizes at the table very well.
4) He is very superstitious at the table; this tends to throw off his judgment at times.
5) Luke plays too loosely with a big stack and overvalues “being able to afford the call”.
6) He tends to fall into discernable patterns in bet sizing, table mannerisms (verbal and nonverbal tells) and decision making.
The Final Analysis – Exploiting These Tendencies
Now that we know Luke’s profile, we need a plan to play him optimally. Although Luke presents a tough challenge, we have an edge against him if we stick to the following plan:
1) Don’t be fooled by the “crazy, liable to do anything” image he projects. He has very discernable tendencies/patterns.
2) Avoid fancy play syndrome; sound fundamentals carry a huge part of your edge against Luke.
3) Vary your play. Luke is very observant and relies on recall in key hands. Make sure to balance your ranges. For instance, if you like to over bet shove as a bluff, make sure to do so as a value bet once in a while.
4) Stay focused, Luke plays mind games; see through them and keep your eyes on the prize. When Luke acts tilted and uninterested he is not. When he acts strong, he knows this looks weak. Pay attention to his antics, they give off a lot of information.
5) Keep an eye open for verbal/nonverbal tells. Luke plays very emotionally and talks and reacts a lot at the table. While filtering out the smokescreens, be observant; Luke gives away valuable information once you know what to look for. For instance, while playing a series of heads up matches with him, I found my “Luke” has a tendency to place his hands very close to his cards when he has made a big bet with a strong hand and is awaiting a call or a fold. Look for these types of nonverbal clues and exploit them.
Time To Play Cards
It’s time to finally overthrow “Luke” as the dominant player in your league. Being the more knowledgeable player, you can outplay Luke as long as you stay focused on your strategic edges. Make sure to taunt him early and often on your way to victory. A victory chant is encouraged. I like reminding Luke and anyone within earshot that THE CHAMP IS HERE as frequently as possible without getting myself punched out. It is a slippery slope but one that is manageable.
What do you think? Does “Luke Brox” describe anyone in your league? If so, what are your thoughts on how to beat him? I would love to hear your opinion in the comments.