Didn't have too much time to play last night as I had to go out after work to help destroy all the hard work on our float and pack it all away for another year. Job was done by 9pm and I shot home for a couple of hours of poker. I made a teeny weenie ($22) profit combined from the 3 cash tables I was playing at, it would have been double that but one mule hit his gutshot on the river. I also joined an $11 double-shootout satellite for the $1M on Sunday, boy-oh-boy. It's so long since I played a sit-n-go type game I almost forgot how short and soft they are. I barely played a hand for the first 45 mins, watching one opponent after another bust on pushed draws and bluffs. We were down to four when my trip sevens doubled me up against a guy betting out with bottom pair and calling my allin. Two hands later my AK knocked out the same guy when he though K5 sooted was good enough for calling a raise and would hold up on an A-K-x rainbow flop.
That left me with two very passive, loose players. To my left was the worst of the two (player A), limping every hand, never raising, never the aggressor. To my right a slightly better player (player B) but also limping every hand, at least he was able to bet out, but would only do so when he had a piece of the flop. That made the table easy, but frustrating. With player A one cannot bluff very often, or put them on hand x, since all hands will be played the same, regardless of stack/blinds/situation.
Player B was an easier prospect since his rules (as far as I could tell) were
a) See the flop for the minimum whenever possible.
b) Don't call any raise without a pocket pair or all paint hand.
c) Check-fold if missed the flop
d) Check-call if hit the flop but it's not the nuts or close to it (e.g. hands as good as QJ on a J high flop)
e) Bet if hit the flop and it's the nuts or close to it.
f) Never check-raise
It's pretty standard to read a guy who plays as honest as that, but first I had to get through player A to get to him. Fortunately I got my chance when I raised with AQ and player A called while player B folded. The flop was 10-8-4 with two hearts and I bet out, player A flat called for just over half his remaining stack. The turn was the Qs and I bet out the rest to put player A allin, he called with 10-J and busted when the river was blank. I'm lucky hit didn't have 10-10, 10-8 or J-9, as I'm certain he would have played all these hands the same way, which is terrible strategy.
That gets me heads-up with Player B, I have T6800 he has around T5200. With blinds at 100-200 and him limping every hand I decide I will "force the blinds", and always make it 500 to go, every hand. I take the next 5 hands without contest preflop, then see a flop to which he check-folds to my continuation bet on an 8 high flop. Couple more folds preflop and continuation bets and momentum is definitely with me. On the next hand I get reraised preflop, fold and am shown KK… thanks for the info. I then make it 500 to go again with 10h 6h and get flat called. The flop comes 10s 6c Kh and I bet out… and get minumum reraised for the first time. I minimum reraise back knowing this a language he'll (mis)understand and he pushes, I call obviously and he shows Kd Jh, no improvement for him and I'm through to the final shootout table.
I maybe make that sound easy and like he was a really bad player, but I'm actually really pleased with the way I played there. I knew they were poor players and would frustrate me if I tried the usual style of aggression, so I worked out a different plan, applied it and didn't let any "these guys are idiots" arrogance interrupt a winning strategy. It was still frustrating not being able to get creative, but it got the job done.
At the final table of the shootout the players were only marginally better. After 40 minutes I lost 3/4 of my stack when I made my first PF raise with KK, which was UTG, and got two callers. The flop was K-10-x and was checked around. Turn was another 10 and I slowplayed, just check-calling a 3/4 pot sized bet. The river was ugly, another 10. And I check called another 3/4 pot bet, my full house losing to J-10 that had made quads. Next hand I have 6h-5h in the BB and it's limped to me, which I check. The flop is 10-3-6 and I push, everyone folds except second place guy who calls me with A-3. Turn is a good blank, but anther 3 falls on the river and I bust but still pick up $36 for my efforts.
Good luck at the tables folks, and remember there are still people out there playing cash games every day, who say things like "It was worth a try since I hadn't seen anything in a while" when excusing their bluffs and gutshots.