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Taking Down the Table Bully

To start off this article, let’s define what a table bully is. A table bully is someone who players an extremely aggressive maniac style poker game and accumulates chips through sheer aggression. The typical table bully doesn’t like to showdown many hands. Instead they put extreme pressure on their opponents often forcing them to lay down the best hand and when the table bully does get lucky and make the best hand they are often paid off because their opponents don’t think they can possibly have a big hand that often. Which of course they don’t, but they always seem to make the hand at the worst possible time.

Table bullies usually win all of their chips off of tight aggressive players who only like to put chips into the pot when they know they are ahead, or passive players who are just too afraid to play a big pot. These bullies are often very good players, but in this article we will explore ways to use their aggression to your advantage.

To beat table bullies you should wait for a strong hand, let the bully take control of the hand and then re-raise him for a big pot. Of course the big pre-flop hands such as pocket aces or kings don’t always come. For this reason it is also smart to see cheap flops against the bully with hands that can improve, such as big aces, suited connectors or even small pockets. If you happen to improve on the flop against the table bully you will often be able to take down a large pot. Table bullies love to be in control of the pot and even though they are very aggressive they will often fold if you bet out at them early. Instead you should show a little weakness and let the table bully take control when you have made a strong hand. Table bullies will bet and raise at any signs of weakness from their opponents. This is what you are banking on. Once the table bully bets, you should raise because the worst thing you want to have happen is the bully to draw out on you. Table bullies are also often very proud individuals who love to do the bluffing, but hate to get bluffed themselves. For this reason, the bullies will often come back over the top of your raise and give you an even bigger pot.

Let’s look at an example of a typical table bully move. You are playing at a $1/$2 full ring table and you have pocket 3’s in the big blind and from early position the table bully makes it $7 to go. There is one other caller and you decide to make the call and hope for a set on the flop and a big pot. The flop comes (7,A,3) rainbow and the action is to you. In this situation you should check because you have a big hand and the turn card likely won’t hurt your hand. Also, the table bully showed aggression pre-flop, which more than often means he will continue that aggression after the flop. The table bully does continue the aggression and makes a bet of $20, just under the pot size of $22. The other pre-flop caller folds and the action is to you. In this situation you could justify a flat call and hope that the bully fires another bullet on the turn, but there is no real drawing hand on the board and a flat call would likely look suspicious to the bully. Instead you decide to reraise and you make it $60 to go. The table bully pushes back all-in over the top, you call and the bully shows (A,5) which is virtually drawing dead. You take down the pot and the bully leaves the table broke.

The above example is the best scenario when facing a table bully. You just have to hope that you make a strong hand on the flop and let the bully take control of the hand. It might take you a few flops to finally make a hand against the bully, but if you play that one hand right it will more than make up for the other pre-flop calls you made.

Other Advanced Texas Hold'em Poker Strategy:

Being Aware of Future Hammer Bets

Playing Tournaments with Huge Fields

Value Betting

Continuation Betting

Implied Odds