How to play poker with 'that' annoyingly drunk friends at your table

Welcome to our weekly blog in which we take a look at your hands and how you played them. This week in edition, we take a look at a hand submitted to us by Rachel P., who sent us the following email:

"Hi Color Up,

I was playing in a local casino with some mad drunk players and three of them seemed to be good friends.  They always went into pots together and most of the time one of them took it down. I think they were colluding, but how can you battle these kinds of players? I did lose a big pot with AA against one of them when they all went in the pot with me even though I raised to $10 when blinds were 1/2."

Well Rachel, there is not much you can do in situations like that. There are often groups of friends in casinos that play together and they will more often than not play hands together no matter what the costs are, as they are just there for a good time and bragging rights. There is a good chance a few hours after they left the table the one who beat you was still bragging to his friends how he beat your AA with xx...

If you have trouble buying in again (i.e. you are playing with all your bankroll), or if you are just not comfortable playing against this type of player, it is wise to move to another table or call it a day. Often these players have COMBINED a 65% chance of winning a hand against AA, so even though your hand is the best to start with, when you play against three “idiots” you run the chance of losing with it.

Let’s say you bought in for $100 and still have $500 in your pocket as a backup. In that case, there is no problem taking a few chances with these kinds of players, as in the long run you will win a very nice pot with your hand.  But, if you have your last/only $100 at the table, it might just be wise to leave the table and play a different table/game or even get an early night’s sleep.

Your play in the hand itself is not fully explained, but betting $10 or $25 would probably not have mattered in this case. In general, it is best to keep pots extremely small in these scenarios, which means a raise to $6 would be perfectly fine.  Betting $6 would mean that instead of a pot around $43 on the flop, you would only have a pot of approximately $27, which makes your bet on the flop and subsequent streets a lot smaller. It would be roughly $15 on the flop compared to $25 if you pre-flop bet $10. On the turn and river the differences get even bigger, and if you are not that deep-stacked it is best to keep the pot as small as possible unless you love the flop. 

Let´s invent some hypotheticals here.  Let’s say the flop is A-3-8.  In that case, you could bet $20 on the flop and probably still get 2 or 3 calls as they would play any A and any K8 and even 2-5 on that flop. If the flop is much less good for you (K-T-8, for example), then you can just bet the initial $15 and see how much action you still get. From your email I gather that even an all in bet would still have gotten action from 2 of the “villains”.  As you learned, trying to bully this type of player is never a good idea.

All in all, I can just advise you to leave games like this unless you are willing to gamble with the villains, or if you are willing to get it in with suited connectors or the like against these “mad drunk” friends. You are giving up an edge IN THE SHORT RUN that might not be worth pursuing.

Join us again next week for another episode of hand analysis.

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