An acquaintance of mine emailed me this story from his home game. This is a small stakes home game: .10 Euro blinds, NLHE. My response follows his email.
There’s something I realized last saturday. We were playing six handed and of the guys was winning big time. Let’s call him Robert. He hit every hand, was paid off every time, it was just his evening. Normally, he is one the more losing players, so it’s all good that he was winning. And because he was winning, he felt very comfortable and talked more than he normally does (fwiw, he didn’t drink alcohol, had to drive home by car). At the end of the evening, a friend sitting direct to my left called Robert down with third pair when he made a river overbet with nothing.
A couple of hands later, somehow I ended up in a hand with Robert where I had rivered the nut flush on a board with three deuces (he called a around half pot bet on the turn when the third deuce came). I was out of position and checked to him, and in my mind I had already decided to call a river bet. But then he overbet the pot like two times and my plan to call didn’t feel right anymore.
Remembering some of the articles you wrote, I began talking to Robert and he immediately started to laugh saying he wouldn’t say anything. He looked so relaxed, giving answers to my questions, that after a minute or so I decided to fold. And of course he had nothing, showing KQo and explaining he called the turn ‘because he had so much chips and was so lucky’ :)
Lesson learned that next time I will pay attention how somebody his behavior changes if he’s winning or losing. I know that some of my friends do change their playing style, especially when they are losing, but I didn’t look for a change in their (verbal) tells.
I wrote back:
That is a good point, for sure. Now you know that about him, at least. Though it is rare, in my experience, for people to be able to talk so smoothly when bluffing. Usually the statements are shorter and more intermittent, etc. For an example; even Sam Farha, who was known for being very relaxed and able to talk during hands, when you actually go back and study his behavior, you’ll find that he rarely talked much when he was bluffing. When he was making a big bet with a strong hand, he was capable of either talking a whole lot or being very silent (in an effort to make himself look suspicious). When he was bluffing, he tended to try to make a few small statements to seem relaxed but these statements were never flowing and long-winded like the speeches he would give when he was value-betting.
But it is possible that, as you say, your friend is just capable of feeling so bullet-proof when he’s winning that he is genuinely fearless and carefree. Sounds like that’s a possibility. At the very least, I guess you know that about him now.
Thanks for sharing; it is a good point and one I haven’t thought about in a while.