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]               Many a poker game has a player in it who constantly puts pressure on the other players by betting and raising. At limit he can be combated by simply waiting for a good hand and then picking him off. At big-bet poker, if you wait too long, you may be backed into your shell for the whole game. On the other hand, if you find yourself in many big pots with inadequate values, you can be taken to the cleaners.

              Here are some ways of dealing with the threat of the bully:
(1)    Avoid short-handed play. Bulldozing tactics are more effective with few players at the table. The bully will be in his element in a five-handed game; at nine-handed he will not be nearly as big a problem.
(2) Play fewer starting hands. Because the bully is playing everything under the sun, it is tempting to follow suit. A better way of thinking is, “The pot is quite likely to be raised, so I need a better hand to enter into the action.”
(3) Don’t let the bully run you into the nuts. Remember, to win the pot, you must beat everybody in play, not just him. Often it is better to call his bet rather than raise, holding a decent but not exceptional hand, if there are players behind you yet to act, or even who have already checked.
               Where to sit with such a player in the game is a matter of debate. My view is the worst is to the bully’s immediate left. You have position on him and can put a great deal of pressure on the other players with a double raise, but you’ll get run into good hands held by other players too much. There are several different kinds of bully. One who automatically bets every time you check is person you are less in need of having position on. I don’t mind being to the right of such a player. I prefer to be sitting across from one who shows you a lot moves (if I must play in his game.) This gives me a view of how the pot is going to develop, and I will have position on the bully about half the time. There are some poker writers who disagree with this, but for how many decades have they been playing pot-limit Omaha with O’Neil Longson or no-limit hold’em with the late Bill Smith?

(4) Don’t pull the trigger too soon when you are lucky enough to snag a big hand against the bully. Check and call may well be superior to check-and-raise in many situations. It is necessary to run the risk of being outdraw in order to teach the bully that “check” is not synonymous with “I’m weak.
(5) Normally, you should wait for a hand with nut outs before putting a play on somebody. Three may be adequate. This gives you the chance of winning the pot there-and-then or making your hand. But against the bully you may wish to run a cold bluff, because your chance of catching him completely out-of-line are pretty good. You’ve got to fight fire with fire. Basically, you cannot let a bully continually push you into the corner. You’ve got to take a stand. Give him a dose of his own medicine once in a while. He’s not likely to be holding a hand that can take the heat.

                PART 2 –BY STEWRT
                Bob asked me to add my views on this topic, but hyper-aggressive player opponents picking on me is not a problem I have to face very often; more the other way around. Perhaps that is why he suggested it; to make me a poacher turned gamekeeper.
                An opponent who just bets with any old hand in a ring game isn’t too hard to beat. Just wait until you have a good hand and pounce. Others in the game will do the same, so that each pot becomes head-up between the bully and one other player. He may devastate you-in fact this is a certainty sometimes-but you should just grit your teeth, smile and plod on. All aggressive players, however wild and unsound, are dangerous. Give me the soft, weak poker player any day.
               If you are up against a strong, very aggressive player, things aren’t so easy. Sometimes you should bet into him or raise him on a bluff. You are trying to take the steal-play away from him. It can be good to appear defensive. Then, when you take action on your moderate hands, you are more likely to get a great deal of respect, and people will pass. Great hands don’t fly in every hour, so don’t worry excessively about failing to get the money in early when you have a bone-cruncher.

               When up against somebody you fear, don’t be afraid of acknowledging this to yourself. Maintaining the correct psychological stance is an immensely important facet of good poker play. It will be best to steer clear of this opponent and tackle pots with the live ones. There is something to be said for sitting to the immediate left of the tiger and passing when he takes action. When in a pot with him, don’t try to be fancy. Just play the odds and raise the maximum when you are winning but are frightened of an out-draw. This fear isn’t due to the fact that he may win the pot, but because you may have to face a big bet and there is no way of knowing whether he is bluffing. If you always pass, what a joy for the bully was called. A player who had just lost an even bigger pot to me turned to his girlfriend and whispered, “You see, it’s impossible to tell what he’s got.” Of course, that’s why I never bluffed him. He always called because he could see other occasions where I was at it.


Alec Polski adopted the simple system against me of always checking his strong hands to me. Then, when I bet assuming he was weak, he raised. When I cottoned on to this, I stopped betting with junk and drawing hands. Now I was sometimes getting a free card. Varying your play is essential in poker. Sometimes I would check my powerhouse straight back to him. Then the peculiar situation would arise that conflagration took place much later in the pot than you would have expected.
               In America particularly, some players seek to intimidate you physically, verbally or with money. It is no bad things to appear to lie down under this. Eventually they will find out their mistake- too late. Mike Caro’s Book of Tells” constantly reiterates the fact that strong means weak and a weak representation means strong. Unfortunately, now so many people are clued up on this, it isn’t such a giveaway. A significant minority of players not only want to win you money, but also to crush your ego. Thus they tell you they are strong, bet strong, and by golly, are strong. Then, when you call, they crow with delight, “Told you so.”

Seven card stud poker presents excellent bullying prospects in pot-limit. If your opponents’ boards look weak and they have shown weakness, it is perfectly possible to bet them out irrespective of you own holding. It is good to set the scene early in the hand. Thus I am happy to make a small bet on fourth street with (6 6) 4 Q in a multihanded action pot. Few will raise me with weakish hands because they are frightened of generating a huge pot. I can switch off on Fifth Street if necessary, or try to powerhouse my way through, frequently successfully.
               Effectively my small wager is increasing the size of the game. Only relatively sophisticated players seem to understand my action results in bigger game without the need to pay increased table money or play with a bigger ante. I am first building the pot and then building my hand. As the pot continues, the size of the pot is tremendously increased. I try to think only in terms of percentage of the pot; others think of the actual sum at risk. Thus they become nervous and more prone to error.
                 I remember one player in pot-limit Omaha who used to delight in making a small wager after the flop with weak hands. It became my habit to sit to his immediate left. Then, after his bet came an instant raise from me, unless I had a strong hand. One day, disaster struck. A third party called. The original bettor passed and the pot was checked out. As those were the rules, I had to show my miserable holding. He visible started, and that was the end of that. He was much too strong to fail to pick up on what I had been doing.
                 Clearly the bully problem is exacerbated in games such as draw or hold’em where you have less data to go on. Eventually you must make a stand against the bully, you cannot simply let him run all over you. But presumably you are playing in ring game and have other matters on your mind than this particular confrontation. Thus I cannot agree with Doyle Brunson, who writes in the excellent book “Power-play” that he will choose to fight back with virtually any hand. He may as well raise blind. Surely you can choose a battlefield more to your taste than that?

                 Both Bob and I have expressed considerable concern about our position at the table relative to other players. Frankly, these days my main concern is to avoid the smokers. {Ditto!-Bob} Financial considerations are purely secondary. Since the first edition of out book was printed, smoking has mercifully been banned from California cardrooms. I live in the hope that smoking will be prohibited in most Vegas casinos within a few years. {Another ditto!} 


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