Backwards players and check-raises

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There is a certain type of developing player out there whom is most aptly titled backwards. These backwards players should be commended for one thing - they do know what the nuts are. They generally even have a decent understanding of the odds involved for typical draws. Better than that, they posses a deep understanding of the fact that well beyond nine times out of ten you and I aren't staring at cards that are the nuts, and definitely not for a locked-hand. Backwards players aren't dumb. They are just a little inexperienced and make the very heavy assumption that the people they are playing hold their own stacks more dearly than themselves.

To clarify - a backwards player plays their hand backwards: they are ultra-aggressive, except when they hit. At this point you will notice one of two things - a smaller bet or even, gasp, a check. At the outset this seems like a silly idea, betting less with winning hands and betting more on losers, something like buy high and sell low, which of course goes against all traditional wisdom. To their credit it works pretty well given the right table (and they find out within one or two buy-ins if they are at the right table). The best table for them is one where people on average keep right on folding, or calling and then folding on later betting rounds.

This is where you want to step in. First off the table is easy to spot - there's one seat with a huge stack in front of it and the player behind it keeps betting huge careless bets. There could be a second clue, many other players at the table has roughly two times the max buy in and looks to be calling at most one hand in ten. The idea here is not to simply sit like those "rocks" and hope to double up. It is important to remember that the bets of the backwards player differ greatly from semi-bluffs; that this player has no interest in fishing; simply in betting everyone out of the ring. He fears only two things - him having the winning hand and nobody calling and most importantly check-raises.

A check raise sends an important signal to a player like this: "I know you are going to bet into me with a worse hand AND I'm committing my stack to it because I know it's a profitable play." The backwards player reacts in 3 ways and each lets us know what hand he has.

  1. All-In - He is on a draw.
  2. Fold - He has nothing.
  3. a, Call - He thinks you'll be afraid to bet on the turn and/or river and when you show weakness he will bet for you again.
    b. Call - He has nuts. This option has to be ignored or you will never beat him.

Sometimes will get unlucky while trying to bust a backwards player and he keeps getting strong hands or outdraws you, so don't start right out with the bluffs. For the first hand at least hit a strong pair in Holdem or two pair in Omaha. Then just lay right into him with the check-raises on as many flops as possible. You have to be a little backwards too though - on the turn you need to bet as much as is necessary for him to fold or make a mistake by calling your large bet (unless of course you improved enough to hold your own against a river card, then check-raise again).


If you can do this, while remaining tight against the other players, you should be able to take the backwards player down almost every time. Forget about his stack because he is going to want to come back for more, again and again until his bankroll is gone. Aside from getting rich off of the old table bully, your other friends at the table will soon start donating. They do this by taking your lead - however they forgot to notice that you aren't playing like that against them.

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