Poker Tips – In the old days, Bob Brooks ran all of the gaming in Anchorage, Alaska, and after he moved to Texas, he started playing in our Dallas game. We learned all his moves, and everybody called him Mr. Brooks out of respect for his play. One day, Charlie Hendricks, a known gambler around Texas at the time, came to play with us in our no-limit game, and it wasn’t long before he and Mr. Brooks found themselves playing in a five-way pot. Three guys had limped in and Mr. Brooks just flat called from the little blind. Now it was time for Charlie to act from the big blind. He looked down and found two jacks in the hole.
“I can win this pot right now,” he said to himself. “They’ve all limped in, so I’ll just put in a raise.” He raised about $400 and everybody folded till it got around to Mr. Brooks. He moved all-in.
“I’ve gotta have the best hand,” Charlie thinks to himself. “Mr. Brooks would never have just called three limpers with a big hand in the little blind.” But we all knew Mr. Brooks: He was sitting there with pocket aces! He had been playing a trap the whole time and didn’t care about just winning the $25 antes from each player. He broke Charlie on this pot. We all were laughing because it was the first time Charlie had come to Dallas to play with us, and he didn’t know how Mr. Brooks played. Nobody else on that table would have called with two jacks.
It was very hard to get any money out of Mr. Brooks at the poker table. We were playing in a cash game once and I had two eights. I made a little token raise and Mr. Brooks and another guy both called. The flop came 8-8-4! When you flop quads, it is customary to check-check-check in the hope that somebody will catch up with you so that you can win a little something with the hand. But I decided to lead and bet $200 on the flop. Mr. Brooks called. Fourth street brought a deuce. I bet $1,000 and he called that too. On the end came a 10. I bet $2,500 and Mr. Brooks moved in on me. He had pocket tens and had filled on the river.
Because I had led at the pot with a huge hand, I made about $10,000 on the hand. If I had checked it all the way to the river, Mr. Brooks would have made a little bet on the end and I would have raised him. Then he would either have called me or made a small raise because there wouldn’t have been enough money in the pot for him to put any real money in on the end. The point of these stories is that it pays to know who you’re playing against.
The same lesson was true in another game, one where Bobby Baldwin was playing Mike Akins heads-up in no-limit hold’em. As good as it came down the pike, Bobby could put a man on a hand. Mike had about $5,000 left on fifth street, and he was just starting to bet it when Bobby says to him, “Mike, don’t bet! I’ve got queen-high, no pair, and I’m gonna call you if you bet.” Mike shoved his chips in anyway. Bobby called, showed him queen-high—and took the pot!