Hitting a Bully Where it Hurts the Most

Table bullies appear in all forms of poker, irrespective of whether you are playing a ring game or in a multi table poker tournament. Their style of play is ultra aggressive and very loose – raising everything, and frequently going all-in in early stages of tournaments. They install fear in passive players who see their limp pre-flop calls being substantially raised, and frustration in other aggressive players who want to play their premium cards, but not commit to the pot so early in a hand. For the observant player, table bullies bring opportunity.

Over aggressive players are generally quick to perform their actions, and their bets will have no relation to the size of the pot or their position on the table. However, every now and then they will be dealt a premium hand and instead of bullying the table into submission and collecting the blinds, they will want to try and maximise the size of the pot. Their betting action will be more deliberate, their bets generally smaller and they will take considerably longer to put their chips on the table. Once you have identified this “tell”, you know not only when to fold, but also when the bully is playing with a marginal hand – and those are the times when you will get the greatest benefit out of being observant.

You will also find non-observant players taking chances when they feel that either they have a good hand or hold position over the table bully. But unless you pick the right time to raise his aggressive bets, the bully will drag you deeper into the pot than you would prefer. Watch out for other observant players also trying to pick the right time to play their premium hands – the more players in the pot may make the rewards higher, but it also means that you have less chance of winning. Isolate the bully whenever possible and take the opportunities when you spot them.

Failure to deal with the table bully will mean that your chip stack is getting smaller with every orbit of the button, and although in ring games you can stand up and go play on another table, in multi table poker tournaments that luxury does not exist. The only way to overcome this problem is to make the bully think twice about being so aggressive while he is your company and hitting him where it hurts the most!