It’s time for a moment of honesty here, this entry is as much for myself as it is for any of you. I figure if I actually get this in writing that I might actually better follow my own advice. Today I will be covering a particularly dangerous player type: the trapper, or pokerus ambushus.
Trappers: The Rundown
In the world of aquatic poker analogues, the trapper is analogous not to the fish nor the shark, but rather to the alligator. As a native Floridian, I am more familiar with alligators than perhaps most, but that doesn’t stop those gators of the more metaphorical variety chomping me to bits over the felt again and again.
Trappers, like alligators, are ambush predators. It is extremely rare for them to bet out post flop to any significant degree unless they are led to believe you will not give them value, usually waiting until the river to do so. Instead, they lurk, awaiting for an opportunity to acquire a high ranking hand, such as sets, 2 pairs, or flopped flushes or straights. Then, they await the arrival of someone to bet into them, happily calling and perhaps even raising on the river, to take in an utterly engorged pot.
How to Combat Trappers
The core difficulty in dealing with trappers is identifying them. By necessity, their nature is never revealed until they acquire a significantly good hand and have someone bet into them, at which point it is easily too late for their victim. Their behavior preflop runs the entire spectrum of player behavior. They can favor limping, standard raising, calling into an opened pot, or even outrageous aggression though that is rare as the sudden shift of behavior is generally suspect.
The central key to a trapper’s success is their table image. If the only hands they ever go to showdown with are monsters that they’ve done nothing but call with, the table becomes petrified to even enter a flop with them and the game is their proverbial oyster. The key to preventing that success is to overcome this fear and be prepared to take minor losses if they do not fold to your continuation bet on the flop. You can even wait until the turn if the board is dry enough. In other words, you must show restraint, which is one of my weakest areas as I believe I have previously alluded to. It is actually relatively uncommon for a trapper to switch gears and call with a low-value hand to bluff the river or snag fish who are willing to bet with even worse hands, and such specimens are simultaneously more dangerous and more vulnerable.
You can overcome the very real threat that trappers present. Just…