Friday, August 22, 2008

Bang Your Head

Poker will drive you mad.

I spent last night ramming my head against the wall in 3 MTT. In all three, lack of cards and opportunities left in position where I had to race. I went 0 for 3.

Here is a situation I hate. BB with 88 and a q of .5 where I need to double up. A stack about the same size shoves with ATC when its folded to him in the cutoff. You know he has some hand like KJ and would normally be dominated by the person calling, but instead the best I can do is race him. (He actually had QTo). If I have more chips, I can choose to pick a better spot.

But it was spots that just did not materialize for me last night. And it is due to the fact that I am playing ABC poker and avoiding marginal situations. Well, that is all well and good, but its also like medieval bloodletting.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Changing of the guard

It seems that the regular blogger games are temporarily breaking up. The demise of the Hoy at first really bothered me as it was my favorite event and a Monday night staple for me (especially the 6-max era). But its retirement is fortuitous for me. I have gained a new sense of my place in the poker landscape. I have an opportunity to work on moving my game up instead of just playing 4 events a week. So I am.

I played the 24k the last two days. The first one, I went out early when I got caught up in the race 66 vs. AK. The second one, I finished 115 out of 1200. A cash, albeit a weak one. I have started to aggressively tracking results the likes of which I have not done since last year. In summary, I am getting serious again.

I was so busy talking about hands last night, I forget to enter my Wed night events. When is that last time I can say that?

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Do you stand for badness or goodness?

"oh, I wanna be good"
"good" (laughs) "good"

I wish we could get this whole online play in the US thing cleaned up. Look I get the money laundering argumenst. Ok, fine. You cant let a gambling site operate as an unregulated bank. But fine, put down some regulations and taxes. So be it. Do you really thinkg Party Gaming (a PUBLIC company) or Harrah's would not rush to conform?! And if you are worried about the money leaving the country, then state that the company has to be US owned. Whatever. But to make it illegal just makes less and less sense. How long does this have to drag out?

Monday, August 18, 2008

NOT off to a great start

I played the DOUBLE A/B last night on full tilt and just could not accumulate chips. Once time I did get my money in over pair vs OESD, but the other I just waiting and waiting for hands, and when I did hit something, no one challenging me.

I continue to struggle with the balance between playing the correct hands and sitting around watching the avg stack size climb.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Psychology and Poker

Why do we play poker? A psychiatrist often has to deal with people who are experiencing loss. Sometimes that loss is career based. Like a kid who can't play football anymore. And it pains him so much, his mom takes him to a psychiatrist. Now, if that psychiatrist has never experienced this type off loss, he may not able to appreciate the situation. And if the psychiatrist has never played football, he might not appreciate how playing it is a way of life. And when that starts to slip away from you, it can be very hard to deal with. Take Dante Cullpepper (ouch). Ok, take Farve. He just can't bear to not play. Even though he hates training camp, practice, the toll on his body, and other pain he began to think was getting to much of a weight to bear, he found the pain of not playing greater. Only a few (Barry Sanders comes to mind) could walk away and never look back, but Barry was different in that ironically he never liked football. (he often compared it to a job with 12 hour days).

So why do we play poker? For some it may be a way of life. But removing that from the equation, why do we play poker? Its a competitive game. People like to find competitive activities. So that might explain the attraction to the game, but why do we PLAY? I think its because once we decide on an activity or hobby, the next part of the journey is the desire to be better than everyone else. I hate the cliche' "the desire to be the best" because it lacks context. We actually strive to be better than who is in our defined universe. in 2007, I became somewhat obsessed with the Monday night Hoy game. At the end of the year, I lead the money standings. Was I the best player? I doubt it. But at that goal, I worked harder and smarter and putting the hours. And I really loved my work.

I think the best advice I have received in 2008 is simply this. I was asked if I track my results on Official Poker Rankings. And I said no. So the question is, "then why am I playing poker?" Do I want to just play for the social aspect and because I have nothing else to do and I achieved a basic level of comfort? I think for the last few months, the answer is yes. I took a real hard look at my results. In 2007, I won a ton of money. Ironically, online I was break even. All my winnings were mostly home game and table based. In 2008, my results are downright dismal.

So now to complete this written journey. What is so different about playing at a table vs. online. For me, its patience. I have far more patience (and time to make decisions too) at a real table. Online, I play too many hands. Sure, I can get away like Houdini, but I still bleed chips in small pots. I railed some playings in the FTOPs yesterday and watched. I had not done that in a while. And guess what it was... Long stretches of boredom interrupted by brief moments of tough decisions for big pots. And mostly, the big hands won. (mostly, haha). Big Hands for Big Pots. Just that simple.

There is something I learned in stand-up that is relevant here. The better rehearsed you are, the more free you are to deviate from the script. Because you always can make a smooth transition out and back into the script. In poker, the better your base fundamental game is, the easier you can deviate for brief forays into tricky play. The basic issue for me over the last 6 months (and you can just look at the rudimentary posts of this blog for evidence), is that I deviated from the things that make a great poker player, and never came back to the script.

You cant have it both ways Not even Farve. You want to be good, you have to know the playbook inside and out. and you have to practice it, every day. And sometimes it hurts. suck it up buttercup.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Back to the Fundementals

What do I have in common with a losing football team? I'm going back to the basics. Tackling, blocking, executing patterns, etc. Do the easy stuff well and then you can do the hard stuff. I needed someone to swap me in the head with that. So, for the next week, its back to ABC poker. Let's see how that works out...

Like the nostalgia of pulling into an A&W where they still have the window car service, I am playing with my trusty starting hand chart.

I can worry about adjustments late in the tournaments. For now, I'll start with some SnG action.

Not so stumped

Instead of playing last night, I took some time to listen to some wisdom and study my game. I have come to 2 big conclusions. These may seem obvious to you (and to me now), but when you hit a wall often times the sting prevents you from thinking clearly.

1. I am not concentrating when I play online, but I am able to concentrate when I sit at a poker table. This has led to a divergence in my results. +EV at the felt, -EV in the ether. This may be related to my personal situations (job related). Even yesterday, I went on personal tilt when I discovered that I did not HAVE to relinquish my season tickets. I might have anyway, but to find out I had a choice to keep them was quite a jolt to the system.

2. Probably because I have been running bad, I have started to be much more passive at the table. When I read how young guns exploit players online, I was reading a synopsis of my play for the last 3 months. Brutal. WAY, WAY too much calling post-flop best. CALLING. Raise or fold post-flop is poker 201. Seems obvious right? Well, I can tell you I don't think it was for the past months.

and maybe
3. I am not tracking ranges well for other players. I am not sure on this one, because I have gone broke from out of position players lately, including the blinds, with showdowns like top and bottom pair vs. bottom two pair. I am not reading danger as well as I did when I had a smoking 2007.

My SnG play has been mostly a variance issue, getting my money in ahead and watching it ship the other way. But now that I see the above, it is easier to take. And those are my words of wisdom for August. When you get knocked out getting your money in ahead, it can really affect you if you are running bad because you lose perspective. Its like those idiots on survivor or big brother and you say to yourself, "How can they be so stupid?" Well, they aren't. They are just in isolation and lose perspective on what is important and what is noise.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

I'm stumped

I just cant get a handle on this. I understand beats, but is it a given that in any given tournament, that you can only put your tournament at risk against stacks you have at least twice as many chips as your opponent because eventually a QQ will take down your KK when all the money gets in? If that is the case, how does one GET a 2-1 chip lead if they are unwilling to get all their chips in with a huge edge?

And in a SnG, with 4 left, how do you NOT try to break the 4th place stack with KK? And after losing and now being the short stack, how do you not play 99 against only a BB? What are the odds he not only wakes up with AK, but the flop is AKK?

I just cant see that my play can be altered to adjust for this downturn without sacrificing solid +EV play. So how does on just continue to "take it in the cakes"??

Should I be playing more cash game to adjust for this?

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Most Obvious WORDS OF WISDOM ever for poker

When you are running bad, DONT PLAY RAZZ. And if you are playing HORSE, good freakin luck.

Interestingly enough, I did cash in a SnG. My secret this time? Dont get sucked out on until there are 3 left.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Ok, I'll admit it

Just like when I was 10. I am watching the live launch. begins the commercial space age... History is made?

UPDATE: No history today. I think I jinx them. At T-minus 10 restart I mentioned to a friend, "I hope they recall how much trouble NASA had with stage separations." Guess not. At about 1:40 post launch, the camera stopped transmitting. (Time to cover you head.)

Is it true?

Is the only escape from variance to play 1000s on cash hands and just skip tournaments? I refuse to believe it. Yet... Tonight I picked up a short stack desperation move when its folded around the her in the SB. she shoves and I know its a move. That and I look at AJ. Even though its the chips I quietly accumulated in the first 4 levels, I figure her for either a lame Ace of a blatant steal. It was 9T. Too bad the flop give her two pair.

I avoid tilting (no easy task) and call a raise from the button with Q2s when 2 others make the mistake of limping. 4 players see the flop of QdJh2h. First to act checks, next player bets 2000. (I have 10k behind). I figure the pot to be about $3500 and have two others to act, so I just move in. Fold, but then the last player tanks. I realize that he probably has KQ or AQ. Awesome. He eventually expecting me to have QhXh. The original better figures he is beat and folds. Easy peazy. Somehow I lose the hand.

So. there it is. getting my money in ahead is -EV.