With the new year ringing in, its time to take a hard look at my progress in 2009. I played in my monthly league game last night, just came back from Vegas, and played in a 1-2 game over the weekend, so I have a good sampling of the Good, Bad and Ugly.
First the good: I play situations well. Many players spend way too much time trying to put players on a hand instead of playing a situation. (and other times it doesn't really matter). Over the weekend, I decided to take a flop short handed which was not typical. UTG I limp with 55 (only 6 seats occupied this hand). Button raises to $20. Now, he liked to button raise, but this was bigger than most raises for the table. The BB calls. So, I expect the implied odds are better than 8-1. I expect that if I do hit a set of fives, I will make $160 bucks. That is a big if. There is $40 opponent dollars in the pot, so I would have to get $120 more opponent dollars into that pot of now $60. The flop is 5d8s9s. BB now bets $92. WTF? I stop and realize that this is a situation that does not require me to put them on hands. Why? If its set over set, I am willing to go broke in this cash game, especially since the BB only has $150 or so. Secondly, I am willing to just take the $92 (Even though I said I wanted $120) because its so close to my mark. And if the BB calls, I get a 9-1 payout. So I move all in for $350. The Button now tanks. REALLY? He really, really wants his Kings to be good, but he has almost exactly $350 left and I eroded that down from the $600 he had when I sat down. After a very long internal debate, he figures he CANT FOLD KINGS and calls. Now the BB tanks! This is ridiculous, because what can the BB BEAT HERE? He eventually folds his JJ. The turn and river are bricks and I win a pot with $500 in opponent monies.
The BAD: I don't put players on cards enough. It is a very important skill and I don't do it enough and therefore don't do it as well as I should for my experience level.
The UGLY: Because I CAN lay down Kings, I have done it 3 times in the recent past. One was pre-flop at a cash game in Vegas against an aspiring player who wanted to play professionally. I put the guy on either QQ or AA. It was his ONLY pre-flop all-in for the session, and he re-raised me so he expected a call. The other two were where I opted out of a c-bet when an Ace flopped. Pathetic and Ugly. In one (if not both cases), the c-bet actually would have won the pot, instead the player in position pwnd me. KK in EP is not as easy as it looks. And in BOTH cases, I had 2 or 3 opponents. BUT, if you are going to play a Big Pair from EP, you HAVE TO C-BET. Sad.
In the end, I am mostly being hard on myself for not putting players on hands enough and only playing the situation and the basic math. I need to at least NARROW ranges on the flop and turn.
Time to get to work.