Thursday, March 30, 2006

The Leopard and his spots (aka A saucer full of secrets)

It’s an ├╝ber update! Contained in this post are actually 3.5 blog entries. (Now with more blog!) It all started last Friday when I could not attend my normal Friday night game. So instead I decided to throw a SnG for others who did not play in that game. I got 5 others to come over and play back to back 6 handed SnGs. Deep stack and short handed. Like Jack Benny and Mary Livingstone, they go great together. I really was whooping it up too, being more gregarious than Scotty Nguyen with a Scotch. I was in my element, having fun and something wonderful happened. I took down the first SnG. The second one was a different tale. I had much more to drink, at times was almost rude (but I hope not), and on the last hand of the night, got to say “dems quads bitches” as I took down the second SnG. Interestingly, this is not the first time I have played this “style” and done well. The Leopard is happy with his spots when they are short tabled and deep stacked.

The next day, I play for 5 minutes online while I was waiting for Mrs. Columbo to get ready for a dinner party. I turned $10 into $25 and left. Good stuff.

I read an article in Card Player stating that we should work on our game through other methods (other than just playing poker). The author of the article offered no real exercises, just some loose suggestions. But the advice is sound. But what to do about it? (wait for it…)

Next was Tuesday night tourney time. But I missed the entry window?! Oh no! I blew it. What to do? Well, I figured last week during my run at the prize, fellow blogger WW sweated me and encouraged me. So, I guess it was my turn. One good turn deserves another.

So, do you remember last weeks Tuesday post? Me neither, but remember that for a minute. At the beginning of the tournament, WW gets a bit below average and has to battle back. It’s a solid battle with some well played hands. Then a golden opportunity presents itself and he triples up. This is a big deal. M is great, Q is >2. Sound familiar? It should. loyal readers will remember this as it was the exact position I found myself in the previous week. And here is the thing. Despite making all valid decisions, the result was the same. Loss of momentum and out around 10-12ish. WHY?

It was like I watching a movie of someone playing me in a tournament. Creepy. Kookie. Mysterious and Spooky. I got to watch myself through a window. Sure they were completely different hands and completely different circumstances. But as the next day rolled on, I continued to see a parallel. Why did we burn out when everything was going our way? I have stumbled upon and important question, but do I have an answer?

Meanwhile, at another table, our hero joins an O8B game. I buy in and on the very first hand, I play like a plebe and donk off an entire buy in when I make a completely donkey/unjustifiable call on the turn. Amateur hour from yours truly. I buy back in and don’t lose another hand, but only win back about 30% of what I lost on that one hand. Why? In this case, it was because I played the first hand like it was play chips that did not matter. Playing well always matters. Always. What happens when you don’t concentrate? You lose. Simple enough. That is an easy lesson. It’s not like swimming where you can play in the pool or swim laps. Either play to win or don’t play at all.

Please have a point!!

Ok. Ok. I will. Let’s bring it full circle now.

Back to my Tuesday night observation session. I suggest you take time out to sweat someone. Especially if they play a similar style as you do. Watch the hands, watch the results. Learn something about yourself.

My observations...

Stage 1 of the tournament. Blinds are so small they are almost invisible. We make positive choices and try to get a foot hold. We all have had this drilled into us. Hand selection, position, etc.

Stage 2 of the tournament. Time to chip up. Accumulate. Survive. Advance. Make good choices. Loose players stumble into each other. For every 10 of them, 9 go out and 1 has a ton of chips. For the rest of us, its about seizing opportunity. And depending on the size of the field, you may need to push marginal advantages very hard. (See excellent article by Matt Matros about why this is so)

Stage 3. Where the rubber meets the road. It is time to change gears often now. Loose when they are tight, tight when they are loose. Sounds easy, but it is not. The loose players are unable to tighten up and self destruct. The rest of us try to prey on them now. But what happens as we wade through the K7 and the J9 hands? If we are not first to the pot, then we either have to call a bet to see a flop with marginal holdings, or we have to wait for our turn to be first to the pot.

Its time to switch to TV mode. The poker you see on TV. All the bad habits we had to closet away to make it to this point now have to be unleashed and risked. Slow playing, pushing K7, Middle and bottom pair play. Aggression for aggression sake. These are the bubble formulas, the ones that we get to practice the least. Its no longer good enough to be solid, you need to use fear, intimidation and pressure. TV poker. The poker we mock all the other times.

You need VALUE for big hands. Even drawing hands. You may not wish to get your money in pre-flop with KK. WHY? Normally, you cant afford to get knocked out. But now, you cant afford to have zero callers. You need their dumb-ass, low percentage, blind defending hands in your pot. Not alot of them, maybe not even 2 of them, but you need 1. You cant win the final stage of a tournament only playing pre-flop. Its just too hard and too much is left to chance.

I hope I am right. I need this last peice of the puzzle to come into focus...

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

WPBT Summer Classic Update

Courtesy of April

Pillow Of Winds

There comes a time in everyone’s endeavors where he feels like Sisyphus, pushing the boulder up the hill until the end of time. I remember talking with a friend one summer about his golf game. He had reached the point where he shot around 90 for 18 holes. He was happy. And he furthermore made a statement. “I don’t ever want to be better than this. Everyone I play with someone who is better than this, he feels the pain of every bad shot. After 18 holes, they are miserable. I play for fun and I want it to stay that way.” I never agreed with that because when I stop getting better, I lose interest because I no longer enjoy the act.

This week, I may have reached this fork in the road with poker.

Last night, I played in a tournament where in level 1 I really mixed it up. At the end of level 1, I had ½ my stack left. I was chatting with a fellow player who had the same run of cards and was also now at 50% of starting stack size. I mentioned how sweet the victory is when you have to play back from the brink of elimination.

He went out a while later, but I battled on. I like my short stack play and got some great folding equity out of some otherwise marginal hands like 88. I am playing my heart out, but at the first break, I am still below average. I continue to play and play, striving to make good decisions. I don’t even really have to win a race. At the second break, I continue to accumulate chips, but I am still below average.

We are down to 3 tables and I am far down in the standings. But again, I accumulate chips. My Q fluctuates between .5 and .7 the entire time. My M gets as high as 12 and the levels were generously timed. But now I have to make moves. And I do. I finally get a couple of hands back to back where I capitalize on my opponents incorrect calls. And then I have two big hands. Both times I am ahead and I stay ahead. Suddenly, I am the chip leader with 16 left.

Action is TIGHT and often the first 3xBB steal raise takes down the pot. Very often in fact. This goes on for most of a level.

I fluctuate between 2nd and 4th until the next break. I am 3rd or 4th in chips at 9600. The first hand after the break, its folded to me on the Button. I put in a 3x steal raise to 1800 and the SB goes all in for 900 more. I made a fatal mistake. I did not notice that the SB was pot committed already. A stupid mistake. And one that was so embarrassing, I COMPOUNDED my mistake by folding to the all-in which was only 900 more. I was getting 5 to 1 which justifies any two cards. I had Q2s. So, now I just made two mistakes and fall to 7th place out of 12. But neither mistake is fatal, and certainly I am not going to tilt over this. I am still in fine position.

The very next hand, I decide I can take advantage of my misfortune. Here is the thing about mistakes. You can capitalize on this just like an opponent does. You have portrayed and image and you can capitalize on it by realize how others will view your action following it. Utg+1 makes his steal raise, but its 4xBB not the typical 3xBB. I have AK in LP and its 2400 to me. Raising to 3600 makes no sense if I have only 7800 in chips. Calling is just plain donkey-ish. So, I take the folding equity, knowing darn well I am ahead no matter what. Why?

1. He raised 4xBB and not 3xBB. 3xBB has not been getting called very often. So I have to assume that if he had AA or KK he would be LESS, maybe 2.5xBB.
2. Since the steals are often with Ax, I am 80 to win the hand if he has Ax.
3. If by some chance he has 22-QQ, I am no worse than 45%.
4. I may get him to fold here with an all-in. But I think he might call with AQ or AJ and get burned. That because I lost the last hand and made a weird fold.

I make the re-raise all in and he thinks and calls, as expected. He flips over AQ!!!! I am so happy, I am about to be the chip leader and with 14k in chips, I am almost assured a cash in place 6 or higher.

The flop is JQQ. IGHN.

I was so close… I may no longer be able to sleep… I understand I must win with AK and beat AK to win a tournament. Ironic is some ways, this was my only real race of the night.

What does it take to WIN a tournament? What piece of the puzzle eludes me?

I understand why you have to have a luckbox, but I resent the fact that I never will own one.

Friday, March 17, 2006

A return to the donkey invitational challenge

OH the pain of full disclosure. So I took my $200 and worked it down to $51. How? Mostly by playing $10 tournaments against bloggers and not placing, then playing $.25/.50 and allowing myself to get sucked out on in big pots for $25 a whack.

When I reached the $51, I could have thrown in the towel. I could have reloaded. But I didn't. I took the Chris Ferguson route. Turn $1 in $20k route. I started doing something I should have learned to do a long time ago. I started grinding. Buy in for the minimum, grind it to twice that size, and bank it. (This was the strategy that Ferguson used when he worked that $1 to $20k as I hear it.)

Two huge advantages that buck conventional wisdom:
1. You need a big stack to punish people. Just not true. Out playing them punishes them.
2. If you hit a big hand, you could have gotten a bigger payoff. Strangely not true. Well, that may be true but something else MORE than compensates for it. Other players view you as weak and are MORE WILLING to pay off your hands when they have more chips than you. REMEMBER THIS when you are playing short stacked poker.

I thought I was a good short stack player before. Ha, now I am really good. And I am forced to make more decisions than I thought I would. Every hand could be the set back that ruins my results.

Last night my win rate was 20BB/half hour. I was very happy with this considering that I ran TP into Aces TWICE. Once I escaped on the river because he got greedy, once I did not escape because he was a LAG. What does a LAG always do with Aces? Slow play. He was lucky I did not crack those aces.

And I even got a lecture!!! I am on the button and ALL fold to me. So I raise on any two cards, in this case 35o. The table would typically fold here, but BOTH blinds decided that they would call. The flop is 246. SB bets 2/3 pot. BB flops. I smooth call. The turn is a Ten. He bets again! I figure I will try the old "fake bluff". Remember, I am a SHORT STACK to him, and psychologically he thinks I can’t hurt him. So I push all in like I am on a desperate bluff. He calls. And he is pissed when I show the 35o. “Your (sic) not a good player”. Then someone else at the table jumps in and says, “yeah playing like that, you suck”. “playing 35o is stupid” etc. I just replied, “really? Bad?”.

I noticed they left the table when I continued to take hands. Why play 35o on the button? Come on! Three good reasons.

1. If I get in a showdown and lost, I can show the 35o and be tagged as an idiot. This is profitable.
2. If they fold the blinds, I pick free money and I can show the 35o and be tagged as a bluffer. This is profitable when you are grinding.
3. Because they EXPECT a certain range of cards, if I hit they may bet off their stack in a hopeless situation on pure bravado.

Most times its #1 or #2. That image cost me $.75 and will pay me about $10 over the course of the next hour. This time it was #3.

So, back to our invitational challenge. I have grinded (?) my way back from $51 to $85 in the last 180 minutes of play. And that includes another lost blogger tournament. I am learning to grind and its improving my game.

I even made a call on the river of an all-in bet. But this was different than the peppered meat. I knew I was ahead. Plus, he was a short stack who could not possibly hurt me. :)

My hopes? My dream here? That I can grind my way back to $100, then to $150, move up to $.25/$.50 again and push myself back over $200 for the first time this year. Pathetic for a so called winning player, eh? But beleive me. If I am talking to you in May and I am over $350, I will be a VERY happy camper.

How is everyone else doing in the donkey invitational? (see contest post in Jan)

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Lassie eats the pepper meat

I am blessed with a horrible memory. I can watch a movie I saw last year and enjoy it like its the first time. But for some reason, some things stick with you. Images, snippets, jetsam. I remember a Lassie story book I was reading, for some random kid reason decades ago,. In it was a description of how Lassie was taught not to take food from strangers. When they gave her food in a bowl, it was fine. When they fed it out of their hands, it was wraught with pepper. Dogs learn stuff like that.

Calling an all in bet on the river is eating the pepper meat. I have had to learn this lesson NUMEROUS freaking times in the last two weeks. Including just now. OK!!! I GET IT. GIVE ME SOME F-ING WATER ALREADY!!!

Me learn stuff too. (hopefully)

Monday, March 13, 2006

A Poker Joke

Two guys are at the bar and one starts telling the other about the worst day of his life. He starts with getting up and finding that a leaky pipe and rotted out his bathroom floor and he has to have it all replaced. Then he finds his car stolen. After getting a ride to work, he is fired for being late.

His friend just nods and says, "Well, at least you played it well."

Sequels, Donkeys, and Diane Lane

The world's fastest suckout, the luckbox is the most unique and specialized member of the poker player family and can reach speeds of 70 BB/hour. Unlike other players, the luckbox has leaner hands, longer stacks, and has been referred to as the donkey of poker players. It is not an aggressive animal by nature, often choosing flight versus fight. With its weak jaws and small teeth, the price nature made it pay for luck, it cannot fight larger predators until a large pot presents itself. Then, despite being cornered and out numbered, the luckbox strikes and does the seemingly impossible as its strikes its prey dead, often leaving a shocked look on its victims face.

I am playing in a $20 PLO tournament last night. This is a league event, so finish place is important. I am playing the best PLO of my life. I am the zen of PLO. I am using position, reading hands and my relative strength as if I can see the cards. After a short while, I am 14th in a field of 56 without having the nuts a single time. Not once. I am playing my ass off and loving it. I feel alive and my mind is as clear as an frozen lake.

In Omaha, you are either drawing to the nuts or defending the current nuts. That is the general rule. But in Omaha, so much more than in Hold Em, position dictates control of the hand. From late position, you can choose to represent hands. In any other position, you are along for the ride (see first statement). "Learn it. Know it. Live it."

So when you decide to play JJT9 from LP and the flop is J73 rainbow, you have the current nuts. As a matter of fact, this is a tremendous flop for a set because all the draws are dogs. A rarity in Omaha.

Image my surprise when the big stack at the table, raises me after I bet this. My re-raise only makes him more committed and he shoves all his chips in. Ahhhhh. I call to see his bottom set and realize this is the best possible hand for me to see. No redraws, no straights possible, just a lesser set. He has but one out. I take this hand, double up, and I move up to 2nd or 3rd in chips before the break, having played excellent so far. I am feeling pretty good that I can cash in this one.


And just like that, POOF, I am out. Not only out, but out EARLY so I missed a TON of leaderboard points. On a one outer. 4%. 25 to 1.

I could not speak. I am sure i typed some goodbyes, but I can't remember a word of it. I logged off completely. I wandered across the house. I ran into Mrs. Columbo playing on her laptop.

I told Mrs. Columbo about my adventure and she sprung into action. I watch with detached curiosity as she set out to help my mental state.

She opens up google image seach and conjures up this picture of a few donkeys. Cute. But the search page image of donkeys has a curious reult. A seemly unrelated, but obviously attached in some bizarre 6 degrees of seperation way, of Diane Lane.

What sense does she make here? Who can say? I don't even know who she is. But now Diane is part of Mrs. Columbo's plan. She becomes the "innocent" required for the ritual.

That's right, Mrs. Columbo has decided to exorcise the donkeys. She creates a small pyre using an altar (aka ashtray), and places the donkeys (our demons) and Diane Lane (our sacrifice) into the pyre and lights it up, chanting "begone luckbox demons".

Despite the ridiculous nature of her ritual, I can only smile and think to myself, “I hope it works”.

resonance and synchronicity

A seemingly random event that someone had to plan. Like the lady who goes to Caraboo to get coffee and asks for a bag. She makes a tiny attempt to use the bag to carry the coffee. And even though she figues our right away it is'nt going to work, she takes the bag with her. Symbolic bagage to her failed attempt to not let go of an inconceived move.

Do not do this at the table. If something is not working, get away without acknowledging the realization. Leave the bag on the table. Let everyone see it. Dont take it with you. Just remember it.

Then, when the set up circunstances present themselves again, you have a unique moment where you "know then what I know now". You have insight into how they will read the action. Now you can cater a little trap party.

Enjoy. And dont foget the donuts. Mmmmm, donuts.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Hep me Jebus

ok, let me start off by saying this. I have no idea where this title comes from. I mean, I know why I am using it as I am going to use a reference to Chris "Jesus" Ferguson. But the antecedent of the above quote? I have no idea.

Anyway, I decided to take a page from Chris' famous $1 to $20k efforts. Buy in for the minimum and leave when you double up (and bank it). The is contrary to what most people believe to be the right way to play no limit, but in testing it I would have to say the results are valid. You see, when you buy in for the minimum, others tag you as a loser. On top of that, when new players join the table, they don’t "eyeball" you as you are not a big stack. It also has a low risk variance which allows you to minimize loses if you end up at a table where people are drawing on you against the odds (or even colluding).

So, I bought in to the $.10/$.25 table for a wimpy $10. Not only did I bank $30 bucks (I could not even get off the table at $20 as players wanted to continue giving me money), I got LECTURED by a guy who badly misplayed AA.

I an in the cutoff and its folded around to me. I raise to 3xBB as I am first to act. If I am in this position and I have anything at all playable, I do this. I had 76o. I get a caller from the SB. The flop is like T85 (I don’t even remember the suits). I bet about ½ the pot and he calls. The turn is the 4, making my straight. I CHECK. He bets. I raise. He CALLS. As soon as he CALLS my check raise, I know his hand… Do you? Its AA. What else gives low level players the unjustifiable confidence to CALL bets and raises (without re-raises) with the assumption that they are ahead? Only AA. I smile big and call out his hand to my computer screen. “Comon in AA, the water is nice and warm”.

The river is a King. Now it seems easy to check here, but I don’t do that. I BET. I bet a nice big bet that I know he is going to call. And I revel in it. I KNOW based on how he played the hand that he has ran the red light and does not see the van coming through the intersection. He is about to be blind-sided. Sure enough, he make the big call and I take it down.

Then the lecture starts. “what kind of idiot raises with 76o?” “Only on these rigged sites can this happen, this would never happen in live cards.” And the perennial favorite, “you suck”. But his best comment was, “only a idiot can avoid a trap with 76o”. And here is where I got to type my single reply. I gave him some solid advice. Advice he did not even earn. Advice he will never use because he is blinded by tilt. I simply type, “who builds a trap with only a pair”???

Thursday, March 09, 2006

This house is clean

Tangina: "Now clear your minds. It knows what scares you. It has from the very beginning. Don't give it any help, it knows too much already. "

I refuse to die, refuse to surrender. I soldier on. In the immortal words of Bill The Cat, "Thbbbbbbt! Ack!"

51 person, $40 buy in, NLHE tournament. It is a shallow stack tournament with longer levels. So, the blinds are 1/2, but you only start with 100. By level 3 (4/8), you need to be at 240 chips to have an M of 20. BUT, the levels are long for 8 handed tables. About 30 minutes. So you have plenty of hands to work with. And you have your sk1llz (sic).

I am working it, but find myself playing a new style called SCARED TO GET CALLERS. I call it scared-aggressive. (tm) (pat pend) (R)

Every time I decide to play a hand post flop, I make a bet that is much greater than half the pot. Most of the time, its a pot size bet. If they call and I like my hand after the turn, I bet MORE.

I even missed an opportunity (a true one) to slow play. I play 22 from MP and the button calls with I assume an Ace. The flop is A92 and I make a bet and he raises to see if his kicker is good. NORMALLY, Columbo would go for the academy award here and struggle with "calling with my Ace-rag". Instead I raised back the best player in the field. He figured his 9 kicker was no good and folded. An blown opportunity to extract more money, but scared-aggressive battle-scared Columbo just rakes the small pot and builds up his stack.

We are at level 3 and I have about 230 in chips. The guy two to my right CONTINUALLY plays hit boards with bad kickers, especially Ace -rag and K-x suited. What possible results does he expect playing this way? And best of all, he check calls pre-flop when he does this. I get AJ and raise from EP (we are 8 handed, so this meets my min requirements). He calls my 3x bet and we see a flop with an Ace in it. I check, hoping to entice him by looking weak as I am sure he will not even analyze my check as a trap. Sure enough, he comes all in with his stack of about half my total stack. I make the call and he is SURPRISED he is behind with A7. The river is a 7. 90 minutes of work reduced to rubble. I am starting stack size again, but now with an M of 8.

I work back to about 135, but the blinds are now 8/16 and I have to make a move. More waiting. I am so scared that when I get to limp in the BB with 56 and the flop is 34A, I check (WEAK!). When he makes a POT size bet with I assume the Ace, with another player to CALLING that bet, I fold it. I would have made the 7 on the turn (with a 3rd diamond though). He bets again, and the other player folds.

More waiting. I bleed down to an M of like 4. Then I get 55. I bet 40% of my stack and the BB (same guy) moves all in. He has the SAME stack size I do, so I figure he can do this with any Ace. I look at the math, I look at the levels and the avg. stack, and I decide (correctly) that I can not justify a fold mathematically. I call to see 77. Bummer. I got up. I walk away. And I put on my coat. AND THEN IT HAPPENED - everyone started telling me to sit down. The board had 4 clubs and I had the 5c. His 7s were red. I had sucked out on someone.

There is some psychology I learned early on in my playing. When you get sucked out on, take solace in that fact that you got your money in ahead. When you suck out on someone, apologize, shake hands, sit down, and from that second on, pretend you out played him. NEVER consider yourself lucky to be here and other bullshit. Eyes back on the prize. Its variance baby, the mistress of the poker player. And when she swings your way, you take what you can before she moves on, leaving you wanting...

I was an average stack size, and arguably playing better than anyone at the table, despite the league champ being at the table (I was a previous league champ also, in better variance swing days).

Now I have to get to work again. A couple of times I have to calm myself down and say “I lost about as little as I could with that hand”. (I think I was right both times).

More work. Despite playing well, I have only about 300 chips as we are down to two table. Average is about 500.

One thing I love about live cards is the ability to get someone to do something. The table was short handed (6) and two of us were VERY aggressive. Whenever I fought for a pot, I made it seem like I was making a move, even if I had the nuts. One time he got sick of it and ran his TP into my over pair. But he comes back, busting 2 other players at our table in one hand by making a HUGE call with AT on an Ace flop. He beat A9 and a middle pair. Wow. Tough call. And one I don’t think I make there.

Then he doubled me up with my Aces when he had Kings. He was scared of me for the rest of the night (which will serve him well).

I now realize two things.
1. I just made the money (9th place) which is your buy in back. This is already my biggest victory of the year. Thanks for the visit, mistress variance.
2. The avg stack size is 800 and I now have 900. Wow. I am not out of this yet.

The deal turns to me and we are playing MUCH faster than the other table. I decide to wait for them to finish the hand they just started before dealing ours. I never dealt. Three of them got all in and two went to the rail.

Final table set up: Previous chip leader (when we were two tables) now on the short stack, the guy who just had KK vs. my AA (pretty solid stealer), the previous champ, a very aggressive player, a weak tight player, another short stack, and me. 7 players. I sit down and say “looks like a Sit N Go now.” But I did not say it as conversation, I said it as affirmation. It WAS a SnG now, and I had a decent stack. I am a good SnG player. At this point, I like my odds to finish in the top 3. Avoid the two other dangerous players, fold marginal hands if someone is about to blind out, don’t get caught stealing, but steal.

I execute the proper strategy. Did I play the hands correctly? who knows. Who cares? Strategicaly, I made the right choices.

Fast forward. 3 players left. Guess who? Me, the champ, and Mr. KK. I might be the smallest of the three, but I am here.

Then a weird thing happened. I made a raise 3 handed with 44 from the button and they BOTH called. We were playing tight-aggressive, so I was surprised by the calls. Especially from the BB. Not only that, they checked the ragged flop. I decided to check and let them think I was trapping. But the turn now was a Q and everyone checked trying to avoid the invisible trap. The river was the Ace and they check again, assuming I hit the Ace. I figure that I must be behind, but can not fathom how stupid or smart a bet here is. I flip over my 4s and they are good. WTF? After all that, all 3 of us played the hand terrible. Terrible. But because the blinds were so high, I have caught up to one of the other stacks. I go back to aggressive mode. I break the champ and then caught the big stack pushing with a pair. He put me all in and I flipped over TP. He look like I had shot his wife. He paid me off and we battled for another 30 minutes until I had the lead. Then I offered to chop if since the prize difference was 10%.

I went home and slept like a baby.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

I am Jack's complete lack of surprise

I am playing in an 80 or so player $10 tournament last night (NLHE). On the very first hand I flop the nut straight and one guy flops the ass-end straight. I double up and maybe my luck is changing. I get a couple of pocket pairs and they hold up and I am the chip leader...

I isolate a short stack and when the board comes garbage, I push all in figuring he can't call. But he can with KK. (The push was too many chips, as 375 would have been enough to pot committ him or know I was beat.) I dump 800 chips here and fall to 8th, but I am still above average. I then bleed for a while. Just before the break I am at 2600 and the avg is 2300. Still in good shape, but I am looking to win this thing and my reads have been fairly good.

Now a tight player raises to 3x UTG and all fold to me in the BB with 55. Now I had folded A9o earlier to a 4xBB WHEN I WAS THE CHIP LEADER and could afford to speculate and missed out on a A9x flop. So, I make a call, hoping for a rag board. And I get one! 23T RAINBOW. With $400 in the pot, I make a token bet of $100. He moves all in for 95% of my stack. I figure him for either a mid pair (scared of overs) or a push with overs like AK, AQ. Despite his tightness, I just can not figure an all in until the turn with an over pair and why do this with 99 if a T flops? I use up my entire time bank guessing between 99 and AK. And nagging me in the back of my mind is "will I fold this just because I am so unlucky lately?". It was the latter thought that made me call out of spite. I spit at the thought of luck, I always have. UNLIKE most people, "I would rather be right than be lucky" is my saying. So, I make the call and sure enough he has AK. Now, I am ahead here and the flop has already come. He has 6 outs x 2% x2 or 24%. I am a 3 to 1 favorite. Actaully slightly less as I am blindsided by the moving bus called runner runner QJ.

I have $500 left and ON THE VERY NEXT HAND get 76 on the button. Since there were 5 limpers, the pot is good and I figure instead of going all in, let see if I can win a big pot. The flop is 678 and someone here has flopped TP. When I bet, rest assured that an A8 is the caller. Sure enough, I get a caller and we are all in. Imagine my LACK of surprise when the caller is 8-2 and the turn is the 2.

I dont have any deep analysis here. I continue to play well and I continue to get beat. End of story. I guess? Maybe? I get myself in 3 to 1 positions for all my chips with my tournament life at stake. I cant believe that I can fold there and be a winning player. right?

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

picture yourself in a boat on the river...

As much as it pains me to admit it, I have been a losing player in 2006. Badly losing. As I explore the ins and out of my play, exhaustively analyzing what is going wrong I find two anomalies.

The first is that I am often making good reads on the flop and the turn, but my opponent picks up what he needs on the river. Now, these are not bad beat stories. Any one of them would be construed as just poker. But to plot them over the course of 3 months and notice how many hands I have lost on the river, it looks like a conspiracy. These are cash ring games I am talking about and I wonder how a player can take a hand when 82 hits TP on the flop vs. my Queens, and continue to call pot size bets to the river when a 2 comes. And even more of a mystery, is how stupid the guy who says “nice hand” must be.

But if that is the case, then what is the corrective action here? I mean, how do I deal with the fact that I am getting my money in ahead, providing the improper pot odds, and still losing. I have to assume that the negative pot odds I am providing on the TURN are insufficient. I am looking at it this way:
1. I USED to have a motto that I never wanted to see a showdown. But now, I am better at reading situation and I am not afraid to play from in front.
2. Providing negative pot odds on the FLOP in low limit is simple an exercise in fanning the flames. Now the pot is big enough that your turn bet scares you as much as it scares your opponent.
3. And this is the big one, number 2 is bullshit. If you are going to protect top pair, a half size pot bet is no longer going to fly. Players are just not tight enough. And on the turn, if you think you are ahead, you have to be willing to put in the big bet.

I did have a case last night where the player on my left would enter ANY pot I would play no matter what the raise. He would then call my post flop bet, and my turn bet NO MATTER WHAT. 4 out of 5 times he two paired or hit his got shot on the river. The funny part is that he had tagged me as loose aggressive passive and was trying to play pots away from me, like he was Phil Ivey. In reality, he was behind all but the first of those 5 hands. I should have taken a lot of money from him. Statistically I had to. In reality, I lost a buy in.

Now, as if that was not enough, there is this “second thing”. I have bubbled in almost every tournament I have played this year. Why is that? I am not sure I even have a theory yet. Is it the result of one wrong decision? Is it that I am not fighting for enough small pots? Is it tight passive? Is it making the wrong moves at the right time? I AM NOT SURE.

But I had better figure it out soon. I posted a nice profit in 2005, and lost about 40% in just this portion of 2006.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006


That's the only thing that explains it. Well, I can't post because all I have a beat stories. I am now haunted by my words "I dont care about the results, just that I play well." Well, I am officialy tilting on those words. I can no longer count the times I have gotten my money in as a 5-1 favorite OR BETTER and just been beaten.