Thursday, March 30, 2006

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

It’s an über 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...

No comments: