Archive for October, 2013

Untitled Rant

Some days are crystal clear.

Other days its a hazy maze. Nothing pays when the the guy stays and plays, while I raise and re-raise with the A’s and he trips treys. and at this phase its days like today that say hey, maybe I should go play a different game and come back this way another day, before my bankroll slips away eh.

No I am not big into rap. Dr Seuss is pretty hip though.

You know, you pull a couple clever moves like a raise from the button with 64spades. Everything is beautiful on the flop, because its T44. You bet like you always do, and the target doesnt believe you. The next card is a second spade and its an 8 and now you have even more reason to bet, bigger! She reraises you all in for the last 11 big blinds she has, you call and she turns over 55.

You look around at the people who put you on AT or QQ and smirk a bit as you prepare to reach for the chips. But then the silence strikes, and you get that light-speed lump in the same place you get brain freeze via cold slurpee from 7-11.

5. The river is a 5.

Now you can taste puke a bit, and the look towards her is that of the “stink-eye. Maybe shes a girl with a nice t shirt, or maybe shes a lady with false teeth, but in my case shes a 2-dimensional fortunate sucker, situated to the top right area of my computer screen.

Is this variance? Is this karma? You know what I say to people who raise me with 64 when I have KK?  They go all in on the flop, which is junk to me, and they have top pair or some massive draw, I say ‘thats what you get for raising me with 64! What did you think was gonna happen?

It must be karma. I mean, variance is a law that most sensibly exists about what cards fall and when, but at any given time, the people who were destined to win the hand arent even guaranteed to enter the pot. A little hard work can keep them out, right? You know those times you lose with 88 to Q2? well what the hell is Q2 doing in the hand to begin with? Im just saying that variance is an invariable, while its catalysts are, in part, controlled by you. Raise higher next time. raise lower next time. fold to begin with. check-raise. flat-call. These are all variables.

I do bluff a fair bit when my table image is fitting. But the breadcrumbs are there; I fold when reraised, or I check somewhere along the way, or I continue betting small/medium. At no point am i going to take a 5-street bluff right to the back alley with my whole stack. Including heads up, theres not many times ill push after 5 cards with the worst hand. Maybe 2.4 percent of the time. That 2 dimensional character couldnt have possibly thought she had me beat by the turn card. She was never really pot-committed at any point.

I wouldnt normally be writing about this, I dont think, but it happened to me 2 times, today! Both times I was either crippled or removed from the tournament, as per zero chips.
It was similar the next time. I had 96diamonds on the big blind. Flop was A96. Anyone in there right mind would go broke against a loose turkey knowing full well they have the ace, this is a monster against one of them winged non- flyers. So I do! She bets, I raise pretty big. She calls. The turn comes, its a blank, but now theres two clubs and two hearts on board. She goes all in for like 20 big bets and watching her play, shes the type who would push here with A7 or something, to protect against a draw.  She actually had A8, but they were both clubs, and the river was a club. Back doored by the fortunate sucker. I guess she had outs but come on, A8? There were 4 people in the hand to begin with!  Most times, she would not catch that flush, and even MORE times, her caller will have a higher kicker than 8, or two pair O.o  But, I pay her off this time.  Thats poker.

No, thats not poker, come on.  Thats low stakes poker.  Thats freeroll poker.  The poker I am striving to play is the poker where I can make a guy fold AK before the flop, or represent quads on a QA3 QQ board, and make him fold the ace.  That doesnt happen at low stakes.  I bet 97% of low stakes player would call an all in with an ace here.

But I digress. Just a rant. Just a journal, right? The poker blog! Becoming pro. Thats what Im trying to do. Its boiling down. Like a black hole about to implode. I keep winning, I have a couple of bad days and a couple of bad games and a couple of bad calls and a bit of bad luck. But in the end, I stick with it and results are emerging. I had a bad day two days ago. My confidence was shot. My attention was elsewhere. My timing was bad. And most importantly, their cards were better.

Today I took those two suck-out beats on the river and I felt pretty shitty, like after a bar-room brawl with karma and his buddy. But those were two games. Ive played 7. And I upped my stakes a notch 🙂 Now im like 15 buy-ins richer than if I played at my normal stake! Ive gotten 2 first places in a row, WHILE writing this, and a second place. And my two first places were the bigger buy ins. Plus I played a heads up against one of the oldest most common players ive ever played against, and I drowned him! Aggression, baby. Raised his button-limp, myself out of position, many times and every time he called I had a monster and every time he folded I was bluffing! In the end I slow-played jacks and let him bet into me the whole way. Im not sure if he won one hand, it was 8 minutes long!

You know, Im just thinking back to like, 5 or 6 years ago. Back when I didnt know much about poker. You look down at AJoffsuit and you dont even think about your position. Hell, whats a position? You were watching a youtube in another screen and as far as you know, no one is more clever than you. 2 minutes later, poker is closed and your surfing the web primarily.

I sometimes try and remember what it was like. I think thats key in becoming pro. To climb to the top you must not forget your roots, and well, your roots probably sucked. There are different levels of poker knowledge at the low-mid stake range. I mean, when you watch poker on television, you know all those people have read the same books, and even written their own.  They share a common level, and its invisible, but you can sense it.  Its like, they already know what youre trying to learn.  And maybe 12 of 100 havent ever read a book, they are just rich and enjoy the game. But each of them has found a way that works. The difference in low or mid stakes is that MOST of the people havent read a book and dont know the importance of position and dont know certain odds on draws, etc. And Identifying them is really very important. Everyone in the world could disagree with me and thats fine, but read a poker book. I thought I was good before, I thought I was better than most players. My best plays were trapping people and checkraising, going all in on flush draws, etc. Then I read 2 books in the course of 1 month, and my game exploded, and my confidence soared, and I was a new player.

Its funny because I remember thinking “what the hell could a book teach me about poker??? How much deeper does it get? Raise good hands, fold bad hands, throw a bluff in once in a while, what could somebody possibly tell me that I am not seeing here.” It was black and white. Poker was a whole. A unit, and I knew the game. After books and experience and ups and heavy downs, home games and different online sites, I can say now that no, poker is not a whole. Not black and white. Its actually millions and millions of components that need to be synthesized to form a temporary existence within the figment of itself as a whole.

?

Its like a zit on your back. Or Mars in our solar system. Its never going to be a whole. Mars is a whole yes, and so are zits, but they exist as a component of something much much larger. Im rambling again but my point is that I thought I knew poker well, and maybe I did, but that was hardly important at becoming good at it. Its pretty cliche to say its a people game, but its true, and with that fact, it rings through that to master poker, you must master 2 billion poker players. Only Bruce Lee could do that, so the goal becomes ‘forget everything you know, and instead of trying to conquer the universe, maybe focus on Paris, France and conquer that. Take it one Paris at a time. And in the end what separates good players from average or bad players is how many proverbial cities you have accumulated.

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Master people.
Master position.  Master concentration.
Master raising, and reraising, and betting when you have the best hand.
Master folding. O.o
Master outs and pot odds, and putting people on hands. I am slowly getting better at that.
you know? Master making decisions. Master thinking about everything as quickly as possible. It becomes a good life skill too, as a bonus.
The one thing you cant master is luck. Maybe the secret is hidden in the other 80 percent of our brains but until we can use that slice of cerebral pie its probably better to do your best to prevent other people from finding it when you have the best hand and chips invested.

Watch the person in small blind. Three rounds around the table watching small blinds react and you can categorize a player pretty accurately. Anyhoo, This ramble must end. Reckon Im going to just stop writing this very moment and not even have a nice closure sentence.

Love and Aces

Its not hard to slip from following your own rules sometimes. And when you do, it amplifies the importance of identifying the level of player you are up against.

My example is the pocket aces. Im sure youve heard the saying “never fall in love with your hand.” Its true, its very true. Cards are like women. Sometimes you find a hand so very beautiful and promising and you decide you want to get married but in the end they break your heart and take all your money 😛
Well of course thats not true for all women, or all cards for that matter, but it made for a funny analogy..

But its true, they do say not to get married to your pocket aces, or any hand at all.  A good lay down is just as valuable as anything in poker, and without that discipline one is that much further from playing to the best of their potential. And if youre anything like me, you are uncomfortable letting leaks and weaknesses live in the walls and crawlspaces of your game.

“Its not hard to slip from following your own rules sometimes! And when you do, it amplifies the importance of identifying the level of player you are up against!”

So I got married to my aces the other day and it cost me my chair in the tourney. The tourney begins. Theres a couple of friends chatting to eachother, predicting which one of us will take the other out of the tourney. Theyre talking like theyre more experienced than anyone present, and theyre talking like they arent playing for money, or dont care about losing the buy-in. Theres an underlying sense of ego In the words they are choosing. So I watch carefully for about 4 hands.

The 1st guy is limping in under the gun preflop and going right to a river showdown with Q4hearts. The other guy raised on the button with T6off and won the hand with 2 pair in another showdown. These are signs to me that I can beat them and they are not that strong. Well, after identifying that, I forgot to give them the proper credit, meaning I shouldve expected them to make a poor play with a mediocre hand. But I didnt.

So Im excited because now I have targets. I was going to take their chips first because, because I dont know, because if people refer to being able to take me out and everyone else out at the table because they think they are that good, and hold that much of an ego to chat it and share it and laugh about it, then it becomes that more rewarding to prove them wrong and send them packing with nothing but their own poor play to reflect on. Its about 6 hands in.

I look down at AA. The dealer is to my left one seat, so im in pretty good position too. First to act is the guy with the mouth, the Q4 limper. And what does he do? Well, he limps in of course. Calls 100. The next guy is his buddy and he limps in too. Couple of sharks they are!

Now its to me, theres 350 in the pot, I have about 11000. My raise is to 600. Yes, 600. Why? Cause I know I am going to get some action from atleast one of these douchebags. Thats why.
The dealer folds and now I have superior position with the best starting hand in poker, up against a couple of big talkers. Its quite exciting. The small blind folds. The big blind folds. douche # 1 decides he has a better hand than me and raises. The pot is 950. He pushes the min raise button so I think that became raise to 1100, his partner quickly calls. I contemplate an all in here, and maybe I shouldve, but I felt like they would fold, and that amount of chips to win was not good enough for me (maybe I am the ego one here :P) so that makes the pot 3050 I think, and the action is to me.

I raise it another 2500. Back to the first guy, I guess he didnt think his hand was that good afterall cause he folded after a few seconds, but his partner snapcalls. Now theres close to 8k in the pot, and I have about 8k left. The flop comes 49T. No flush draws. I bet 3k, which in retrospect shouldve been higher, but thats what this blog is about, hindsight, and the ability to have the foresight enough to finish the day without any retrospective regrets. I guess I wanted him to call cause I married my aces and for that 15 seconds it took me to decide what to bet, I believed my hand was invincible. oops. No he didnt have pocket nines or something clever like that, we Identified him as a clown, remember? So he calls. The turn card is an 8.

49T8. He goes all in. Ive got about 5k left and the pot is like 13. I started to put him on hands and the one he seemed to be repping was QJ for the nut straight. It didnt make sense to me at that moment that he would have QJ because 1, who calls two reraises with QJ? especially when the reraiser has position on you. Every single poker book ever written talks about QJ, and describes it as a losing hand. If you flop top pair, you will lose to AQ, and KQ. If you hit a J, you will lose to AJ and even KJ. or QQ for that matter. Its deceiving because it is two high face cards, but anyone will tell you, limp in with it if you can, play it cautiously, play it from the button, or throw it away to begin with. Your best hope to win with QJ at a full table is by hitting a straight, and investing 1/3 of your stack before the flop is even dealt, essentially means you are putting your chips in the middle hoping to end up with a straight without even seeing any of the cards yet.

And any poker book ever written will also tell you the importance of position. Im not going to go into it but jesus christ. I guess a fold was the right move but forgettaboutit, I called and he had QJ. QJ offsuit.

Calls two re-raises with QJ offsuit, out of position 6 hands into a tourney? Might as well be playing super slots at the corner bar, or buying a scratch ticket. Im not going to lose any sleep over this LOL, because thats the game and those are fish, and we love fish 🙂 They have to win hands like that to keep the balance real, and I understand this. It just gives me something to write about in hopes of educating myself and a handful of readers. And something to do while I am folding. When I left the table i read his partner say nice hand, well played. LOL. I thought the hand was rather ugly and the way he played it was horrible, but at the same time I just had my aces cracked so who knows the validity of anything I say 😉 But if thats what works for him then thats what works for him, right? guess so.

I mean Im just as guilty for playing my hand wrong too, I mean, not necessarily wrong but, Maybe I shouldve raised higher my second raise, and maybe I shouldve bet higher on the flop, or went all in, and maybe I shouldve played it weaker and minimized my losses, and most importantly, I shouldve absolutely known that he in fact was holding QJoff. I had a read on them two from the start in their manner of speaking to eachother, and it makes perfect sense to me that he would play QJ from that position for that price. But I got married to my aces because I tried to convince myself that he had AT or JT, or 77 or something.

Its an art in poker to find a balance between greed and chance. How much do you want to win here? How much risk will you trade for a bigger pot? I see people raise before the flop with AA, and the flop comes 449rainbow, and they go all in 8000 into a 1200 pot. Its like wow! You really want that 1200? I cant do that. 1200 is not enough, so I trade a little bit of risk to grow the pot, Ill let him have a free card, or bet small so the turn might give him a draw enough to call a nice turn bet. I dont want that puny 1200 pot, I want his whole stack, all the time. And going all in will usually pay IF you can get a caller. But thats not always guaranteed, especially on a 449 flop. The art is getting them to put more chips in the middle without letting them draw or suckout a better hand than you, and that amplifies the importance of identifying who you are up against, and what hands thay are playing. If its a donk, then yes, they probably have QJ in that situation. If its a good player, they probably have KK or QQ and it will pay you off. But they could have 99 too, which in that case, well, theyre just going to have to show me 999and I will lose contently.

Youve all seen that commercial for full tilt poker where the guy peeks at KK and raises it, then the flop comes with 2 aces on it and somebody bets big to the guy with KK, and he throws it away.
What a great commercial, demonstrating the discipline it takes to make it in this game. Its always beautiful to see AA in your hand, but you got to know when to hold em, and know when to fold em, right? Do not get married to a hand unless it is unbeatable, or good enough to put all of your chips in the middle before the flop and take a shot against one caller. Big folds are just as important as big wins

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