Thursday, May 11, 2006

Thursday Thoughts

Poker is going so well right now, I don't think I have any right to bitch. But bitch I will. Last night will inspire most of the following thoughts.
I left $8 ahead, but it was one of those nights when I might have cleared $75 with better moves.
• I am a NL player, and my biggest strength is avoiding trouble. I am very good at dodging bullets (not just AA in this case, although even then I have a Hellmuth-like ability to "dodge bullets, baby"). Some can semi-bluff. Others can bullshit. Others can bully. I dodge bullets.
It's not sexy, but it works for me.
OK, so given that, I seem to lose the most money when I simply call and not raise or fold, even when, according to the odds, a call is justified.
Last night I called a guy down when I was holding AA because I refused to believe he had a flush, even when he was betting a flush and three diamonds were out there. A pot-sized call was justified, in my mind, because I held the nut diamond, so if a fourth came down (even with one card to go), I thought I would take him for all his money, so the implied odds were huge.
When a heart fell, and he bet $5 into the $23 pot, I had to call, given that there was a 25 percent chance my hand was still good, even though I knew it wasn't.
This is why I don't play limit poker. I tend to make far too many "odds" calls, and by the time I keep calling $1 bets, my stack shrinks like Costanza's penis once it hits a swimming pool.
• I also tend to lose money when I've made a lot of money. When I haven't won a hand, I play tight. Too tight. Tighter than a nun's... (OK, you've heard the joke).
When I'm winning, however, I make too many "what the hell" calls. I am very good at holding onto my chips in a tournament. I need to do the same in a cash game.
I lost more money on two other weak calls, just like the fish do, because I was up $25, so what the hell, right?
• My least favorite hand? KQ. Every time I don't call a raise with it, it flops two pair, as it did last night. Every time I play it, I lose money on it, as I did last night, when I lost $8 with a Q-high board, all rags, no flush and no straights. The guy flopped a small set.
• My favorite hand? AA. I know. Duh. But I rarely lose with it. Why? I don't slowplay it. I bet it aggressively. Too many players see those As and think their hand is golden. The only time it's golden is pre-flop. Even though I lost earlier with it, I won a $17 pot with it later that night.
• I still have a problem calling raises, even 3x raises, with anything but a very strong hand, like pocket pairs down to 10,10, A,K or maybe A,Q. I don't think this is a bad thing. But I'm starting to think I should loosen up a bit.
Of course, probably nothing depends more on your read of an opponent than calling his or her raise. If a tight player (me) raises, you better fold unless you have the goods or we're in a tournament and the blinds are worth stealing. If a loose player raises, well...maybe you can call.
It still bothers me, in a cash game, to invest a lot of money preflop unless I have KK or AA or, maybe, AK.
It's a weakness of mine. But maybe it's also a strength.
• Poker is going well for two reasons. One is I'm getting good hands after a couple of mostly card-dead months.
That's easy. Even donkeys get good hands and sometimes even win with them.
But the second reason is I'm reading opponents better than ever.
I'm actually improving! Wow!
Last night I held K,J, the ultimate donkey hand because of how many times it's overplayed. I never call a raise with it. Last night, after playing an opponent for 15 minutes, I held K,J, threw my .25 out there, and four others called.
Rag, Rag, J. No draws out there.
OK. I bet $1, about half the pot and usually what I always bet on the flop regardless of what I have in .25 NL.
Everyone folds except for THE opponent, who was talking a lot and lost $5 to me earlier chasing a heart draw even when he didn't have the odds to play it because I priced him out of it (or so I thought). The guy was going back and forth with another donkey, about how bad this donkey was, about how, even if he did lose a pot to him earlier, the donkey sucks.
The turn comes a blank, and I fire $2 into the pot. He raises me back $2.
Ah. Now. Does a guy who is chatting about how a donkey plays crap all the time in fact play crap himself? I make sure he's not on a blind. Nope. He would have raised me with J,A, I believe, because he's raised a fair amount, every time with high cards.
I take the raise as a sign that he has a pair and would prefer to take the pot down now.
I hold K,J, and I bet my whole stack, $20.
He calls.
He holds Q,J.
I win.
I would not make reads like this three months ago. In fact, I would have probably been the guy berating me (wouldn't that be weird) a coupe of months ago for pushing all his stack in with K,J.
Lately I've made many calls or, even more importantly, raises like this one. I"m not Phil Ivey. But I am a winning poker player because of them.

1 comment:

TripJax said...

Severe shrinkage...

I love that episode.

Worry not, any profit is money made not money given to a donkey...