Hit Counter

Friday, June 02, 2006

If only I was a better player!

The hand that screwed up my WSOP feeder, the one where I folded a nut flush draw when calling was definitely the right choice, got me thinking about my game a little bit.

I figure the best part of my game is easily putting people on hands. I have concentrated a lot on this over the last while, and I've gone from being able to put people on a broad range of hands (high ace, medium pocket pair etc.) to at times calling exactly the hand that they have, sometimes down to the suit ;)

I can't really explain how it happens, I guess I just have a bit of a knack for it. Everybody has their natural strong points in poker, this is mine. It could have something to do with studying a bit of psychology in college, understanding peoples mannerisms and the like. I try to be as observant as possible at the table, and look out for any 'tells' I can pick up. It is usually physical tells I look out for, as to be honest, I'm useless at figuring out betting patterns.

Anyway, my point is, I like to think I'm good at spotting 'tells' and getting reads on players, but my problem is I don't have a clue what to do with this information. In the WSOP game, I had a well above average stack, as did Rounders. I limped into a hand with A7, and flopped the nut flush draw. Rounders bet, I figured he had some of the flop and I could scare him off it. He instantly pushed over the top of my big raise and I figured he most likely had top pair with a flush draw. So top pair with either the K or J of clubs.

As it turned out this 'read' was spot on, he had KsQ. So I've guessed the hand correctly, I think I've played the hand well up until here, so why did I make such a stupid fold? It would have been a bad fold in a normal MTT but in a winner-takes-all game...what was I thinking? You have to aim for first or nothing at all. In the end I scraped onto the final table but never really had a shot after that hand.

And this is not the first time this has happened. So many times I am landed in situations where I will have a good idea of the hand the person is on, and not know how to act upon this information. Sometimes I get it right, as with the 99 vs AA in the WSOP game. I called knowing I was behind, figuring he had KK or AA. I knew if I flopped the 9 I would push and probably get called, which is what happened. Im happy enough with how I played the hand, because if I had check raised the flop or check called and pushed the river, I dont think I would have been called as we both had big stacks. I got it right that time, but I am getting it wrong too often for my liking.

Other times, I will risk my tournament on a 60/40 because I am so sure I have the better hand. For instance, say I have Ax and there is a raise and then the chip leader goes all in. I glance at the original raiser and feel he doesn't have an ace, maybe a medium pocket pair. I am pretty sure he will fold. As for the all-in guy, say I know he is very loose, or I have picked up a tell... maybe he wouldn't go all in with an Ace... for whatever reason I feel he has KQ or KJ or something similar which I am ahead of. Say there has been no other limpers, so I can assume there are still at least 2 and possibly three aces in the deck...

Ok, so I call this guys all in for all my stack. As I predicted the original raiser folds and as I figured the all-in guy has KQ or KJ or whatever. Anyway, he hits his card and I'm off cursing about being so unlucky and the usual...

Should I not be taking these chances? I think I make a lot of plays based almost purely on reads, when I should consider other factors. Stack sizes, blind levels etc should all be taken into account, and at times should fold the better hand and wait for a better opportunity. I get paranoid about being so unlucky because I do go into most showdowns ahead, and when I lose a large amount when I have a slight edge, I get frustrated and feel robbed. "I had the best hand, surely I should win sometimes!"... how many times has this thought gone through my head!

Sure, I do think I am a bit unluckier than other people, but If I learn how to act on reads a bit more perhaps I won't play so many big hands where I'm only a slight favourite. Another thing I've realised is its ok to play a big pot even when you know you're behind! I went into a lot of hands in the WSOP game as the slight underdog, purel because I was constantly in need of a double-up. And I was amazed by how many times I actually won! Fair enough it was a lucky night in some aspects, but I realised that sometimes you should actually go in behind and hope to outdraw... (with the help of Karl and his river button of course!)

In the past whe I have been playing, I would fold a lot of decent hands, say KQ, because I be working of a read that I was sure the opponent had Ax. Even though value was there to call and hope to outdraw, in my mind I would be making the right move purely because I had the worse hand. It doesn't matter that I was only a slight underdog, I would think I was making the right moved based on my reads, which most of the time were pretty good.

I need to loosen up online, and stop playing hands purely based on my reads of my opponents. I think I need to get cracking on some of the books I bought, and figure out how to use this ability more to my advantage, and know when to ignore it.

Maybe I've figured out why I'm so bad at online!


Thursday, June 01, 2006

World Series of Poker....so close...

I never made it down to the Regency game on Tuesday night, as I had to give a friend a driving lesson. I had planned on going to a game last night, probably the SE, then I remembered that the second WSOP feeder was on.

Like the last time, I didn't really want to sit back and wait for hands, as you need to build a stack right from the start in these games. Its sink or swim right from the start in this winner takes all $10 freezeout, so there's no point in playing to place well!

I had an uneventful first half an hour, and couldn't find a decent hand to make a move on. I was up and down for a while, and wasn't really concentrating too much on the game, as I had hit the final table of a $10 MTT. I was monster chip leader with at lease twice that of the next stack. With 9 left and top six paid, I felt I was in for a decent payday. At least guaranteed money... or so I thought... somehow, even though I had a huge chip lead I went out in 9th! I lost with QQ vs AA against a shortstack, then I picked up QQ again and lost to 10 10 (trips on the turn). The last kick in the teeth came when I flopped a house and was rivered by a higher house.

A mixture of bad luck and bad timing had the result of putting me on tilt, and I was annoyed at not getting any cards in the WSOP feeder, so instead of waiting for a decent hand to push on, I decided to find the biggest pile of crap could find and see if Karl and his magical RNG would reward me! So when I picked up 45s, my chips went straight into the middle... I got called by pocket eights and somehow hit a straight (thanks Karl!) to double up to 5K.

A few hands later I picked up AJ and flat called a raise of 1600 from Rounders. I figured he was on a similar range, and thought I could take him off the hand on a low flop. The flop came low and I pushed. Im pretty sure he would fold A10 AJ here, so when he dwelled up it must have been at least AQ, possibly AK. He eventually folded, figuring I had a medium pocket pair. Good read as this is usually how I would play these, but I was in loose mode and still a bit tilty from the MTT, so I wasn't playing my usual game. Anyway that got me up to 8K. I worked up to about 12K and a short while later picked up KK. I decided to slowplay hoping for a raise. 'Deadparrot', a fellow boardie obliged and raised it up to 4K. I reraised him and when he pushed I obviously called. Close to 30K in the middle, and my KK somehow stood up against his 10 10 and I was doing nicely now.

I drifted down to about 20K before I picked up the hand of the night. I picked up 99 and called a small raise from a super tight player. I figured I was definitely behind, but if I hit I would get paid off. Another lad limped too, so there was close to 10K in the middle. The flop came a lovely 889, and I was first to act. Check, bet, all-in? I chose the latter, figuring the tight player had AA or KK and wouldn't let it go. I was right, he had the aces and no bad beat (again!) and Im up to close to 50K and 3rd in chips with about 40 people left.

There was still a fair few boardies left (Rounders, Brian O'C, Rusty, careca, TheAceFace etc..), so it was looking good for one of us to get a ticket. I dribbled down to around 40K, due to not getting any cards and being at a semi-aggressive table. I lost almost half my stack in a hand with rounders. I picked up As 7c, and when the flop came Queen high with three spades I felt like this could be my hand.

Rounders bet out about 5K, and I felt he had top pair and I could get him off it with a decent re-raise. I added 15K on top and Rounders pushed. Now I was left with a decision. I knew I was behind, but with almost half my stack in the middle and the nut flush draw it looked like I had to call. It was another 20K to win a 90K pot, and I FOLDED...

I was playing scared, and was convinced that if I called I wouldn't hit. Im pretty sure he had top pair with a flush draw, although something was niggling away at me that he had made the flush. If he had top pair with a flush draw it was likel to be the K or perhaps the J, so against KQ or QJ, I reckon it was a 40/60 and I was getting almost 4:1 on my money. Stupid fold by me when I look at it now, but I've had a bad experience going into big hands like this. When I have so many outs I tend to miss, and this has influenced how likely I am to call. If this was live I would have called in an instant, but as it was online I had no confidence I would hit and folded.

This stupid play cost me the game IMO, as I never really recovered enough to have a chance at first. If I had won that hand I would have been big tournament chip leader, with 3 tables left. Instead I was struggling on 20K, while Rounders was chip leader on 75K. Im kicking myself today for not calling, but thats poker... everyone has brainfarts now and then.

I hung in, having to push 4 or 5 times to stay alive. My 60/40 edges held up and I outdrew a few people along the way, although nothing major! Usually Kx beating Ax or something.

By this stage most of boards had joined to watch the table as there was about 6 of us left in the last 18. A few friends of mine had also logged on to watch. The pressure was building as I was struggling to stay alive. Careca was to my left and every time without fail, he raised my BB! Unbelievavly every time this happened I had absolute muck... 23, 35, 26 etc.. I thought about pushing many times, but I didn't have the chips to bully and felt he would call either way, as he had close to 100K. It was annoying because it made it look like I was scared to throw my chips in, but the cards were simply too bad to play.

I was picking my spots with my shortstack and doubling up when needed. Soon we were down to 10, and when Rounders got knocked out in 10th, we broke for the final table. I was shortstacked on 35K, 8th overall. The chip leader had about 175K, so I needed a double up fast!

The blinds were coming around, and at 4K/8K I really needed to get something here. Unfortunately I picked up the monsters that are 23 and 26 in the small and big blind... Big raises and I had to fold... Next hand on the button I pick up Q9, and when its folded to me theres only the SB and BB to act. I push for about 20K, Careca folds, and 'munro' called. He had Ax and no lucky cards for me and I'm gone in 8th.

I was gutted to go out so close to the ticket, and with no commisseration money paid out, I had worked so hard for nothing... Great experience though, and I learned a thing or two about how to play online. Screw all this playing well and ensuring you go into showdowns ahead! In future I'm playing much looser and taking a lot more risks. I won nearly every showdown I went into yesterday and a good proportion of them I went into behind, although other than the 45 vs 88 at the start of the game, never THAT far behind! I got lucky that my big hands held up, and didn't really have any bad beats to give out about... for once! I actually enjoyed the game last night.

Im happy with how I played to get that far, except for the silly fold against Rounders... I only picked up a handful of playable hands all night and only one premium hand, KK. Maybe next time eh...

Anyway back to the game. Soon we lost a few more players and were down to 4, with three boardies! There was Careca, RU$TY, JamesTolland, and Munro29. There was no major action until all of a sudden there was three all-ins! James had KK, Careca had A9, obviously thinking James was 'at it', but unfortunately the CL behind him woke up with JJ.

Careca needed an ace to stay alive or James would triple up and become the CL... until a nasty, sick J appeared on the river! OUCH! Munro29 hits his two outer and knocks out the two lads to go heads up with RU$TY! What a bad beat... that nasty J probably cost him $12,500... ul, gg wp etc...
EDIT: looking at the image, Ive just realised that There was also a flush draw out, so the Jack of spades was no good as it would fill the flush for James...so it was a ONE OUTER. ughghgh....

The heads up didn't last too long, as Munro held a big chip advantage over RU$TY (who we knew was a boardie, but didn't realise until after was none other than Kieran 'Flipper' Walsh).
Munro29, the only non-boardie in the final 4, and the lad that knocked me out, went on to win it, and will now be playing in the WSOP 2006 with $2500 spending money to boot. Not bad for $10 eh...

I'm still gutted though...


(I have images to go with this post but for some reason I cant upload them)

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Join DevilFish Poker!