Thursday, November 18, 2010

Crazy Night on Full Tilt Poker

I've been playing around with $100 on Full Tilt Poker this week.  For the most part, I would say I've been up and down and with some huge swings.  Admittedly, I've been playing .10 / .25 tables, but my online cash game abilities need some work before I put in a lot of money.

I started the night being down 50% with just $50 of my original $100 remaining.  So, I decided to play 2 tables simultaneously ($25 each).  Everything was going along pretty well until I went all in with 2 pairs AQ on one table and lost to a sick set of 10's.  Didn't see that coming!

So, I was down to 1 table and by this time, just about $14 or $15 remaining.  30 minutes later, all hell broke lose and I was up over $75.  In 5 hands, I hit a full house and 2 Straight Flushes that were both 9 thru K.

As you can see, the 2nd was even on the flop and I only won .57 cents.  The 1st was the best because my opponent hit a full house and he called my all-in bet.

When I hit the full house, I actually picked up a set of 4's on the flop and then the board paired.  With that set, I had it all the way, but the guy I beat for quite a bit of money completely went on tilt.  This is him:

He made such as special (although completely ineffective) effort to piss me off and get me off of my game for the next 10 minutes that I thought I should memorialize him here.  At this point, half of the money I was playing with came from him anyways, so how could I be upset at him for being a total jerk afterwards.  It's safe to say that HE didn't see THAT coming either.

Anyways, I finished with $74 for the night and now I'm only down $26 for the week.  What a crazy night!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Texas Hold'em Game Transformation

Over the past several weeks, I've been literally fighting against myself in Texas Hold'em.  My game has evolved from very tight to super loose and then back to variations in between.  For too long, my cards were see-thru.  When multiple people could call my hand, there's a serious problem.  That's what instigated my current situation.

I began changing up my game and that brought win after win after win for weeks.  But then, winning wasn't even satisfying.  My game started being about something more than just winning.  I had nights where I was in the money in all 3 games and I would drive home picking my bad moves a part.  I had one game where I ended up with every single chip on the table, but all I could think about after a while was the game I got 2nd place in.  What if I would have bet big instead of check?  How did I misplay pocket A's so bad?  Did I get bluffed on that one hand?  Why couldn't I see the bluff?  Even with an over-whelming winning percentage, something was wrong.  I still wasn't good enough (and I'm still not).

Then, a series of things recently happened that turned it all upside down.  I played a cash game at Winstar and lost $300 in a rushed effort with my wife waiting.  Then, I went to New Orleans and played 6 hours only to lose $300 more.  And last weekend, I went to Shreveport and lost $100 over several hours.  Lose, lose, lose!!!  I lost $700 in about a month's time, not to mention just barely breaking even in Friday Night Poker.  You would think this probably didn't help matters very much, but it actually changed me.

These cash poker games are very aggressive.  Sitting down with under-sized chip stacks and losing $700 over the course of about 12 hours opened my eyes to the fact that not only could I sit in there with big players, but I'm just on the cusp of being a big player myself.  I feel like I'm very close and I learned that the #1 thing I'm missing is the thing I love most about poker - poker psychology.

I'm missing most of the tells and giving off most of them back to my opponents.  I'm still an open book and my cards are still see-thru, but not for long.  I had a chance lunch meeting with at attorney who just played in the WSOP main event and he placed in the top 10%, getting him into the money.  We hit it off instantly and he recommended that I read Caro's Book of Poker Tells.  In fact, he had it delivered to my office a couple of days later and I read it for the first time that night.  Yes - I read it cover-to-cover that first night.  I couldn't believe how badly I was crippling my game by giving off and not recognizing obvious tells.

So, last night I was playing Friday Night Poker with the guys and I spent most of the evening watching for tells.  I still didn't win either game last night, but I did pick up some tells that saved me a lot of chips.  One guy was sizing up his chip stack after seeing the flop.  He had a good hand and I folded.  He had me beat.  Good fold.  Another guy saw the flop and immediately glanced down at his chips - huge tell.  Then, to add to it, he appeared to be indecisive as to whether or not to bet.  That made up my mind to fold - good fold.  He had it.  Then, my favorite one took a little friendly manipulation on my part.  I had pocket J's and the flop was all cards lower than jack, so was the turn.  I bet fairly big and was raised on the flop and the turn.  So, I said to the other guy, "I have a pretty big pocket pair, so if you're raising me, you must have an even bigger pair."  It took a few seconds before he couldn't hold in his smile.  It took even less time for me to fold my Jacks and he had pocket Kings.  I'll keep watching for tells and I'm going to read the book a couple of more times too.

Finally, tonight I sat down to play a Full Tilt Poker tournament (90 players) and for the 21st time this year, I made it to the final table and ended up in 4th place.  I was pretty happy with that outcome.  My game purpose was to get back to "basics".  I tightened back up some and primarily played a range of about 15 to 20 starting hands.  I raised about 30% of the time that I bet, made some good position bets, and put in some strategic bluffs that paid off.  I even loosened up a couple of times to suck out on the river, which I guess you have to be able to do sometimes.  Tonight, I just needed to be reminded that I could still get it done if I needed to back away from the game transformation.  But then, what am I really thinking?  Back away from the game transformation?  Now, I have a "range" of acceptable starting hands, a calculated % of raises, strategic position bets and bluffs.  My game is evolving to a mix of tight and loose, aggressive and calculated.

I have no idea where my game will go next, but I do know one thing:  I'm very competitive and there is nothing that I hate worse than losing at poker.  But poker energizes me, so I'll weather the losing until I start winning consistently again.  Hopefully a winning streak is coming.