Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Slowplaying Premium Starting Hands

Cardinal Roark: Will that bring you satisfaction, my son? Killing a helpless, old, fart.
Marv: Killing? No. No satisfaction. Everything up until the killing, will be a gas.
”Sin City”

Welcome back, and I’ll be damned if Sin City isn’t one of the best movies I’ve seen in a long time. It is even responsible for getting my action loving roommate impressed enough with Clive Owen to get him to watch “The Croupier”. Man, this movie just got better as it went.

I have to apologise again for the shenanigans that grounded the Heafy Honeymoon Classic. I know a few people out there downloaded the software at least, only to have the tournament deleted without any warning to myself. Just last night I finally regained the use of my home PC, so I can return to the tables after a 2 week absence. I managed to have a look at Poker Rewards once more and they have refunded my buy-in, but this may be because the tournament was supposed to run on Saturday and that has now passed. I still have not received any correspondence from their help department – I have about 100 raked hands to complete for the Poker Source Online bonus and then I’m out of there. Suffice to say it was a disappointing experience all round really, which is a shame because I liked their tournament schedule; well, up to the part where they delete them for no reason.

Live games have been going well though, has a good session a week ago and gearing up for another one this weekend. I walked out with more money than I walked in with, so I guess it was ok last time. To be honest, in the first game when it came down to the last three I was the short stack and got a great run of cards. I was raising so much that they just thought I was trying to push them around, but it was just raising with premium hands! I made a poor call when I sucked out to win the first game, but then lost to a 2 outer on a brilliant call to loose the second game so it is all balanced in the end.

Since my forced absence, I have been watching a ton of poker, namely the 2004 WPT (season 2). I’ve been loving it, as this is a regular thing for me. Poker on TV has only just started on free-to-air (they are showing the 2003 WPT late Saturday nights) and I don’t have Pay TV anymore since we moved. I can see why so many people say that these shows breed bad players – every hand seems to have someone bluffing. I guess that is what happens when you condense 8 hours into 2. But it is really good, a highlight of my night since I couldn’t play online. I have now started to watch with the audio commentaries, and the two tournaments with Phil Laak and Antonio Esfandiari are great to listen to. They do give a little bit of insight into their thought patterns and share some good stories also. I’m looking forward to listening to the other audio commentaries now.

Simple pleasures, that is all I ask for. Sitting in bed, watching poker on DVD (skipping the “The game is texas holdem” parts), life is allright after all.

Listening to the commentaries showed me something that should have been obvious, and probably is to everyone out there, but I never put enough thought into it. When trying to figure out if I am in front or not, I consider what hands beat mine. This is pretty straight forward, but I don’t really consider how the hand has been played and what range of hands my opponent would play that way thus far into the pot. To put it better, I think what hands can beat mine, not what hands he could play that way that beat mine.

I’ve also come to a bit of a revelation about monster starting hands. Maybe it is from hearing too many bad beat stories (and I don’t mind reading/writing my fair share), but when players are dealt AA, KK, QQ or even AK there is no unwritten la that you must win the hand. In most circumstances, you may be a heavy favourite, but it is never a guarantee. One trap that many beginning players fall into is not only expecting to win with these hands, but expecting to win big. How else can you explain people slow playing Aces so often? Some people look at winning the blinds with these hands as a failure – and indeed, sometimes that is true. But sometimes the blinds are all you can expect to win with a premium hand. I’d rather win the blinds than loose my stack to a flopped two pair. These starting hands are only guaranteed pre-flop.

Slow playing Cowboys or Hiltons is also a big no-no. How many times have you held either of these starting hands and then been so disappointed when an Ace hits the board? At especially at the micro limits I play, you just know there is at least one Ace that has limped in. To me, slow playing pre-flop should be reserved for heads up play or extremely short handed, and even then only sparingly. But then again, I’m still very far down the food chain in this poker world.

Funniest thing I heard at the game the other night – one of the players was talking about how they went to the casino with their cousin when he was in town. Parking at the casino here in Sydney is pretty pricey, so instead they parked out the front where the parking metres were. They parked and then got out of the car and his cousin walked off without putting any money in the parking metre. He said “Hey, aren’t you going to put any money in the metre, what if you get a fine?”. And the priceless response…

“We’re here to gamble aren’t we?”

You can’t fault his logic.


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thekid said...

good post,

i've also got the bug of watching poker on tv, namely the WPT and i'm getting ready for the WSOP to start airing. Have you seen the WPT Bad Boys of Poker DVD, its a solid view.

it sounds like you are putting in a lot of thought into improving your poker game, there is a good poker school that you can read to help you is at http://www.burnandturn.com