Monday, November 28, 2005

Just One Good Day

Daniel: Where am I this ring over here?
Miyagi: Hai. Number three.
Daniel: What's that guy kneeling like that for?
Miyagi: Don't know.
Daniel: Don't you know anything you can tell me?
Miyagi: Hai. No get hit.
”The Karate Kid”

I just learned this morning that Pat Morita, “Mr Miagi”, passed away this weekend. I don’t think there was a kid alive in the mid 80’s who didn’t see that movie and try to emulate it in some fashion in their back yard. I’m sure “Wax on, Wax off” will still be used in 20 years, and we can all forgive the sequels because of the strength of the original. So rest in peace, Mr. Morita.

What a big weekend of poker it was. I have been lamenting my cause of late, after down sessions for nearly 4 weeks the confidence started to take a bit of a hit. Some of it was poor play, some of it was poor cards, some of it was unlucky rivers. Since the wife would be at her work Christmas party on Friday night (which doesn’t allow partners), I had the house to myself for a few hours. I grabbed a beer, headed to the study and fired up Pokerstars to see what damage I could do.

I have come accustomed to playing $1/$2 no limit poker. At most sites, this seems to be max buy in of $100, but at poker stars it is max $200. I didn’t feel comfortable buying in for $200, about one quarter my bankroll, so I was buying in for $70-80. This meant I was nearly always the small stack. I needed to hit cards immediately, otherwise I’m behind the eight ball instantly. This just didn’t work out, so I decided to make a change and go down to the $50 max tables, being $0.25/$0.50.

I usually look around and see how many players are above the max buy in to see if the table looks dangerous. There was only one at $120, and he was directly to my right so I was always acting after him.

I sat down in middle position, but I didn’t feel like waiting for the BB, so I paid it early just to get going. First hand I am dealt 99, which isn’t all that bad when you sit down, so I raised it a little. One caller, and the flop was AJ6 rainbow. I bet out, and he folds. That’s a good start I feel.

Next hand, I get dealt the rockets, which feels like the first time in ages. I do the same raise, and get two callers. The flop comes A25, and I decide to bet out again. Not big, not small, just the same as the previous hand. One player goes all-in (about $20), the next folds and I have to call here, I can’t fear the straight. The board does nothing and I show my set, and his cards go to the muck.

Next hand, AK, steal the blinds. Next hand, 66 – holds up when the board missed everyone else. Next hand, AJs, steal the blinds. The sixth hand, 47o – and even though I’m on a rush, I decided to fold (the board missed it totally anyway).

Wow, I won the first five hands I sat down at and have $35-$40 profit already. Usually this means a hit and run is in order. At least 3 players have already left the table and I make myself believe it was because of me.

I wasplaying micro limit SNG’s while this is all happening, but I will talk about that later.

I have always wondered about the players at the cash games who are holding 2,3 or 4 times the max buy in. I have never had the patience for it – If I was up 20 BB, I would stand up and move tables, or walk away for the night.

I considered it, but then I got another decent starting hand. It held up and took in a medium sized pot. I was over $90 dollars, nearly double the buy in and the second biggest stack on the table.

The button had just passed, and another player had left the table, so I thought I would wait for the big blind to come and then chalk this session up.

Then I get the rockets again. I just know they are destined to loose some day.

I go through my same routine – the same raise, the same bet on the flop even though it has missed. I get a call from a player across the table. I bet again on the turn and river, and he calls. I show my pair of aces, and he mucks again. Called me all the way just to see what I had – maybe he had top pair on the board? Who knows. I put my notes on him and filed it away for later.

I pay the big blind without thinking, and I guess I’ll sit for another orbit. I see a flop with AQo, and turn a broadway straight. The same guy is calling along. Maybe he thinks I’m going to bluff one of these days? The river brings a rag and I have to act first. Should I go for the check raise? I think he would just check behind me, and have him pegged as the ultimate calling station. So how much should I bet out? I make it $6 – he only has $9, and he calls it. Again, he mucks his cards and instantly rebuys for $20.

The same thing happened about 4 times. I made it my pact not to bluff him, and he kept paying me off. I was having a good night with the cards coming too though, but man he just would not believe me at all.

I was getting a lot of respect for my pre-flop raises from the table by now – well, except for my calling station friend. I would steal the blinds 1 or 2 times an orbit, every orbit. Some times it was with rags, others it was just with an ace. But my stack started to grow, and I was distracted enough by my crappy going in the SNG’s not to notice how big the stack was getting. I only had one player at the table that scared me – the big stack to my right. He was playing very few hands and had not gone down since I came to the table.

UTG, I get AKo. Man, this spells trouble. I loose more money on this hand than any other, and I suspect many players of my ability level (level= fish) do two. I mainly loose on it because I raise pre-flop and then miss and drop it on the turn. Anyways, I raise and it gets folded around to him, and he calls.

I don’t want to loose my stack here.

The flop misses me, and he checks. I really don’t want to loose my stack here, but I have to play the hand correctly and I bet out $5 with ace/king high.

He thinks about it, then folds. I guess I have a table image now.

The big stack next to me decided to cash out when the blinds got around – and I noticed I had him covered by about $5. I was at about $145 all up.

The wife sent me a message on the mobile, and I replied with the good results. By the time she sent another message back, I was up $20 more thanks to the calling station. I was gradually raising the level of my river value bets to him, and he was still calling me. It was beautiful I tell you.

After my aces held up again, and then I lost a hand on an unlucky river card, I decided to stand up in middle position and not even wait for the blinds. I had had enough, and cashed out at $186. My session stats went a little something like this…

Hands = 122
Flops seen = 38%
Pots won at showdown = 15/19
Pots won without showdown = 22
Total pots won = 37/122 or 30%.
Pocket Aces holding up = 5 for 5
Total profit = $136

What is th emoral to the story?
Good = getting to play poker Distraction free with a beer.
Better = getting a calling station sitting across from you.
Best = getting the goods hands to go with it.
So it is a very short term result, but it gave me such a lift (both mentally and in the bank roll) that I was in a good mood no matter what. It just felt like the cards were coming, and I was playing them accordingly. It was a nice feeling.

All the SNG’s during this time were another thing. I have set myself a task on these – I have not won a SNG in far too long, and even a money finish has been rare in the last month. Who knows where my bank roll would be if I stayed out of them over this time? So now I am not allowed to play in any SNG higher than $5 until I have won or come second in 3 out of my last 4. So far, I am 0 for 8. Ouch.

I have more poker shenanigans to talk about, including our big live tournament on Saturday, but this post is already long enough so that can wait for later in the week.

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