Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Taking Blame

Guy on Street : Hey big guy, you hear the news, my son Billy got the lead in his school musical.
Hank Evans: Well I guess he likes the cock after all.
"Me, Myself and Irene"

It has been a big week of poker for myself, and as usual there were ups and downs and many in betweens. Calling it "poker" would be a gross exaggeration of what I was doing. This was pure un-adulterated gambling, to be sure.

With further results that would make bad beat lovers cry, I was at wits end. I was finding new ways to loose and continued to make things even worse for myself by thinking again how unlucky I was. It wasn't until days later that I realised where that unlucky streak was coming from – but more on that later.

Sp I was on a pretty horrid loosing streak when I got the feeling that maybe poker wasn't for me. I guess this happens every month or so – the thoughts that maybe all my wins were luck and maybe I should just be happy with the table scraps I feed off on the poker world are there at all. Take my ball and go home, so to speak. But once again I reminded myself that it wasn't even my ball to begin with. Advertising revenue, affiliate money, bonus whoring and a few freerolls is really how I have made money playing poker. And make no mistake, what I have made in a lifetime playing poker would barely be a months wagers, so we are not talking big money by any stretch of the imagination. Small money. Small money that isn't mine. So why do I care?

Well I care because that small money can be turned into big money, but poker just wasn't doing it. So I thought maybe I could turn to some sports betting to recover some ground. Pick some footy winners and maybe try to use some bonus money through the deposit to make some coin. I found a decent enough bonus offering and put a rather large scale bet for myself on a game over the weekend.

But for the mean time, I had lost another 4 SNG in a row when I was down and out. I had $120 left online and for about the millionth time decided to put it all on the line in one go. Every time I've done this before, it has ended in badly for me.

So I took my money to Pokerstars because I knew there would be action at the larger SNG's. I quickly found a $100+$9 buy in that would fill up, and took my seat.

This was a big step for myself. This was the single biggest buy in I had ever placed on a game of any description. Sure, I had bought in at cash games for $100 before, but the $9 fee made this more expensive than them (excluding re-buys for the cash games). My usual SNG tendances are $5 and $10 games, with the odd splash of $20's when I am feeling frisky. I can remember one $30 and one only.

When I registered for the game, I thought maybe I could pull out if it didn't fill up – you know, give myself an out with reason if I decided I was chicken. Turns out I didn't get a chance to make that decision quick enough.

So I played conservative and tight enough, and pushed some strong hands when I had them. When it got down to 4 and the dreaded bubble, my memory turned back to all the previous times I had done something similar, and how many bubble finishes had occurred in the past. How each time, the small stack would double up, then the new small stack the same again and again until I was the small stack and lost. This time, however, the small stack couldn't last out the first grasp and I had actually made the money in my first decent sized buy in SNG.

Third would mean a $80 profit. 2nd would mean $170 and would put me back to even for the month. First would be all beer and skittles.

I was determined not to just throw it all in now that the bubble had burst, and still try to play something normal. I must have had a half decent table image as my raises were met with respect. I was 2 nd in chips when the small stack raised my BB. With AcJs I decided to see if he was just stealing and put him all in. He called with AK and we go to the flop.

The flop brings a king, but two clubs. I would need running outs from here for the clubs, a straight or trip jacks. The ten of clubs on the turn was one each for the straight and flush, and the river completed the former. I had to suck out to get there, but in my mind it was a justifiable one. Again with the selective descriptions of when we get "lucky"…

When we were heads up I pushed with top pair and a flush draw on the turn, when my opponent had already hit trips. The river didn't come for me this time so it was all over. I had placed second and was more than happy with the result all things considered. I was back somewhere near even and ready to go.

Saturday night was another live game, and I can say any losses I incurred were completely my fault. At the time I was thinking the other guys were "lucky" again by hitting their draws, but in the end I wasn't putting enough pressure on their draws and then continually made calls when I knew I was beaten. I didn't have many big hands on the night and the only salvation came near the end when I had a gut shot fill on the river (I was priming for a bluff as I knew he was on the draw anyway – which I was correct in) and then a flopped flush on the very last hand when my all-in was called by 2 pair. The flush held up which left me down $16 for the night. That result really was flattering; it doesn't show how badly I played.

Funny occurrence though, another player going through a rough streak went all-in blind with $12 or something similar. Last time he did this, I had AA and his blind hand was A9 which filled up a straight. This time I had QQ, and even though there was one caller I decided I wanted to be heads up with my Queens. If he has Aces or Kings, well looks like I'm in trouble. Caller folded, and we went to the flop without the blind player looking at his cards.

The flop was all under cards, when I decided I needed to look at the blind cards (with his approval). As soon as I peeked at a King, the dealer threw one out on the board. Blind player had K9o, and the pair of kings were good enough. He'd done it to me twice now – what can you do?

I had been checking the footy scores all night via my mobile phone. When I was listening on the radio on my way to the game, scores were pretty close. I couldn't believe how nervous I was and if there was any inkling in my subconscious that I could stomach a career as a professional gambler, this night surely proved that I could never handle it.

As the game wore on, my team stretched their lead until it became a bit of a blow out. The small win meant I had actually turned a profit thus far this month and the air seemed a little lighter all of a sudden.

Sunday night I was wasting a bit of time watching High Stakes Poker while playing some poker online. I was also watching some douche bag give a tutorial about making money online using this fantastic new unbelievable poker calculator. But I thought lets watch a bit and see what his secret strategy is. The secret was when you have a big hand, push all-in pre flop regardless. Fold everything else. Easy enough I guess. I decided to try it in one SNG and it was working well for a while. Eventually though I lost when I pushed all-in with JJ vs AK, and the flop was AKx. But that will happen sometimes.

I didn't like the strategy that much, but while watching HSP I noticed something similar a few times, particularly from Daniel Negreanu and his massive million dollar buy in (some of the first episodes of HSP I am talking about here). When he believed he had the best hand, he would grossly overbet the pot, in one instance betting $1M into a $20K pot. Of course it really was only a $100K bet as that is all the opponent had to call him with, but the point was there – this isn't really an overbet, it is a protection bet.

On all these times when I considered myself unlucky to loose to the flush draw, I wasn't protecting my hand well enough. I would bet out on the flop or turn when I thought I was ahead, but I would never bet enough. I was scared for some reason to bet more than the pot. Maybe not going all-in all the time, but at least making it a stupid call for my opponent as apposed to an uncomfortable one. And some times I wasn't even making it uncomfortable.

I grinded out a very small profit at a cash table while this was going on, and I think those results might have influenced my interpretation of the new advice I was giving myself. We'll see if the results can last. I also updated a few of my own poker mandates after this weekends poker experiences. Simple lessons that I had always known, but didn't really understand. I think Patience is a great virtue in the poker world, something that I certainly did not display in the first half f this week, but now embrace at the end.

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