Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Steady As She Goes

Elizabeth Swann: It would never have worked out between us.
Jack Sparrow: Keep telling yourself that, darling.
"Pirates Of The Caribbean: At World's End"

Our Friday night home games have been getting a little out of hand in the past month or so. People who used to go through 2-3 buy ins a night are now looking at 5-6. The big winner used to go home $200 up, and now it is pushing well above $500. I guess this is just part of the normal growth in a poker game.

The game was originally very small. $20 max buy in with 20c/40c blinds. But this turned into a silly all-in fest before long, so the limits were raised to where they are now, $50 max with 50c/$1 blinds. This worked for a little while, but now people are used to loosing that much and are really trying to score a big win. That has become the difference – a win is not enough anymore, and they need a big one.

Which means sometimes, you are also going to loose big. And that happens, though some players don't remember those nights as well as the other nights.

For me, this has been a frustrating time. I see what is going on, but I have not been able to capitalise on it. I was going through a very bad run where I seemed to be going up against the nuts all too often, and then became gun shy because of it. While I haven't had a big loosing night in a while, the big wins are not coming either. I have managed to get myself out of a hole a few times, and have got my yearly results firmly in the profit but it has been a grind. While I see others taking in $200 plus pots when they flop a monster, I have been grinding out $10 and $20 pots here and there when the board turns very scary and there is no action (for better or worse).

I wasn't happy with the way I was playing, the cards I was being dealt, the flops I was seeing and the rivers that were coming. It was all quite gloomy and made me wonder why I played in the first place.

But then, for what seemed like the first time in months, I got lucky. I hit a 2 outer when I had no right to even be seeing that river. This was a week or so ago, and I declared to myself (and no one else in particular) that the cold streak had been snapped. Fate/Karma/The Poker Demons had made their peace with me, and we would be returning to our normal scheduled programming.

For the most part, this has been true. Sure, I still get unlucky from time to time, still go 1-2 hours without dragging a pot while others flop straight-flushes from middle position and win 8/10 pots in some streaks. But now, I get a hand or two. I start to get in dominating positions and the hands hold up what would be a reasonable amount of times. Things are not running great, but they are a long way from the terrible way they were not that long ago.

I get dealt my two cards, and I actually feel excited about what I am going to do with them. I am not dreading what is coming next. I have stopped the bleeding, and now am working on the wound. I like poker again.

At our last home game, I as the only player still with their original buy in at the end of the night. Others were in profit by a lot more than me, but they had to reload to get there. One player revisited his ultimate lucky streak yet again, being unable to loose for a 3 hour stretch which included the flopped straight flush (against QQ no less) and quads, also countless straights and flushes. But it was lonely me as the only person that never ran out of chips, and I was only all-in on one occasion. I missed some hands I could have won, got bluffed off a few pots I really thought I should call and so on. But generally, I feel like I have a chance to actually play to win, not just play to avoid loosing. It's been better. Still err slightly on the tight side, but I will take that on board and see how it goes from here.

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