Thursday, October 6, 2011

Day 3: Re-centering

Tuesday, October 4th, 2011 12:47 a.m. (Day 2 was reading Phil Gordon's poker book.)

My first thought when I sat down on the green-and-brown lacquered chair at the 25-50 table in Resorts World was, “What the hell am I doing here?” I’m not usually paying taxis to drive me to a casino on a Tuesday night. The impropriety of my appearance here – it dug at me a little.

The next shock was seeing the 8 players around me. As the first hand came down, I had a mini-panic attack. “He raised 300. What does that mean? It could mean a million things!” That passed through my head. As did, “I’m going to lose all my money.” Then the mood passed.

Tonight, I was armed with legitimate information. I read through Phil Gordon’s poker book twice-over the night before, and it armed me with numbers: I’ll hit a pair on the flop 35% of the time; calculate pot odds after all-in or river bets; AA wins 80% of the time against 2 random cards. 

Tonight, I played more loose. I limped into pots if I was holding middling cards: J8o, KJo, 89s. None of them ended up paying out, but they were lottery tickets: pay 50 to potentially pay out 5000. By the end of the night, I had burned through 600 pesos paying blinds for these wishes.

Sticking point: when I know the other player is weak, I don’t try to represent a strong hand. I represent my own hand, which is weak as well, even though I’ll probably get them to fold 85% of the time if my perceived value is strong. The other 15% I’ll get re-raised and be forced to fold, but I’m coming out on top overall.

Hour one: +1200 without playing a hand. With 2 overcards or pockets > 7, I would move 300 preflop, wait for 2 or 3 people to call, then cbet after the flop with 3/4th pot to full pot. Here’s an example: I’m sitting late position, I bet 6x BB preflop, 2 people call; on the flop I have OESD and after 2 checks I make a 3/4th pot bet; the other two fold. And a first: I started reading people on my off-hands, and read a hand perfectly! It was so happy – I’m definitely getting better.

Second hour: The first 30 minutes were disastrous. I lost my only 2 hands of the night.

Hand 1: late position limped in with T9o, the flop comes and it’s JQK all clubs. I’ve hit my straight already. Feeling really good. I’m heads up with this chick in front of me. She checks and I throw in 4x BB as a pot sweetener. She calls. Turn card comes blank; she checks again and I’m putting her on a draw. I put in 200 again. (In retrospect, I needed to make her pay for the draw – should have put in full pot.) Final card is an Ace of clubs, which blows – she probably completed her straight. She bets 425. I think hard about whether she has the straight flush, but realize even if she does, the pot odds are compelling me to call. I stupidly double her bet to 850 – my thinking is that she might be bluffing (but she definitely isn’t, now that I think about it), and if she isn’t, we split the pot anyway. She has a T9o with one club. Straight flush. I’m back down to 3800.

Hand 2: I’m sitting middle position and get 88. Put in 300 (6x BB) and have 2 other people call me. Flop comes Q 10 A and I’m scared as hell – but I’m first to act so I put in a continuation bet of 500. One guy calls me, one folds. The river comes and it’s a blank. This is where I don’t know what I should have done – barrel again on the turn? But that means I’m going to have to again on the river. It was too big a risk for me, so I checked, he checked. On the river I checked again and he bet 600. I folded. It was an obvious play for him; but the question is, I really couldn’t pin down what he had. He could easily have been playing QJo calling 300, or KTo. As Alan astutely pointed out, his play was consistent with having the Q. That’s middle pair, so he’s checking on the turn because he’s not sure if I’m trying to slow play. Should have gotten out of the hand on the flop.

At this point I’m now down to 2300, and the Economics major in me is feeling prospect theory: I’m short stacked (almost) and I’m feeling it. Sunday, when this happened, my sense of dread took over and I started playing loose and lost everything; today, I had about two hands where I thought, “eff it,” but looked within myself and centered myself. When I lose, my natural tendency is to play as many hands as I can immediately to “make up for it.” I think I did a good job reeling that emotion in and folding hands I had no business being a part of.

The next 40 minutes, I go back to stealing pots and cbetting, and end up after the second hour only down 200. Here’s an example: I’m BB and everyone limps to me; I raise 4x BB and 4 people stay in. I have pocket 9s. The flop comes and it’s KK7, and, just like Phil Gordon’s poker book says, people are scared by the pair on the board. So I put in 500 to represent whatever it is I should have (Kings? pocket Aces? I’m not sure what I’m trying to rep, actually), which is ½ pot, just big enough to make people think and small enough so people don’t know I’m bluffing, and all 4 people fold. It felt amazing. A couple more of those hands, and I’ve come back methodically, and not through some stupid all-in double or nothing shot in the dark.

Hour 3:

Fish time. Guy went all in 3k with JJ when the other guy obviously had AA; he went later for 3k with KK when the other guy obviously had the flush. Just couldn’t lay them down. He came in with 8k too – I really wanted a piece of the action but never got a good hand with him. He left the table after an hour empty-handed. =[

I also learned the value of position. I was button and the woman was middle position; I got JJ, was going to go 250 in, except from her earlier position she went in for 250. I thought about going 750 to see if I could take the blinds, then realized that I was scared of an A, so folded. She flipped over AA. Whew.

Late position TJo, everyone limps, including me; the board comes up JKA. I have a gut shot straight and lowest pair; from what I’ve read, this is a hand you can go to war with, but I’m not confident enough to represent strength. So I fold. Not sure what to do with this. Someone raised to half pot and I just folded.

Hour 4:

BB with pocket 10s. Limps all around. SB raises to 275; I re-raise to 875. He calls, and one other person does too. The turn comes all undercards, he checks I raise 1000, the two others fold. It’s an aggressive play, but before I understood poker I wouldn’t have made it. I put him probably on an AJ – AK.

When I think to myself, “I have enough money to afford a mistake,” I need to GTFO.

At 1215 a.m., everyone starts to leave. I’m about to leave too, before I realize that I’m the button. I can see 4 more hands for free! So I stay, and it’s a great decision. End up stealing the blinds, and on my last hand, I see AKs in late position. I put in 300 preflop. One guy calls, flop is KJ8. I bet 500, the guy calls, and I bet 1000 on the turn. The guy folds. Here’s the dilemma I’m feeling as I’m walking to cash out: I know I have him beat at the turn. I could have bet 200 or maybe even check-raised on the turn to represent weakness, and then value bet on the river. Could have gotten 2000 from him instead of 800. The only downside is that I’m giving him another card to make his draw or hit trips. It’s a 12% chance I would have lost $2500, which was still worth it. I don’t know, the reverse implied odds might have been too much. Anyway. Cash out holding 6225, +2225 for the day.

Day 2 total:

Taxi rides: -235 pesos
Poker: +2225 pesos

Brag: stabilized after going down 2000 when I usually tilt and tank.
Beat: Not knowing what to do with straight on the flop
Variance: the cigarette smoke in the playing area really getting to my head. 

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