Friday, October 7, 2011

Day 5: The unbearable lightness of being

Day 5, October 6th 2011

Alan, who is my poker sensei at this point, sent me an email in all caps telling me I SHOULD EXPECT TO LOSE MONEY. Even the best players only win 60% of the time. If I’m getting 60% I’m still walking out the casino 36 days out of 90 having lost money. The key is to leave more money, and not less.

I came into my third day seeing casino action feeling more wary than normal. I arrived at 9:20 p.m. I left at 11:30 p.m. without any money.

Getting flushed out of 100 dollars in 2 hours feeling like being injected with concentrated purple drank. It’s a dull, severe pain that pummels away perspective, and in the unfeeling it’s impossible to analyze, rejoinder, concentrate. Paralysis. Stumbling away from the table, I wanted a balm for my pain, and ended up at the roulette table. I placed 500 pesos on red, knowing that it was going to hit black. It hit black. I took a taxi back home, and thought about quitting poker permanently. Maybe take up something less severe on the nerves, like harmonica.

But we’re going to talk about this. We have to talk about this. Global factors first. Yesterday, on Day 4, I read both of Dan Harrington’s poker books. Arriving at the casino, I watched two hands of a full table play and guessed both showdowns perfectly. At my table, I read 65% of the hands correctly. I am a hand-reading machine. 

The problem is that I can’t produce the same analysis when I’m in a hand. I’m too nervous or too distracted to make nuanced reads. I literally dumb down a level when I’m in the hand myself. It’s all going too fast, and I can’t make anything of it. We’re going to talk three hands, all losers:

1st hand. I’m cutoff man and have 22. I raise to 6x BB. Button calls me. Everyone else folds. Turn comes QT8. It’s a scary board. I’m thinking either cbet or call-fold, and I cbet because she’s been a little aggressive. I go in for ½ pot. She calls. At this point I’m guessing she’s hit something. The turn comes 5. I don’t want to give her the pot, though, so instead of check-folding, I make a strong play for the pot, and put in 4x BB. OK, you got me: that’s not a strong play. But I’m scared and hedged both ways. She goes over the top for 1500. That’s 1.5x pot: definitely a bluff. But I can’t take the risk. She’s not folding. I lay down my cards, and I’m down 1000 already.

2nd hand. It’s 45 minutes later, and I haven’t done anything except limp. I’m holding KTo on the button. I limp with 5 other callers. The flop comes 6 8 4 under cards. There’s a check all around. I check – though a bet could have forced some people out. Not sure if I should be semi-bluffing with 5 other people in. Turn card is a 10. SB bets 200, middle positio calls, everyone else folds. I know I have best hand. Even if he has a T, he doesn’t have AT, so I’m good. I decide whether I want to call or raise. At this point I want as many people as possible to stay in the hand, but that thought might be a little misguided: my top pair is good, but I need to be careful. There’s a straight possibility here, someone might have hit a set. So I call. The river comes and it’s another 6. SB bets 500. 3rd position folds. I’m a little worried he’s hit a set of 6s. But it’s 500 to call a 2000 pot, and pot odds compel me to do it. I call; he turns over T6, full house.

Last hand. This is embarrassing.

I’m at 2300. Button has 1200, BB has 10,000.

Middle position I hit AKs. Raise to 300. Button calls; big blind calls. Flop is 3 under cards. BB checks. I’m pegging him on AJ or AQ, not a pocket pair – he would have bet. I raise half of the pot – 500. Button calls, BB calls. Turn comes and it’s another under card. It’s now 6 4 9 10 rainbow. The BB checks again, like he just wants to see his draw come out. But he doesn’t have a draw, given that he had to be playing 57. I assume he’s just weak and still has a AJ and wants to get to showdown. I know button is going all-in, but I want the BB to fold too – I don’t want him to hit his J, or whatever he has.

So I make the stupidest play of the night and go all-in myself. That’s 1.5x pot, which is obviously a bluff or semi-bluff. They’ve both pegged me at two big overcards and this is a steal attempt. I don’t think about it when I do it. Both of them call. Button has literally nothing. The BB has KK.

He nods at me, slightly, when I walk off. He looks, actually, like a great guy. Like we could be friends, or he could teach me how to not suck so much at poker. But at this point I can’t think. My brain has stopped.

On Friday, I talked it over with Alan and Ablorde. Here a list of problems:

  • I had no read on the BB because it was his third hand.
  • He was slowplaying his KK – and I have no idea how I read that.
  • My A-high did not justify an all-in bet, no matter what I put the other two on.
  • I should have put the button all-in to get more information on the BB.
  • A call on the turn would have been more prudent. I only lose by betting: if he has something, he’ll call or go over the top, and I’m folding. If he has nothing he’s going to fold. I either stay even or lose. If I call, there’s no chance of losing $$.
  • Against 2 people with A-high is no good.
Casino: -4500
Taxi: -225

Brag: Great reads when I wasn’t playing.
Beat: Horrible all-in call.
Variance: First flush-out. I’ve survived. Whatever doesn’t kill me will make me stronger.

1 comment:

  1. Phil Gordon just came out with a new book!