Sunday, September 04, 2005

Taking Stock

As often occurs with hubris, since I wrote this post lauding my hot streak, I've been well out of one. I took some big hits at the end of July and several midsized ones through the middle of August. Online, I had a similar downspell.

On my road trip, I staunched the flow live, with moderate losses and small wins. Most of the wins felt like losses with the typical pattern being well up and then giving much of it back. (I did have some significant recoveries online during this period).

My final session in August was representative with my idiot misread lighting 280 dollars on fire.

Although much of this downswing I think is explainable in terms of variance (KK and QQ running into AA, KK getting cracked by QQ), there are still large pieces with no better justification other than tilt, overplay or blunder.

I am still up for the year live, but my hourly rate has dropped again to just over the minimum wage. Online, I am still slightly down.

Notwithstanding, I think I might be turning another corner in my play. By painful trial and error, I am learning to keep my "creative" play in reserve for when it makes sense: rarely, on the edges and against big stacks. Not for pushing around tight-weak medium stacks that can't pay you off when they get tricked, and not for punishing loose aggressive nut jobs. I also feel that I am starting to at least come to grips with the tilt demons. They are still there, but the suckout nerves have gotten less sensitive as the scar tissue grows around them. I still need to get better at slowing down at critical moments (if nothing else to check my cards against before calling an all-in bet), and I continue to see my place on the poker curve near the bottom of the slope.

As Iggy advised me in Indiana, right now playing for me is as it should be, a hobby at which I am learning. I need to be sponging up the experience for the long haul. When looked at from that perspective, treading water while I slowly build my poker game and my poker psyche is a postive result regardless of the short term results. I think.

I did play a short session on Friday back at the club where I misread my hand. It was fairly succussful, and when I realized I had time to make it home to play the FT Katrina tournament, I decided to book a reasonable winner. I of course misremembered the starting time as 9:15 rather than 9:30 (who schedules at 9:15??) so I missed it anyway.

Interesting at this new club (new for me at least) is that in two session at least the players seem generally much more on the tight-weak side rather than the loose-aggressive side as compared to other clubs I frequent. I think this actually suits me. In Friday's game, it was really only me and another player that showed any significant aggression at the table. He and I did butt heads a few times, with me getting the better end of it mostly but not necessarily for any reason of skill, but most of the play was taking moderate pots from the others. No insane double-ups, and no crazy moves.

Two back-to-back hands against the aggessor that were fun was when I picked up JJ twice in a row.

First hand I was SB with a little more than 3 behind. The aggressor in third position made it 15 to go and, with one caller between us, I made 45. He called and lost the third. The flop came with an ace and I checked. To my relief, he did too. The turn came another ace and I liked my hand better. I suppose I should have raised here, but I thought my best chance of getting money here was to let him bet, so I checked, and so did he. The river was a third ace, and I was by this time pretty certain that I was good. He seemed a pretty strong player though so I didn't think an attempt at a value bet was worth losing the pot. We both checked and I took down the pot. He was surprised and noted my tightness.

The second hand the aggressor led out from 2nd UTG with 30, a big bet but consistent with other plays he had made with suited connectors and the like. It came around to me and I made it 100 to, with 400 more behind me and his stack bigger than mine. Action folded around to him and he thought for a bit and called me. At this point I had trouble putting him on a hand. AA, KK, QQ where possible, but so was TT, AK, and KQs. Given how "tight" I had just played, however, I figured he was more likely than normal to have raised back with AA or KK since the range of hands my strong reraise suggested would pay him off (unless he thought I was only so tight as to have AA and he had KK). I thus weighted AK, QQ and TT a bit higher.

Flop came three small cards with two hearts (I had none) and he checked to me. Since this was pretty much the flop I wanted (other than a jack), I felt the compelling need to find out where I was. I bet 200. This was half my stack, and was intended to remove the bluff from his arsenal. I figured he could not bluff me because I was pot committed and he could not call me with less than a hand to beat me. I also thought there was a chance he would fold QQ. If he raised me all-in, I would have had a tough choice, but I think I would have folded.

He said out loud "this is the kind of hand I am supposed to call with". I knew it had to be queens, but the tone of his voice sounded reserved and really leaning toward folding so I had hope all was not lost. After some time, he finally asked the dealer to let him rabbit hunt, declared a fold, and flipped up the other two jacks. I flipped my cards, noting the dealer was unlikely to improve his hand.

Strange, that this third time (to my knowledge) I have face an identical big pair in live play, each time it has been jacks against jacks, and each time I have taken down the pot with an aggressive bet. One of these times I'm going to get it.

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