Got the preliminary okay from ScurvyWife (thanks ankhorahil for the inspiration behind that moniker) for my mini-take-a-shot-plan, as far as not immediately seeking gainful employ when I blow this popstand. I still need to firm up a departure date in my head, instead of the amorphous current as-long-as-I-can-stand-it one, but it feels good to have that card up my sleeve, in the event things continue to spiral downward here.
Things are still clicking along nicely in the 15/30 waters. Part of me keeps expecting the ceiling to collapse, but more and more I'm feeling comfortable, slowly but surely trusting my reads and not being intimidated by the action.
Confidence is an odd bird. I have this tendency to voluntarily devalue my own currency, for no real reason other than I like being the modest, quiet person who you'd never guess was good at X, Y, and Z. By and large, that's a good person to be. In relation to poker, though, I think it can ultimately be a handicap, especially when moving up in limits. There's a certain point where you have to start cranking up the relentless bastard knob, aggressively willing more chips to come your way, even when you may not have the best of it. It's more a different mindset than anything, when you sit down, but it's something I'm working on.
It is a struggle, though, especially with the aggressiveness at higher limits. On the one hand, solid ABC poker pays off in many cases. On the other hand, there are definitely some lessons that you have to re-learn. A few cases in point from recent play. all at Party 15/30 games:
(Normally I cringe to post anything resembling hand histories, especially at higher limits, fearful I'm exposing myself as a rube way over my head. But, you know, what the hell, and I definitely wish myself that more of the folks cruising higher limits would post example hands from time to time.)
1) I'm in the SB with KJo. Folds to MP+1 (uber LAG) who open raises, I call, BB calls.
Flop is A J 5, rainbow. I check, BB checks, MP+1 bets. I fold, BB folds, MP+1 shows 88 to rub it in.
Lesson: MP+1's range is pretty large as far as hands to open-raise with, basically any pocket pair, any Ax suited, any two cards 10 or higher. He's going to bet (and likely raise) until he's given a reason to slow down. Players at higher limits will open-raise with a much wider range of hands. On the flip side, players defend their BBs with a much wider range of hands as well. With middle pair and good kicker against an uber LAG in that situation, I should be check-raising, not folding. If the BB folds and MP+1 re-raises, then it's decision time, as far as folding or check-calling to the river, assuming the board doesn't get scarier. I should probably fold a majority of the time, but not always. If the BB comes along for the ride then I should definitely fold to any more bets.
2) I'm in MP with KJs. Folds to me, I open raise. Folds to button who three-bets, SB folds, BB calls, I call.
Flop is 4 8 J, rainbow. BB checks, I bet, button calls, BB calls.
Turn is 9. BB checks, I bet, button raises, BB cold calls. I think for awhile and fold.
River is a 2. Button bets, BB calls. Button shows 10 10 and BB wins the pot with J5s.
Lesson: I gave the button too much credit due to his three-bet preflop, as many aggressive players will three-bet a wide range of hands in that situation (88 and higher pairs, AK-A10s, any two suited cards higher than 10, AK-AJo). Aggressive players also like to wait until the turn to pop it, even (especially) when they're on a draw. I read his raise as a set or AJ. I did consider 1010, with the 9 putting the possible straight draw out there, but assumed he would have raised the flop with 1010 on that board, trying to gain information.
When the BB called his raise cold, more warning bells went off in my monkey brain. Basically the same range as the button, plus Q10, as well as all sorts of junk two pair hands that the BB might defend with like J8, J9, etc. I sat there a second or two, saw no way I was winning this hand, and folded.
The problem here is that the pot is too big for me to fold, when I'll likely only have to pay two more BBs to get to showdown. Yeah, I'm not winning this hand many times (too lazy to crunch the actual numbers), but I win it enough to take it to showdown, especially if I'm likely to get there with just two more bets (possibly one, especially if the button bets a river blank and gets called or raised).
My first mistake was not adjusting to the aggression, as far as the turn-reraise and what it might signify, and for discounting the possibility of the BB defending with Jx suited. Given the board and the propensity for aggressiveness and the willingness to defend blinds, he could have a whole slew of hands, including middle pair, bottom pair, AQ, A10, etc.
The second mistake (and the one I really need to work on) is that I'm acting too quickly at times, using my previous experience to guide me in making almost automatic judgements and snap decisions. That's fine at 1/2 and 2/4, where a lot of that knowledge was built up, but not at higher limits. The timer is there for a reason and the pots are too large to be making a monkey mistake just because you're on auto-pilot, flying with an outdated manual.