Tuesday, June 21, 2005

No Mas, Poker Gods

Okay, I get it. No, really. I get it. No blogging about good results, as I will immediately and swiftly be kicked in the junk. Hard. Repeatedly. Got it.

I don't think there's much argument as far as aggressive poker being the best kind of poker. You can't sit there and nut peddle if you want to maximize your win rate. Got it. But aggressive poker and an unending stream of second-best hands can definitely be a recipe for disaster.

If my little foray into 15/30 is teaching me anything, it's that what goes up also goes down. And sideways. And diagonally. Since my high water mark on Sunday morning I'm down -$2,723. Sweet. I'm still up for the month but that cushion just got a whole lot skinnier. I can feel the hard bleachers again underneath my monkey arse.

And that only includes a few little mini-tilts here and there. Looking back at the ugly numbers, I have limped far too often, cold called far too often, and played too passively. That said, I didn't play that horribly, didn't start steaming, didn't freak out. I basically just played aggressively, won very few big pots, and kept catching pieces of the flop and second best hands I couldn't get away from.

I've got about 300,000 hands of 15/30 and 30/60 in my main PokerTracker database now, the vast majority which are data mined and don't involve my own personal play. Combing through the results is very, very interesting, especially the summary view as far as overall winners/losers. Long story short (and this shouldn't come as a surprise), the mythical long run in poker, where all results even out and skill is rewarded, is a very, very, very long run. Complete and utter muppets (VPIP 84%, PFR% 0) that should be getting their muppet asses handed to them sporting 8.5 BB/100 rates over 4,000+ hands. TAGs with seemingly optimal numbers clocking in with five digit losses. And so on and so forth.

Bottom line, weird shit happens. Especially with short term poker results. If you're thinking of stepping up in limits, make sure you're ready to ready to deal with that. Don't just focus on blogs and forums where people talk about how consistently they beat the games, how each day they sit down and hundred dollar bills immediately start shooting out the the CD-ROM drive. That's a complete and utter misrepresentation of the peaks and valleys you'll encounter. Over time, yes, indeed, many of those people are probably beating the higher limits consistently and making an obscene amount of money. I don't doubt that whatsoever. What's left out, though, are the junk-kicking daily/weekly/monthly swings, in which the poker gods take devilish glee in turning logic upside down, alternately blessing and cursing poor, lowly poker monkeys in completely random, haphazard fashion.

On a brighter note, here's a somewhat interesting hand from yesterday:

Slowplaying by Playing Sort of Fast

15/30 Party game, fairly typical mix of players, not too aggressive or crazy. I've got AA UTG. I raise, folds to MP who calls, folds to the button, who three-bets. Both blinds fold. I call.

Yes, indeed, I could cap, and they'd both come along. But I've been playing pretty tightly so far and capping it UTG basically screams "I have AA or KK". I'd rather not scream that and am willing to sacrifice 1 BB. Capping won't drive anyone out but it will broadcast my hand.

One thing to note, too, is that I'll be acting first, as the blinds have folded. With big hands and decent pots like this, sometimes I like to simply call in situations like this. The idea is that I'll lead out on the flop, hoping to appear as if I'm trying to gain information, and let the aggressor (in this case the button, who three bet) follow through in typical aggressive fashion by raising. In essence I'll be check-raising, as far as getting two bets in, but disguising the strength of my hand by letting the aggressor raise.

The flop comes A J 7, rainbow. I bet, MP calls, and the button raises. I call and MP calls.

Again, same idea as before. Yes, I can three bet. Yes, I have the best hand. Yes, there's the off chance that one of them could be holding overcards and complete their straight by the river. But at this point I'm willing to risk slowplaying with it being three-handed and everyone showing strength pre-flop), hoping to trap MP (assuming he has the third worst hand at this point).

Turn is a 5. I bet, MP calls, button raises. I call. MP calls.

This is probably the most debatable part of the hand. This is where I'd normally give up the slowplay and start jamming. And it's hard to argue against that. The only real argument (and the reason I played it this way) is that my seemingly donk bets on the flop and turn, followed by the inevitable raise which is then merely called, increase the chances of someone (hopefully both players) capping it with me on the river. Showing further strength on the turn decreases the odds of that happening, with MP giving up Ax or even two pair. My weak leads and calls make it look like I'm playing Ax myself. Because I'm leading out, two bets per player still go into the pot, just like on the flop, but I can still look weak, given the action.

River is a 9. I bet, MP calls, button raises, it ends up capped with all three of us still in. Button shows JJ, MP shows AJs, I take it down.

Not the most exciting hand, granted, but sort of interesting, as far as "slowplaying" a big hand but still raising pre-flop and betting out on both the flop and the turn. It actually helps to be first to act in that situation, as you can feign a weak bet for information and often get two bets per player in the pot in early betting rounds without having to check-raise yourelf in order to maximize the value of your hand and pot size.


BSN said...

Interesting. I had a similar NL hand a few days ago. I held Kx in the BB and it went unraised. Flop was KKT. Like you, I went through the thought process of what would disguise my hand and concluded that a standard pot-sized bet would like I had a T since anyone with a K would check it. I had a caller, and just kept the pot-size bet going to the river, eventually getting all my money in for a double-up.

Best part - other guy accused me of slow-playing. Apparently I was supposed to push all-in on the flop. And here I thought I was playing aggressively... ;-)


F-Train said...

Weather those swings, man. The 15/30 swings can get brutal in a hurry.