Poker Words - A Poker Blog

Mostly a recount of my poker exploits along with a bunch of random other stuff just for fun.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Change in Skills

Change in Skills.

When I first started playing poker online it was all Sit-n-Goes all the time for me.  SNG’s were how I first really leaned to play poker when we would have a weekly tournament after work.  They were what I understood, and what I was good at.  I was also a decent multi-table tournament player as the skill sets are pretty similar, but I didn’t really have the time to pursue many big tournaments.

My first few forays into limit ring games were less than successful.  The fact that seeing another card was so cheap was often just too enticing to pass up, and I would slowly bleed away my chips.  I even swore off limit poker on more than one occasion because I didn’t think I could be successful at it.

A few months ago I rededicated myself to becoming a good ring game player.  There were a number of reasons for this.  The first was bonus chasing.  Playing tournaments didn’t accumulate player points fast enough to claim bonuses, so I felt like I was leaving money on the table.   Along with that was the fact that the bonus could cover some of what I might lose, making the learning experience less costly.    Another reason was time.  If you are going to be play in tournaments, you have to be able to designate a enough time to finish, and that often prevented my from playing.  In ring games, if something comes up where you have to stop playing after half an hour, you just take your chips and leave.  That made if much easier to find the time to play.  Lastly I felt like I wasn’t always playing good fundamental poker, and I felt like playing ring games would help enforce some of the concepts that I knew I wasn’t really using in my tournament games.

Flash forward a few months, and now I play limit ring games almost entirely.  I’ve been pretty successful at it lately which makes the choice between, ring and tournament games go in favor of ring more often than not.  To balance out my newfound limit skills, my No-Limit tournament play has completely deteriorated.  I’d like to blame it on just rustiness, but I don’t know if that’s it.  I’m just not reading players right, and I’m being overaggressive at all the wrong times, and its costing me.

I like to take a shot at some large multi-player tournaments every once in a while.  I usually do well enough to finish near the money but not quite there.  I feel like a final table appearance is easily within range, and the payoff of such a finish would easily pay for any missed attempts.   I think they could be +EV in the long run, as long as cash every once in a while.  

Lately it seems as though I make it through the first break in decent shape, at about the middle of the field in chip count.  Then I start running into problems because the blinds have escalated to the point where I over commit myself in a hand, or I lose/fold a hand where I invested a decent percentage of my stack, and then I’m in all-in or fold mode, which never turns out well.  

Last night I played a couple tournaments on Poker Room.  The first was $10 + 1, and there were only 150 or so people registered when I signed up.  10 minutes later there were 395 and the cards were in the air.  10 minutes after that I had busted out in 372 place.  Quite possibly my worst showing ever.  There was no reason for me to go out on that hand.  I had made the decision going in that I was going to try to see more cheap flops early on in the tournament.  I think if I can do that, and hit a few flops I can be in better shape later on.  I’m never in the chip lead in the early stages, partly because I don’t play enough hands to get there.  So I figured if I loosen up at first, when it is cheap to do so, maybe I can lucky once or twice, and if not, then I won’t go broke trying.

Now for the hand in question I had A9 in late position and limped in.  The flop was 279, and it checked around to me.   I bet T$45 which was about half the pot, fully expecting to take it right there.  Plus I figured that if anyone called, they would probably have overcards, and I would still be in good shape.  Especially if they were hanging on hoping for an ace.  The small blind raised to T$240.  At this point, I thought he thought I was trying to steal the pot, and that he was trying to push me off it.  So I reraised trying to do the same to him.  He called.    He checked when the turn was a Q and I can’t imagine that card helped him based on how the hand has progressed so far.  I felt like I had to bet here, and the pot was over T$700,   so it had to be substantial.  I bet T$250 and he calls.  Crap.  I don’t remember the river, but it didn’t look like it would help him.  He went all in.  I don’t know why, but I called.  I knew I was beat, but I didn’t want to believe it.  I was still clinging to the thought that he was bluffing me.  Plus, I had already bet most of my stack leading up to this point.  I had top pair on the flop, and since he bet so strong on the flop, the overcards on the turn and river didn’t worry me since I didn’t think he had them.  Turns out he had flopped a set of twos, and I was done.  

Horrible play by me.  There is absolutely no excuse for going broke on that hand.  I just couldn’t lay it down after I had invested so many chips in the beginning when I thought my hand was good.  Here’s where I think my limit play hurt me in that situation.  In the same scenario in a limit game, he raises, I reraise, and he either calls or rearaises back.  On the flop I bet to see if he is still interested, and then if he calls or raises, I check-call the river, losing at most five big bets.  Still maybe not the optimal play, but I can use a cheap raise early in the hand to find out how much he likes his hand.  In no-limit, I had to raise so much of my stack that I felt committed to finishing out the hand.  I guess I should have seen his initial raise as strength and bailed there, but unfortunately I put him on a bluff and didn’t properly reevaluate when he wouldn’t go away.

I wasn’t too upset about losing that tournament because there was a $20 short handed tournament starting up in a few minutes Maybe I’d have better luck with that.  Or not.  156 participants, and I was out in 152nd.  I have successfully blocked this hand from my memory as it was somewhat traumatic in it’s suckiness, but here’s what I have listed in the notes from my spreadsheet:   “AQ lost to A7.  xQ7 flop.  7 turn. Called an all in. I suck.”    I think part of the problem is that I feel like I have been folding hands in these situations a lot, only to see my opponent show down with a weaker hand, and that has been frustrating me, so I was determined not to let that happen.  So I showed them.  This time I called and game them all my chips.  Maybe next time they’ll think twice about pushing all in .  Or something.

Anyway, after the 20 minutes of complete suckiness on the tournament scene, I fired up FullTilt for some ring games.  I still have a little bit of bonus to clear, and I was pissed at PokerRoom for making me lose so I wasn’t going to keep playing there.  

I tried mutli-tabling for the first time since moving up to $1/$2.  When I first made the move to $1/$2, I went back to one table so that I could fully concentrate on it, as mistakes were now going to be twice as expensive.   Lately I’ve been losing focus, engaging in other –EV activities while playing; working on my website, reading other blogs, doing fantasy football research, etc.  Might as well use that time to play more poker right?  At least that will force me to stay focused on the task at hand.

For the first part of the night I was even.  Table one was down $20 while table two was up.  Then it was $30 each, then $40.  It was interesting.  I felt like I was playing the same on both tables, just the cards kept falling my way on one and not the other.  $40 was my low water mark and I eventually finished down about $30 on table one.  Meanwhile, I went on a huge rush on table two, ultimately finishing up $112.   Granted I most likely played that one table longer than I’ve ever played a single table, but that finish was probably double any other finish I’ve had.  And it covered my losses in the tournaments earlier.  It was tough to leave the table, but at some point sleep is a good option.  

Anyway, I started this post with the intention of talking about my shift from no-limit tournies to limit ring games.  I don’t know if that’s what I ended up doing, but let me finish by saying that my results last  night were a great example of where I currently am in my poker journey.  The question now is if I want to try to rededicate some energy into getting back into tournaments, or stick with the seemingly less volatile world of limit ring games.  



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