Through the years, this blog has been a great outlet for me. When I was playing regularly online, this blog served as a way to expose my frustrations as well as solicit thoughts on alternate ways of playing the same hand. I think this blog helped me a ton back then - particularly when I was just starting out - but as I became more comfortable in whatever stakes I was playing, the imperative to push out hand histories waned.
Unfortunately, those days of online grinding have come & gone - thanks to the U.S. government (see Black Friday). The blog took on a new role, though - allowing me to solicit advice from a field of players with a wealth of experience in the live arena. The live arena, as near as a year and a half ago, was a new frontier for me. In a lot of ways, it continues to be a new frontier. While the improvements to my game are much less scientifically measurable, like playing at the live felt, I must rely on my own intuition to discern whether I am indeed improving my game.
It's very easy to say "Look at the results; is your $/hr rate improving? Yes? Then you're getting better as a player!" Looking at the results tells me nothing. I could be running really hot, I could be sucking out... any number of factors. The reality is that I need to look at myself and give myself a non-biased, thorough evaluation. What am I doing differently? Is what I'm doing differently working for me? Where am I losing money? Why am I losing money in those spots?
One continual source of contention where I think I'm improving is the live reads / paying attention. I feel as though I go through periods where I play poker by rote - effectively auto-piloting through sessions. Although it ebbs & flows, I'm actively working on thinking about each hand rather than taking a linear approach. I'm actively asking myself the what-if tree of variability, going beyond what the villain holds. What cards are good for me on the turn? What cards are bad for me? What cards would be seemingly bad but are actually not (i.e. turn Ace)? What does my opponent think about my action?
Another point of improvement with a ton of room is sitting through a 5-8 hour session and keeping myself 95% attentive. When I fold, it's very easy to be distracted. For example, there were 2-3 hands last night where players built up a big pot and I had no idea how the action had gone down so that each player had their stack in the middle. Hands like those are critical attention grabbers; I need to watch for tells which I can verify at showdown because hands like those actually go to showdown and can be verified. I've been pretty good with folding and watching, but there's still a ton of room for improvement.
I guess ultimately, here's the original goal of this post: thank you. Thank you for the comments I've received in the past, thank you for the comments I will [hopefully] receive in the future. The comments, private emails, etc. are what keeps me enthusiastic about the game. Although I acknowledge I don't always take traditional lines (i.e. my c/r flop leaving me scratching my head on the turn & river), the comments give me a much wider view of what other players are thinking and doing in a similar situation. They also spur me to think about what I'm doing to evaluate my game play. Again, thanks for the comments!
I'm going to drop this post with 2 hand histories from last night which aren't all that interesting per se, but just kinda stuck with me, showing how bad some of the play is at the Chuck / showing how I luckboxed:
KJo in CO - $250, facing a host of limpers. I raise to $15 and get 4(!!!) callers.
Jc 7c 2d (if memory serves me, but a board similar to that) flop
Short stack open shoves for $65.
Another short stack calls for $40 (all in).
Another short stack calls for precisely $65 (all in).
I think for a few seconds. I have to be beat here. I can't imagine winning this sucker with KJ. The pot is FAR too large to fold so I call my $65.
Dude to my left, another short stack, calls for $45 (all in).
Turn is a T, river a K. By the turn and definitely river, I'm sure I'm dead.
Nope! I scoop: Kc4c vs. Ac6c vs. Tc8d vs. ??? vs. my KJ (two pair).
It's amazing how no one ever thinks about another player being on a better flush draw... and how they can call $15 with $65 behind with hands like K4s, T8o, A6s (though in fairness, once K4s calls and ??? calls, A6s is priced and T8o is priced). I just ran the numbers - I'm 50% to the field with A6s behind me with 37% equity. I figured I would be further behind than that!
QJ in SB - $450+, straddled for $5. 4 limpers, I complete the $5 straddle, BB folds and UTG checks his option.
6 way pot of Q J T
I check, UTG checks and UTG+1 leads for $20 (40 behind). Folds to me and I c/r to $60. UTG folds.
UTG+1 thinks and thinks and thinks.
Side note: The UTG, UTG+1, UTG+2 end of the table was the "gambling section." They tied themselves up in numerous hands prior where just stupid hands would wind up winning huge pots; UTG (straddler) was sitting on $1.2k, UTG+1 was steaming from being down to $30 to up to $500 to down to $60 to start the hand, and UTG+2 was sitting on $6-700. Regardless, UTG+1 is thinking about calling a $40 all in raise and finally mucks, face up. He folded T9o. WTF? $40 to call to win $110?
Granted, much different hand from the QJ hand the other day, where I was advised against a c/r from a few of the comments, but still... In retrospect, I'm happy for the fold; I think he's getting pretty close to proper odds to make the call (65/35), but he's just shown how willing he is to gamble it up for $400+ on prior hands that he's folding for $40? WTF? Sometimes, I just don't get it...
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