Sunday, January 02, 2005
Randy and I played some cards last night. A friend of mine hosted a $5 rebuy no-limit hold'em tourney. It's the second rebuy game I've played in this week (and ever, if we're talking face-to-face games). All I have to say is, wow. Kamikazee poker at its best. I felt like I was playing online in one of those lovely five buck no limit games. All in! All in! All in! Let me tell ya, 4-way all-in's are just hysterical to me. People flipping over K-6 offsuit with no fear. I mean, what's to lose except another five bucks? That first hour was just nutty. I myself only rebought once, getting in on the contagious all-in's when pot odds dictated a call with my open-ended straight draw. (I didn't catch). Once the first break ended, we finally got down to actually playing poker.
Top 2 places paid in this tournament - we had 10 people to start out, and did it up as a single-table affair. I'd have preferred two tables of 5 to start with, but oh well. I ended up finishing 4th. It was one of the most frustrating tourneys I've ever had (though part of my frustration was leaking over from a few nights prior, in the first rebuy game we played, when I made it to the final table with a significant chip lead, playing great cards, and finished on the bubble after being knocked out by a calling station who just caught cards on me left and right. My last hand consisted of her calling my all-in (about 5 times the big blind) with 4-6 offsuit. I was holding A-J of hearts, and she caught a 4). I burned myself on that tourney though - when it got down to 3, I still had a good amount of chips - tied with Mrs. Calling Station, and third guy was short stacked. I should have just folded folded folded and let her knock the third guy out. He thanked me later for giving away all my chips - even though I gave them to her, it put him into the money. (No problem, Ed. Anytime. Arrrrg...). That's a lesson I've got to learn. Usually I'm good at limping into the money and letting other people knock each other around when it comes to be bubble-time. Not that time.
Anyway, back to last night. I saw pocket 6's five times last night. Is that weird? I pulled quad 6's in a cash game the night before - my friend Kathie is referring to me as the devil now. Unfortunately the 6's didn't fare so well for me last night, which has me thinking about small pocket pairs.
There are a lot of different approaches out there for playing small to mid pocket pairs. The super-tight philosophy is to fold them. A more loose but conservative strategy is to limp in with them, and do the flop-it-or-drop-it thing; either flop trips, or drop the hand. Others like to raise their pair pre-flop, since it is a "made" hand as is, and hope to eliminate most of the chasers and take the pair heads-up with someone else (or win the blinds). Having experimented with all of the above methods over the past year, I now have no idea which end is up.
In most cases, I'll either limp in and see a cheap flop with a small pocket pair like 6's, or raise it up pre-flop if it has been folded to me or limped by one or two players. With the chance of hitting trips being about 1 in 7, and somehow my own personal trips-odds seeming to be much worse, the pre-flop raise strategy has been backfiring on me. The board will come paint, and I'll bet, and be called. If I bet it down to the river, my chips go bye-bye. If I check 4th street and get bet into, I have to fold - but have then lost a good amount of chips from the pre-flop raise and the bet on the flop. The pre-flop raise just hasn't been working for me. Either that, or I'm just having a bad spell with low pocket pairs. Any opinions out there?
I saw pocket Aces last night for the first time in forever. I seem to get cracked on them way too often, so I didn't really miss their absense too much, but last night they won me a pot. It was a small one, as I was in the big blind and most of the table folded to me. Small blind hung around for my limp-in slow play, as well as for my check on the flop (ugh free card... I was hoping for a bet into me). I bet the minimum on the turn, and was folded to. Oh well, no action on the aces. But at least they didn't get cracked.
Another train of thought spawned last night was on the topic of tells and reading players. A rather loose player at the table (who I think was loose due to inexperience and not necessarily based on his decided playstyle - any ace or king looked good to him, as did any suited cards) displayed emotions exactly in line with what he had. When he bet strong, he had a strong hand. He was pretty enthusiastic in his play anyway, so seemingly every bet or call had some sort of emphasis behind it, but he definitely didn't fit into the "strong means weak" category of tells. He'd bet any piece of the board as if he had the nuts, and then he'd catch crazy cards and bust ya outta nice pots just to rub it in. He was a good-natured guy - I was just mad at my dwindling chip stack. I would love to play against him again - knowing now how he plays, and that he can't catch those kinds of crazy cards forever.
I myself felt like I had a tell written across my forehead that said, "hey everybody, I have a decently playable hand here! Please raise me just enough so that my short-stack can't call it!" That should have been GOOD news to me, in retrospect - I probably shouldn't be playing most of those hands to begin with. But, at the time it was infinitely frustrating.
The one thing about working on reading other players is that I find myself spending more time thinking about what the other player has, and less about what I have. In a face to face game, that skill is doing me well (or, it will do me well as I get better at it). After all, playing live poker isn't just about the cards in your hand; it's a game of human nature as well. That and perception, deception, acting.... what a wonderful game!
Online poker, on the other hand, has been kicking my ass. Bad beats left and right, people calling down with crap - hands that shouldn't even be played in the first place - and catching on the river. It has been horrendous for me. I don't even want to talk about it - it's that bad.
The next big tourney is in 2 weeks. My topics of study until then: pot odds, and tells.