Thursday, March 10, 2005
Tonight's post is a combination of stuff I was thinking last night, and this evening's events. Well, it's after midnight, so I guess "yesterday's" events, if you start your new day at midnight. (I don't - it's still Wednesday to me right now).
Anyhooooo. So last night, I sat down to unwind after work and play some cards. I did my new-usual search for a nice fishy but not rambunctious table. I like the 35% to 39% VP$IP table average. Anything over 40% gets a little too wild for my taste, unless it's 40% limpers with less than 5% pre-flop raises. Then it's OK.
Anyway, I sat down at a table and watched one orbit go by, and just had the gut sense that it wasn't my table. I thought, "Patience, young grasshopper." Then, I thought, "Patience?? What??? Get up and MOVE to another table!" So I logged off that table and began seeking out a new one. But, I couldn't find any to my liking. A sit-n-go might fit the bill.
I picked a $10+1 NL sng, and proceeded to go out early on a stupid play. Ya know, one of those plays where you're bluffing the board, and your opponent HAS what you're bluffing, but you keep betting into it anyway? Yeah, one of those stupid moves. Knocked out 7th, I believe.
Knowing that was a dumb play on my part, I sat down to another, figuring I'd still be up $5 from the night before, even after the second game. I played better, but in another bout with the stupid-monster, I overplayed my AK and called down bets to the river, hoping to catch one of my overcards. It never came, and I folded to the river bet. Hello, dumb. When it got down to four players, another guy and me were both on the short stacks, and the other two had the rest of the chips. With the two chip leaders folded out of the hand, and me in the big blind, I decided to push against the fellow shortstack with A4 diamonds. I put him nearly all in (which put me down to the felt), and he thought for a long time before calling. When he called and flipped A2o, I did the domination dance in my head.... until a 2 fell on the river and knocked me out. Oh well.
I wasn't happy, but I wasn't completely unhappy. It was a bad night, with some bad plays, and I was going to walk away with still over $100 in my account (can you believe it? THREE nights' sleep in triple digits!) I made some mental notes about my play and called it a night.
Part of the reason I felt good walking away from those games was because I had a bit of a light-bulb moment last night. In the first game I was playing, I held KQ offsuit, a hand I'll typically limp with - even possibly call a small raise from late position. So here I am, on the button with KQo, and a short stack in front of me goes all in for about 25% of my stack. Then, another guy calls. Under normal circumstances, I'd call, thinking woohoo - I can take down some sweet chips here!
Instead, my brain thought: what hands would that guy push all in with? The lowest - Ax, maybe a small pair. He wasn't super-short-stacked, so I put him on a bigger hand than that. Middle pair? At best, my two overcards would be a race. AK? AQ? Both had me monstrously dominated. The chances of me having the best hand here - probably very slim. Add to it a caller, who at least has a drawing hand (even Ax is looking bad to my KQ), and I didn't even feel bad folding.
What? I folded?
When I realized what I did, I was shocked. Why? Well, my poker brain has gotten the hang of analyzing flop texture - seeing the types of hand possibilities that are out there on the board. Straight draws, flush draws, pairs on board for possible trips or boats. I've got the hang of pot odds, to help in determining how I should play my drawing hands. But the one thing my brain has never really done on its own is actually think about specific hands that my opponent might have, and compare those hands to my hand. I've been sort of one step behind that. I've never before had the whole "Which hands would he probably raise with, given the current situation?"
Or - maybe it was like, I was evaluating my opponent's possible hands based on how I think THEY would act with each hand, as opposed to how **I** would act with a hand.
I'm having a hard time explaining this, as you can see! But it was one of those revelations. Not even a light bulb - almost like, my poker brain went from crawling to taking a few wobbly steps on its own. Damn, it felt cool as hell!
Then I thought, well that was just a fluke, because it was totally unconscious; I wasn't thinking that way on purpose - it just happened.
In the second game, it happened again - though this time with me calling a bet and taking down a huge pot. I thought, Wow. That was bizarre. I kinda like this new type of thinking!
So, even if I dropped twenty bucks last night, and made some dumbass plays, I felt like I had made huge strides in my poker thinking. And I didn't even try - it just happened. Pretty cool. I can't help but fear that my poker brain will make my head bigger, which makes me giggle.
Fast forward to tonight. My poker brain is still working, woohoo! Just in time for Vegas.
I sat down to a $.50/1.00 limit HE game. The table was about 38% VP$IP with a couple crazies pre-flop, so I just hung out and chilled. I was able to limp cheap in late position into a family pot with K-10 spades. Flopped the nut flush draw with the Ace of Spades onboard, called a flop bet, and hit my spade on the turn. Half the family was still in the pot. I check raised the turn (no pairs onboard for boats to beat me), and a quarter of the family came down to the river. I scooped a $22 pot. Soon after, the three big fish left the table, and I fled quickly, squeezed out by the tightness.
That led me to a $10+1 SnG. I was in kind of a weird mood tonight. I watched a TV show that had me all teary-eyed before I sat down to the computer, then read about SirF's dad (I'm so sorry for your loss, SirF), and having gone through the loss of my own father 5 years ago, I was sort of on a mission. Not like poker has anything to do with any of this, but it's what I was doing at the moment.
For the first time, I experienced what I can only describe as something similar to the "tactical tilt" that Poker Geek talks about. It wasn't music-driven, but music-enhanced, I suppose, as I had a handful of songs repeating in my player that contributed to the mood: "Breathe" by Anna Nalick, "Country Feedback" and "Half a World Away" by R.E.M., and "Fake Plastic Trees" and "Fade Out" by Radiohead.
But it wasn't tilt, exactly. I don't know what it was. But the player behind my screen name wasn't the usual "me," and I played my opponents like I owned them, and won the tournament. It was a weird place to be in. I hope I don't have to drudge up such sad thoughts in order to find that place again in the future. But anyway, Thanks, Dad.
Since it's past midnight now, technically it's one more day till Vegas - I only have to survive one more day of work, and then I am free.
I think I'm going to have the time of my life.