Wednesday, November 23, 2005
I headed up to Trump tonight to play some no limit hold'em. I dropped 2 buy-in's at the 200NL game. On the way home, I called Randy and rambled stream-of-consciousness style for a good 10 minutes about the mistakes I'd made. When I paused for breath, I said something along the lines of, "Ya know, I can't say that I'm disappointed in tonight's outcome." Randy replied, "I know.... you sound.... happy." He was bewildered, but right. I felt pretty damn good.
Because I had just paid $400 to learn a bunch of really important things about my own poker game, and no-limit cash games in general.
And that's a whole bunch of mistakes I hope to never make again. What's better than that? That's almost like money in my pocket.
Let's start from the beginning. I got out of work around 8:30pm, with the intention of heading home. I plan to hit up the boats on Wednesday night (hopefully in the company of Baz and Maigrey), so I figured I'd chill out at home tonight. As I pulled out of the parking lot, I listened to my voicemail, which included a message from Randy saying he was heading out with some friends tonight. As I hung up my cell phone, a call came in - none other than the Poker Princess, informing me that she was on her way to Trump. If that's not a sign, I don't know what is!
Needless to say, I turned the car around and headed towards the boats.
The poker lessons kicked in fairly immediately. I continued my trend of big hands preflop NOT holding up, but discovered along the way that I have a lot to learn about these NL cash games. Without further adeiu...
Early on, I look down to find QQ in the hole. I don't yet have a feel for too many people at the table, and hadn't yet figured out the insta-call raise amount. Apparently, $25 was it, because I got a bunch of callers for my early position raise (6 callers in all, if I'm not mistaken). The flop comes K-K-9. Action checks around. The turn comes a blank, and I decide to bet out, thinking, well hot diggity - my Hilton Sisters might be good. Next to act raises my bet, which effectively puts me all in. Action folds so quickly that I catch a wiff of the breeze as cards go flying into the muck.
Action is to me. I say around the dealer (as I was in the 10 seat and my opponent was in the 1 seat), "Do you seriously have a King?"
My opponent exposes one card to Maigrey, who was to his left. In my head, I'm thinking, "Scare tactic?" It seems quite trendy at this NL game to do things to try and psych opponents out, like exposing one card, etc. (Very useful moves when done properly, for sure - and I don't yet know how to make those nifty moves. They've been made on me though). I think to myself, he could be showing her a 9. Could it be a king? Sure, but there are only two other kings in the freakin' deck. Does he have one of them?
I paid to find out. He had one. Re-buy!
There are a couple problems with my thought process (or more notably, lack thereof) on this hand.
1. With 6 other people to the flop, SOMEONE has a king. Duh.
2. If I wanted to know so bad if he had a king, I could have just folded my Queens and asked Maigrey later. Why lose the rest of my stack over it?
3. I completely ignored the old rule of thumb: it takes a much stronger hand to call an all in bet than to raise all in yourself.
4. If my bet on the turn was to seek information (which it basically was - knowing that the board was scary for my QQ), I got the information I was looking for. My opponent told me loud and clear that I was beat. I ignored it.
5. You cannot WILL your hand to win, no matter how hard you want it to.
Another hand: I'm UTG+1. Maigrey (now to my right) puts out a live straddle bet (she's a fiesty one, that girl). I call the $10 straddle with AJo. Nobody raises the pot, and we see a flop of A-9-x. I bet out from early position, $25. I get called by the 1 seat. The turn brings a 10, and I bet out again - $50 I think it was. My opponent raises me. (He must have been all in, or this happened on the river, because there was no more betting and I still had chips at the end). I walk through the situation.
A straddle bet, and nobody raised... so I don't have him on AQ or AK. There's no flush or straight out there. "You've got some goofy ass two pair," I say, as I look at the pot, and his chips, and my initial bet, and figure that for the $50 it was going to cost me to see a showdown, the pot was laying me too much money to fold. Committed to my top pair, I called.
My opponent showed 9-10 for the two pair.
Again... a larger bet on the flop may have gotten my opponent to lay down his 2nd-pair, blah-kicker. However, I don't think I could have laid down to the final bet, seeing as I was getting at least 4:1 on my call (maybe more - I can't remember how many people saw the flop).
In another hand, I'm UTG+1. I find KJ diamonds and limp, along with a few other people. The flop comes K-x-x, and I look at the pot. I caught myself off guard and hadn't been adding up the pot size, so I looked at it and quickly roughed out a $25 bet. In reality, there was $30 or more in the pot. I got called in a handful of places. Fast forward to the river: the board shows 3 spades, and since I had let the button in cheap on my flop bet, he sucked out on me with 10-7 of spades. I'd hit two pair on the turn, and couldn't get away from the hand. With that, I lost the rest of my chips.
The lesson here: I was short stacked to start the hand (<$100). The right move on the flop would have been to bet all in. I'm short-stacked anyway, so a $65-ish bet isn't even that big of an overbet compared to the size of the pot. I failed to kill drawing odds for other people in the hand, and it cost me.
The hand of the night was pocket 4's. I saw them at least 4 different times, none of which hit a set. Most of the time, I had to fold them preflop to raising action. In frustration, I shared with Maigrey (who had been moved to the 9s to my right by now) that I just couldn't call these raises with baby pocket pairs. She pointed out an error in my judgement, which reminded me once again how much more important implied odds are in no-limit as compared to limit hold'em.
She put it something like this: with an 11% chance of flopping a set, you can call a raise up to 10% the size of the smallest opponent's stack and see a flop. For those few times you hit a set, you're likely to get the rest of the chips in front of that person, so the implied odds are great. Stick to the 10% rule, and the move is profitable in the ever elusive "long run."
This was illustrated to me later on, when I folded pocket 5's in a similar situation. The short stack at the table raised preflop for about half of his stack, and I folded my 5's. A five hit on the flop, and I was bumming big time, when Maigrey pointed out that it would have been a bad call on my part. My opponent had only $35 or so more in front of him after raising $20, so there was no way that I could win enough money from him to make the call mathematically correct over time. If I could have limped, it would have been alright. No such luck.
There was also a bit of discussion between Maigrey and I about how tournament NL strategy differs from cash game NL strategy. You see, the only NL I typically play is tournament no limit games. There's definitely a sense of chip conservation going on there. These cash games could almost be considered a polar opposite, in that you want to get all of your chips into pots with positive expected value, with no real regard for the notion of chip conservation. Chip conservation does not exist in a cash game, since there is no winner-take-all, and the duration of the game is for all of eternity. It's the whole "long term" thing again. That sense of the no-limit long-term is going to take some getting used to for me.
I have a few other notes here (which I scribbled sloppily while driving home), but I've run out of steam to write them up. Suffice it to say that tonight's session has given me much food for thought.
If all losing sessions can be this productive, I'll be a master in no time! LOL (joking...) Don't tell Maigrey, but she has unknowingly adopted an underling to leech from her juicy poker brain!
With that, I bid you all goodnight. Happy Turkey Day to everyone in the ol' US of A, in case I don't make it back on here to post before Friday!