Sunday, November 20, 2005

Professor Princess’ School of Poker

This past Wednesday, I had the unique pleasure of playing poker with Princess Maigrey at Trump Casino Indiana. Why unique, you ask? Because our favorite Princess of Poker opted to slum it down in $3/6 with me for an evening. (For those not in the know, Maigrey is more often seen playing no-limit with the pretty green chips. Gunky white checks are not the coin of the Princess).

While playing, I managed to scribble down a few notes on the lessons that the Princess bestowed upon our table.

#1. Behold the live straddle.

Prior to my lesson with Maigrey, I regarded the live straddle as hardly more than an ultra-aggressive tactic for tilting the table. While it does often have that effect, there are other reasons to whip out the live straddle. If you manage to wake up with a hand while straddling live, you’ve effectively built a nice pot preflop while keeping your opponents on shaky footing. You raised in the dark; you could have any two cards. Certain types of people will call you down just to see what you’ve got, and if you can manage to find a couple of sweet cards in the pocket, or connect nicely with the board, a large pot is likely yours for the taking.

A fellow at the table Wednesday night put on quite a fuss about Maigrey’s first live straddle. He did not understand why she was allowed a “second turn to act,” as he assumed that her dark raise preflop counted as her one and only turn to act. The floor management was called to confirm the explanation of a live straddle given initially by both Maigrey and the dealer.

A live straddle is a play where the person under-the-gun (the first person to act after the big blind) raises preflop prior to receiving any hole cards. This move essentially buys the rights from the big blind to act last on the first betting round, meaning that the live straddler can opt to re-raise when action comes around to him/her. As I said earlier, you can often instill fear and annoyance-tilt in certain types of opponents with this move, and more importantly, can win nice juicy pots on a lucky day.

#2: Queens beat sixes.

Another Maigrey-victim at our table suffered the fate of his counterfeited hand. A counterfeited hand is one that starts out strong, but loses value when the board duplicates it. In this case, a well concealed (read: junk) two-pair was counterfeited by the board pairing (giving our Hero her own two higher two pair). I’m going to make up some numbers here, as I didn’t note the actual hand, but for example: our Villain holds 6-2 on a flop of Q-6-2, and our Hero holds Q-10. The Villain has two pair, 6’s and 2’s, to our Hero’s one pair of Queens. When the turn and river come four’s to show a board of Q-6-2-4-4, our Hero now has two pair, Queens and Fours, beating our Villain’s two pair, Sixes and Fours. The dealer had to repeat her explanation several times to our Villain as to why his hand was a loser, as he thought his two pair was better since he used both of his hole cards. (Actually, I think he just didn’t realize that Queens beat Sixes, as he had previously argued that his straight beat a flush, but I’ll give him some credit here).

Chalk up another one for the Princess.

#3: Defend the red button.

The 3/6 game at Trump is a full-kill game, meaning that if one player wins two pots in a row, it becomes a “kill pot” and the game limits change to 6/12 until that player loses. The dealer keeps track of how many pots a player wins by passing a small red button to the player who wins each pot. If you hold the red button and win a second pot, you enable the kill.

In the past, I paid little attention to the kill button, meaning – I didn’t go out of my way to create kill pots. Maigrey, though, went to great lengths to hold onto that red button. Combine a loose-aggressive table image with a red button and a little bit of luck, and you’ve just won yourself a gigantic pot there, cowboy. I will never again disregard the potential power of the little red kill button.

#4: Make eye contact.

There’s nothing scarier than a poker player with a good stare. A good poker stare doesn’t need to be bone-chillingly cold. Maigrey delivered “stares with a smile” that would have easily scared me into folding! I’ve never thought much about it, but eye contact at the poker table can be a useful tool, particularly against weak players. Personally, I’ve always been one of those “stare unflinchingly at the board” types of players, avoiding eye contact while opponents attempt to peer into my soul. One downside to that habit, though, is that I also avoid looking at my opponents when I myself have been put to a decision. It’s just habit. I stare at the board, when I should be watching my opponent for clues.

Maigrey has obviously made an art of “playing the player,” and her display on Wednesday night made glaringly obvious how much I rely on the strength of my hand to make my decisions, and how little I actually play the player. While this may not be a big deal at low-limit 3/6, no-limit is a vastly different game in that regard. This is something I’ve vowed to work on in my game.

#5. Breathe.

I have the word “breathe” scribbled in my notes, and for the life of me, cannot remember why I wrote it. Suffice it to say, though, that failing to breathe will adversely affect your poker game.

This concludes today’s lesson from Professor Princess’ School of Poker. I thank Maigrey for donating her time and buy-in to the cause of elevating the games of poker bloggers everywhere.

2 Comments:

  1. April H. said...
    Sounds like you had a blast and learning at the same time is always good!
    merrymonk said...
    Excellent bits of wisdom. I'm not really sure how you hold onto the kill button. Doesn't it require sound play and a little luck just as any other hand would? Another great poker blog is
    loveablerogues.blogspot.com located at
    loveablerogues.com
    Loveable Rogues is trying to find out how well poker players are doing. Take a moment to answer their 4 question poll – “Are you winning at Poker”. The poll is at Poker Poll

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