Monday, January 17, 2005

I have Faith No More's cheerleading-chant of the song "Be Aggressive" in my head right now. "I started this - It's all for me. What's yours is mine and mine is mine - That's plain to see!" Ahh man what ever happened to them? If I had to be stranded on an island with only 10 albums, FNM might even make up more than one of my choices.

Anyway, I was thinking about this as I drove home from Scott's $5 re-buy tourney tonight. (Same dealio - no limit hold'em, 15 minute blinds - more on the game later). Poker is a game that generally rewards aggressive behavior - or, more accurately put, poker is a game that is generally most profitable for those who calculatedly perform aggressive behaviors. Poker is also a game that rewards the analytical mind - one that can understand and apply the mathematical concepts behind the game. Poker also has an human component, rewarding those with keen observation skills and intuition.

Coming to the game of poker, some of my personality traits fit the game well. Computer programming has consumed much of my interest over the last 20 years or so (basically, since I was a kid). I think logically and methodically, and have an aptitude for statistics and probabilities. (I enjoy that angle on math, actually - I love algebra, statistics, finite math. HATE geometry. Ugh. Geometry sucks). I'm more observant than your average bear, and people-watching has been one of my favorite hobbies for as long as I can remember. My downfall: I'm shy. Read as: not aggressive. I have nary an aggressive bone in my body. As far as personality types go, I'm an INTJ type (Introverted, iNtuitive, Thinking, Judging). Nothing very aggressive in there. (I'd love to hear what some of your types are - anyone wanna take a personality type test? It's quick - post your results as a comment).

For an internet poker game, becoming aggressive is probably easier than in live games. My poker bread and butter, however, is based on live games, so "learning" how to be aggressive has been on my list of things to do ever since I figured out the mechanics of the game. (I'd love to be more profitable online - in my first year of play, however, live games have been where I have found the most success). Since getting Poker Tracker, I've been working on maintaining a certain "poker personality type" - or, I should say, achieving that type. Online, I currently come across as tight/passive, aggressive (whereas what I'd really like to see is, tight/aggressive, aggressive). In live games, I'd say I'm either the same, or slightly more passive.

So, how does an introverted poker player become an extroverted one? IE. become more aggressive? I guess like anything, it takes practice. I've got a VERY long way to go, but I think I've come a long way, too, in the last year. Tonight, I decided to give myself a poker homework assignment. Every time I saw the Hammer in my hand, I would raise it up. I'd allow for whatever poker skills and reads I've got to determine my post-flop play, but pre-flop - it was Raise with The Hammer. That was the assignment. Could I even possibly manage to do such a thing? My God. Raise pre-flop with NOTHING?? It would be a challenge, for sure.

I saw The Hammer in my hand twice (not even a Nerf Hammer - the true, honest-to-suckage Hammer). Raised it up both times. Had callers, and the flops dictated that I fold, but DAMN did it feel good. I did it - and, the world didn't end. There is something definitely liberating about figuring out how to detach my bet from what cards are in my hands. I think it's the first step to being able to play the player as opposed to always playing my cards. We'll see. It was quite a productive exercise for me - almost like walking into a crowd of strangers and introducing myself (an equally terrifying experience, in my book). Feeling good, feeling good.

Anyway... some poker. Our little re-buy tourney ended up shorthanded with 4 players, but that's OK - poker is poker. I had laughed when we started, saying that if we could build a $100 pot out of this little 4-player $5 rebuy, it would be the shiz-nit. Sure enough, by the end of the first round, we had a sweet little pot of $110, winner take all. Nice!

The first hour was a bit of kamikazee poker - though not as insane as the last re-buy I played in at The Nice Table (Jim's). Still some all-in's worth giggling about. The players:

1. Me
2. Ann (Scott's wife)
3. Ed
4. Scott

Randy's work schedule prevented him from making it out to this game. :(

Early in the game, I found myself a spectator to a 3-way all-in, in which Ann took out both her husband and Ed. They quickly re-bought - and resultingly, Ann never had to. Nice triple-up! I re-bought once, though for the life of me can't remember what hand I busted on or where my chips went. (I forgot my notebook at home). At the first break, I did the add-on for a total investment of $25.

It was pretty much your standard short-handed game. Ann went out first but hung in there for quite a while, leaving Ed and I about even to Scott's chip lead (if memory serves me correctly). Play went on 3-handed for a while. Scott was next out, due to a nasty suck-out.

I'm holding A-9o, and I think I was the big blind. Blinds are 1000/2000, and I raise it up to 4000 pre-flop. Ed folds, Scott calls. Flop comes J-J-10. My memory is a bit hazy here, but I think Scott bet out 2000, and I raised all in 4000 more. My read at this point was, what's the chances he has a J or 10, and since Scott can be quite the aggressive one, his move could very well be a blank stab at the pot. I figured my Ace was probably good, and at this point I didn't want to give out any free cards. Scott called, and we flipped up our cards. In fact, he held a 10 (8 kicker I think). Yikes. Now I'm drawing to a miracle 2-outer or some runner-runner straight action. I was about 18% to win at that point - a 4 to 1 dog. Turn comes a rag, and the river.... an Ace, giving me the higher 2 pair. Ouch. Sorry, Scott.

Lady Luck kept beating up on Scott (though shined quite brightly on Ed tonight - catching quite a few cards! Miracle inside straights and the like). Not long after the rivered Ace debacle, Ed goes all in with K-8 diamonds (I think? Mighta been K7). Scott calls with AJ diamonds. Flop comes 2 diamonds, pairing nobody. Scott is about an 83% favorite at this point. Turn comes a King, pairing Ed. Scott's still got a 30% shot at winning. River, no help. Ed takes the hand and knocks out Scott. Double ouch.

Heads up, me and Ed. We had about the same amount of chips (I think Ed considered chopping for a moment, if only to put Scott out of his misery, since we were at his house, but we were practically dead even). Play didn't last too long heads up. We traded some blinds back and forth. I hit a couple flops, and I think I mighta even won a hand with the Snowmen heads up (I saw them a few times tonight - rather odd). When it came time to put my tournament life on the line, it went something like this:

I've got Ax in my hand (can't remember my kicker... I want to say it was a 6). I raise, Ed calls. Flop comes Axx. Ed bets (I think?) and I re-raise him all in. We flip... He's also got an Ace, with a lower kicker. Board was higher cards, with a pair on board, I believe. Had the board come all high cards, we'd have split the pot, but the river came a 2, and my kicker was good. End of game.

Yay, I won!

Though Luck played her role, for sure.

All in all, a good time. I'm trying to save my poker winnings for my March Vegas trip, and every little bit helps. Thanks to Scott and Ann for hosting the game; thanks to Ed for the challenge (and for all the re-buys!); thanks to Luck for being there when I needed ya; and thanks to The Hammer for showing me I really could bet with nothing, and not die in the process!


  1. Human Head said...
    Great blog, I finally got around to it! I'm also an INTJ-44% across the board. Learning to be more agressive, one day at a time :)
    SirFWALGMan said...
    I came out as ISTJ, although I do not relate to the George Bush's of the world! Really Politics is not for me. I forget my scores. It was something like 78% 1% 78% and something else whatever that means.

    Aggression comes in time with practice and patients. You MUST get your pre-flop aggression up first. It is so crucial to putting you into a good place to win. It is SOOOOO easy to do too. There are great guidelines in SSHE for when to raise pre-flop. Follow those and you will quickly see the change to TA-P. I was TA-P or sL-AP for the longest time. I finally looked at how I was playing. Said "If I am not being aggressive than I do not know what that word means", which could be the case because I tend to be non-aggressive myself. I ended up deleting all but the last few months of my Poker playing from PT, and it turns out I was right! I am now a happy smiley faced Slight Loose-Aggresive-Aggressive player.

    I too started Programming at a tender age. I think I was 14 when I wrote my first game on a C-64! It was excellent! heh.
    Jeffro said...
    Another INTJ here. I wonder if certain personality types do better at poker then others...
    April said...
    I get that song in my head too, it's a good reminder. But then sometimes it goes into that damn chant from Requiem from a Dream, and goes all wrong...
    Anonymous said...
    Visited your blog for the first time today per SirFWALGMan. First paragraph is about one of my alltime fave bands Faith No More. I think I'll like it here :) Thanks for the reference Sir, thanks for the blog hella holdem. Gotta go finish reading the rest of the post now.

    SirFWALGMan said...
    No problemo Chief. Always fun to drive traffic to good sites!
    Shelly said...
    Hey Chief - I think I played next to you on Party last night - I'm a Flyers Fan :) Thanks for visiting!
    Scott G said...
    First of all, just found your blog and am loving it, excellent posts every day. Secondly, I took that personality test and am told that I am a iSfJ, which is a Protector Guardian - from what I can tell, I definitely shouldn't be playing poker if it means I'm sitting at the table feeling sorry for everybody losing $$$$. : )

    Keep up the great posts.
    High Plains Drifter said...
    Haven't taken the Personality Test yet, but INTJ sounds about right for me.

    I've had this idea in my head to burn a gambler/poker mix CD. FNM's Be Aggressive will definitely be on it.

    Keep up the good work with the blog - it's a good read.

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