Friday, March 16, 2012

Doctor Doctor Give Me the News, Ive Got a Bad Case of the FPS Flu

Hmm - this is the second straight post that I've begun by referencing a song title, perhaps that is a trend.

So, as I talked about in a vlog entry from last year I have focused my play on tournaments for the last several years.  While I definitely still enjoy tournament dynamics, for several reasons I've decided that I should really play more cash.  So lately, I've been dipping my toes into the cash game pool a bit more.

I decided after work yesterday that I would get in a session at my neighborhood casino.  They've been getting 1-2 going regularly in the evenings, and I find the game to be a good one for me.  The play is loose enough that you can get paid off on good hands, but passive enough that you generally aren't put in a ton of tough spots.  Well of course, that's assuming you don't play like a complete spew monkey.  Doing that, can cost you plenty of money.  How do I know this fact you ask?  Well, let's just say that when I looked in the mirror last night after getting home my face had taken on a decidedly simian appearance.  I'll tell the story in more detail below, but the basic premise of the situation is that I repeatedly tried to force situations rather than letting the game come to me.

Things didn't start out that way, in fact early on I found myself in what looked to be a good situation.  I was on the button with two players limping in front of me.  Discovering two red 8s in my hand I raised the bet to $10.  The blinds folded and both limpers called.  Effective stacks were around $160.  The flop was a very agreeable 10 8 6 rainbow.  Yes, if one of them was playing 79 I wasn't in great shape and if one of them had pocket 10s I was screwed but there was no reason to assume either of those scenarios to be true.  They both checked to me and I bet $15 (half the pot), both of my opponents called.  There are way more hands in their ranges that I'm way ahead of then the two hands that have me beat so I'm still feeling pretty good and am in fact contemplating exactly how to size my turn bet with there now being about $75 in the pot.  I'm thinking that a $50 bet will set me up to logically shove the river and that's my plan because I haven't seen anything yet that tells me I shouldn't be ready to get my stack in this hand.

The turn is the Queen of spades which puts a spade draw on the board.  The first Villain checks as anticipated but the second Villain starts to fumble with his chips.  He eventually bets $20 into $75, and I take a few moments to ponder what to do.  Possible scenarios are running through my head.  Did he flop huge and slowplay?  Even if he did, 66, 68 and T8 are all hands that he could have played that way along with TT.  If that was his whole range, I'm still comfortably ahead.  The most logical explanation though is that the Q somehow changed things for him.  QT certainly fits that description and in this case (especially given the small bet) a hand like AQ or KQ that peeled the flop fits his play (I didn't even factor QQ into my thinking as I'm confident V raises that hand pre-flop.  Of course, another hand that fits his play is J9 that flopped open ended and turned the nuts.  No need to get MUBSy though, looking at his whole range I'm still way ahead.  I look at his stack and my estimation is he still has room to fold something like two pair or 66 if I shove, plus I still want to hear from our first V and encourage him to keep putting money in bad.  I decide to flat and shove the river.  I consciously decide at this point that I'm willing to stack off in the hand.

The river is a meaningless 4 of diamonds.  First Villain checks and our aggressor villain now leads for $45 into $135, right about 1/3 pot.  I go ahead and raise, the first Villain folds and the second Villain pauses for a bit and then calls.  I flip over my set and hope to see him roll over top two pair.  Alas, it was J9 of spades so he turned the nuts with a flush redraw.  Nice hand sir and there goes almost all of my initial buy in.

I reload and I'm bummed out.  Looking back, I do feel good about the way I played the hand.  I was thinking through the situation, had a reason for all my decisions and made those decisions on the whole range of hands he could have had there.  I'm also happy that I followed through with my plan and raised the river.  One of the things I need to work on is making sure I'm getting full value for hands and that was a spot where I can get paid off by him with worse.  There were enough hands he would play that way that I beat that I believe I was making +EV decisions and just ran into the top of his range.  As a noted philosopher once said, "excrement occurs".  If I'm honest with myself though, I have to concede that following that hand there was an urgency to "recover".  This urge is a bad thing.  If I get it again and can't control it, then I should just get up.

Now thereafter, I didn't get much to play with at all.  I did raise JJ from EP once and won a decent size pot with.  Other than that though, pretty ragged.  The best ace I recall seeing was A8 and I think I may have gotten on or two small pairs that I saw a flop with and folded.  Other than that, lots of junk.

And then, you know it just happens.  The thoughts start to go through my head:  "You're a poker player, you should be aggressive.  Cards aren't really the issue, you can just outplay people."

So, these thoughts are another good indication that it's time to leave the table, but I didn't.  I started to "make plays".  Now the first one, I actually feel pretty good about.  There was a standard open and a flat call in front of me.  I gaze down at, the Honey Badger, suited no less, and you know, the Honey Badger just don't care.  I three bet, get calls from both the original raiser and the flat caller and take the hand down with a c-bet.  Oh, now the little voice in my head is just gushing, "you are so good, you can just keep outplaying everyone."

I need to learn when to tell that little voice to STFU.  Instead, I decide to activate my Spew-Monkey powers!

I open from EP with suited connectors and fold to a three bet from a young kid who hadn't been too active.  He shows 78 os.  A ha!  We have someone else here who wants to play, let's get into it.  I get into it with this player a few hands later.  I limp AJ in EP (I should have opened, but I'm looking to play "tricky" now).  The Kid raises.  I call.  I flop nothing and checkraise him anyway.  He flats.  The turn puts a flush draw out.  I bet big and he shoves.  I think and convince myself that he's weak.  So I call off with ummmm .... AJ high?!  I was right, he was weak, bottom pair weak.  Seeing as how bottom pair beats A high, I shipped a good bit of chips over to him.  Two hands later he racks up and leaves.

A few hands later, I raise QT sooted from EP.  I mean c'mon, I had 40% of a royal flush so I had to build a pot right?  I get 17 callers (how do you think my image was at this point?).  The flop comes out AKx with the x being of my suit.  I'm out of position and that board must have hit someone who called, so I check and it checks around.  The turn is another A and I decide to take a stab at it even though really, what hand am I representing?!  Well, I actually only get one caller, so I decide to shove the river.  He pauses for a while, eventually calls, he had QQ.  Now really I know that there is just nothing he has that calls the turn and folds the river, especially not this guy who'd shown himself to be pretty stationy.  I at least come to my senses at that point, pick up the few chips I have left and head home.  As I'm getting up, one of the older regulars in the game sitting next to me says, "well it looks like your night of bullshitting is over."  It was a very apt observation and a needle I well deserved.

So in the hopes that I can actually get something of value from this experience, I have put it all down here.  Humans are supposed to be intelligent creatures that can learn from their mistakes.  Hopefully, I've learned from last night's mistakes.


  1. Sorry about the loss but this is a really good post. I love how you are really able to get into your mind and explain the transition from nit to LAG (am I being fair?). I can never remember all my thought processes after a poker session, I'm lucky if I can remember a few key hands.

    My gut feeling is that if this is a locals room, you probably need to be fairly tight to have some success. Am I wrong about that?

    But hey, you took a shot and maybe learned from it, right? Not as good as winning but...hell, it's not as good as winning. Period.

    1. Rob, in my experience the games in the locals rooms fluctuate from rocky and weak (which means it is profitable to steal)to stationy (which means it's time to nit it up). It's good to have those different kinds of opponents to play against and to get used to doing different things against different players, but if you tilt your way into playing the wrong way against the wrong type of player - well the next day you're writing a blog post about how sh**ty a player you are.

      A good rule of thumb (and I write this more for my benefit than yours) is that the people that you make money stealing off of don't generally require two barrels.

      The thing about the thought process and being able to relate it is interesting. In the heat of the moment I don't verbalize all those thoughts. My analysis is thinking back after the fact and realizing what was running through my head too fast to realize at the moment. You have to be careful with this kind of analysis because it can easily lead to rationalizing, but it's what I've got for now.

      What I think great players can do is get in that zone where time slows down and they can think all those thoughts very consciously.

  2. You know, the fact that you actually pointed the finger at yourself for your losses is honorable (though I don't expect it to catch on any time soon).

    I know I have had sessions like that as well where I notice I'm doing things that I shouldn't be but just can't seem to stop myself.
    Next thing you know I've put myself in a crappy spot and have no one to blame but me.

    So, what do we do? We live, we learn and we blog about it in hopes that we can improve our game through the power of other people calling us a fish!

    I mean - We study and we improve. Glad you are making the transition to cash - hope it makes you a more well rounded player over all!

    1. Yeah, there's only so many times you can find yourself in a shovefest tournament before you go ... "I think there's more".

      And no, I don't expect the self criticism thing to really catch on ... which has it's advantages too.