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My game's broken?!

Something's wrong...or I guess I should say something's right. I can't explain what's been happening...but it's been happening. Since starting at Tiger Gaming in May 2005, my game has always been mediocre. Actually, let me clarify - my results have always been mediocre whereas my game has been all over the place.

If you've been following along with my recent posts, you've probably noticed a few things:

  1. My posts have been pure sh*t. I apologize - I blog from work and work has been a real bitch lately.

  2. I have not been playing huge amounts of poker. Generally, I've played 3 to 5 nights a weeks during the month of March instead of 5 to 7 nights a week.

  3. My results have been somewhat un-mediocre as of late.

I guess my game has just been clicking lately. It's a great feeling! Don't get me wrong - I'm not bragging about my game or my results. In fact, I think the only time one should be justified in bragging is with a big tournament win or after a huge night at the tables. All I'm saying is that poker is feeling good right now.

They say that you cannot judge how well or how poorly you're playing based on your results alone. I find this to be especially true when I'm losing and I guess it's valid when I'm winning as well.

I'll admit that a lot of my success has come from picking up the right hand at the right time. However, poker isn't just about winning big pots. It's about staying afloat long enough to hit those big pots.

I find that the NL cash games really suit my style of play. In fact, I'll share my winning strategy with anyone who wants to read it. Here it is:

  1. Only play good cards.

  2. Folding is good.

  3. Don't bluff!

  4. Don't call because you think he's bluffing...because he's not.

  5. Every action taken by the other players means something: if you know the why, you'll start to figure out what they're holding and how to stack them.

  6. Every action you take should mean something and have a purpose. Split-second decisions and hunches are your worst enemy.

Enough with the strategic drivel - let's look at yesterday's results. In short, I had another above-average day. In fact, I've only had one day where my bankroll showed better results and that was back in July of last year.

After leaving work early to get some x-rays done, I sat down to play the $20 NL tables at River Belle. I have to say that the tables are more plentiful at 4 PM EST than they are at 9 PM EST. And there seems to be a lot of players willing to gamble it up a little.

I only played 55 minutes but managed to find myself up two buy-ins.

I was up one buy-in when the big stack at one table, a through and through maniac, decided to push on the turn with a K9o with the board showing 3 8 7 6 rainbow. I called holding 99 and took the pot.

I won another buy-in when I raised on the button with AQs. Flop came down Q 9 7. Two opponents check to me, I bet $2 into the $3 pot. CO raises my bet to $4 and I decide to call to see what the turn brings.

The turn is an ace and both the CO and I get our stacks all-in. The CO showed a 97o and my top two-pair beat his bottom two-pair.

For all those newer players out there, this is exactly why you should not play hands like 97o unless you really know what you're doing. It's a garbage hand and you're only asking for trouble. If you get unbelievably lucky, you may hit the flop hard and take down the pot. Usually you'll miss the flop and simply throw your hand away.

But if you get unlucky, as my opponent did above, you will get stacked. Bottom two-pair is one of those hands where you'll find yourself way ahead or way behind - don't go broke with it!

I did play another couple hours at River Belle later last night but found myself down 45 cents. As I mentioned earlier, being able to stay afloat for extended periods of time at NL cash games is a good skill to have. If you're patient enough to sit back and break even with the mediocre hands, you will still make money by letting your big pairs do the talking. That's what I do and it seems to be working.

I also played the dreaded $30 SNG at PokerStars. I'd been putting it off for fear of losing and being downgraded back to the $20 SNGs.

Things looked bad in the beginning when I overplayed a drawing hand and found myself down to T1000 and in last place. These players were super-tight in the beginning. Most pots were contested heads-up and no one was making any moves.

I finally managed to double up when I picked up QQ in the big blind. Everyone folded to the SB who limped and I raised it to T150 (blinds 25/50). Flop came down 5 3 3. The SB bet the pot almost immediately. I assumed that he held a 5 in this spot since I believed he would have checked to me had he held a 3.

I'd been raising a lot pre-flop and following up with c-bets (continuation bets) on most flops. The SB knew that I'd come out betting if he checked to me but still decided to bet. I decided that I was ahead and I was willing to back up my convictions with my stack. I made it another T500 to go and the SB pushed all-in: I was pot-committed and called.

Well, the SB did not have a 5. He had pocket sixes and I doubled up when he did not hit his two-outer.

During the next blind level, I managed to flop the nut straight with my AK. I bet the flop then feigned weakness on the later streets. When my opponent pushed all-in on the river, I quickly called. My opponent had picked up the Q-high straight on the turn, just not the nut straight.

I was now in the chip lead at the table and took my time knocking out various opponents. When I found myself heads up, I had the chip lead. Unfortunately, my opponent rivered a gut-shot straight on me which gave him a 2:1 chip lead. I went out in second five minutes later when I decided to semi-bluff all-in with my flush draw and my opponent insta-called showing the flopped nut-straight.

I can't complain - heads up play is always a crap shoot. I was happy with my play and I took home the second place prize of $81. I'm looking forward to my next $30 SNG. The play's a little tighter than it is at the $5 level but I can handle it as long as I keep hitting big hands!

Anyway, this post is getting a little long so I'll end it here. I will be playing again tonight, desperately clawing my way towards finishing my River Belle deposit bonus. I've cleared about 370 raked hands in the past 12 days. I have 18 days left to clear the remaining 505 raked hands required. It's gonna be tough but I should be able to squeeze them all in under the wire.

I hope everyone out there has a great day at the tables and otherwise. I've got some work to do...


doubleuwhy said...

Keep it up!

Letting the bigger fishes bet into you when you are holding the top cards is infinitely more profitable then being the chaser/hoper yourself.

Klopzi said...

Thanks doubleuwhy.

I don't know how many fish play at the $30 SNGs - maybe 2 or 3 as compared to the 6 or 7 at the $5 levels.

I don't like being the chaser, but I'll do it if I'm getting odds. I find it's easier to chase a straight draw due to implied odds, but I'll chase the flush if I'm getting pot odds.

Although I suspect reverse-implied odds usually price me out. I'm not a good enough player to factor that into my decisions though.

iamhoff said...

Oh yeah, definitely better to be holding the nuts than chasing the nuts. That said, if the odds dictate it, go for it. I'm still too newbie to have a strong grasp on calculating odds (beyond what Harrington said). Also, trust your instincts. If your read on somebody says you've got a shot, do it. That's been one of my more frustrating things is laying down a strong hand that either would've held up or completed the win. I've laid down more queens (not that way!) than I'd really like to (my last post notwithstanding), only to "play" the hand out and watch them hold up, river a set, straight, whatever. If the odds work and your instincts concur, chase it. You'll probably get paid. Nice job on the SNG.

huma said...

Don't bluff!

I have trouble with this - especially if I make a big preflop raise with AK and the flop comes all rags. Or if I've limped in on the button with nothing and it gets folded around to me on the flop. I've obviously won often enough in these situations with a bluff that I forget about all the times it doesn't pay off. I should check pokeroffice to see if this is really a profitable play for me.

Don't call because you think he's bluffing...because he's not

Very guilty of this also. The only times this is a correct call is when I have enough data on a player to label him as a chronic bluffer. Seeing him show down a single bluff is not 'enough data'.

I was up one buy-in when the big stack at one table, a through and through maniac, decided to push on the turn with a K9o with the board showing 3 8 7 6 rainbow. I called holding 99 and took the pot

I'm not sure I would have been able to make this call. In fact I would have probably tried to take it down on the flop. I'm glad it paid off for you!

I won another buy-in when I raised on the button with AQs. Flop came down Q 9 7. Two opponents check to me, I bet $2 into the $3 pot. CO raises my bet to $4 and I decide to call to see what the turn brings.

Hmm a check-raise. I probably would have called here too but I'm not surprised you were beaten. You got lucky to hit your 7-outer on the turn so winning this big pot has nothing to do with skill ;)

Big congrats on the 2nd place. I'm sure you're a good enough player to stay at the $30 level - you just need the bankroll to sustain it. Here's hoping that you place a few more times to give you the padding you need to stay at this level. Hopefully, within the next 3-6 months, I'll be joining you at these tables.

Klopzi said...


I do try to play the odds as correctly as I can. I'm sometimes guilty of using gut instinct, but I'm a pretty tight player overall.

As for laying down queens, that's usually the safe bet if an A falls. You can take a stab at it if you're confident that a re-raise means that you're beaten.

Anyway, we'll see if my game holds up tonight...

Klopzi said...


First off, when I say "Don't bluff", I'm over-simplifying. Although this advice will definitely save you money, there are times when a semi-bluff is appropriate. I'm just not a fan of the pure bluff, especially against opponents who won't lay down their hands often enough to make it worthwhile.

As for the AQ hand, I did get lucky. In all fairness, I was not going to lose any more money on this pot. But I can't always lay down TPTK every time someone chooses to check-raise me. I'm pretty aggressive at times and there are a lot of players out there who'll check-raise me once they think they've got me figured out. Sometimes I'll have them beat, sometimes I'll get lucky - that's poker I guess.

And I'll keep an eye out to see how your game's coming along. I'm sure you'll be at the $30 tables as well.