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Money and Midnight Oil

A new week has started and I'm already exhausted. For anyone keeping track, my son has now refused to sleep soundly for well-over three weeks. Averaging roughly 3 hours of restless sleep a night, I've wondered if my poker game has taken a turn for the worse. As things stand right now, my results are dismal yet inconclusive.

When August started up, I was riding a solid winning streak at the $50 NL 6-max tables. I think that the level of commitment and effort that I was bringing to the tables and to my bathroom reading (a.k.a. "The Library") were having very positive effects on my bankroll. However, variance soon reared its ugly head, forcing my game into a slight tailspin.

Absolute Poker was my site of choice for about a week's time. With both rakeback and bonuses, my overlay was as good as could be expected in this post-UIGEA era. However, a few things bothered me about Absolute Poker:

  1. Roughly 80%+ of all NL games at 0.25/0.50 blinds and higher are jackpot tables.
  2. All 6-max NL tables are deep stack tables, allowing for buy-ins of 200 BB. Although this is a good thing for skilled players, this is not that great for someone like me on a limited bankroll (a concept that still leaves me uneasy).
  3. At the jackpot tables, Absolute takes an extra 50 cents out of every raked pot and puts it towards the Bad Beat Jackpot. It's a little hard to beat the rake plus the jackpot drop at the micro-limit tables.
Don't get me wrong: the games at Absolute are totally beatable. I just hate being limited in the number of games at my disposal due to the an over-abundance of jackpot tables that only serve to further pad an online poker room's coffers. Sure, you can talk all you like about the games being +EV when the jackpot reaches X dollars; when it comes down to it, though, trying to win the bad beat jackpot seems a lot like playing the lottery.

I pulled my money out of Absolute Poker last week and decided to re-invest in Party Poker. Party was running another reload bonus and I figured their tables were soft enough that I could earn myself a little money in addition to the overlay of a bonus. I opted to try for a $40 bonus which would take about 30 or so table hours to clear.

Starting late last Thursday evening, I deposited at Party and started playing a couple $50 NL 6-max tables. Right off the bat, I found all my pre-flop raises getting re-popped by this prick sitting to my left. Every. Single. Raise! As Mr. Maniac's stack continued to grow by 4 BBs every few hands, I planned my revenge...

Party Poker ($50 NL)

Stack sizes:
UTG: $52.88
UTG+1: $64.61
Hero: $62.55
Button (Villain): $64.70
SB: $33.28
BB: $50

Pre-flop: (6 players) Hero is CO with 8♦ 8♥
UTG calls, UTG+1 folds, Hero raises to $2.5, Villain raises to $8, 3 folds, Hero calls.

(I wasn't worried about UTG at all in this hand. He was an average player and I knew that Villain was going to re-pop me and get the pot heads up. Rather than 3-bet my nemesis pre-flop and possibly scare him off, I decided to smooth call the raise. My plan was to check-raise all-in on the flop, no matter what third street brought us. Honestly, Villain was playing about 70% of his hands and raising so many of them pre-flop that I had no way of narrowing his range of hands.)

Flop: 3♣ 9♥ 2♦ ($17.25, 2 players)
Hero checks, Villain raises all-in $56.7, Hero calls all-in $54.55.
Uncalled bets: $2.15 returned to Villain.

(Villain beat me to the punch by pushing on the flop. I thought for about 10 seconds. Would Villain jam with solid hand here? I didn't think so. The all-in bet reeked of weakness and I decided to put my read to the test by calling Villain's huge flop overbet with my second pair. Maybe Villain had me a little steamed...?)

Turn: 5♦ ($126.35, 0 player + 2 all-in - Main pot: $126.35)

(At this point, I was really regretting that Party Poker doesn't display each players hole cards once all the money is in the pot. Needless to say, the 5♦ wasn't a scare card for me. As long as I didn't see an Ace, King, or Queen on the river, I'd be happy...)

River: K♠ ($126.35, 0 player + 2 all-in - Main pot: $126.35)

(Well...damn it! That's what happens when you try and trap your opponent by overplaying your hand in a way-ahead/way-behind situation...)

Final pot: $126.35
Hero shows 8d 8h
Villain shows Js 6s (WTF?!)

(Luckily the river wasn't a 4! When Villain's hand was finally revealed, I got a little pissed off! Who the f*ck does this guy think he is that he can bully me with trash hands like J6s?! Although I believe that sound players win money from LAG players such as Villain in the end, the amount of variance that LAGs introduce to the game is a little frightening at times.)

From that point on, the rest of my weekend at the poker tables was absolutely disastrous. Although I still have enough of a bankroll to continue grinding away at the $50 NL tables, dropping 6 buy-ins over the course of 1500 hands is not my idea of fun.

Looking over my numbers, everything seems in order:

  • Playing looser and more aggressively from the button? Check.

  • Playing tight when out of position? Check.

  • Avoiding getting all my money in drawing dead? Check.

  • Checking behind on the river with mediocre hands? Check.

  • C-betting well? Check.

  • Semi-bluffing when pot equity + fold equity = good? Most of the time.

  • Pushing opponents off pots when shown a lot of weakness? Somewhat.
On paper, everything about my game looks pretty standard...and then you take a look at some of the hands. The following two hands marked the beginning of my downfall. In each of these hands, I was targetting DONKEY and got thwarted by the Villain. Prior to these two hands, I'd managed to stack DONKEY six times for a total of $90. But you know what they say: easy come, easy go...

Party Poker ($50 NL)

Stack sizes:
UTG: $53.02
UTG+1: $66.01
CO (DONKEY): $12
Button: $49.50
Hero: $76.71
BB (Villain): $49.50

Pre-flop: (6 players) Hero is SB with Q♦ A♣
2 folds, DONKEY (poster) checks, Button calls, Hero raises to $3.5, Villain calls, DONKEY folds, Button calls.

(I wasn't too happy about Villain cold-calling me in position. He was fairly new to the table and I had no reads. Originally, my plan was to jam the flop and put DONKEY to a decision for all his chips - a decision that he'd screwed up on six prior occasions. Villain's call scared off my mark, forcing me to play my hand out of position in a multi-way pot.)

Flop: T♦ A♥ 3♥ ($11, 3 players)
Hero bets $8, Villain calls, Button folds.

(Good flop for me! Time to make a large bet and take down the pot! Yet again, Villain proved to be a thorn in my side.)

Turn: 7♣ ($27, 2 players)
Hero checks, Villain checks.

(I didn't think Villain would call such a large flop bet with a simple flush draw, though anything was possible. I wasn't in the mood to play for my whole stack at this point in time so I checked, hoping that Villain wouldn't jam on me. When he checked behind, I leaned a little more heavily towards Villain holding a hand like Ax with a heart, a pair with a flush draw, or an unlikely naked flush draw.)

River: 4♦ ($27, 2 players)
Hero checks, Villain bets $12, Hero calls.

(Well, the flush didn't come in. As long as Villain didn't hold a raggedy two pair, I figured my hand to be good. I checked to the Villain, hoping to induce a bluff. I was prepared to call a pot-sized bet on the end. When Villain offered me greater than 3:1 on the river, I insta-called.)

Final pot: $51
Villain shows 6h 5h
Hero doesn't show Qd Ac

(Brutal! In my attempt to control the pot size, I managed to give my opponent a chance to hit his draws (flush draw and a gut-shot straight draw) cheaply. I was a little upset that Villain called my large pre-flop and flop bets with a 65s; however, I might have been able to prevent the outcome by betting or jamming on the turn.)

After playing that hand as weakly as I did, you'd think that I'd learned my lesson. Guess not...

Party Poker ($50 NL)

Stack sizes:
UTG (DONKEY): $11.25
UTG+1: $49.25
Hero: $78.99
Button (Villain): $85.54
SB: $49.50
BB: $84.53

Pre-flop: (6 players) Hero is CO with A♠ T♦
DONKEY calls, UTG+1 calls, Hero raises to $3, Villain calls, 2 folds, DONKEY calls, UTG+1 folds.

(Once again, Villain stepped in the way as I tried to isolate DONKEY and his dwindling stack.)

Flop: 4♦ 2♣ A♦ ($10.25, 3 players)
DONKEY checks, Hero bets $6, Villain calls, DONKEY raises all-in $8.25, Hero calls, Villain calls.

(Deja vu! I now had a read on Villain: he was an extremely loose, passive player. A little aggressive on the river, but otherwise a typical fishy player. I was happy that DONKEY decided to come along for the ride this time. A couple orbits past, DONKEY had managed to double up through me when I hit top pair and he held KK for the overpair. DONKEY's pre-flop raise percentage sat solidly at 0% after 100 hands so I couldn't fault my play on that hand. I was a little peeved that Villain called my flop bet yet again but was happy to see DONKEY jam. I really should have re-raised in an attempt to push Villain off his hand.)

Turn: 8♥ ($35, 2 players + 1 all-in - Main pot: $35)
Hero checks, Villain checks.

(Although I could have bet the turn, I was a little worried given that Villain and I had good-sized stacks. Since I didn't re-raise the flop, I figured that any bet of significance on the turn would commit me to the pot. If Villain held a pair, I might be able to induce the bluff on the river by playing possum yet again.)

River: 2♦ ($35, 2 players + 1 all-in - Main pot: $35)
Hero checks, Villain bets $8, Hero calls.

(When the 2♦ hit on the river, I was a little worried that Villain may have hit a flush. However, I was prepared to call a half pot-sized bet given that I'd displayed so much weakness throughout the hand. Luckily, Villain obliged me by keeping his river bet rather small...)

Final pot: $51
Villain shows 5d 8d
DONKEY doesn't show Tc Ts
Hero doesn't show As Td

(In 6-max, giving free cards is not always that bad a thing. I believe this is even more true when playing out of position and covered by your opponent. I was a little unlucky with how things turned out in this hand, but you have to take the good with the bad when playing passively. I think Villain's initial call on the flop was a little optimistic, though he managed to hit his twelve-outer (fourteen outs on the turn) and take down another big pot.)

After these two awful hands, everything went to hell in a hand-basket. Over the course of the next 1500 or so hands following, I'd was effectively stacked two or three times by awful river cards. And as for my premium hands and sets, both seemed to have left me to fend for myself.

It's ok though. After a few more sleepless nights and countless cans of Red Bull, I'll be so out of touch with reality that neither opponents nor Poker Gods will be able to make any sense of my actions on the felt. Win or lose: it's up to Lady Luck until I manage to count a few sheep.

I hear my son crying, so I'll stop here for today. If you're looking for me, I'll be asleep at the tables over at Party Poker.


sag said...

just don't play when you are on top of your game. it's hard, but why spill all your hard earned cash when you are not 100% focused.

Klopzi said...

sag -

I'm so tired all the time that I couldn't tell you if I have 100% focus to give to poker at any one time.

If I can manage at 50%, I'll be happy...