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George: Elaine! Get! Do women know about shrinkage?
Elaine: What do you mean, like laundry?
George: No.
Jerry: Like when a man goes swimming... afterwards...
Elaine: It shrinks?
Jerry: Like a frightened turtle!

My game is in full-blown shrinkage mode right now. What was once half-decent and respectable is now nothing more than a small little nothing to be mocked by the average Villain. I even thought I'd give Alan and Gnome the benefit of the doubt and stopped changing my pre-flop raise sizes when I found myself playing against some aggressive pre-flop players. All for naught, unfortunately.

Last night's marathon session at PokerStars closely mirrored the typical sessions that I've been dealing with lately. No action with any of my big hands, too much action with hands that can't stand the heat, and many of my opponents reading my like a book. I found myself playing raised pots out of position. And many pots got stolen from me (a simple assumption given the number of times I was forced to fold after the flop) as I found myself facing pot-sized donk-bets and multiple callers on my whiffed flops. At one table, I found myself with a c-bet percentage of less than 25% due to my inability to get a chip in edge-wise given the amount of action in the hand before I got my say on the button.

I understand that for every good session that I have there will also be one or more bad sessions. Every great flop will be mirrored by just as many - if not more - horrific flops. If I played 20K+ hands a month, I'm sure that I wouldn't feel the effects of variance as much as I do. Then again, the feeling of being on a hot streak can be incredible when you play less hands. Last month's hot streak was a mere 5000 hands long that lasted for three long weeks. It was great!

Although I still seem to be getting lucky when it comes to all-in luck, I still feel as if something's missing from my game. I took a look at my PokerTracker stats and seemed to find a few things that confirmed my general feelings of dismay with poker:
  • Of the 197 pocket pairs that I've seen flops with, I have flopped a set or better only 5 times. Of those five times, I flopped sets with AA twice, KK once, QQ once, and 66 once. I only got paid off once with my set of aces because we happened to be all-in pre-flop.
  • Of the 700 hands that I've seen a flop with, I have hit the flop with a pair or better only 150 times. What does this mean? It means that my opponents are winning a lot of pots by check-raising me off my high-card hands.
The funny thing is that I'm not really card dead. I'm picking up my fair share of great hands. I've had KK eight times in my last 600 hands! However, seven of those cowboys have been dealt to me in the big blind and I've had everyone fold to me. I think that gets me a little tilty. Especially when I raise AK on my very next hand from UTG and get four callers.

In any case, I'll have some more hands to put up for review this week. I'm going to take a night or two off from poker again. Last night was extremely frustrating and I need to take the time to re-examine my game and work on improving things. As one of my readers pointed out, poker is not video games. It's impossible to guarantee a string of winning sessions no matter how hard you practice. Poker isn't a game that you can beat as readily as Mass Effect - a game I could and did beat this past weekend.

When I play again on Thursday night, I'd like to hit the tables hard with all signs of shrinkage hopefully far behind.


joxum (Denmark) said...

When I saw the title I immediately knew there'd be a reference to that Seinfeld episode...funny!

Anyway - like someone said in the previous post, you seem to be very oriented towards succes at every hand. When it doesn't happen you let yourself get affected and blame the cards or the other players or whatever.

There's some truth to the claim that you never get paid off on your biggest hands, while the freakier hands you happen to play from position or when you mix up your play sometimes turn to gold, (no presto is not one of those hands).

Just be patient, don't play the cardslook at the bigger picture etc., I'm fresh out of clich├ęs...

/j. (who just got dealt AA in CO and hardly got a dollar from it).

Klopzi said...

Joxum -

I am extremely results-oriented when things are going poorly. I guess I just hate the thought of investing my precious time in a losing battle.

I'll just keep plugging away and see if things turn around for me. It'd be nice to start getting my money in as a favourite again.

Failing that, I'd love to start getting outrageously lucky again.

Gnome said...

When I hit one of these runs with not-so-horrible cards but action in all the wrong places, I try to really focus on tightening up overall and ONLY playing hands in-position. I'll give up on defending my blinds most of the time and simply try to play straightforward solid poker.
This style may not maximize results, but it helps to get me centered and book some wins until my head gets back to the right place.

Klopzi said...

gnome -

I've been looking into playing a little "by-the-book" positional poker over the weekend. I think I'll even resort to using a "hand chart" to force myself to stay on target.

As you said, a few small winning sessions back-to-back-to-back could do wonders for my game.

Alan aka RecessRampage said...

What Gnome said.

Even in 6 max, there are sessions that I see the flop less than 15%. I play tight because my opponents are aggrobetting me out of pots. So, I tighten up, make less cbets, etc. But not in a scared way. I choose better spots to cbet with and if my read is that opponent is playing back with nothing, I'll put in another raise. Who cares if you open raise UTG with AK and get 4 callers. It happens. But I've been at many 6 max tables where I chucked KQ, QJ etc from positions earlier than CO just because there were guys behind me that would 3 bet fairly often and those are not hands I want to go to war with, esp OOP.

I think sometimes you need to stop worrying about theories and books and go with "feel." And defending blinds in cash game is overrated. If you're not defending, sure, it could be a leak in your game but not a major one.