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Picking Up The Pieces

I was really tempted to take a break from poker after getting beat down so badly over the weekend. In the past, that's how I've handled myself when short-term variance took a unexpected turn for the worse. I decided to approach the problem more methodically this time. I wanted to identify exactly what had happened, figure out if I could make any necessary changes to my game, and continue playing poker.

The first thing I did yesterday was watch more limit hold'em videos from DeucesCracked. DanzaSmack has a great video series - The Price is Right - that serves as a great introduction to players new to 6-max limit hold'em. It's been a great series that accurately portrays poker at the micro-stakes tables ($0.50/$1). There are a few important points that I've learned from this series:

  1. Super loose-passive players can be difficult to play against from a mental point of view. These players will cold call most of your raises, forcing you to play out of position in bloated pots against an opponent who will rarely fold. Being forced to bet the flop and check-fold the turn over and over and over is aggravating and difficult to do if you lose sight of the big picture. These particular Villains will make you second guess your every play. It's very easy to go on tilt against these players and getting increasingly aggressive as your frustration levels rise.

  2. Playing in loose games with multiway pots filled with super loose-passive players requires a tightening of opening hand ranges. This is especially true when playing out of position against a player who just won't fold. However, multiway pots allow suited connectors and small pairs to be played profitably.

  3. Bet-folding is a vital skill to develop and should be used quite often against passive players. These loose-passive players will showdown all sorts of hands but tend to only raise the goods (i.e. the nuts). Betting a decent made hand makes sense in terms of value but you must be willing to muck your hand when these passive players show aggression. Betting also helps to keep the loose-passive players' bluffing frequency to a minimum. A 70/5/0.7 fish may bet when shown weakness on the river but will rarely (if ever) raise or check-raise on a bluff.

  4. Finally, a bet saved is a bet earned. There's no shame in firing a c-bet but check-folding the turn unimproved. Folding to a river raise from most opponents is a sound strategy at these low stakes. Let your opponents make the iffy calls and focus instead on betting your good hands for value and releasing your garbage.

I also looked over some hands from my horrific downswing. I realized that I was playing decent poker but failing to account for my opponents' inability to fold their hands pre-flop. I didn't tighten up my opening hand range to compensate for my opponents' tendencies and I paid the price.

I also ran extremely cold over the past few sessions. I wasn't hitting flops yet managed to pick up a large number of big hands. I got frustrated by the constant whiffs on the flop and carried a few of my unimproved monster hands much too far (e.g. bet/calling with an unimproved AK on the river...brutal). And I definitely peeled a little too lightly in certain multiway pots where I failed to discount my outs sufficiently against some aggressive betting from passive players. And finally, I missed some critical raises and value bets in spots that could have easily improved my results greatly.

I played a couple tables of $0.50/$1 limit hold'em at Full Tilt last night. My only plan was to play simple ABC poker and focus on having fun. I had to see if I could get back to playing confident, winning poker. I think things went well. I did miss two easy river value bets against a couple fishy players. But I was able to make a good call when a loose-aggressive player check-raised my river bet on a T986x board. I had pocket sixes and made the call against the 50/35/2.4 villain getting 8:1. Villain showed T5 and I took down the 10 BB pot.

I'd like to book at least one more winning session at $0.50/$1 before I jump back up to the $1/$2 games. My immediate goal is get my lifetime record at $0.50/$1 back above $0 before I make the move; I'm pretty close. This has nothing to do with the "difficulty" of the $1/$2 games and everything to do with my overall confidence as a poker player.

Have a good one!

1 comment:

Dave said...

I know exactly how you feel. I've gotten burnt out over the years and taken breaks. Tilt really sucks. I have to tip my hat to those who play the game for long stretches. It ain't easy.