Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Last Time...I Mean It

I took a stab at playing some more games last night. I ended up blowing through my $66 in a variety of games, only finishing in the money once, taking 2nd in PL Omaha Hi-Lo. I think I played well in some games, not so well in others. Again, I'm posting this at work when I should be working, and I don't have a hand history to go by, but some things I did well were:

  • called 96off from the small blind, flopped top pair, and called to the end thinking my pair was probably good (rightly so; the opponent flopped bottom pair with a flush draw. Nevermind that, even though there was no raise preflop, he played 10-3 suited out of position. Yes, this was on Party Poker)
  • managed my shortstack well despite being extremely card dead throughout the evening (in two games of NL, I picked up KK, QQ, and AK exactly once. No other hands worth noting). I made through over half the field in a 5-table SnG playing as well as I could given the table, losing when AK flopped a pair against my 8s.
  • played much tighter during Omaha Hi-Lo, throwing away any medium pocket pairs if I didn't have flush or Lo possibilities. I only threw away chips once when I thought I had the Lo, thinking that the other two players in the hand were chasing the Hi hand. I should have thrown it away on the turn, especially since it wasn't even the nut Lo. I think there may have been some nut possibilities on the turn, I'll have to check the hand, but without a made hand, I should have folded. Otherwise, I played well, losing the other game when I was down to about 40% of my chips and made a stand with KK25 (2s5s), only to have my opponent call with K299 with 2nd nut flush possibilities.

That last Omaha hand really pissed me off because anyone who has any idea how to play Omaha should know that such as hand is a hand you should probably lay down if someone makes a pot-size bet from the BB. Granted, my hand wasn't the strongest, but it definitely was the hand I need to take a stand with: I had a solid pair, with Lo, straight, and flush possibilities. Calling with K299, you are really only looking to flop a set of 9s (which he did, leaving me drawing to the case K). 2nd nut flush possibility isn't bad if you're going heads up against someone (definitely not recommended in a multiway pot, which this guy was going to do had I not raised the flop). I shouldn't be pissed, and I should instead remember this kind of play and try to take advantage of it (or at least be more aware of it).

I honestly don't remember much more from the evening. I played at least one 7-Card Stud game, maybe two, and donked off my chips, calling hands with shitty 2-pairs (even though I knew I was ahead when I hit the 2-pair, I should have folded early on instead of chasing, hitting, and then having my opponents suck out).

I also remember making a couple of key laydowns, including laying QQ down when a K hit the flop. I remember the hand played out as so:

EP calls BB of 60. I raise to 160 with QQ. EP calls 100. Pot is 410. (I raised to 160 because, although I have a strong hand, this is PP, and I can expect pretty much this guy to call my raise unlesss I severely overbet the flop, and even then he may still call. I'm only afraid of an A or a K on the flop; with no preflop raise I'm putting this guy on anything from KT to Ax. He has the odds to call, and I want a call, and I want a flop that I like).

Flop comes K63. He checks. I have a decision to make: do I want to represent that the K helps my hand do I want to check and see what the turn brings. I have a feeling that this guy has a K with a mediocre kicker. With no flush or straight draws, I figure a bet of 300 would represent a made hand, but I feel that this guy would call that if he had a K with a bad kicker, so I check as well.

The turn comes another low card, he bets out 250, and I fold. At this point, I have no problem folding: I still have plenty of chips, it's early in the game, I can wait. The bet doesn't seem like a bluff either; it's possible he called with a small pocket pair and hit his set.

I realize that I showed immense weakness in this hand. I could have raised more preflop, but this early on I'm not looking to steal blinds; I'm looking to build the pot with a solid hand. My bet did the job in that it stopped anyone else from limping in with hands like connectors and Ax. I could have bet the flop, but I didn't, and I think that this is from making continuation bets in situations where I could be a huge underdog and getting called or reraised. In retrospect, I think I should have bet the flop; if he calls, I'm done with the hand. Checking the flop tells me nothing about his hand, it makes me look weak and opens him up to take control of the hand.

Overall I'm not feeling that great about my poker game. If or when I do pick up poker again, I think I might play elsewhere. I feel like Party Poker is damaging my game. It seems almost impossible to put anyone on a hand and even more impossible to play my best game. It feels like I have to wait for AA or KK to play a hand. If people are calling preflop with T3h and hoping to hit 2 pair or the 5th-nut flush, how do I adjust my play then? I know I'm a better player than this, but lately, it seems like I can't play unless I'm somewhere close to the nuts.

I know that poker is all about making the right decisions, and I feel like that I'm doing that about 65% of the time. I do feel that my game has weakened now that I've cut back my playing a lot. I find myself becoming less patient, losing focus, and either playing hands I normally wouldn't or playing hands I normally would but playing them differently. For example, I have A9s next to the button, no limpers behind me. I raise, button calls, SB and BB fold. Flop comes all low cards with 2 clubs. I bet the flop, he calls. Turn completes a possible flush, I check-fold. Should I have raised with A9s preflop? Should I have continuation-betted the flop? I have confidence in my skills as a poker player, but right now...I don't have the confidence that I'm playing at my top skill level.

It's definitely time to take a break for a while....


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