Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Aggressiveness

Yesterday was the official start of my bankroll challenge, and it was an uninspiring start to say the least. I got off to a horrible start, losing 3 SNGs in a row. Horrible stuff. A7 vs QT all in preflop (I was a shortstack), T on the river. KK all in vs AK, ace on the flop. Bad plays + bad beats = losing streak. I stuck with it though, and pulled out a 3rd place cash in the next one, then took down the final SNG for the night. 4 hours of play, $4 profit.

Slowly but surely.

So today is the 2nd part of my 5-part series of posts this week. Each post is about something that I believe will be important for me to have to be successful at my bankroll challenge (or just poker in general). Today, I'll talk about aggressiveness.

Aggressiveness isn't part of my nature. Not that I'm some passive pansy-ass bitch (although some would argue otherwise), but I consider myself to be too laid back to be aggressive person. I haven't been in a fist fight in years. I tend to argue with logic rather than the forcefulness of my speech. I'm willing to make sacrifices against my wishes when I feel that circumstances are relatively inconsequential. What some see as passiveness I consider to be a calmer approach to life. I know what's really important to me in life, and when those particular things are threatened, you see the aggressive side of me come out.

But this is about aggressiveness & poker. And it's on the poker table where I'm not always as aggressive as I should be. I'm not necessarily a donk when it comes to aggressiveness. I've got some moves. I don't always check my sets. I will, from time to time, reraise you with anything from middle pair with a flush draw to the absolute nuts. I've been known to float with absolute air if I have a strong read that I can take the pot away on the turn.

But note the one thing that's common between all of those examples. It's all post flop play. Where I do think I can improve on my aggressiveness is pre-flop. Using a big stack to my advantage. Working the bubble. Countering steals with resteals. Opening my shove range when I'm a shortstack and it folds to me. I think that my post a couple of weeks ago about a QQ hand I folded preflop perfectly shows that I have room to improve. Right now, I can get away with how I play preflop at these levels because the $5 games are filled with calling stations and donks who are willing to call pushes with crap. Just some examples from last night:

- Fold to bigstack who minraises a low stack BB from 100 to 200. Low stack, who has played very few hands, shoves for 1400. Bigstack at 3700 calls with A3o. Lowstack shows JJ and it miraculously holds. Bigstack says "I thought you were bluffing."
- Folds to me on the CO and I raise 3xBB to 240 with A9d. Loose SB calls. Flop comes 982, rainbow. I go for the OBFV and shove 1700+ into a 500 something pot. SB calls 85% of his stack with QTh - just some overs with a gutshot and a backdoor flush draw.

Nevertheless, I'm fairly confident in my ability to be aggressive, but I often times find myself lacking the stones to execute an aggressive play (the checkdown with T9 in my last MTT is a perfect example). When this happens, it's usually for one of two reasons.

One, I find myself becoming less aggressive after a tilt-inducing bad beat. Many people, when they go on tilt, they just start shoving chips in with ATC out of pure frustration. On the other hand, I tend to tighten up to a degree, waiting for a playable hand. Sometimes, those big hands don't come, so I open my range up a bit and start raising with hands like T9. However, if they don't connect, the combination of a smaller stack & not thinking clearly put me in a position where I don't make the optimal play. I don't c-bet when it's the only chance I have at taking down the pot, fearing that I'll get caught and my stack will dwindle more. Or, I c-bet on a three-overcard flop, hoping to represent a strong hand, but have to fold to a check-raise. I try to pride myself on not getting tilted very often, but it still happens from time to time, and usually when it does, I lose the aggression that got me a stack in the first place.

The second reason I lack aggressiveness is usually more common - fear of losing money. This happens in a number of ways. One way that's not as common, because I've been pretty good about staying within my bankroll, is when I become less aggressive because I'm too focused on trying not to lose my buyin. Back in the Party Poker days, when I was playing $22 & $33 SNGs, I'd find myself playing different when I tried to jump up to the $55 and $109 games. I'd win from time to time, but not nearly as consistently as before. The main reason was that I was playing scared, fearful that I'd make the wrong play and fail to cash. So instead of playing aggressively, I'd sit back and wait for cards and either get lucky or fold myself out of the game. Today, I don't jump out of my bankroll, but there's been a couple of times where I've played a $22 game, even sometimes a $11 game, and I get so concerned about the money involved that I don't play my game successfully.

Another way my fear of losing money manifests itself happens pretty frequently in MTTs. In the early stages of a MTT, I don't necessarily mind going out if I happen to run into better cards (KK vs KJ, well that's another story. Yes, I'm still bitter). Sometimes, I just can't get things going, and I'm out within the first hour. Once the money hits, I'm not too discouraged when I go out. I do prefer to stick around and win some more cash, but with my frugal bankroll, I'm happy for any cash right now. But it's the in-between levels, and not just necessarily on the bubble, that I hate to go out. Because of this, I find myself being one of those who tries to hang on and not go out near the bubble, and more often than night, I'll squeeze my way into the cash. However, if I want to become successful, I need to instead use aggression to my advantage, to chip up and put myself in position for a bigger score. Sometimes, aggression will backfire, and I'll go out when maybe I could have folded my way into the bottom payout spots. But I need to focus on the long term results and realize that, more often than not, aggression during these times is going to be more productive than folding into the money.

Coming up next: Focus.

1 Comments:

At July 24, 2007 at 9:36 PM, Blogger RaisingCayne said...

Matt,
Thanks for the comment at my new blog, I appreciate the welcome. And thanks for the congrats, I did enjoy that MATH tourney.

Cool blog you got here. Good luck with your bankroll challenge!

Liked the thoughts on aggressiveness. I can definitely relate. (I've gotten to the point now that I actually believe I AM a "passive pansy-ass bitch.") I never seem to have a problem with making enough moves when needed to keep my stack sufficient, (mostly preflop,) but I think I too often fall victim to the re-steal... automatically believing others whenever re-raised. It's in my nature to too often trust. I enjoyed your thoughts about how your human nature comes across on the poker felt. (Maybe I should recommend a random fist fight.) Lookin' forward to the upcoming post on 'focus'... (As I couldn't keep concentration in a frozen juice aisle myself.)

We will have to chat about 'local' play up here in the NorthWest soon... but on that subject, check out the Tulalip's NorthWest Poker Championship tourney this Sunday at 11 am. The field has been limited to ~236 at $500+$50 each. $100k+... winner gets ~$45,000. I believe registration may be full by now. ... And unfortunately I WON'T be playing in it. :-( But, I've got a buddy that I helped stake that will be tryin' to take it down. I'll likely post a blog about it.

I normally stay on the South end of the county... playing a lot at the Muckleshoot and predominantly at 'PJ Pockets,' my local card room. And I play now and again at joints further south, but rarely find myself in Seattle or further North, (save the occassional trip to the Tulalip.)

Well lookin' forward to keepin' up on your blog. We'll be in touch. See you at the felts...

I'm a talkin' donkey...
~RaisingCayne
http://www.atalkindonkey.blogspot.com/

 

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