Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Ooh, Ahh, Push It!

I find it hard to think critically about my game due to the stakes that I play. The straight-forwardness of most people's play, combined with the structure of a SNG, usually makes play pretty predictable. I've thought this way for a long time now, but a new year brings a new perspective, and I'm trying to get away from that limited mindset. Instead, I'm trying to look at things in a different light, because the truth is I should be crushing these games. Not just winning or cashing consistently, but crushing. And I'm not. So something must be wrong. I bubbled a 2-table SNG last night, and looking back, I can think of a couple hands that I played poorly.

Hand No. 1

TT in late position, 8 players left. My stack is about 11.5x the BB. This hand was actually the second of 4 hands in a row that I was dealt a PP (JJ, TT, QQ, 22). I've already pushed 2x, once to steal, the other with JJ with a limper before me. This affected my thinking because I elected to limp instead (with a limper before me again). I played this hand looking to get away from it from the start, and ended up folding when the BB bet out on a K-high 2-club flop. I should've pushed but didn't out of fear that I'd get called when that's exactly what I should want. If BB wakes up with JJ+, so be it. If limper calls with A8 and hits, so be it. I played this hand with the fear of getting sucked out on affecting my decision. I'm prone to getting in this mindframe on occassion, and the sooner I can learn to avoid it, the better I'll become.

Hand No. 2

This one I'm pretty sure I made the right play, but not completely. 55 UTG, my stack is about 14x the BB. If my M was smaller, this is a push without a doubt, but I felt that I still had time to play with 7 people left (including one microstack who is autofolding). I may be too results-oriented with this one as I would've at least doubled up with a flopped set - instead AQ doubled up against A7. Is anyone else pushing there?

Hand Nos. 3 & 4

Down to 5, I'm the shortstack again, with less than 10x the BB. Folds to me in the small blind with Q6o. I fold. Next hand, folds to me on the button with K7o. I fold.

What am I doing here? I HAVE to push these hands. The blinds are hitting me in three hands & I'm folding these hands? I know better than this. I have to push with basically ATC here (which is what I did a couple hands later with 83, running into AJ). I can try to feed you the excuse that I was scared to make a move because I was too afraid that I wouldn't cash (which was at the forefront of my mind because my bankroll is so small right now), but that's all it is, an excuse. The fact is, pushing those hands WAS my best chance to cash.

The good news is that, despite the debacle last night, I've still managed to double my bankroll since the year started. The bad news is that I've been alive more years than my bankroll has dollars. I'll be redepositing most of the money I withdrew in a week or two, but until then, I better start adjusting my game and stop being so results focused. I need to remember that, despite how ugly the cards may look, there's times when it's appropriate to go all in with them, and thinking about this concept as being contradictory to how I play poker means that I'm further away from being a good poker player than I'd like to think.


At January 2, 2008 at 10:17 AM, Blogger SirFWALGMan said...

I could be wrong and often am but I play SNGs with a lean towards caution so that I can cash most of the games I play. If the cards are good I get 1/2 if not I 90% of the time get 3rd.. and then can try and move up or wait out 2nd depending. Since these are so short and 3-spots pay I think I like playing tens a little cautious depending on the situation.. it seems like you had chips and did not have to gamble.

At January 2, 2008 at 10:46 AM, Blogger Matt said...

If my stack was a bit shorter, then I wouldn't have hesitated another push, so I somewhat agree that limping wasn't a completely horrible move. Where I have a problem with this is that there's few flops where I'm going to get someone's stack with me as the favorite - if it comes 9-high or below, and someone hits top pair, I dunno if they commit their chips on that flop.

The BB could have hit middle pair and checking to see where he stands, but without any information, I felt like I had to fold my Tens when I would've won the hand preflop.

All in all, my biggest issue is that I chose to limp over a push or a raise out of the fear that I'd end up in somekind of coinflip situation. Really, I'm more upset with the thought process behind the decision than I am the decision itself.

At January 2, 2008 at 11:25 AM, Blogger RaisingCayne said...

Matt, you've got me tilted this morning with news of the Treasure Casino's apparent closure! That blows!

Anyway, regarding this post, I think you are indeed correct in questioning your play a bit...

Re: Hand #1... Holding TT with just 8 players left, a stack between 10-15 BBs, one limper in front... I think this should be an insta-push here. Regardless of the preceding hands. In fact, I consider TT as a monster in this circumstance and am happy the previous hand gives me a loose image here, as I'm confident I've got the best of it. I believe you should've been happy to get it all in here.

Re: hand #2... I probably also just let go of 55 in that spot. (Unless I'm FUEL, of course.) I believe your regret here is far too results-oriented, for this specific hand.

Re: hands #3 & 4... Yes, I probably prefer a push in both of these spots myself, but I also don't think they're worth completely kicking yourself over. (It is only hand #1 that I believe is worth significant regret, IMO.)

Anyway, good luck with your future results! Given your consistent ambition to improve your game, I have no doubt '08 will have some nice results for you.

We'll be in touch soon regarding some '08 home games. Take care...


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