Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Poker Is Fun!

This weekend I relearned an important lesson. Poker is fun!

Sure it's got earning potential, primarily through the twin revenue streams of never ending bonus offers and the undiminished supply of Party Poker fish, but there's more to it than that.

For a while I'd been getting too wrapped up in the minutiae of my downswing. Going over what I'd done, where it had gone wrong, how unlucky I'd been. It was time to take a step back.

Over the weekend I expanded my horizons beyond the usual limit Hold Em, into some cash No Limit Hold Em and a little very low stakes Seven Card Stud and Razz - all courtesy of Full Tilt.

I've always said playing the fun tables is only useful for getting to grips with the mechanics of a given site. To actually learn how to play properly, you need to play cash games. Even if only for $5.

My motivation was twofold. Primarily I just wanted to chill and try something a little different. I'm keen to expand my horizons beyond Hold Em into other areas of poker, but I also wanted a little No Limit practice before the WPBT event.

I had a great time on the Razz and Stud tables. Trying to learn how to read the other players' hands and compare them to mine. I did better at Razz than Stud - possibly due to the fact some players simply didn't seem to know the rules. I saw a few bets called on 6th street by players who could not win with the upcards showing.

The No Limit Hold Em was an experience too.

I'm quite happy buying in for $100 on a 2/4 limit table and committing upwards of $20 in increments on a single hand. It's an entirely different feeling to actually pop the $20 in a single bet, then pause to see whether a fold, call or raise is coming. My heart was pounding each time the cash went in the middle.

When the day dawns that I see the bet as chips, not cash, I'll know I've made it, but for now I'm in awe of the sums some guys are betting.

I've already covered the WPBT event, but I've a few things to add.

Most importantly thanks to Iggy and Otis for their coordinating skills, and Pauly for a splendid writeup. Thanks also to my fellow competitors - good company and good players makes for a fun few hours. I've added several more entries to Bloglines as a result.

Overall I'm fairly happy with how I played. I got good cards early and tried to maintain aggression as far as I could. I rarely play MTT, and even then usually freerolls, so this was a whole new experience.

The key hands for me were getting KK in late position and, unusually, seeing several limpers act before me. I was tempted to slow play, but didn't want so many players to see a flop and get the chance to catch something.

I considered making a standard raise but again thought that might not drive out enough players. I wanted to be 1-on-1. So I decided to push, hoping someone with a smaller pocket pair would read me for AK or a steal, and take me on.

Unfortunately everyone folded. Though the blinds/antes/calls were worth having, it was a missed opportunity.

Soon after, two key hands saw my downfall. When I raised The Poker Prof and he reraised all in, I knew he had a hand. I knew my AK needed to hit something to hold up.

If this was a cash tournament with the final table paying, it would have been a probable fold. I was well behind the leaders, but possibly in a position to fold to the final table or thereabouts.

However I wasn't here to place, I was here to win, and that meant I needed to accumulate chips to make some ground on the leaders. The pot was laying good odds, and I figured I was no worse than 6/4 to win.

The only hands I was truly afraid of were AA and KK, both of which I felt might possibly have led to a flat call rather than a push.

So, I took on The Prof hoping to catch an A or K. Only to see his QQ improve to a set. Despite the fact I lost the hand, it was probably the most enjoyable part of the tourney for me. A classic race - overcards v pocket pair. Just the way I'd seen Howard Lederer knock Chris Ferguson out of the British Open last week. Both Professors were victorious!

I was pretty much resigned to the fact I wasn't going to win now, unless I made a major move and got very lucky. So I was delighted to get the dreaded AQ on my very next hand and see another player go all-in ahead of me. In a cash tourney, a fold, but not tonight!

Race part 2 I thought. All in from early must mean either a low or middle pair or, worst case for me, AK. So, only two hands scared me, AK and possibly QQ. Earlier I'd won the same race in reverse with QQ v AQ.

Again I was hoping to isolate the bettor in an overcards v pair race when I pushed.

Unfortunately Joe from The Obituarium was waiting in ambush with AKs in the big blind and the battle was short.

That was that, and it was time for bed. No prize for me, but a thoroughly enjoyable experience. Thanks again to all concerned. I hope to see you again soon.

A quick footnote - I wrote this post up in my lunch hour and returned home to find comments from both my vanquishers on the last post. Good game guys. Thanks for the comments. And good luck tonight Joe! Kick off in 5 minutes.

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