Sunday, November 20, 2005

Green Felt Bad, Green Grass Good

Thank goodness for families and football!

If I was relying on poker to keep me happy over the last few days, I'd have been heading for the nearest cliff to throw myself off.

I recently moved up to playing the $.5/1 Pot Limit Omaha tables - both High only and Hi/Lo.

There were a few reasons for this. Partly it was just because I could - the bankroll has done quite well recently - but primarily it was because I'm trying to improve, and I need to play better players to stretch myself more.

Initially I'd been quite successful. In a way it was quite disappointing to find out the bigger buy-in brings only marginally better players to the table.

One thing I'd changed in my game after the step up was playing more deceptively, and doing less nut peddling, but the moves seem pretty wasted on most of the players.

For example, bluffing at a flush board with the bare ace still seems doomed to failure.

Over the last few nights, though, I took quite a spanking. The hand that set it off was the runner-runner quads I referred to in a previous post. That had me more than a little tilty.

Then, on Thursday night, I lost probably my biggest online pot. Somewhere in the region of $220. Chickenfeed to some; quite significant to me.

Saying I lost it is not strictly true. It was a Hi/Lo pot and I still took down one quarter.

What made it frustrating was that all the money went in on the turn when I was 90% certain I was taking at least three-quarters of the pot. As it transpired, my read was accurate, but the river was cruel.

I'd limped with a pretty good low hand and called a raise from a very aggressive Scandinavian player. I had picked up a tendency by this particular player to bet very hard when he had a good low hand, regardless of the high.

The flop came with two low cards, giving me a draw to the nut low, and 2nd pair for a high. I check-called a bet from the Scandie.

The turn gave me the nut low, and I still had 2nd pair for a high, with no obvious big hand out there. Not a massive hand, but I was pretty sure, based on previous observations, that he had the same low as me, and probably no high.

This is a pretty marginal situation, but if my read was correct, I stood to make a big profit by three-quartering my Scandie friend. So, I check-raised him, and was quite happy to see him push all-in.

Sure enough, he had the same low, and no high. Which was great. Until he made a gutshot straight on the river, to rake three-quarters of the pot. Waaahhh. Not happy.

Friday brought more pain, this time at the High tables.

The defining theme for the night was some unusually loose-aggressive play from myself, which saw me getting involved in a lot more pots than usual. Some of which I won, quite a few of which I lost.

I had been making a conscious effort to be more aggressive, but I did let it go a bit far. Not sure why. Pre-game nerves perhaps.

I did lay one brutal suckout on an opponent, based on a total misread of his betting. With top set on a flushing flop, I smooth called a bet from an EP player, hoping to keep the guys behind me in the pot, and ready to check-raise if anyone got frisky.

I was figuring EP guy for a smaller set, or two pair. I didn't think he would bet a flush draw into quite a big field.

As it happens, the players behind me all folded, leaving us heads up. So, when the flush card came on the turn, I wasn't too concerned, and raised his initial bet.

When he reraised all-in, I should have folded, but I still didn't believe he had the flush.

He did. Which was unfortunate for me - until the board paired on the river, giving me the full house.

That said, I was the victim of a few unusual plays myself, including a role reversal of the flush-turn, full house-river scenario.

The most extraordinary play was being raised and reraised pre-flop whilst holding AAxx.

The reraiser had KKK6!? Of course he won the hand with a K-high flush. One of the situations where I was holding the bare Ace.

Whether he actually knows the rules of Omaha, I don't know, but playing that hand in any circumstances is pretty bad. Reraising it preflop is insane.

Still, I shouldn't complain. I should be praying he plays every hand against me that badly.

Over the last few sessions, I reckon I could probably assign 40% of my losses to my own bad play; 40% to suckouts; and 20% to being outplayed.

That's an eminently recoverable situation. My own bad play can be improved, the suckouts even out over time, and I took copious notes on the players who actually made good moves on me. I may not be able to outplay them yet, but I can certainly avoid them.

That's one refreshing change from the lower limit tables. There are still plenty maniacs and fish at this level, but in a way it feels good to actually take some notes that don't consist entirely of words such as 'maniac', 'moron', and 'calling station'.

For the next few weeks, I think I'll be reverting to nut peddling, and more limited experimentation, while I gather more notes on other players.

Fortunately for my good nature, Celtic dished out another sound beating to Rangers yesterday. Which had the dual benefits of cheering me up, and getting me out of the house and away from poker.

It also got me extremely drunk last night, and led to a 12-hour sleep. Now you know where Baby Div gets her sleeping habits from.

Interestingly it now looks like Rangers may replace Alex McLeish with Paul le Guen - the man I thought was best choice to replace Martin O'Neill at Celtic. If they do, let's hope I was wrong!

Time will tell.

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