Monday, September 17, 2007

My New Favourite Hand

Another day, another dollar. Another weekend, another $700 down the tubes. There follows a bad beat whine, but jump to the end for some comedy gold.

Often I see tales of players running small sums up into mega amounts in short order, and wonder whether I should be more liberal in my bankroll management. Take a few more risks to see if I can move up the ranks more swiftly.

Weekends like the one just past persuade me that prudence is the way to go.

Looking back over my results spreadsheets, I've been unable to trace another period of such dreadful returns.

One thing that always concerns me about playing no-limit, especially across multiple tables simultaneously, is the danger of a tilt session turning into a bankroll destructing disaster that could take months to recover from.

Fortunately I've managed to avoid that, and while $700 is not to be sneezed at, it's still less than 10% of my bankroll.

I'm not prone to hugely introspective delves into the statistical depths of PokerTracker. Generally I stick to reviewing big pots won or lost, and going over any hands where I think later I might have made a different decision, or played in a different style.

The most important question I ask myself is, did I get my money in ahead? In cash games there's not much else that matters in the long term.

Over the weekend, I'm pleased to say I mostly managed to get the cash in ahead, but I did fail the test in a couple of big hands. Both of which had some unusual qualities.

I also played one of the most memorably bizarre hands I've ever seen.

Hand 1 is a standard cooler. The last four or five times I've had AA or KK I've taken the blinds. When I find myself on the button looking down at KK, my heart sinks as it's folded around to me. Am I going to miss out on action again?

Fortunately my raising rate on the button is pretty high, so I'm aware that a small raise here will not seem out of place. From my $96 stack, I make it $3 to play.

SB insta-pushes for $110. BB folds.

I pause, but only for a second or two. Surely noone would play Aces like that against a button raise that could be almost any two cards? More likely Ace-big or a middle pair who thinks I'm getting frisky.

Get real, I tell myself. You WANT to be re-popped here.

I call and get shown Aces. No suckout and bye-bye to a buy-in. The pusher leaves within a few hands, and appears 20 minutes later on another table. ffs. Pissed off! Won't make that mistake against them again!

Hand 2 is against a total nutter. I've already seen him win big pots with K3s UTG, and 94o when calling a raise from the small blind. His stats are insane - in the 80%/40% range - and he almost never folds once he's in a hand. His stack is yo-yoing wildly, and everyone wants to play him with half a hand.

So wild is he that people are calling his river all-ins with 4th pair.

UTG I find AQo and limp, as he is next to act. As expected, he raises. Unexpectedly it is folded back to me. AQo versus his range is WAY ahead. I push. NOT a move I would make against 99% of the people I play.

He thinks for three or four seconds, and calls with TT. The first time he's woken up with a real hand all night. Aaarrghh.

I miss and it's cheerio to another half stack. Fortunately he was on a downswing at this point.

Other than that it was a simple tale of made hands v flush or straight draws that couldn't miss. I must have lost $300+ to people who couldn't fold flush draws for all their chips.

One of the most painful hands came as I felt I was starting to claw my way back a little on Sunday. I find QQ on the button and three limpers, including the cut-off - who has another middling stack.

I put in a stiffer than usual raise to try to thin the field. First limper calls, second folds, and the cut-off reraises for over half his stack - which of course commits us both if I call.

I have a think. With two limpers already I can't see him slow playing a monster. Either he has a middle pair and thinks I'm getting busy with overcards, or he has Ace-big and wants to see five cards.

Either way, I'm well ahead of this range so I push to get rid of the first limper. This works, and the cut-off tables A9o.

Seriously. Ace. Nine. For all his chips pre-flop. Total stupidity. The Ace on the river was as predictable as rain on a Bank Holiday. Another 3/1 shot. Another $100 lost from the bankroll. And so it continues. At least I wasn't 98%/2% on that one!

Now with rampant stupidity abounding, there had to be a hand or two where I actually managed to win some cash. There were. Just not enough of them for my liking.

One that will long live in the memory went as follows. UTG - a tight solid player I generally avoid - opens for 4BB. UTG+1 calls. In UTG+2 I find

and with a full stack I also call. We take a flop with five players still in the hand at an eight handed table.

Obviously I like it, but not as much as I would if it were less co-ordinated.

Checked around to me and I bet just under the pot. Folded back to the SB who check raises all-in for pretty much a min-reraise. It's enough to persuade everyone else to fold.

Of course I insta-call and expect to be shown a draw of some description, or a lesser made hand.

Instead, the SB shows me

wtf!? I urgently scan the board, searching for his outs. Before I can work out that he is drawing only to a runner-runner straight, the cards are dealt and he's gone.

'Misclick?', I ask the table. 'Donk click', comes the reply from another player.

Not that I was complaining. It's hands like this that persuade me the weekend had to be a blip, and I'll be back on track soon. Certainly I hope I can post a decent winning streak prior to Vegas. To pad the bankroll and boost my confidence a little.

Before that, I think I'll take a break for a few days and revert to conquering nations in Civilization IV, and hopefully enjoy some Champions League football, before returning to the poker fray.

A change is as good as a rest, as they say, and I DO need a rest!

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