Gulf Coast Poker Championship and Lessons Learned part seven

... Continued from previous posts...

Where was I? I was in the middle of a hand from Texas Holdem tournament from some time okay. I think I had just gotten to the turn. I remember I made a tiny bet and the guy called in such a way I knew he was strong. On the river I shoved, which was huge in relation to our stacks and the pot and he insta-called with A ragNow we might have gotten all the chips in regardless, but had I bet large on the turn and followed up on the river, I don’t think he comes over the top on either.

The small bet might also produce a reaction of a little embarrassment, like the guy knows he can’t fold to a bet that small and has to call. Again they'd jump all over this onine but that's the difference between poker tournaments online and live ones. Then he’s ready and probably hoping for a big river bet to get him off the hand. If you have nothing you know you can push him off and drag the pot. In effect paying for information.

Also that tactic can be good for a situation or two I found myself in recently. I’d make great, thin reads of weakness in my opponents, yet my second pair would be pipped by one on the kicker. Instead of flatting the river and not opening up any more betting there may be two better solutions.

One, make a small river bet. A lot of times players that are weak are looking for excuse to dispose of their hand especially when you have called them twice. Say a fourth card to flush shows up, who cares if I have moderate showdown value. A small bet can get called by hands I barely beat or get hands that barely beat me to fold (depending on the opponent).

Enough so that it’s worth it to make them in tournaments. Also, if that guy sees my bet as weakness and comes over the top, stick with my gut. If he’s weak no way he can call a shove as most people aren’t going to go out of a tournament with second pair. I’m making the right reads but I’m not willing to let my chips exploit them. Two pots I specifically remember I could have dragged if I wasn’t scared of reopening the action. I need to remind myself… so what. He pops it back and I think he’s weak, I’ll get my chips to the middle.

This is a part of my game I’ve lost as I’ve gotten more experienced. This is something I think that stems from the fact that I’ve seen too much in painful lessons where a player backdoors something or thinks he’s weak but is much stronger than me. Bad players make bad calls even when weak so it’s scaring to be willing to commit to a pot for your stack when they can be so caprious and reckless.

And of course, in hindsight, I remember those one offs far more clearly, and have forgotten the extra pots I’ve dragged when I was marginally beat (because… if you think about it I never knew I was beat as they’d fold before showdown). So I’ve let the old man aspect of poker claw its way into my game.

I think the longer you play the game the tighter you inevitably get. In poker, you see something new every day. You see inventive, garish, and gruesome ways for people to catch up and suck out in a hand. Those hands linger, the hands you are stockpiling chips by doing it right fade into oblivion. I’ve noticed in life I gotten a lot more careful. They say something is 100 to 1 shot to happen and I think to myself I see 100 to 1 shots hit every couple of days or so in poker. You see enough hands you see almost anything.

Thus, in a weird way gambling has made me more cautious in real life. I can’t allow it to seep into my game and stem my aggression or affect my play. I need to trust my reads and put my chips on the line to honor them.


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