Thursday, March 13, 2014

I forgot to Wrap-Up the Mid States Poker Tour...

A bridge to nowhere.  After my day two ended I went out on the deck the boat to see this.  Had I taken the picture just a little sooner it would better as the fog was covering both sides of the bridge.  Just the top of a bridge in the sky, clouds above, and fog all around it.   Pretty symbolic as day two began with the promise of a bridge in the sky heading somewhere to something.  Just the fog of bad hands was too thick to find an on ramp.    As I got closer, and closer to the bridge or to "In the Money" and the final table it seemed even further away.  I just could not chip up.

The day began and nothing much of note happened.  Then I chopped a pot with my nemesis.  Why my nemesis?

At the end of day 1 when we were bagging up one of the Mid-States pros, a guy I had sat next to and had a pleasant idle table conversation with, got very angry with me.  With two tables left we drew a set amount of hands to play out the night.  I caught a break by dodging the big blind with my short stack by exactly one hand.

The other table finished first.  It was late, and with one of my friends over there, I was hoping to hurry up and get out using the buddy system for that pretty dark and scary parking lot.  We dragged on, and we when were done playing they were almost done bagging.   I noticed an employee was coming to our table light a few bags.  She started at the other side, and knowing there wouldn't be enough to get down to us, I turned and talked to some guys to my right.  I hoped she'd be back for more.

When I turned back there was a bag on the table in front of the Mid-States guy's stack.  I looked around and didn't see him.  I didn't see him leave but he must have cut out to go the bathroom right after play ended.  I didn't consider that he might have taken a bag before he left, I just thought that one was free and nobody on our side of the table had grabbed it when it was passed down.

I took it to bag up my chips.  He reappeared vey quickly, very angry and very belligerent.  He said "Are you taking MY bag."

I responded "Yes, I took your bag" and was going to make light of it as he seemed agreeable, though my the warning lights were already flickering in my head as  I wasn't sure how this was "his" bag if it was just sitting on the table.  Regardless, initially I intended on giving it back, even though I was in a hurry, I was pretty sure there would be more bags momentarily, so if I made the mistake... no biggie, right?
Then this dude gets irate and rips it out of my hands.  I'm not a fan of bullies, and am pretty stupid in terms of standing up to them.  Growing up with a 6'6 brother who I obviously never matched in size I got roughed up a good bit.  I should be a lot more afraid of people than I am, but because rarely are they 6'6,  and I figured out how to hold my own against my brother, I'm not.  I remember once when I was five or six at a day camp and this big kid asked a younger kid if he wanted a knuckle sandwich, I stepped in and said he doesn't but I do.  What a "brave" protector.  Well, he gave it to me punching me in the jaw and then turned around and ran away like he had a firecracker in his pants.  The little kid just looked at me like I was an idiot.  

I have also aged, have kids and my default is to back down and swallow my pride.  However, this sudden unwarranted elevation by this dude that flipped the switch about his bag, got to me.

We a "conversation" about semantics.  He suggested because I referred to it as "Your Bag" I knew it was his, and I therefore was taking it and I was therefore an ahole.  I tried to explain I was only repeating his words back to him, but that fell on deaf ears.  For the record, I thought he had left before the bags were distributed, and since I didn't see him I thought new bags would be there before he got back.  Granted, logic was on his side, since nobody else on my side had taken the bag it probably had been claimed.  Anyway, he angrily bagged up, following none of the instructions and took off.  He ran away, but I must be getting smarter as he didn't leave me with a bruised face before doing so.

Anyway, we shared the same table on day two and I think both put the bag incident behind us.  I asked him about something to test it and he politely responded.  I think I was probably in the wrong and should have been swifter to correct the problem.  I don't think the escalation was warranted but nothing really happened.

Nonetheless, I still wanted to outlast him (I did) or bust him (somebody else did).

Anyway, I shove with Ace King.  He calls with Ace King.  I made a remark like normally I hope we chop in spots like this but I'm too short to think that.  When the flop hit Allan Kessler quipped, "I bet you hope you chop now" as he had outs to a flush.  I fade them and split the meager blinds and antes  

The very next hand I got 33, shoved and stole the blinds.  The guy in the big blind said, "I wish I hadn't looked I was calling with any two."  He showed 4-2.  I resisted showing the 3s but also wished he hadn't looked.  Then I got moved to three different tables in a matter of minutes.  Always behind the blinds, so in some way I was running good.

But I didn't get a hand no matter where I sat.  The Baton Rouge fog continued.  Pretty sicko, that the streak would carry over from the day before.

Nonetheless, the other players were getting eliminated and peeling out of there like they had a stomach flu.  So, despite being card dead I was getting closer and closer to the money.  I've come back from near nothing before so I stayed patient.  I traded ten per cent with two of my buddies who had decent stacks and were both alive.  Wow, if I could get a run of cards this could be a pretty good day for us I thought.

Eventually I think we were down to seven on each of three tables, when I saw my first two face cards since the AK.  I had bounced around a bit, so this group didn't have the greatest understanding of my table image.  I shoved from EP and it got around to a guy in the small blind who just called.  The big blind called too.
I thought it was a little too early for checking it down, 9 or so from the money, and my stack was a little too big compared to theirs to not aggressively seek it out.  Therefore I wasn't too worried about both players seeing all five cards.  Somebody would either want a side pot or make a play for the money.  I flopped top pair.  Yum.

The small blind led out.  Oh?

The big blind Mihail Karasoulis stewed and then flashed pocket threes.  (I've discussed this hand with him since and I thought he should have raised preflop to isolate me and steal the small blinds' weakish contribution to pot.  He made a very sound justification for not doing so which I understand--course had he done it I would have tripled up and who knows what would have happened :) ).

The board was I think Qs5s2.  The small blind flashed A2 with two spades.  Yeah, he hit his flush on the turn.  Oh well.

I became a rail bird and apparently made an endorsement for some Beef Jerky on their twitter feed than I enjoyed.  It cost $7 it had better be good.  I don't like to railbird but with , ten percent of two players with a lot up top, could still be a nice little payday.  21 became ~15.  15 became 14.  Then I saw one of my players, GeneD, make a great fold when a guy just getting run over by the deck flopped a straight and Gene conceded the hand folding an ace that matched the ace on the board.  Course his preflop and postflop bets were gone and now he was on a short stack.  Ugh.

Two or so from the money Gene was eliminated after a valiant battle.  As Gene tends to do he was way too hard on himself.   Now
my eyes were on Dave Chocoles.  He started to get short as the stone cold bubble lasted an improbable three and a half levels.  Then he won some hands and got back on solid ground.  Then the bubble kept going and he got  short again.  Finally, there was a bustout.

Dave didn't last too long after that, as the guy who ended up second I thought made a little bit of a loose call, taking out both Dave and Justin Truesdale in the same hand.  With three players out of 20 something left, we ended up cashing just about the minimum possible.  By the way, Dave played great I thought.  Same with Gene.  Same with Monkey and a few other guys I got to watch a good bit from the rail.

Sucked hard as I kept waiting to get some sort of traction and was positive my patience and short-stack wizardry was going to be rewarded.  It wasn't.  Then for Gene and Dave to go out where they did.  It was just disappointing.  So much promise.

Friday, March 07, 2014

What You Are Selling Isn't What They Are Seeing...

I don't typically post strategy as I feel there are better places for it, but sometimes when I re-learn a concept maybe it's best to post it as instruction even if the audience or student is just me.

I've played a couple of hands recently that reinforced a core concept that I think is vital to beating lower buy-in tournaments and cash games with bad players.  Why I let it be a leak to me of late I'm not sure.

One thing, I think I've repeated on this blog over the years, is the enjoyment I get from watching good players bitch about bad players.  To me, if it's always your fault and never the other guys fault when they misstep.  You should know they are capable of anything and everything.

Granted there are times when an individual has a self conflagration that is so bizarre you are entitled to bitch about it.  Most of the times, though when you walk away from the table because of their misguided attempt to self-destruct you should probably find some solace in their folly.  Obviously, time and place shape your reactions (in the money on or on the bubble can be especially painful) but most of the time once you have played a great deal underestimating your opponents ability or conversely their inability is most times your own fault.

To that end, we should be aware when are telling a story in a hand if they are capable of reading it.  Here's a hand that describes that concept.

I open Kc9c.  I get called by a lady who is a bit of station preflop but to her credit she can be really aggressive post-flop.  Flop comes 10c8c5x (might have been 7x but not TOO relevant).  Maybe I should have cbet my draw but I decide to check.  She bets and I call  (I considered raising).

Turn is an Ace.  She lets me see the river for free (and I decide to not bluff the big card) and it's a Queen.  My clubs didn't hit but I think the turn and river improved my position.

I decide to steal the pot and fire a value bet bluff but given stack sizes is not going to be an easy call.

She says she thinks I had a club draw.  I like that as though I missed my clubs, but I would have hit a hand with almost every club draw (except for the one I have).  The story I thought my bet was telling was that I missed clubs... but I got there.  That was my intention and she seemed to have got it.

Then she calls and sees my hand and giggles and says, "I knew you missed your club draw."

Now, maybe she had a read or she said one thing but didn't mean it.  I sometimes give a different rationale for calling then the real reason I called.  I did this once in front of Kathy Liebert and she mocked my "stated" rationale, I told her on the side, that just because I said one rationale didn't mean it was THE rationale I used.  She disparaged that line of thought a little too or maybe she thought I was trying to save face.

If Kathy really didn't see the value of that strategy, that surprises me as it seems a natural tactic of misinformation on a table full of strangers.  If you sit with me and I give an idiotic explanation for calling with Ace high... there was probably more to it, especially if none of the faces are familiar.  Against strangers I'm quite happy to give misinformation in an effort to collect information.  I think all players should employ this but I cant tell you how many times people genuinely discuss strategy with one another within minutes of sitting down with one another.

Against this player, perhaps she was doing the same, so maybe I shouldn't use this hand as a teaching lesson to me, but to be fair her giddy reaction afterward seemed too genuine when she showed pocket sixes.

So, point being just because you can read the board and tell a story, doesn't mean your opponent can.  I should have understood she can be a little bit of a call station and that she might not be able to read board texture that suggested she shouldn't call.

If anybody doesn't get what I'm saying... Let's look at all the club draws, I could have: Suited Aces.  Yep.  They beat her.  Some suited Kings.  KJ makes a straight.  KQ made a pair.  Suited Qs made pairs.  J9?  That made a straight. Jack 10 made a pair.   Depending on whether or not that last card on the flop was a 5 or 7 means some other suited cards could have made straights too.  Granted she has blockers with 66, but if she indeed put me on a club draw pretty much K9 is the only hand she can beat.   I'm not opening K6, K5, K4, or J8 or lower.  So the odds are such that may be precisely one missed club draw she beat--the hand I held.

Now, I still think betting there is right for other reasons, but there is something to be learned.  What you see is not what everybody else sees.  Empathy is vital in playing against opponents of all skill levels not just from an emotional perspective but also from understanding their concept of logic.  Some players have a tendency to only ask themselves "what would I have in their spot."  She'd bluff a missed draw.  She'd also open a much wider range of hands.

So while, my perception of hands I could have is rather limited on the flush draw, she might have a range of any two clubs and therefore if she was playing against herself calling beats a lot more hands then calling me.  It's hard to figure out people's defaults.  Does she default to her own ranges of hands or is she tracking my ranges of hands based on what I've shown down.  It's also possible she didn't even consider the fact all the club draws got there.  Maybe she made an early read and didn't dig too deep into the hand as the board shifted.

One other non poker item.  That has a bit of a parallel...  Was in Target the other day, and saw a decent prize on razor blades (yeah, they must be made out of gold these days) at a corner display.  So I pulled the trigger on a four pack for my Gillete Octo blade or whatever it is I own that shaves my face far better than I need it to.  Then I saw them on their own aisle and went to see if maybe I'd get a better deal on an 8 pack or more.  I didn't bit but I did notice they had the same pack of blades I was buying with a higher price tag.  Hmmm.

I take out my phone and take a picture of the price where I picked up the blades originally.  I get to the register and surprise, surprise, the price I though I was buying at wasn't what matched the receipt.  The funny thing is, it was higher than the other price too.  I showed her the pic and she paid out the difference.  In life as in poker, what you think you are selling (or buying) isn't necessarily what's actually being transacted.