Sunday, February 25, 2007

Week Nine - weak-tight and weird play

Sometimes I wonder if I have learned anything about how to play this game. My play since my last entry hasn't been catastrophically bad, but I've made some ridiculous moves, and failed to make some smart moves, that have cost me. One example:

In a 0.05 - 0.10 Limit HE cash game on PokerStars last weekend, I got QQ in MP. I raised preflop, got several callers and then a re-raise, which was called around, so the pot was fairly large. The rainbow flop had an Ace in it. It was checked most of the way around, a late position bet, and that was called, so more money got into the pot. A King hit the turn. Someone in front of me bet. I thought, "Someone has caught either the A or the K and my queens are behind." I thought for a few seconds and folded. What I failed to take into consideration was that it was only going to cost me 0.10 to call that bet, and there was over $1.00 in the pot by that time. I hadn't seen any betting to indicate that anyone had a set of kings or aces, so if I caught a Q on the river, I would have a great shot at winning a big pot; my pot odds and implied odds were too good for me to pass on that bet. Sure enough, the river was a queen. I'm not disappointed about missing the river card; I'm mad that I didn't see the odds and play accordingly.

On another note, because Doyle's Room has shut its doors to US players, I transferred the $14.44 I had left there over to FullTilt, thanks to the very convenient transfer option that both sites made available to Doyle's Room customers. Because FullTilt doesn't have limit games at stakes low enough to play with a bankroll that small, I have been playing 5-table $1.00 + 0.25 SNGs in hopes of building up my balance there so I can play in some of their other games or tourneys. The results of those SNGs: 15th, 17th, 16th, 15th, 17th. I'm fairly sure that I was playing weak and scared in most of those sessions. Finally, last night I got past the 15th mark. I got some good hands fairly early, picked up a bit of luck here and there along with some decent pots, and used the chips that I gained to push some of the other players around. It's amazing how much better I play when I have chips to work with. It allowed me to play the kind of tight-aggressive game that I prefer but haven't mastered yet. Eventually I got to heads-up play, and ended up in a classic race of my AK vs the villain's 77. I didn't catch anything and went out in second place. The good news is, that second place cash more than made up for the money I had spent on the other SNGs I had played up to that time, so I am ahead of where I started after the Doyle's Room transfer. I am hoping that I can stay on a winning course and keep building my FT roll and be able to play in things like the Mookie or maybe some of their WSOP qualifiers.

I have to post about a very strange play that I was involved in last week at an APL tournament. The set-up: Blinds are 500/1000. Five players; I'm in the cutoff with 4,500. The BB only has 900 and is all in with his blind bet. I get dealt 8c 8s. UTG folds.

First bad play: I call 1,000. With an M of 3, I should have pushed right here. I must have been hoping to get in cheap and be able to get away from the hand if I missed the flop and anyone else was in and betting.

Button folds. SB completes, which means she and I have a side pot of 200 and the BB is playing for the main pot of 2,700.

Flop comes all rags; I think it was something like 9-7-3 rainbow. I check, SB checks. Turn is another rag, maybe a 2. Check, check. River is the Jh. I check again, and the SB says "I'll put you all in, how much do you have?" She had me covered by a few hundred.

I had been thinking that she was planning to check this hand down so we could eliminate the BB. But with the J on the river, I thought she must have paired it. I don't recall any straight or flush draws on the board. I didn't want to throw away my last chips to her likely pair of jacks, so I folded. The BB turned up a K-high hand; the SB mucked her hand without showing it.

I was stunned. I could not figure out why she would bluff me off the hand on the river with something that could not beat King high, for a side pot with only 1/5 of a big blind in it. I still have not come up with a good explanation for this move, so I can only assume that she didn't know what the "right" play should be in that situation. Did I miss something there, other than that I should have pushed preflop? Any feedback would be welcomed and appreciated.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Week Seven 2007

I'm behind in my updates, but there hasn't been a whole lot to report. Since my last entry, I have played a few tourneys, including a couple of WWdN Second Chance games and the Hammer Day event on Full Tilt, where I lost most of my remaining stake on that site. I think I have $0.52 left on FT, so unless I play some freerolls or use my few FT points on some tourneys, my playing days at FT are over for the time being. I only cashed in one SNG, where I made a comeback from short stack to second place.

I'm also still grinding away at the nickel and dime tables on PokerStars when I have a chance. I'm in the black in the cash games but not building my bankroll very fast. Then again, I don't play for very long at a time, usually less than an hour per session, so I have to hope for some good cards to hit the donkeys and run.

I also played in a couple of APL tourneys and hope to start going back to those regularly. I made the final table this week and finished fourth, so that should get me an invitation to the Monthly Venue Championship game for February. I play on line a whole lot more than I do live, so I need to work on my live game skills, such as picking up tells and avoiding giving away my own.

In poker news, it is getting pretty near impossible for US players to deposit or withdraw money from any poker sites. NETeller has had some of its funds frozen or seized by the US Accounting Office, and although some other companies have sprung up to try to fill the gaps, they seem to die off as quickly as they appear. What surprises me is reading all of the blogs and articles about players trying to find ways to put money into the sites, and not nearly as much talk about how they are going to get their money out of the poker sites. Maybe they feel like their money is safe and eventually they will be able to get it back, but are more concerned about how they can make deposits. Frankly, I am content just playing at limits where I can feel comfortable with the bankroll I have on PokerStars now without worrying whether I will lose it all due to variance and be unable to replenish it. Maybe there are players who don't like dropping to lower limits. It hurts their game, they might say. My response would be, treat it as a challenge. Re-learn how to play at the lower limits, because you might be stuck there for a while. Exercise your discipline, perhaps the most important tool any poker player needs to have.

Also, one of my favorite poker websites, Card Squad, has retired, which saddens me. I enjoyed reading the news and discussion there, and contributing once in a while. I never did get up to ten stars as a contributor, and now I guess I never will. But I have found another very good source of poker information and blogs, at PokerWorks. Check them out; a few of my favorite poker bloggers are regulars there.

I'm still debating whether to try to go to the proposed poker blogger gathering in Las Vegas in June. I might decide to use the money I would spend on that trip for a different vacation. I'll be shopping around to see what looks like the best deal, from a financial standpoint as well as scheduling, family concerns, etc.

Meanwhile, I'll be back at the micro tables soon, and probably playing in the WWdN next Tuesday. See you there!