Monday, December 13, 2004

Middle Child Woes...

What a lazy blogger I am. Actually I don’t think that two days with no posts would be considered lazy by most people, but given the excellent run for my inaugural week, and the fact that I am mildly OCD to begin with, it feels a bit like laziness.

I did keep up with my pre-holiday poker playing aspirations by playing in two SnG’s Friday, two on Saturday, and one yesterday. Here is the rundown:

Friday #1—I knew I wouldn’t have the chance to play in the evening, so I decided to play my two tourneys in the afternoon. While not as good as the players that seem to dominate the AM on PStars, the afternoon players still weren’t as noticeably bad as the evening players. This table had mostly loose-passives, and a couple of LAG’s who of course busted early. All were busted by the player 3 seats to my left, who caught good cards with very marginal pre-flop holdings. The first hand that I decide to play, I am UTG+1 and get AJo. We’re still on Level 1, and even though I know it’s dangerous to play a hand like this from this position at such a low level, it’s as though I’ve become possessed and cannot help myself. I make it t80 to go. Of course I am called by 4 people, including Big Stack Marginal Guy. Flop K A 8 rainbow. I bet t200 (2/3 pot) to see exactly where I stand and only one player drops out. Blank turn and my spidey-sense is tingling so I check. Next guy bets t400, BSMG raises to t800 and I’m gone. He ends up busting yet another guy with his set of 8’s, I knew it! With my stack about 2/3 original size, I tread water while another passive player of many marginal hands goes on a rush 2 spots to my right, and is thus beginning to gain confidence in those holdings. This is good for me because he is likely to call some stuff when he is way behind, now if I can just get some cards. Now, we’re at level 4 and I’m BB with around half my original stack. I get 77 which I am loving because I have been card dead for quite a while. Button limp, SB completes, like an idiot I check (in hindsight I think I should have pushed). Flop A 4 A. Check all around, I smell another trap. Turn 6, I bet t200 into 300 pot, call and a fold. River is a fairly innocuous 5, I completely ignore instinct this time and push my final t600, and of course he turns up A9 for the win. When will I learn to listen to my instincts all of the time instead of part of it?

#2—Here is something you don’t see very often on a $5 +.50. Level 4 and still 7 players at the table! I played smart, paid attention to my instincts and managed to pull out a second placing. I feel better than normal about this placing as nearly all were pretty good players. Talking with them, I found they were doing exactly as I was, getting some cheap pre-holiday “farting around” time in at the tables.

Saturday I was lazy and didn’t take any notes (like an idiot) and ended up one 3rd place finish out of two.

Sunday night things are looking great. PStars is packed, so I fire up a table, and within the first orbit, 3 players are knocked out, this is gonna be beautiful. Still on first orbit, I pick up 77 in the BB. Four callers and I check, lo and behold the flop comes Q 9 7 rainbow, beautiful! I’m going to nail one of these slow-playing WPT Super Advanced Pros to the wall. I bet t40 into the t100 pot to induce calling. Call, raise to t250, fold, fold. I go all-in, fold, t250-guy goes in the tank and finally calls with his AA he was trying to slowplay. Hooray! I’m a 90% favorite here. Sure enough, an A on the river leaves me with a measly t70. This guy thinks he made a great call, and I grit my teeth and keep my mouth shut, because I know it’s good for me in the long run that he thinks this his play is good. I bring my measly stack back up to about t450 (a small miracle in itself), but get busted by the same guy when I push with 77 (blinds at this point are 75/150) and run into his KK. In my estimation this is not a good omen for the evening, so I take the loss and call it a night.

All of this recent writing has definitely helped to clarify my thinking, and I believe I’m now able to better articulate the peculiar place I find myself in. I’ve decided to refer to it as my Middle Child of Poker Phase. I now recognize good play vs. bad, good table situations vs. bad ones, etc., whereas before, I simply waded into nearly anything. However, for some reason I don’t have the confidence in my own play to risk anything but the smallest money, and getting beat up (sometimes) by the much worse players at these tiny levels makes me very frustrated, hence the Middle-Child poker limbo. Perhaps I should change the name of this blog to “Confessions of a Risk-Averse Pantywaist”. I know that a large part of the problem is being too result-oriented as opposed to focusing on the play, and believe it or not, I’m a LOT better than I used to be about it. Sometimes I just miss the sophomoric confidence that let me wade into situations I would never put myself in these days, like playing with a super short BR. I think for the New Year I will be continuing to focus on my tourney play and NL play. Perhaps working on the $10 Max Buy-In until I get up to about $800 or so before moving up? I will try to come up with a more concrete plan as the New Year gets closer.

I’m definitely looking forward to Friday, as my brother and I will be heading to the Harrah’s Prairie Band Casino in Topeka for the day. This will only be my third time playing at a B&M. My B&M experience thus far has been diametrically opposed to what Lou Krieger wrote in a CardPlayer article four or so issues ago about online games being so much looser. THEY ARE NOT. I played my first B&M session at the Ameristar in Kansas City, a 3/6 full kill game. Being very nervous, my wife and I left the game after about 3 hours up about 3 BB. I didn’t recognize it then, but the chips were flying around like crazy. For the second session at Harrah’s in New Orleans, my wife and I were much better prepared, and we mopped that game (3/6 no kill) in the 4 hours we spent playing. These people were absolutely HEMMORAGING money, and for some reason only buying chips in $40 shots. I guess that was their idea of BR management. After drinks (plus wait staff tipping), and what I now realize was extravagant dealer tipping ($2/pot, bad HumanHead, BAD!), we still walked away almost 20 BB up. If given the chance I would have stayed at that table all night long. Friday at the Prairie Band Harrah’s I plan on playing in the $100 NLHE weekly tourney, simply because I’ve never played a live one before. If the live tourney play is ANYTHING like the B&M ring game play, I think I have a damn decent chance of doing well.

I would love to hear thoughts from anyone reading about the whole Middle-Child of Poker situation I am currently going through. Has anyone been in this particular hole, and what did you do to extricate yourself?

I’ll talk to you all tomorrow, as my ability to Think Big must now be devoted to schoolwork for the remainder of the morning. (I just did a check in the mirror, and yes, my head is still Much Bigger).