Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Walking Backwards

You just stacked/felted/gutted someone in a cash game. What goes through your mind?

“Whatta f’in donkey of COURSE I had the flush with 84s after paying one extra bet to see the flop, stupid idiot that can’t lay down AA” or “YEAH BITCH eat my AA vs. your KK, you know who’s boss, now bend over and reload so I can take more of your free money you’re giving away”

If that is your typical answer, you may be guilty of over-estimating your game. The other player simply got married to his pre-flop hand (I’m VERY guilty of this at times) and you were the recipient of his/her bad fortune. Granted you had the pot odds to play for the extra bet or you caught the perfect hand, but are you looking at from both sides?

How many times do you complain, “WTF was he playing that Q6o UTG against my 3X BB raise from the button and hitting trip 6s against my kings?!?!?!” or in Omaha-speak “WTF was he playing 5699 against my AA24 double suited and hitting quad 9s?!?!?!”.

Again, I’m guilty of this, it’s a difficult thing to get over since you’re making the right decision pre-flop and possibly post-flop, but the outcome does not favor you. Much like Felicia mentioned in her posts about seeing the game from the “fish’s perspective”, her lesson would work with any opponent.

Let’s see the Q6o hand and add in ALL of the variables (granted this is just one train of thought, poker is fun because there’s 50 million ways to see the same situation):

“I’ve got big stack at this table and a tight image, I’ll limp in and if I hit the flop hard maybe I can earn some extra chips”. “Ok, two other limpers and… oh wait the button raised, I’ll have to be cautious now and hope I don’t get squeezed, the SB folded, BB completed, I might as well at least call the raise and hope the two limpers come along”.

Flop 6 6 J

“Jackpot! The button wouldn’t dream of me playing a 6 from UTG, unless he’s got JJ cause that’s GOLD JERRY GOLD!!”. “I’ll bet a little and represent AJ or KJ so he’ll come back hard”. Limpers fold, the button throws out a huge raise, the BB folds like its going out of style. “He doesn’t have JJ or he would have flat called and begged the stars that I call his next bet, I’ll push here and apologize for cracking his AA, KK, or QQ, then secretly hope he reloads on tilt”.

Does anyone else ever do this?

I’m sure I’m not breaking new ground or reinventing the wheel here. Working a hand backwards has given me a better understanding of where did I go wrong, could I have prevented it, and what is my opponent thinking. I did this with two hands last night.

One hand I went busto on due to overplaying my QQ overpair when a straight draw hit on the turn. The opponent in my heads up match for the World Cup qualifier had been playing extremely tight as I raised several times and took blinds without much resistance, and when he insta pushed despite having 30BBs+ left, I should have given him credit for 89o, or at the very least, a set. His bets mirrored what I would have done as flat calling my flop bet made sense, and his push on the turn is something I do at various times while holding the nuts as sometimes people think it’s a weakness/blocking bet and will call it.

Me = donkey

The second hand of the night was from PLO8 where I got A34Q (suited ace) and played the hand for a min raise with four people. I flop a huge nut low draw, top pair (with the Q) along with a runner-runner flush draw. Called a pot sized bet, the turn brings a un-counterfeitable low for me but no flush draw, the original raiser pushes his short stack, there’s one other caller, and I call. The river gives me a wheel and after a check I push to see I’m the only one who had re-draws and rake in a nice size pot.

From the raiser’s perspective, I see he had AAXX saw an uncoordinated board and correctly bet the pot hoping his large bet would shake off any dry low draws. The push on the turn I’m guessing was because he was short-stacked (he started the hand with a ½ stack) and believed his aces was the best hand since no one pushed back on the flop.

Me = Recipient of luck

I could have been quartered or worst just as easily in this hand, but by walking back through the hand I don’t get too excited about my skillz as I received the perfect cards to give me the pot. Humility is a great tool for a poker player whether you’re victorious or that skier from the old Wide World of Sport “agony of defeat” reels. Some players, like a certain recent spammer, don’t learn this lesson as they run up a huge amount of wins by running over weak players, thus become over confident in their skillz.

If you feel as though the game has become “too easy”, take a quick step back, and look at WHY you won. Did you correctly push a weak-tight player off his hand when the flush hit (even you didn’t have it)? Did you milk every last cent out of that maniac when you flopped the nuts? Did you win because the opponent had a second best hand (like getting QQ three handed in an SnG only to see a fellow blogger turn over AA)?

Thus ends another attempt at a “strategy” post. I’ll return tomorrow with musing about why waking up a pregnant wife can be hazardous to your health.

Thanks for dropping by, now here’s a joke from my sister-in-law (does anyone think of Al in this situation?):

Subject: You gotta Love a Drunk
>> A man and his wife are awakened at 3 o'clock in the morning by a
>> loud pounding on the door...
>> The man gets up and goes to the door where a drunken stranger,
>> standing in the pouring rain, is asking for a push.
>> "Not a chance," says the husband, "It is three o'clock in the
>> morning."
>> He slams the door and returns to bed.
>> "Who was that?" asked his wife!
>> "Just some drunk guy asking for a push," he answers.
>> "Did you help him?" she asks.
>> "Are you kidding? NO, I did not. It is three o'clock in the morning and
>> its pouring rain outside!!"
>> His wife said, "Can't you remember about three months ago when we broke
>> down and those two guys helped us? I think you should help him, and you
>> should be ashamed of yourself!"
>> The man does as he is told (of course!), gets dressed and goes out into
>> the pouring rain.
>> He calls out into the dark, "Hello! Are you still there?"
>> "Yes," comes back the answer.
>> "Do you still need a push?" calls out the husband.
>> "Yes! Please!" comes the reply from the darkness.
>> "Where are you?" asks the husband.
>> "Over here on the swing!!" replies the drunk.

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