Friday, January 13, 2006

I'm a loser, baby...

Still feel like I'm beating a dead horse but darn it this horse needs a good beating.

Had another losing session, this time at a new place, MartinsPoker (see ScurvyDog's post about Martinspoker for a great description of their awesome bonuses). Granted, I only lost a little over 2 BB two-tabling 1/2 and 2/4 (euros) for an hour. But it is still a loss, and I made two big errors on the 2/4 table:

Hand #1: I had QQ and three-bet, only the raiser called (I had position). Flop J9x, he bets, I raise, he calls. Turn K. He bets, I call. River blank, bet, call. He had QTo.
My play was great until the turn -- when he bets into me, I have to know I'm a major underdog. In fact, remember thinking at the time: "Crap, he's got a king". I threw in those bets because I felt I had to... THAT IS A LEAK! What could he possibly bet into me with there? At minimum, he needs top pair kings, but he could have a lot of things -- they all have me beat though after the strength I showed in the hand so far. So, just muck the turn and save the two bets.

My absolute biggest leak is calling down the turn and river when I get outdrawn. I have no doubts about this. Usually I'm holding a single pair with no real way of improving (TP or better) but I really can't pay that off. The way I play those sort of hands (very fast) makes people reveal the strength of their hand -- I need to use that to my advantage. Instead, I've been tilting and throwing in the bets without thinking about it. Bad Sean.
Hand #2: I limp w/ ATs in EP, two more limpers, and a guy in late positions bumps it. Only the three limpers call. Flop J9x, checks around. Turn 8. I bet my open-ender, fold, fold, original raiser raises. River blank and I check fold.
A bunch of issues with this hand. First, I limped early position with ATs -- not a horrible play (especially since an EP limper will cause a bunch more limpers at these levels). But... With my difficulties playing marginal hands out of position, I probably should have sat the hand out. Not a big mistake though, just a little one.

Betting out on the turn was a big mistake. The board was pretty coordinated and one of the two limpers could easily have been holding a monster and missed the check-raise on the flop. Second, there were three other players WITH POSITION ON ME. Third, betting out means I'll be tempted to burn another bet on the river if/when I miss my draw. So I'm killing my odds (which were marginally in favor of drawing to the straight).

At the time, I was 90% sure he had JJ, and 99% sure I was beat. One of those reads where I just knew with the way he hadn't made a continuation bet in position on the flop. I suppose he may have had a gutshot draw, but I showed a reasonable amount of strength leading out into three players, so even though the other two folded it didn't seem like a good time for him to pull a move. He had me beat. A better tactic would be to check-call with my draw and avoid a sticky river situation.

In summary, the leaks are:
  1. Calling down with a single pair when I get (obviously) outdrawn.
  2. Bluffing too much out of position.
I think I may have a single solution that will help me immensely:
  • Take 5 extra seconds on the turn or river to think through my options before I act.
If I don't give myself a chance to break my bad habits, I'm going to continue being a losing player.

Yeah, I said it, I'm a losing player at $2/$4 LHE online.

I'm pretty convinced of that now, even though I've been playing, reading, thinking, and breathing poker for a solid year now. As good as I think I am, limit hold'em is not my strength. I don't think it fits with my personality and playing style that well. Avoiding LHE is not an option since I want to keep a steady stream of bonuses coming in to help our finances and 2/4 is the quickest way to clear most bonuses.

I still have over 300BB so I'm not going to drop down. Instead, I'm going to keep working hard, take my lumps, and become a winning player through sheer effort. I may not be a winner, but I don't think I'm a huge loser. I've also been playing harder sites lately, so that should help my development a lot (it'd be difficult to identify and plug leaks on Party, for instance). I've got thoughts on other ways to improve my game, but I absolutely need to plug the two leaks above before I move on.

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