Monday, June 23, 2008

June 20th $1/2 Results

At first appearances, going back to small ball worked for me. I played a ton of hands (probably at least 50%), pretty much never raised except for a few times in position, made a lot of value bets and little bluffs, made a number of defensive bets, and won $315.

So, it appears that this small ball idea has some merit to it.

But, something tells me there is a greater factor at work than just going back to the small ball strategy.

For one thing, I didn't have any monster second best hands. Sure, I had to fold two pair once or twice and top pair a number of times, but my sets won and I didn't lose with a straight or flush ever. But no really nasty hands or suck-outs.

For another, looking back at my previous sessions, I realized there are some trends I didn't think about:

  1. I've won every time there were 6 or less players in the game. I've lost every single time there were 7 or more players. I'm playing better short-handed than at a full table.
  2. Possibly hidden in #1, I fare much better at a loose, passive table. That seems pretty standard, although a lot of it goes to play after the flop. It also may be that the core 4-5 players of the game aren't that good, but when other people come in, they tend to make everyone better.
  3. Every time I've won, the host has lost a bunch of money. Not that I'm getting all his cash, but I'm just saying.
  4. Every time I've lost, I've gotten stuck early in the session and never recovered. I definitely play much better when I'm ahead.
I think all these factors contribute to a weak-tight-overaggressive game bringing me down. At a larger table, I feel that I need to tighten up. Aggressive players get me to tighten up too. But then, I start raising more, even OOP. And I start making largish continuation bets which only get called if I'm beat.

The thing I don't have an answer for is how to play in a tighter, more aggressive game. I can't play as many pots because there will often be a raise behind me. I can't raise that much because I'll often be against a better hand. I think the key is to tighten up early in position, but raise any hand I'm willing to play in position to juice the pot. Anything I limp with early, I need to be willing to call a raise with it. And anything I play late, I should be willing to raise with it. I also can't be afraid of three-betting or raising the flop, which definitely has happened.

Obviously, this is a work in progress.

Other Comments:

One thing I realized on Saturday night was that I shouldn't raise most hands in early position because I don't want to play a larger pot with position and I can raise anything in late position I'm willing to play in the first place. Basically, position is king. Also, KQ, AQ, AJ, etc. really suck out of position because it is hard to flop really well and get any action.

Not raising in early position made me a decent amount of money, including just calling a raise with AKo. I flopped a king, and the host (relatively short stacked) got his money in bluffing on the flop and turn.

Also, I think I was missing a lot of value bets before.

I won a lot of money on the turn and river by making smallish value bets. Sometimes, I even though I was bluffing, but got called by a worse hand (my read was off). A number of players in the game like to look you up if the bets aren't huge.

The main turning point on this was when I got called down on a AsQhTs 5c Th board by a guy with A5o. He bet really small on the flop and I called with my 6s4s from the small blind. Since he bets small with weak hands (a decent hand would bet much more to protect his hand there) I knew he was weak and so I check-raised the turn from $6 to $21 (there was probably $30 in the pot when he bet). I bluffed again on the river ($25) and he called me down. It was at that point that I was much better off just keeping the pot small with my draw, but using a similar pattern (half-pot bets) to get value.

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