Saturday, June 14, 2008

Roller Coaster

Definitely on a roller coaster now.

On Thursday, I pretty much erased my downswing by winning $180 in 6/12 and another hundred in our home game (which is pretty impressive, actually). In 6/12, I started pretty hot, quickly getting up $300 with quads and a few other good hands. Near the end, I had a number of second-best hands... In the home game, especially PLO8, I scooped a few large pots which pretty much made my night.

Then, tonight, Saturday night, I played the $1/2 NLHE game again. I lost $339, which is pretty impressive, considering my stop-loss is $300... Half of it was really bad luck, but the other half was mistakes. I won't talk too much about the bad luck, but I need to think more about my mistakes. These can be broken down into strategy-type mistakes and mistakes dealing with the play of a hand.

Strategy Mistakes:

  • The first one is easy: if I set a stop-loss, stick to it. I lost my third buy-in around 10 pm, and I considered leaving, but it felt too early. So I bought back in, but left at 11 when I realized I was just waiting for good hands. After I lose $300 (three buy-ins), I need to quit. No matter what time it is. Because $300 is just too daunting of a hole to dig out of and even if I feel like I'm doing well, I won't be playing optimally. Thank goodness I left before losing the rest of the fourth buy-in though!
  • The second thing is a biggy: I'm just not picking up enough pots with aggression. Yes, I'm still calling raises with suited connectors and, in the beginning, raising with some non-premium hands (after the second buy-in, I tightened up my raises too). It is plain and simple: if I'm going to play speculative hands, I need to be ready to semi-bluff and float, when appropriate. I can go overboard on this too (and have in the past) but I definitely tightened up tonight. Hell, a guy folded a set to my one-third raise tonight! My bluffs should get plenty of respect!
  • In particular, I need to play pots where I have position and bet/raise the turn when scare cards come, especially flushes or obvious straights. Obviously, it depends on the player, but at least half of the players can make decent lay downs. Also, semi-bluff raising (even with just a gutshot) is something that should work too.
  • I also need to manage the pot better. In one situation, I led into the raiser with a 3/4 pot bet with a flush draw. If I'm going to lead into the raiser on a semi-bluff, at least bet on the smaller side to save me money. This was doubly bad because he tended to make continuation bets, but usually they were on the small side. So I essentially charged myself extra (he made a small raise on the turn too).
So, overall, I need to tighten up a bit on limping/calling raises, but raise a wider range and especially with position. My raises should annoy people, then I know I can back down.

Hand Mistakes:
  1. KJs in EP. I limp and so do a bunch of others (maybe 5 others). $12 in the pot. Flop comes KT5 with two spades (not my suit). I bet $7 and get three callers. $40 in the pot. Turn comes offsuit J. Sam, an older guy to my right, leads for $28 and I go into the tank. Sam is quite loose, but he'll bet big when he has a big hand, so this means the J definitely hit him (or he is protecting a set). He would never bet a draw like this or one pair; he never leads into the raiser without at least two pair. Yet, I don't think he'd be calling $7 with a gutshot, so I eventually call, a few others fold (odd, because one had a monster draw). A lot of my decision there was I thought he might bet a worse two pair like that. We've got about the same size stack ($150+). The river is a blank, Sam bets $25, I call. He has Q9o. My big mistake here is that I assumed that Sam takes pot-odds into consideration. Hell, he actually had the pot odds to chase there. But he's known for chasing flushes and straights, especially on the flop. He's also known for never bluffing when he makes a big bet: big bet = big hand. In that spot, since I know I will easily face another big bet on the river if he has the straight, and he's only 10-20% to have less than a straight, I should just fold and stay out of trouble. The pot is still relatively small. Total cost: $55 In the future: respect Sam's large bets and raises. Fold to him!
  2. 22 in LP. I limp with another player, button raises to $7, four of us call. Pot is around $30. Flop is 8d7d3s. It checks around. Turn is the 2c, and I think 'Bingo!'. Larry in the big blind (or was it UTG?) leads into the pot for $10. I raise to $30. The others fold, and Larry near instantly pushes in (making it $35 to me for the rest of my stack into a pot of $125). Larry is pretty loose and likes to bluff, but pretty much never in this sort of situation (after being raised). With a draw he'd pretty much call here -- the push means a big hand. But I call pretty quickly because I've got a set and I'm getting 4:1 and I think he'd play two pair like this... maybe. At the time, I hated it, and really expected to be shown what I was shown: a set of 3s. If I was getting 3:1 or less, I maybe fold here (it'd have to be just the right situation though). But given the odds, I don't really count this as a mistake.
  3. 66 in MP. I limp, button raises to $10, and I'm the only caller. Pot now $23. Flop comes AhQs6s. Perfect! I check, he bets $10 (which seemed a little small to me) and I call (pot now $43). I figure I'll let him bet the turn and then I'll put in a raise. Turn comes Kd, which worries me a little, but not much. I check, he bets $15, I think and raise it to $45 (leaving myself with $21 left, which, when I saw it, I said 'oops'). And he starts doing math. That's a bad sign, because I figured him for a pair or two pair, not a draw. Well, he eventually calls, and the river comes a nasty card, like the Ts. Darn. I check, he bets, I call all-in. He had AsJs. My biggest mistake on this hand was not pushing when I check-raised. That increased his odds to about $100:30, or over 3:1 (while he was getting pretty much exactly 3:1). It also obligated me to a crying call on the end, because I was getting at least 8:1 and I might not get paid off if he didn't hit. Total cost: the pot (hard to quantify, but at least $70, probably more). In the future: If I commit myself, put all my chips in! And don't be afraid to raise the flop instead of slow-playing until the turn. I could be raising with an ace, which, if he hits two pair, will tie him to the pot. It also protects my hand. Finally, if he has AA or QQ in that spot, so be it -- I'm supposed to get stacked there.
I'm pretty beat down, and I know I've got more than a little tilt creeping in. But, you know, I'm actually feeling much better getting this down on paper and out of my system. I can't control the cards, but I can control my strategy and how I react to the cards.

Financially, I only lost a little over 10% of my bankroll and it's really nothing to worry about. Plus, since I started playing the $1/2 game again, I'm still averaging $20 /hr. So my hot streak in the beginning is paying for this... learning.

Maybe I'll play Wednesday night and try to win some money back! It'd probably be worth playing online a bit first to get my new (old) strategy down again.

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