Friday, February 05, 2010

Will I ever learn?

Tuesday night was, in a word, disappointing.  I had some specific notes, but I'm not sure it is worth keeping all that written down.  I will give you the Cliffs Notes version though:

In the first hour, I got up a bit over a buy-in (.5/$1 game, $60 buy-in). Then, I lost a big hand (me: flush draw, top pair, and gutshot draw on turn, him: two pair) and my cards got really, really dry. Fluctuated around the buy-in, dropping to $30, then back to $60, and then I just kind of imploded after 11 pm. I lost half my stack with JJ played too passively, then I lost a chunk re-raising a LAG (and not getting it all in) to be called and pushed on by another player, and finally I tilted off my last $18 in a pot I really shouldn't have even been in.

I'm realizing something though -- in the $.5/1 game, I'm playing too tightly and passively, probably because the players are pretty aggressive and it is for more money.  In the .10/.20 $20 buy-in games, I'm playing too aggressively and much looser (but probably not too loose).  I seem to flip-flop back and forth -- trying to apply what I learned in one game to the other game when it really doesn't apply that much.

So my goal is to come up with a strategy for each game.  I'm playing the $20NL game tonight, btw.

* * * * *

First, the $1/2, $60 NLHE game:

I'm depending too much on my cards and missing some great spots to pick up pots. Playing tightly is fine, but I'm getting into so few pots that I can't win money. Furthermore, sometimes I felt like a bet or raise would take down the pot, but my cards were garbage, so I didn't do it.  But, it is easier to bluff if you have no draws -- then you don't lose more money!

It is almost like folding is a reflex.

Overall, I play WAY too tightly and I need to work on situational aggression.  In a more aggressive, but tighter, game, cards have a value beyond just what they'd win if I ended up getting all in and seeing a showdown.  Any two cards have some value simply because I can get other people to fold, something I don't get as much in the looser $20 NL game.  Furthermore, any two cards in position have more inherent value because of the position and the possibilities for bluffs.

Of course, I shouldn't play garbage hands in position if I'm not willing to bluff with them.  That's something I need to work on.

Action Items for $0.5/$1 $60NL game:
  1. Open up my starting hands and aggression with position.  Button, LP raises, re-raise LAGs.  Big raises pre-flop to steal pots and increase the chances I'll get called later -- like the call, call, call, $10 bets...  Bets on the flop to steal pots.  Doesn't matter my cards -- if the situation feels right, do it.
  2. Hard 11 pm stop time.  After 11 pm, I start getting too tight with fits of idiocy.  There is a reason I busted at 11:30 Tuesday night.  I plan to pack up at 11 pm, no matter what.
  3. Do not play short stacked (below $40).  I play worse when short and I can't put proper pressure on other players.  Leave if I'm not comfortable rebuying.  Limit myself to $150ish total buy-in.
  4. Hand ranging when I get faced with big decisions.
  5. Practice online!  This is something I should be doing, but haven't.  I plan to practice this strategy at some very low stakes tables online this weekend.  That should get me used to the adjustments and fix my folding reflex.

    * * * * *

    Second, the $.10/$.20 $20 NLHE game I'll play tonight:

    I'm already getting into a lot of pots although I'm not raising as much as I would in the $60 game, but I'm not sure that's the correct thing to do with loose-passive players.  If I raise too much or bluff too much, I'll inflate the pot when I have the worst hand. So, for this game, I'm going to focus on continuing the aggression, but reading hands better and not making wimpy bets.

    The last part is because most of my bets are around the half-pot range.  I think I'd be better served to protect my hands and extract value by varying the bets based on the situation.  So that is something I'll work on tonight.

    Action items for the $.10/$.20 $20 NLHE game:
    1. Focus on hand ranging using the pre-flop action too.  The ideas below will get me into a lot of pots and a lot of tough decisions.  So the main focus is hand-ranging.  Items 3 and 4 in this list will fall into place if I hand range correctly.  The main thing I need to do is go back to the beginning of the hand when I hand range -- I think that is something I'm taking a shortcut on.
    2. Continue to open and limp into a lot of pots, especially in position.  This has been working so far, and I believe I need to play more pots to exploit my edge.
    3. Avoid over bluffing.  These are not the guys to bluff as much.  Try to bluff with outs and think through the hand ranges before I fire multiple barrels.
    4. Vary my bets more.  Mostly, this is betting the full pot when appropriate, but I should also look for spots where a smaller bet or raise is more appropriate for what I want to do.
    Ok, this is a good list.  I'm excited about tonight!

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