Thursday, June 29, 2006

You Have Options at Gamefisher Table!

Been kind of a manic couple of weeks here. Looking back, I’m actually up about 40 BB total over the last fourteen days, although it doesn’t feel like such a triumph. The swings over that period have been dizzy enough to make a small-timer’s head swim (as much as 100 BB down & 80 BB up from where I presently sit). Normally don’t experience quite so much variance. Don’t like it too well . . . prefer to keep the heart pumping at its usual below-average rate.

Why all the riot? I might plead extenuating circumstances. Was dealt aces no less than five times in a single (admittedly lengthy) session last weekend and had ’em cracked all five times. I knew it was happening, but had to check Poker Tracker later to confirm. In four of the five I was heads-up before the flop, including one where I lost to 2h4s on a board of 8c2dTd9c . . . 2s. Dropped over 30 BB in those hands alone, plus probably suffered some tilty carry-over, I imagine. So maybe it was the cards. Another factor could well be fatigue -- I’ve been playing more (and longer) than usual lately while working off some of these summer bonuses, so perhaps the concentration is coming and going, thus increasing the likelihood of swings.

Multitabling more often than usual may also be something to consider here. Being of limited intellectual powers, I generally can manage two tables, but tend to break down at three or more. There are several pros and cons to multitabling, and I’m not going to reiterate them all. I will mention one potential con, though, that occurred to me yesterday as I was sitting at one table debating whether to limp with A8-off from middle position (in a $1.00/$2.00 limit game) when I was simultaneously dealt AK-off in the big blind of the other (also $1/$2 limit). I was playing on Party Poker, where the countdown clocks, flashing screens, and “You Have Options . . . ” messages can scramble one’s thoughts when needing to make two decisions at once. I did what on the surface seems reasonable, folding the A8 and raising the AK, thinking at the time that I’d rather devote all my wits to the big slick hand than have to worry about other things while I did.

I realized a hand or two later that it could well have been a mistake not to have played the A8 given the current table situation there (lots of tight players who did little preraising, who tended not to chase, and who would readily fold hands on the flop or turn). The AK hand had not been raised when it got to me in the big blind, but there were five limpers, all of whom called the raise. A flop of baby cards brought a raise and reraise that forced me to let the hand go. As it turned out, it was actually a simple hand to play, requiring very little brain power. Meanwhile I may have missed an opportunity on the other table (although I cannot recall how that particular hand played out without me).

Even the Einsteins who can run over several tables at once will admit that multitabling invariably lessens one’s ability to gather information and make correct decisions. Doing so also subtly affects the criteria by which you select starting hands, even if you don’t necessarily realize it’s happening. A lot of young gunners talk about being on “autopilot” when playing on several tables online. Indeed, during today’s installment of CardPlayer’s The Circuit, online-poker phenom Shane Schleger used the term to describe his online play (while contrasting it with his approach to brick-and-mortar poker).

“Autopilot” surely works well for some, perhaps including the capacity to vary one’s decisions according to situational differences. Not so much for the feeble-minded like yours truly, though. Too many miles on this old jalopy. As the Firesign Theatre once famously asked, how can you be in two places at once when you’re not anywhere at all?

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