In my most recent post, I boasted a bit about having had an especially fortunate first hour of play with which to start of the new year. My friend Vera Valmore happened to see the post. “You’re setting yourself up,” she told me. Probably true, I thought. The chances of my second hour of play even coming close to that first hour (during which I scooped an absurd $55, or 27.5 BB) were slim indeed.
The point of that post (in part) was to recognize how starting a session well or poorly tends to affect one’s frame of mind, thereby also affecting one’s ability to play well. I talked about Barry Tanenbaum’s idea to “Always Start Slowly” in order to increase your chances of winning that first big hand you play. My January 1st session began with a nice big win in a hand where I flopped a set, turned a boat, and had three callers following me most of the way. What followed appeared to confirm Tanenbaum’s thesis about the good effects of winning that first hand.
(By the way, Barry Mulholland has a decent article in the current CardPlayer that relates pretty closely to this topic. The article is titled “Sometimes You Have to Play Poker Right Away.”)
So how did the second hour go? And the third?
I sat down at a full ring, $1.00/$2.00 limit game on Stars. Completely ignoring Tanenbaum’s advice to wait an orbit before posting, I went ahead and blithely tossed in a buck from the cutoff where I was dealt . UTG raised and it folded around to me.
This, friends, seems precisely the “marginal situation” Tanenbaum says he avoids when first sitting down at a new table. There is $4.50 in the pot, and I’m looking at chucking in a second dollar for what is likely going to be a heads-up situation. Is 4.5-to-1 good enough with ace-rag unsuited? Compounding the problem, I have zero information about the raiser. I’m pretty sure Tanenbaum lets this one go. (In fact, he would’ve never posted the blind from the cutoff like I did.)
Of course, I called. The button also cold-calls the two bets, so we end up having three players seeing the flop: .
About as good as it gets for A4-unsuited. Must be my year, thinks Shamus. The UTG preflop raiser bets out a buck and I, of course, raise it up. The button calls, the UTG reraises, and all three of us end up capping before the round is through. The UTG raiser runs out of funds here, so we’ve begun a small side pot. Altogether there’s $19.25 in the middle.
The turn card is the , possibly completing someone’s flush. I bet and when the button just calls I feel as though he doesn’t have it (although, again, I have zero knowledge of the player from which to draw, and so really have no idea if he’s capable of slow playing here). Then comes the river -- the . Crap on a cracker. Oh, right -- that’s why you don’t call preflop raises with ace-rag. I can’t be good anymore and so check, and the button also checks and turns over to take the hand. (UTG had been whistling in the dark with .)
I’m $8 down and my seat isn’t even warm. Not just $8 down, actually. I’m something like 80% to win heading into that river, just needing to avoid a jack, a ten, or a seven (nine outs). If any of those other 37 cards come out, the button is surely going to pay one more big bet, and I’m going to take a $26.25 pot (removing a dollar for the rake). I’d have netted $16.25 on the hand, so I could cry that I’ve lost around $25 (or 12.5 BB) on this hand alone thanks to that river card!
Bad luck? Sure. But the hand began with what I immediately judged to be two bad decisions on my part -- to post the big blind from the cutoff rather than wait an orbit, and to call the preflop raise with ace-rag. Wonder if anyone else noticed that, I thought . . . .
I ended up taking it more slowly following that first hand, sitting through the next couple of orbits without playing too much. Wasn’t winning too much, either (I only took a single small pot of $3 during that stretch.) I was down about $15 total when I finally picked up pocket rockets in the cutoff. The table folded around to me and I raised. Much to my dismay, the button called, the small blind called, the big blind called, and the UTG player who was new to the table and had posted also called. So it was my AA vs. four other players, all of whom called my preflop raise without having voluntarily put any money in the pot beforehand.
I wondered for a moment if my loose play on Hand #1 had perhaps invited so much action. Stopped fretting, though, when the flop came . The big blind bet out, I raised, the small blind reraised, and the three of us ended up capping it. (Hmm . . . didn’t seem like such an action flop.) The turn was the , giving me the boat, aces-full. Both players checked and I also checked to give someone a chance to catch up and really pay me off. The river was the and big blind again bet out. He and I ended up capping the betting (the small blind bailed). The pot had mushroomed to $37 (taking out the rake). What did he have?
You guessed it -- . “Wow,” he typed when he saw my aces. “Last hand [I] thought you were on.”
I was down $30 (15 BB), not having played even 30 hands yet. I thought a bit about his comment. What could he have thought I had, if not aces? Ace-rag? Big slick, played recklessly against a board showing a pair and a flush possibility? Was I stubbornly running kings or queens through that board? If you look at how I played the hand -- particularly my check on the turn -- AA was the only hand I could possibly have had. If I knew what I was doing, that is. (Had my play on Hand #1 perhaps suggested otherwise?)
Ended up falling deeper in the hole, then regrouped and scraped my way back to a $20 loss for the entire session. When I told Vera how the day had gone, she passed on the opportunity to tell me “I told you so.” She did, however, make sarcastic reference to that gaudy win rate I’d established in the earlier session. Always good to be reminded poker ain’t as easy as it sometimes seems.
Labels: *on the street