Thursday, January 20, 2011

Oh, Brother, Where Am I?

Oh, BrotherAn up-and-down start to 2011, poker-wise, for your humble gumshoe. Several winning PLO sessions early, followed by some losing ones, followed by some more o’ that “break-even poker” I’ve been writing about off-and-on (and playing) for some time now.

Am beginning to think about stepping back and studying a bit, including doing some serious video watching -- something I have never really done, to be honest -- as a means to improve. So many seem to have gotten themselves over the hump and into some real success that way. I’m thinking of folks like bellatrix, Change100, and of course that dude on the Two Plus Two Pokercast now living in a sick house in Thailand.

I’ve also pretty much abandoned using PokerTracker/HUDs anymore -- not for any particular reason other than laziness, really. Have been playing more and more on my Mac laptop, on which I have none of that stuff loaded. I was curious about getting Omaha Manager (the Omaha version of HEM), but can’t really explore that at the moment since the HEM products aren’t Mac-compatible yet.

I know that to become genuinely serious about improving -- and competing with others -- it would greatly behoove me to consider use tracking programs more seriously (especially since I know a lot of the video tutorials incorporate them into the instruction). Of course, lessons, tutorials, HUDs, notes, and so forth are only useful if you both understand them and are willing to act accordingly. As we all know, in poker it is not always easy to pull the trigger even if you know it is correct to do so.

Had a funny situation the other day which kind of illustrated this idea, I suppose. Was playing my usual six-handed, dime-and-a-quarter PLO when a new player -- I’ll call him DontTeaseMeBro -- arrived at the table. He sat out the first couple of hands, waiting for the big blind. Then, just before getting his first hand, he typed the following:

“what am i going to do when my brother finds out that i have been playing his ps account? i have to win 2500 back in three days from this”

I lol’d, too (for real). Various other responses occurred to me as well, but I resisted. As did everyone else.

Finally he posted the big blind. The UTG player limped in for a quarter, and the action was on me. I had AsAcTh7s and raised pot to $1.10. The button called, as did DontTeaseMeBro and the UTG limper.

There were four players still in, then, when the flop came Qd7hKs. Into this crowd the newcomer unhesitatingly bet the pot ($4.28). UTG folded, and I got out, too, but the button called. They got the rest in on the 3c turn, at which point I laughed again when I saw DontTeaseMeBro’s hand -- 2d8h4d2s. The button’s hand was a little amusing, too -- Tc3dJdQh -- just second pair and an open-ender on the flop, but the turn had given him two pair. Then came the river card which was simply a riot, the 2c, giving DontTeaseMeBro a set and a quick double-up.

We played a couple more orbits, and I watched as our new visitor settled into a more reasonable-appearing mode of play, seemingly content to protect his windfall. He’d added a couple of bucks to his total when the following hand arose.

DontTeaseMeBro began things by limping in from under the gun, and it folded to me on the button where I held 9c7h5s9h. Certainly so-so (if not trash), but with position I called, and both blinds came along, too. The flop came 9sJh4c, giving me middle set. It checked to me, I bet the pot ($0.95), and both the small blind and DontTeaseMeBro called.

The small blind, I should mention, was a fellow I’ve played with a lot. In fact, now that I look up his stats in PT I realize he’s a good example of why I really should study more.

My impression after playing ~1,500 hands with the guy was that he was not a dumb player, though not particularly difficult to deal with, either. Probably explains why I have kept sitting at tables with him. But looking at his numbers, I see he’s down nearly $120 in the hands we’ve played! I know I’ve seen him overplay big pairs a few times, but I hadn’t really suspected he was down like that.

Rightly or wrongly, I did not rule out top set as a possible hand for him here, though that was unlikely. Wasn’t convinced DontTeaseMeBro could have a set of jacks and be check-calling, either. Most likely I was looking at a couple of straight draws, I thought, and the 6d on the turn didn’t complete those. They both checked, and I decided to fire again, betting the pot ($3.66). The small blind quickly folded, and DontTeaseMeBro just as quickly made the call.

The river brought the Kd and before you could say “queen-ten” DontTeaseMeBro had instantly bet the pot ($10.63).

I only had a dozen hands with the guy. I’d read his confession like I read just everything in the chatbox or online -- with skepticism. And I’d seen him make such a bet (pot-sized, out of position) a couple of times on exactly one previous hand when he had nothing but a pair of deuces.

What to do? Pot-sized bets on the river are tough to call without the nuts in PLO. (Have a feeling my friend over in the small blind has perhaps done that more often than he should.) I weighed it all and finally convincing myself the chances were greater he didn’t have it than he did, I called.

It turned out I was right, as he had but QsAs8c7c for ace-high. A few hands later he dropped the few bucks I’d left him with on that hand and skedaddled, perhaps to go work further on the big problem he’d created with his brother’s Stars account.

Hey brotherHappened to hit that one, but to be completely truthful my moments of insight and confidence are only intermittent these days, punctuated by stretches where I genuinely feel at sea when it comes to taking my own lines and making reads of others.

I mean, I generally play better than DontTeaseMeBro seems to, but occasionally I feel like I’m just in there gambling it up like he was -- that maybe the kinship between our games is sometimes stronger than I’d like to admit. Some tutelage is definitely in order.

But first I think I’ll give my brother a call. You know, just to see what he’s been up to.

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Blogger Drizztdj said...

I would give my usual advice: play PLO drunk.

But that winning advice only seems to apply to me.

My biggest sessions come from the money going in on the flop/turn, and not waiting for the river. As you said yourself "pot-sized bets on the river are tough to call without the nuts in PLO" and this goes two ways.

1) you are rarely going to be ABLE to call on the river w/o the nuts

2) if you have the nuts you are rarely going to GET called (unless the villian is someone like the donkey you described)

Yes, you are gambling more with one or two cards to come, but that river card so rarely pays off (even at low limits) that it might be unprofitable to try to get to that 5th board card and still have a decision to make. This is not deep stack advice, but rather the 20-100bbs type games.

My stack swings wildly on a nightly basis but there is a method to it (and profitable one I may add), no matter how many Cap'n Cokes I've had. :)

1/20/2011 2:18 PM  

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