Thursday, November 23, 2006

First Impressions; or, A Tale Told By an Idiot

A happy holiday to all. Among other things, I remain thankful that I’m still playing poker online. There was a day or two back there -- back at the beginning of October -- when I genuinely believed it was all over. Still kickin’, though, and so yesterday sat down for some o’ the usual 6-max $0.50/$1.00 limit.

Went over to Absolute Poker, where I’ve done well since accepting that $50 startup roll from PokerSourceOnline a month ago. Have already been able to cash some from there. Additionally, I’ve nearly finished clearing the $50 sign-up bonus as well (just one more $10 increment to go there), so all in all I have to say playing on the site has been rewarding.

I took my seat and waited for the blind to come around. I didn’t recognize any of the other five players -- not unusual, as there are probably only a dozen or so with whom I’ve played over there multiple times. First hand comes and I’m dealt 9s3s in the BB. Two players limp, the SB completes, and I check. The flop comes 8d8s4s and all four of us check. The turn is the Ts, giving me the flush, so I bet. Two of the remaining players call. The river I don’t like at all -- the 4c. Stubbornly I bet out, heedless of the likely possibility there’s a boat sailing around the table somewhere. One player raises and the other calls, so I have to call it down. Indeed, I’m beaten by the player who had chosen to limp in with TcTd. (The other caller had the case ten for a crummy pair.)

I lose $3.50 on the hand -- probably could’ve lost more, especially considering I was out of position. Then comes hand no. 2, and in the SB I’m dealt two more spades -- 5s4s. This time the entire table limps in -- the perfect scenario, really, for my suited connectors -- so I complete and all six of us watch the flop come down: 3hAs5c.

I am guilty at times of being overly anxious to fight for pots when first starting a session. Sometimes such willingness to gamble early works out, and I find myself up a bit without even having to showdown a hand. Other times I get knocked down a peg or three, and thus I’m working uphill from the get-go. A lot of times these first few hands seem to dictate fairly accurately how a session will go, actually. If I’m up a few bucks after the first round or two, I generally will walk away with more. If I’m down early, I sometimes get it back but often I’ll stay down until I decide to move on to greener pastures.

The phenomenon is affected, I believe, by the power of first impressions. If you sit down and donk off several big bets in a hurry, others (if they’re paying attention, which at these limits isn’t always the case) smell blood and start coming after you. If you have your wits about you -- and a bit of poker savvy -- you can take advantage when others appear to be underestimating your play. Of course, the cards usually have to cooperate as well (particularly in limit).

Anyhow, back to the hand. I’ve flopped middle pair (no kicker), an inside straight draw, and a backdoor flusher. And I’ve got five players to act behind me. Sometimes given this set of circumstances I’ll get wild and create some action, especially if I’m just sitting down at a table like this. But here I decided to be cautious and just checked. I’d probably be staying in the hand, barring multiple reraises. The next two players also checked, then NoBidder bet. The cutoff folded and the button called.

I called, of course. There was $4.00 in the pot, so I’m getting a healthy 8-to-1 to call. And I’m reasonably sure I have 6 solid outs (4 twos and 2 fives), which even if I’m only sticking around for the turn is around 7-to-1 to hit.

The turn was the 5h, giving me trips. I checked, NoBidder bet, the button called, and I check-raised. “I love getting turned,” typed an unhappy NoBidder in the chat box as he folded. (Probably had an ace -- or maybe a draw -- I thought; smart fold.) The button called. The river was the Tc, I bet another dollar, and the button called again. My trips were good, as he mucked his (very) modest 2d3d. The total pot was $10.95, with my profit being $6.95.

“Way to go betting mid pair,” NoBidder quickly typed. I paused a beat, then responded with a sarcastic “ty.” “That’s why u r an idiot,” he fired back.

Talk about first impressions. Two whole hands and at least one player has conclusively determined my status as a mental midget. Got me! Been living a lie all these years, desperately trying to conceal my handicap to all those with whom I am forced to interact on a daily basis. A nightmare, really. Imagine living every waking moment paralyzed by the agonizing fear such a truth about yourself might be suddenly, unexpectedly revealed to all. Kind of like trying to play limit poker without ever once showing down a hand.

Took me about three seconds to compose my response: “(yawn)”

NoBidder and I tangled again a couple of times over the next few rounds -- no titanic battles, though. My first impression of him -- as a whiner without much appreciation for pot odds -- turned out to be only partially correct. I ultimately decided NoBidder did have a decent idea how to play his own hands, although he repeatedly demonstrated an unthinking predilection to censure how others played theirs. Turning his attention away from me, he soon jumped on two others at our table (one of whom gamely fought back in a tediously-long chatbox clash) before he finally left.

Been a while since I’ve been called an idiot at the tables. (Not that I haven’t deserved it, mind you.) For some perverse reason, I felt compelled to document the occasion. Reminded me of the first time I ever received such a dressing-down, way way back at the penny tables playing Pot Limit Omaha. I’d somewhat recklessly chased down a flush to beat my opponent’s straight -- taking down a whopping two bucks or so -- and was truly surprised when my chips I’d won were accompanied by a wild torrent of abuse from across the table. As a relatively new player -- and brand new to the real money tables -- I felt terrible, like I’d genuinely breached some sort of poker etiquette (unknown to me) by the way I’d played the hand. Got over it, of course. (Though I wonder if all those hit by such random verbal shrapnel do.)

I realized soon enough that such moaning -- though it happens frequently enough -- ain’t necessarily typical. Nor all that meaningful, really. Kind of a rite of passage to learn to endure such heat, I guess. Not unlike something Amy Calistri brought up recently (referring to getting flamed on poker forums) in a post on her excellent blog, Aimlessly Chasing Amy. (If you haven't read her blog, check it out.)

Glad my first response to what the UIGEA’s passage meant was inaccurate as well . . . . Truth be told, first impressions have the ability to make idiots of us all.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

When I get berated by a donkey I usually say either "Ssshhh I'm busy counting your chips", or "That's nothing, I play much worse than that so stick around" or just ask them "So when's your book coming out?" and they shut up and you get a few LOL's from the rest of the table. This then makes you a target for the original donk but sometimes the rest of the table think you're a funny guy and sometimes go a little easier on you!

11/24/2006 8:19 AM  
Blogger Swifty said...

It's always highly amusing when someone shouts the odds at you on a $1.50 S&G. I mean...$1.50? If you haven't beaten that level I'm not ashamed to take your chips lol.

And yes, we've all read Harrington etc. It's one thing talking a good game. Putting it into action is another thing entirely.

I always try and be gracious in victory and (more usually) defeat. It somehow feels better, especially when I'm actually screaming at the screen or pumping my fist against my forehead :))

11/24/2006 9:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hardy ever reply when I get berated. I like YP reply though "shhh I'm busy counting your chips" lol


11/26/2006 4:38 PM  

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