Thursday, November 16, 2006

Putting Yourself Out There

Failure: When Your Best Just Isn't Good EnoughI was thinking this week about Iggy’s announcement that he was putting Guinness and Poker on hold. (The latest.) There have been a number of poker blogs slowing down or stopping altogether since the UIGEA was signed into law. A few poker podcasts have fallen by the wayside as well, although it isn’t clear whether there is any real connection between such trends and the new legislation.

Of course, there are still some excellent podcasts from which to choose -- including Ante Up!, Rounders, and the Pocket Fives podcast. Poker Diagram is also always a fun listen (check ’em out, if you haven’t already), though they’ve gone a few weeks here without a new show. The Joe Average Poker Show and Phil Gordon’s The Poker Edge can be okay time-fillers. And I look forward to the day The Circuit returns (although I can’t imagine it will be as good without Scott Huff).

I appreciate how much energy it must take to produce a regular (e.g., weekly) podcast. I would imagine it is even more draining to try to do so without any sort of sponsorship or backing (as Henry and Zog do with PokerDiagram, or Sean and Stacks did with Card Club on Lord Admiral Radio). Most grueling, though, must be the need to “put yourself out there” show after show, opening yourself to the sort of scrutiny most of us would find unbearable.

The fact is, podcasts like Ante Up! and Poker Diagram (and Card Club, when it was around) are especially fun to listen to precisely because the hosts routinely “show their hole cards” (so to speak), letting listeners witness not just their successes at the tables, but their failures as well. (I should add that the hosts of Rounders show similar humility on occasion, too.) As we all know, it is mighty difficult for poker players to admit their own limitations -- to others or to themselves. However, hosts that do so aren’t just more interesting, they are more informative as well.

Same goes for bloggers, of course. Always more fun to report wins than losses. I’ve tried here to balance the two -- to talk about misplayed hands or flaws in my game, as well as the good hands and strengths -- although I know I’m more inclined to highlight those hands where I perform well or even admirably (and suppress those when I don’t).

To give a quick for instance, I had myself a nice little tournament victory last week and couldn’t wait to report my success on the blog. (And to keep linking to that post -- haha.) I played that particular tourney fairly well, I’d thought, and so greatly enjoyed the retelling of what happened. Then I jumped online today and in just the second hand played one of those “I can’t believe I just did that” kind of hands. Thought I’d share -- although you know I’d rather not.

I’ve actually been testing the waters at the $1.00/$2.00 6-max limit tables lately (a step up from my usual haunt), although luckily for me I warmed up today with a few dozen hands on $0.50/$1.00. For this particular hand, I was dealt KcTc in the small blind. The UTG limped, as did the player to his left, SilentSam. Then the cutoff -- FastCar24 -- raised, and the button cold-called. The big blind and I both decided to join the party, so all six of us had put in a dollar to see the following flop: 9c8h7s.

I was first to act and checked, mentally preparing to call a bet with my open-ended straight draw. If I had been up against a single opponent, I probably would’ve bet out here. But with five players to act, checking seems like the smart move.

That was the last smart move of the hand for me.

The UTG bet. Then SilentSam raised. Then FastCar24 reraised. The button folded and it was three bets to me. Bad Move #1: I called. Knowing with certainty I’d be putting in the fourth bet here, there was no reason for me not to cap it (if I were staying in). But I just called. The UTG folded, SilentSam indeed capped it, FastCar24 called, and so did I. The pot was already up to $12.50. I’d given up on my overcards being any good, knowing I was probably facing two pair, a set, or an already made-straight. So I’m hoping here to see a jack or six.

The turn was the 3d. I checked -- Bad Move #2, really, since I could have bet here, gotten some information, and got out. SilentSam also checked, and FastCar24 bet out.

How did I play this? Bad Move #3 -- I called. Again, I missed an opportunity to gain information. I also was announcing pretty clearly to the table I was on a draw, so even if it hit I wasn’t likely going to be paid off as handsomely as I’d like. As if to punish me, SilentSam (the one who had capped it on the flop) pounced with a check-raise, and FastCar24 three-bet.

What did I do? Bad Move #4 -- I called again. Don’t even try to defend me with pot odds. I know I have (at best) 8 outs here, perhaps less if somebody has JT. (If somebody does have JT -- which to be honest was what I was suspecting -- then a 6 is no good and a J only gives me half of the pot.) I know I’m putting in 4 big bets here, so essentially I’m putting in $4.00 to try to win $20.50. Sure, that’s 5-to-1, but with only 8 outs I really need at least 6-to-1 for the pot odds to be right. And, as I said, I wasn’t completely confident all 8 outs were good.

Worst of all, though, is how I’m allowing myself to get caught in the “chip sandwich” (as Harrington puts it). I called the three bets, watched SilentSam cap it and FastCar24 call, then called as well. I suppose we don’t have to describe that last call as a fifth bad move, but I was certainly throwing good money after bad.

The river was the 4c, and I finally got out. As it happened, both players had JT, and so chopped what ended up being a $30+ pot. Not only had I blown $7 on one hand, but I’d essentially announced to the table that a bona fide donkey had sat down in my seat. Hee Haw!

I kept an eye on FastCar24 -- the one who had preraised with JT (offsuit, actually). He turned out to be a pretty miserable player, doing a lot of loose raising and calling and eventually losing his entire stack. I watched him work for a short while, then near the end I had begun to write a note on him that began “Seems like an idiot . . . .” At that very moment -- I am not making this up -- he actually typed “I’m an idiot, yup.” (I had to stop and make sure I hadn’t been typing in the chat box!)

Perhaps FastCar24 will be back and will have learned a bit. Being able to acknowledge your mistakes is a good thing, I think. Never easy to put yourself out there, though.



Anonymous Anonymous said...


True, it's very easy to post successes and not so easy to post losses. As long as people encourage you when you make mistakes instead of the posting derogatory comments I don't mind.

When all's said and done, poker requires you to have confidence in your game for you to succeed. Of course we should not underestimate that you need to know what to do when with the cards you are dealt them but confidence does play a part at lest it does in my game anyway.

I still flit between limit and no limit games. I prefer No Limit because you can be priced out of playing the draws whereas in limit it is mostly correct an open ended straight draw.

Good luck anyway.

11/17/2006 6:52 AM  

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