Ground Control To Major Fish

“Knowledge speaks, but wisdom listens. “
–Jimi Hendrix
In a tribute to the poker blogger extraordinaire on hiatus, I’m off on a ramblin not-quite sober run through poker space. Just finished up another profitable session at the place where poker is a Party. I feel like doing a jig, even though I wouldn’t have any clue how to perform such a thing. After dropping a benjamin in a $5-10 shorthanded game waiting for the wife to get home, I found a couple extremely loose aggressive $3-6 tables. 3 bets and caps all around on 2 of my 3 tables. The poker gods smiled on me: 40 minutes, 45 Big Bets (I quit early so I could share the good news with y’all). I can’t quite believe the run I’ve been on, and I’ve been waiting for the shoe to drop, but the $3-6 PartyPoker players are just so terrible that maybe the shoe is up there with Major Tom for good.
Example: $96 pot, I’ve bet my KK all the way. Board is 9 8 5 8 T, and I bet the whole way and take the pot. One call on the river. What did he have? A6h. Where do they get these people?
I had a discussion with The Fat Guy, and we talked about the difference between implicit poker knowledge and explicit poker knowledge. Looking back, the beginning of my career was ruled by explicit knowledge– ABC poker by the book. I had a rigid set of starting hands that I played, and played my strong draws passively. This weak-tight phase allowed me to get a feel for the game, learning to connect the dots between the cards on the board, the bets, and the players. Putting all of those things together, I started to understand when my hand was good, and when I was beaten. But as I started to see the patterns and get a better understanding of the game, I began to understand which hands could be played profitably preflop, and when my hand was good post-flop.
Combining that explicit knowledge of pot odds and starting hands with the implicit feel for the game and knowing when I’m beat is the challenge these days. Two examples from tonight, one bad, one good. The bad: I try to steal the blinds with J8 in late position, but the BB 3 bets me. I flop top pair (8s) raise on the flop, and he 3 bets. I go in to check and call, but I FEEL a big pair, and sure enough, he shows me AA. It would have been a great laydown, and one I should have made, but I played this one a little too much “by the book”. The good: pocket 4s, 5 people see the flop, which is 2 5 6, with two diamonds. I bet out, and get called by 2 players. The river is another 2, and everyone folds to my turn bet for a 6 BB pot. Nothing special, but this is a play I wouldn’t have made (I would have checked the turn) in my “by the book” days.
I don’t know if it helps any of you guys grinding it out in your first few months of poker, but something definitely clicked for me a couple months ago. 9 months of poker seemed to be enough to hit some poker neuron in my brain, and the last couple months I’ve been really “feeling it” more often than not. The cards have helped, but when you hit that patch where you know your second pair is good, you’re rollin. When I hit that 15K hand mark, I’m not sure what happened, but my feel for the game seemed to catch up with all of that book knowledge that I’d absorbed. So stick with it, and you’ll get paid off in the end…
Poker Blog Patrol
A quick shout out to Casey at the Felt post, you’re missing out.
“Finally they saw their chance as they looked upon their cards,
And then began the hand which is still sung about by bards.
Jimmy Blake was dealt two Kings, Aces got Ol’ Flynn,
Yes, finally, they saw a hand that Casey wouldn’t win.”

I finally made it to Stinkypants2‘s blog after playing with him in Felicia’s weekly poker blogger tourney (I busted out 14th after flopping 2 pair in the BB against TP, who played hit his flush on the turn and busted me). Stinky explains why poker and family don’t mix:
“after 4 hands they decide to take a break,break lasts 30 minutes…this continued most of the night, brother busts out early, gets mad and leaves… mother, getting wasted, is next, fiance is out, she played ok, but thought she was a genius when she noticed i only played when i had good hands, so she would fold whenever i was in a pot…”
And my man Pauly played tough in Tuesday’s WPT qualifier, busting out 71st out of 322 after slowly getting blinded down. Watching from the rail, I could only hope I’d see Aces when he turned over his cards, but alas, it was not to be. But Pauly won himself another shot next week (maybe I’ll try to get in one of these), so we’ll do it all over again next week.
Good luck and make sure you feel it…

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