A hundred battles

“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles.”
–Sun Tzu
No instant messenger. No music. No TV. Just me, 3 tables, and 40,000 others on the best poker site in the world. After a horrible weekend where I dropped way too many big bets in way too few hours, the $3-6 tables have been very good to me in the past two nights. Some of the fishy plays have me dumbfounded. Exhibit one:
I have JJ on the button, and raise it up after a single limper. Loose guy in BB 3 bets, and the limper folds. I just call, waiting for the Ace or the King to flop and kill my hand. Flop is Qd Td 9c and I’m lovin it. He bets out, I raise, and he 3 bets. I call, not knowing what this clown has. Turn is the 8c, and I’m holding my nuts unless he’s got KJ (no way). I gladly assist him in capping the turn, and when the river is a 6 checks and calls my bet. Can you guess what he had? Ac Kd.
Moral: Nothing like an overaggressive donkey a typical PartyPoker $3-6 player to bring you out of a run of cold cards.
Corollary: I have no idea whether to check or bet the river for value against players like this. This hand was obvious, but it’s always a mystery whether my top pair is beaten or I’m just facing a typical overaggressive component. Having notes on the player helps here.
It also helps when you get pocket aces 4 times and they hold up every single time. All of the hands that weren’t holding up on my horrible Saturday run held up all night.
I missed the intense action of the hyperaggressive $5-10 tables as I ground out the hours at $3-6, but I was able to pull off some semi-bluffs and a lot of steals. If nothing else, the shorthanded games teach you how to play in an unraised pot from late position. Aggression rules in shorthanded games– raise or lose.
One of the reasons I decided to explore the $5-10 shorthanded games was because I enjoy them more. There is much more strategy and psychology here, and a skilled player has a much higher edge against an unskilled opponent. But as a lot of poker players have pointed out, poker is about winning money. Yes, short-term results are insignificant and should be analyzed on a hand-by-hand basis, rather than in number of winning big bets. But if you are choosing a table because it is more “fun” to play, warning bells should go off in your head. I think by choosing fun over Expected Value, I angered the poker gods. Through their merciless punishment I learned my lesson: Given adequate knowledge of the game, your win rate is based largely on your ability to choose a good table.
A wise old owl reminds us what it means to be living in the Golden Age of poker:
“And poker back then was freaking HARD. The mid to high limit online games were downright TOUGH. There just weren’t many fish back then, you were typically playing against skilled, experienced players, players who thought and studied about the game. And you sure as hell better be tracking and taking notes on players. You faced alot of the same guys night after night. And trust me, you weren’t seeing 5-7 players to the flop at ANY limit back then.”
Don’t take the opportunity for granted. If you’re reading this blog, you probably have a bucket full of Party Fish under your monitor. If you stay off tilt and think critically about the game, you will crush these games. Just remember that short-term results aren’t significant (ask longtime players Felicia and Mr. Reilly. If you play your usual solid game, and put in the hours, you will win.
Ok, enough pep talk– how about something more practical? Love and Casino War has provided us with Syndirella, an excellent newsreader that makes rolling through all the poker blogs a lot easier. In addition to the newsreader, Jeremy has built a great list of poker blogs that can be imported into the newsreader. Thanks Jeremy!
Enjoy the Golden Age, and don’t forget to bring bait…

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