Sunday, April 3, 2011

One long session

You're not supposed to look at short term results in poker. Your winnings in one session, one week, one month - should be immaterial. We are taught to focus on the quality of our decisions, and if we make enough of them, we will win in the long run.

I'm horrible at applying this philosophy, of course. I check my results all the time, and often post them on the blog for all to see. I have tried hard to stop checking my results mid-session, because doing so can affect how you play. You might press if you're behind, or ease up on the gas when ahead.

I had peeked a couple times tonight, and was up half a buy-in. This information was in hand as I played one of my last hands of the night, right before my big blind came to me. Nine (and a half) times out of ten, I fold these last hands - I play something like a 5% range of hands in early position, and was ready to fold these next couple and close it down for the night, but the poker gods had other ideas.

Ace-king, both diamonds.

Big slick is a mandatory raise from any position, of course. I made my standard raise. The button called me - a fairly nitty, tricky player. He had three-bet one of my opening raises once before at this table - I folded ace-queen. His three-bet percentage was right on the edge of loose - about 4.6%, but quite a bit of that coming from the blinds. This time, he had flat called, though, and his nitty stats suggested the most likely candidate would be a pocket pair trying to flop a set. I had to be careful.

My heart sank just a bit when I saw the flop. Four of clubs, nine of hearts, eight of hearts. I had flopped just about the strongest hand possible without having a pair. I had two overcards and the nut flush draw. The correct way to play this hand is fast - all-in on the flop if necessary. I am a favorite vs. any pair right now (except aces or kings), and even have 25% equity vs. someone lucky enough to have flopped a set.

Trouble was, I wasn't in the mindset to play my draw fast - I was ready to take my half-buy-in win and shut it down.

Being first to act, I made my standard continuation bet. My opponent thought for a minute and raised it up - to 3 times the size.

Ugh. Did he hit his set on me? A distinct possibility, of course. But without seeing his cards, there were other possibilities as well. He could have pocket tens or jacks - still over this board, and a strong favorite vs. most unpaired overcards. Many players like to raise baby overpairs because they are easier to play this way. They chase away hands they're crushing, but they also don't have to worry about every overcard that falls and whether their opponent has just caught them or not. The raise is +EV - they are clearing out 25% equity that opponents with unpaired overcards has on them.

Many players will make the same raise with any pair, say pocket fives. They have a pair, and assume their opponent usually does not, let's just raise this cbet and take the pot down, as opposed to calling down and guessing.

Any other ace-king in my hand, this raise of course works perfectly. But this ace-king, whose suit matches the two on the board, was too strong to simply fold away.

I didn't want to do it, but I knew what the correct play was, and that was to shove my stack in. The classic semibluff - I fold out all his little pairs, and his bigger pairs are a dog against me with 15 outs. If he flopped any of the three sets, his correct play is to call as a 3:1 favorite, but I've got enough equity to crack him occasionally.

Vs. his entire range (all pairs), the shove is the correct play. I wasn't in the right mindset to do it - I didn't want to risk turning my half stack profit into a half stack loss, but I did it anyway. Poker is one long session, and you should strive to make the correct, most +EV play every time. This time, that was risking my entire stack.

I risked it. I shoved the rest of my virtual chips to the middle. My opponent folded his cards almost instantly, and I added 17 big blinds to my stack.

My last 2 hands were easy folds, and I shut it down with my half-buy-in profit intact. Maybe I'll work a bit harder at not peeking in the future.

1 comment:

Memphis MOJO said...

Good self-discipline.