Call the Doctor

Conditions, conditions. That's what've got me bothered this time around. I spent a week in the backwoods of Wisconsin not doing much of anything - certainly not playing poker - and when I returned home it appeared that my game had, in the meantime, packed up and left town without leaving so much as a goodbye scribble of lipstick on the mirror. First session, -20BB. Second session, -35BB. Third session, a grueling and grinding scrabble up to +6BB. Now, I have up to this point lived a fairly charmed life in re: variance, so it's not like I'm not in line for a downswing. The problem is that I've always been able to identify the leaks in my game without too much head-scratching. But not this time. Some honesty about my game is perhaps in order here. Seriously. Would I lie to you? SoCalPokBlogHomeGame readers, here's your chance to rewrite your book on me. I do everything I can to not play a predictable game. My biggest weakness here is preflop - I've broadened my range of hands with which I'll cold-call considerably while narrowing the range of hands with which I'll threebet, meaning that observant opponents will reliably be able to put me on JJ or better when threebetting. But I'd much rather my opponents be able to put me on a hand when threebetting than when I'm cold-calling, since I've taken to the latter much more often. Postflop I have a limited number of action lines (hey, it's limit). My flop action is often dictated by my position. From the blinds I tend to checkraise with a reasonable draw or marginal hand that I think is best; from middle position I'll lead with just about anything but a stone bluff, especially if I think a yet-to-act preflop raiser will raise and help me weed out some draws; and from late position I will probably bet at any unraised pot just like every other low-to-mid-limit player online today. Except maybe Phil. Turn play should be a lot simpler than it is for someone with my style. I have no problem dropping what I'm sure is a second-best hand on the turn, which may be an exploitable weakness. Mostly I'm talking here about situations where you have odds to call one bet with any piece of the flop even if you suspect you're behind - blind defense in a raised, multiway pot leads to a lot of these. I think I may be giving those up to the double-size turn bet a bit too readily. But I digress. Here's my point: the one thing I really got from Jennifer Harman's limit hold'em piece in Super/System 2 is her emphasis on aggressive (or, rather, "fearless") turn play. I am aggressive in my turn actions with a hand I think is best, obviously, but otherwise only if - and here's the key - if I think they will win me the pot. I was fairly well in the zone before I left. I often play in a pretty small pool (PokerRoom 5/10, where there are often only two or three tables going), and thus most of the players know that I'm going to put them to the test with their marginal hands as much as possible when I have position. So I stole a lot of pots. My table image was fantastic. When I came back? Zero. Zip. Nada. I'm playing exactly the same way (as in, my big cards aren't hitting the flops and I'm betting anyway, my draws never come in, and bitch moan whine yadda &c.), and the good ship Bankroll has a massive hole around the waterline. I get no respect. People are calling me down with hands that, man, it's insulting they're calling me down with those. I am wounded. Matters aren't helped much when I get - three hands in a row - AA, KK and AKs. The first two go down in flames to rivered sets. AKs sees a flop of AK9 and I lose a bundle to a slowplayed AA. That's when I call it quits for the night and start wondering where I went wrong. And here's the lightbulb moment. The deep, dark secret, the a-ha, the moment where I realize what an idiot I've been. My table image has changed because my table identity has changed. I'm still playing the same tables, but via Hollywood Poker rather than PokerRoom. They're not scared of me because they don't know me from fucking Adam. I cannot work in those conditions. Well, says I, that will just not do. So I have some work to do.


Blogger StudioGlyphic said...


9/12/2005 09:13:00 PM  
Anonymous fhwrdh said...

* scribbles notes furiously *


9/13/2005 10:27:00 AM  
Blogger hdouble said...

While unpredictability is extremely valuable when you play against a group of regular players who observe your play, it's not worth much against the constant flow of online players. I suggest tightening up preflop (and check this post out: http://cardsspeak.servebeer.com/archives/the_cost_of_cover.html

9/13/2005 11:09:00 AM  

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