The downside of hope.

Hope is certainly a good quality, but in poker, it’s just another word for gambling. When someone shows you their two kings and you say, “I was hoping you didn’t have that”, and show your jacks, you missed an important step: the logical thought process that probably would have told you that an overpair was possible. People hope to win the lottery. They hope to win at slots. They can never sit back and say, “I should have played that lottery ticket differently.” It’s all hoping, i.e. gambling. Poker is different.. There are clues everywhere for the astute detective and options both in strategy and tactics for the experienced player. Hoping won’t win poker games. Skill helps.

Why won’t players adapt to new info, and thank you.

Three times recently, players have said to me, after a showdown and once a bust out, “That was so unlike you”.  Twice it was the same player at a different game.  When are these guys going to notice the “me” that they’re referring to is based solely on their profiling impression. At first I thought it would be a disadvantage to be playing so many of the same people much of the time, but since they never revise their impression, it doesn’t seem to be.

I always have the nuts

For example, in one hand, I made what was really a great 4-bet out of the BB against a loose player on a paired flop which would cost him 2/3 of his stack to call. He  could only call if he had one of 2 remaining cards in the deck for trips, which he did. Still , it was a good bet.  The table was shocked when I showed my hand (which had hit the unpaired card on the flop). I make a point to remember what I’ve shown i.e. nuts or bluff and when someone new comes to my table, what they’ve seen. This might be a waste of brain space given people’s lack of adaptability, but I can’t not do it.

And I thank everyone who refuses to adjust their evaluation of my play. In the meantime, I continue to be so unlike me.

Plugging leaks.

I think it’s beneficial to have goals in poker, no matter how good you are.

 Here are some of mine and where I stand on them:

Stop bubbling! I’ve come a long way on this one. One of the reasons is that when I’d get chips early or mid-way in a game, I’d tend to guard them, ending up at later stages very short and having to gamble.  I’m putting my chips in action sooner and frequently.  Consequently, I’ve been making lots of final tables, many in very big fields, between 200 and 1,600 in one case.

         Now my new goal is: Stop going out 10th i.e. first one out at final

Make more aggressive decisions. Some times this is as easy as listening to my instincts.  I frequently feel, based on running the hand back in my head, that I’m best at that moment yet I’d fold.  Now, rather than ask myself should I call or fold, I consider, should I raise.

-Don’t get sidetracked by annoying players.  People who used to annoy me, frequently into punishing them by giving them all my chips, are now barely on my radar.  While my notes used to include things like “idiot” or “asshole”, now they are more focused on “always raises button”, or “never continuation bets”.

In order to make one good decision at a time, I’m also plugging one leak at a time.  I’d be interested in hearing about your leaks and what you’ve done to fix them.

Loving Twitter for WSOP.

This is the first year I’ve used Twitter to follow the WSOP and it’s been terrific. Basically it’s like customizing your own poker channel with your favorite reporters.  I follow some people to see how they think about poker (Jimmy Fricke, Tom Dwan, Justin Bonomo and Shane Schleger), some for what’s going on in Vegas and the poker lifestyle in general (taopauly and brokeliving.), and some for kicks (Doyle).  Aside from good poker minds, these guys are very funny and intelligent and make terrific observations. I even got the name of a good doctor. I’ll probably keep following them even after the event.

If you want to try this, look for players you like, then see if they tweet a lot (you don’t want someone who tweets once a week..you want someone really into keeping up). Then follow them, and if you don’t like what you see (i.e. I just drank Gatorade), unfollow.  You can add to your list by checking out the retweets of players you like. I’ve discovered some people I didn’t know that way.  And at some point, if you have a good feed, you can join the conversation.

A poker month in London.

Same stuff, different currency

Sure it was cold. But it was also fun.  I wrote about my poker month in London for  Poker Pro Europe and it was also published in the June U.S. edition.

.LONDON poker scene

The true losing hand.

I’ve long believed that the  hand that takes you out isn’t the real killer. It’s the hand before that one.  Yes, your KK might have lost to 78, but if you hadn’t played the Q9 the prior hand and lost half of your stack, you would have survived the inevitable suckout. So when people tell me their bad beat stories, if I’m in a generous mood and we discuss it, I’ll always ask about the earlier hand. Do you agree?

Grinder charity event at Mardi Gras.

Made a last minute decision to try a charity event for the Hillel School sponsored by the Mizrachi’s being held at Mardi Gras.  Buy-in was $200 and it sounded like fun.  When I arrived, it looked pretty quiet, but as it turned out, the action for the moment was upstairs where a terrific buffet was underway.  After dinner, we all went downstairs to the poker room and chaos ensued.  There were 210 party-goers and poker just happened to be being played. Finally, everyone was seated. Well, kind of.

  THINGS WE TAKE FOR GRANTED THAT NOT EVERYONE KNOWS:

  • You can’t just sit anywhere and changing seats to be near friends isn’t cool.
  • Poker is a game where you act after the person on your right has acted.
  •  The $25 chips are still the green ones, just like when we started the game. They will remain so all night. The blacks are still $100.
  • A flush is not just when the two cards in your hand are suited
  • Posting blinds is not optional. We all do it twice in each round. You too.

I was ready to call it an evening before the first break when I started to chip up.  Like playing drunks, it’s hard to put people on a hand who don’t themselves know if they have one (everyone would turn over their hand and wait for the dealer to tell them if they won). And a nice lady who took your credit card earlier was nearby to give you a reload in case your hand wasn’t the best.  I did some math and think it was a very profitable event and I was pleased to be part of this successful fun effort.  I was also lucky enough to come in 3rd and actually, when it got down to about 4 tables, the remaining players pretty much knew what made a flush, including some Mizrachis.