Playing Well

I try to post a story to my blog every day and as time goes by the stories and material are harder to generate and I rack my brain for ideas. I know it is weird but I do so much better when somebody else gives me an idea or asks me a question. I am starting to realize that I need to just sit back and let the story ideas come to me in the course of my every day life.

At my day job where I work as a project manager I am thought of as an authority on poker and as much I am the repository for all stories of the bad beat nature. I generally hear one or two bad beat stories a day at work and if I go play cards I am assured of another seven or eight. The bad thing about bad beat stories is that they rarely generate story ideas for me. I am thinking that I really do not pay much attention to what they are saying and just kind of give it the occasional nod. Take a hint; I am not really all that interested in hearing the hand retold unless you are going to add some analysis or character profiling into your story. That is probably enough whining from me.

The other day at work my assistant drops by my cubical for a little poker consultation under the guise of bankroll management. I am pretty sure he just wanted to report to me that he has been winning some cash over the last couple weeks. I knew he had achieved comma status on his recent trip to Lake Tahoe. Since he has been back in Fresno he has been playing in the $2-2 blind no limit game downtown at Club One. He went on to explain that he has won $5000 in his last four sessions. The hourly win rate for those sessions was above $100 per hour. He is considering moving up to the $15-30 limit game and was wondering about the bankroll requirements for that game.

My advice was to stay in the game you can beat. I realize that the sample size is pretty small and he has been winning for less than 1000 hands. I was asking if he was running good or had made some adjustments to his game or why did he think he was suddenly winning. The one thing he said that was positive; “I am not playing scared anymore, I am more aggressive and now that I have a bankroll I am willing to shove it in.” If the conversation had ended there I think I would have told him to keep up the good work. Unfortunately, He decided to share a story and give me an example of his improved more aggressive playing style. I will break the hand down based upon what I was told and remember I was not there.

He had been running bad for the first hour or so and really had no luck. The $300 buy-in had withered away to $130. That is some serious chips leaking away in an hour of $2-2 no limit. Playing too many hands is the likely culprit. Playing too many marginal hands leads to expensive draws that rarely get there. Under the gun he picked up pocket deuces and raised the bet to $10. I would have mucked the hand. Pocket deuces under the gun in a very live game may be worth a $2 limp and hope to see a cheap flop. The problem being that live games are nearly always raised pre-flop. The raise does strengthen the hand slightly and add the possibility of picking up the blinds. Once again, a live game where the blinds have not been stolen in hours negates this play. I am a low variance conservative player and my opinion will tend toward the conservative option of a fold.

Continuing on with his story, a couple players folded then a wild player in middle position raised the bet to $30. This hand just got very ugly. You are in bad shape against his entire range and you do not have enough chips behind to get any value if you do happen to make a set. Once again, I am an advocate for cutting your losses and just bowing out of the hand. But wait there is more. After a couple players folded a very solid tight player on the button called the $30. The Wildman has a pretty broad hand range that would include about 5% bluffs. The sick part of that is the bluffs are probably in a coin flip with your baby pair. There can be no doubt that the tight solid player has a premium hand and his range includes no bluffs. I would say AKs, AQs, AK, QQ are the hands in his range for calling $30 cold in this hand. This hand has played out as bad as I could possibly imagine to this point. You wanted a bunch of loose players in the pot and you actually have only two opponents, a raiser and a solid tight player. Our hero is going to fold the hand and take the $10 loss and it will be just another example of how to leak chips in a small blind game. Oh no! He would not have told me the story if it were that anticlimactic.

Our hero took a little time and shoved all-in for the rest of his chips making it $133 to see the flop. The Wildman snap called the additional $103 and mister tight ass on the button took some time and folded his hand. An instant shove here could be representing pocket aces and would have a chance to fold the other players if our hero had more chips or tighter more conservative opponents. Making a move on two opponents is particularly tricky and should be reserved for expert players. The Wildman turned over 99 and our hero of course flopped a duck to go with his pocket pair and took down a decent pot that got him back up to his original $300 buy-in.

This is an example of not only getting lucky, but of playing bad and getting lucky. My analysis is really that my assistant made a real desperation play and was figuring on going home after the hand. He got very lucky and won this pot and the cards proceeded to run over him for another couple hours and he cashed out $1200 after the four hour session.

I am happy for our hero but I am not going to say he is playing well.

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