Saturday, January 28, 2006

Aggro-business

I've paid for some semi-expensive lessons over the last several days that can easily be summarized with the poker credo "You can't bluff a moron off a pot." Not one single lesson has been particularly pricey -- $12 here, $6 there -- but they've helped turn several winning sessions into small losing ones and have given me ample reason to reconsider a few things.

I knew I would need to raise my comfort level with bluffing when I switched from limit to no-limit games. It helped a little that my limit play was confined almost exclusively to 6-max tables, where you can actually bluff successfully on occasion, even at $1/2 limits. But bluffs in those game were far cheaper and were still employed sparingly, usually at the river when I knew there was no other way to win the pot.

No-limit, I realized, is a different ballgame. While those chips obviously represent real money, I needed to become accustomed to the concept that they should also be viewed as ammunition and when you fire enough rounds -- even when you are outflanked -- you can sometimes convince an opponent to retreat.

I've seen it work. And recently, I've seen it fail miserably. I know: That's poker. You bluff, get re-raised and head for the hills. But lately, I've realized I need to tone it down a bit. Bluffing, at least online and at these low limits, needs to be applied more judiciously. Morons will call big bets with third pairs and weak kickers. Morons will call down with A-Q and no help on the board. Morons will call. Period. While obviously this can (and should be) profitable in the long run, I'm thinking I need to turn down the volume a little.

The most sickening example of a 1-800-MORONIC call, however, came Friday night in a .25/.50 game held at the inestimable J.C.'s Casa de Poker. Fortunately, I was not the victim. Knish, a player I know only for his Woody Allenesque-reputation, got pocket aces and decided to raise all-in after a rainbow flop. (I wasn't at the table and don't know all the salient details, so I'm unsure if he was protecting his hand or trying to extract maximum value. I suspect it was the former.)

A newbie at the game decided to call that decent-sized all-in with nothing -- a suited K-10 with one of his suits on the flop. The turn and river, of course, delivered a runner-runner flush and Knish was last seen walking down deserted streets of downtown Cleveland, mumbling to himself and tearing out hair in large patches.

Newbie, of course, was delighted with himself and believed he had just made the greatest play in the history of poker. Perhaps there's some humor to be found there, but I guess I'm too much of a curmudgeon to see it.

We were running two tables at the time. Cold-carded and stuck for nearly 3 buy-ins, I decided to move over to the empty seat to Newbie's left. Good move, sir. Got some hands, got some calls from him and began to finally stack up a little. (He did win a small pot off me, however, by calling a river bet with nothing except A-Qo. I can't believe he had a read on me, but you never know.)

Thanks to a double-up from my buddy, Twitch, and a few other profitable plays, I did manage to walk out of J.C.'s at 3:30 a.m. bleary eyed and even for the night. Given the way most of the night had gone, it almost smelled like victory.

15 Comments:

Anonymous Billy said...

To quote (paraphrase?) David Sklansky: Bad players will always suck out more than you because they'll make more bets they never should. But you'll get them in the end. Even if it is at 3:30 a.m.

10:14 PM  
Anonymous Greg/Twitch said...

3am?? i dont recall doubling you up? lol i only remember the good plays i made, like spanking that newbie with my aces and folding a flopped flush (9 high) to the 1 of only 2 cards that could beat me... and your welcome for the double up... i guess

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