Thursday, February 02, 2006

ABC Poker

My conversion from limit to no-limit has forced me to rethink my approach to the game. I'm making progress and am growing more comfortable, but I realize that 3,000 hands is but a nanosecond in recorded poker history. Given the difficulties and nuances of NL, it will take tens if not hundreds of thousands of hands to master the skills to become a skilled (and dangerous) NL player.

Attending poker kindergarten on 6-max tables should help. Not only do I see more hands, I'm forced to make more decisions. Still, I realize that I must learn to change my mindset completely. It's not that limit can or should be played by rote. There are still plenty of decisions to made with every turn of a card in limit, but it's formulaic compared with NL. Even on days when my mental acuity was at low ebb, ABC poker was often good enough to best the donks buying in to those low-limit games.

I sat down at a .50/$1 NL game last night, checking the hand history as soon as I took my seat and saw that the biggest stack at the table had won a relatively large pot in an odd fashion. (I love the fact that Poker Stars' histories include several hands played even before you sit down.) He then won a few more good-sized pots with very nice holdings but only after trying to play cute preflop. He min-raised with A-K and turned Broadway and on the next hand limped with pocket aces. A few minutes later, this hand occurred:

POKERSTARS GAME #3833558588: HOLD'EM NO LIMIT ($0.50/$1.00) - 2006/02/01 - 23:04:27 (ET) Table 'Geisha'

Seat 1: ($171.65 in chips)
Seat 4: ($17.50 in chips)
Seat 5: HERO ($97.70 in chips)
Seat 6: ($47.65 in chips)
Seat1: posts small blind $0.50
Seat4: posts big blind $1
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to Hero [Ks Kd]
Hero: raises $2 to $3
Seat 6: calls $3
Seat 1: calls $2.50
Seat 4: folds
*** FLOP *** [4s Kc Ad]
Seat 1: bets $5
Hero: calls $5
Seat 6: calls $5
*** TURN *** [4s Kc Ad] [2d]
Seat 1: checks
Hero: bets $15
Seat 6: folds
Seat 1: calls $15
*** RIVER *** [4s Kc Ad 2d] [5h]
Seat 1: bets $11
Hero: calls $11
*** SHOW DOWN ***
Seat 1: shows [As Td] (a pair of Aces)
Hero: shows [Ks Kd] (three of a kind, Kings)
Hero collected $75 from pot

Nice pot, correct? You bet. Feel good, right? Wrong. WTF was I doing just calling his river bet? Did I believe he had a 3? (Uh ... I considered the possibility.) Wait a second, asshole -- THINK! How could he possibly have a 3? Would he have bet out $5 with A-3 suited? Maybe. With top pair, weak kicker, maybe he's hoping to push me and the other guy out. Pocket 3s? I guess that's a possibility as well, but less likely than A-3.

He checks the turn and calls my $15 bet. Could he still have A-3, especially if they're diamonds? Absolutely. Pocket 3s? No freakin' way unless he is an absolute guts-hanging-out-ready-to-be-fileted-and-fried kind of fish. Despite his previous odd plays, my snap judgment said that was not the case.

The 5h comes on the river, he bets the $11, I consider for all of 2 seconds the possibility he has a 3 and just call his $11 bet. Weak, weak, weak. I win, which is all well and good. There's probably at least a 50-50 chance he folds to a reraise, even if it's only another $11. I pop him there, he's got to figure he's beat. But my short NL experience thus far has meant: You never know. IF he re-pops me, then I obviously go into the tank and attempt to sort out what kind of mess I might be in.

The fact I didn't pop him indicates how much I need to rewire my brain. I should have slowed down, replayed the story of this hand in my mind and then made the right decision, which obviously was to pop him good, probably somewhere in the $20-30 range.

Quality, experienced players can do this kind of analysis on the fly. I cannot. Thus, I need to take my time, lift myself out of that ABC limit mentality and begin to use the other 23 letters in the alphabet. It's another lesson learned, but at least this one was not expensive.


Blogger littleacornman said...

I doubt you'd have got more than another $10 from him.He led out but when you called he slowed right down.His $11 bet was probably him hoping to see a cheaper showdown than if he'd checked to you and had to call your river bet.

Plus you may have folded and he would know unless you had it that the possibilty of the straight would leave you with a tough call if he made a very large reraise.

Imo in nl cash games being slightly cautious without the nuts isn't too bad a trait.

If they've been paying attention that sets you up nicely to take it down on the river next time with a big bet or reraise when you have nothing like the nuts!

1:19 PM  

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