Sunday, February 19, 2006

Brain freeze

The tournament at CJ's last night should have been perfect. With 30-minute rounds, 10K in starting chips and an ante-free blind structure, there was plenty of time for patience, which I consider one of my strong suits. The structures of the live tournaments I play in around here typically turn these events into crapshoots. But CJ's set-up gratefully provided room to operate. And patient I was ... at least for awhile.

Got crappy starters for the first two rounds, largely reducing me to spectator status. Won a smallish pot with K-Jo and lost 1,200 chips right before the first break when my A-K failed to pair on the flop or turn. Scarfed down a hot dog at the break at just under 8,500.

I knew I would have to start playing even some marginal hands in the hope of getting future action when the cards warmed. Doug Poker, who I suspect was a kamikaze pilot in a previous life, gave me shit for having raised 5x the big blind preflop from EP and being disappointed that I had gotten no callers. In truth, I was pleased my A-7 had at least won some blinds and allowed me to feel the sweet sensation of raking chips into my pile.

The cards did improve slightly, allowing me to become a little more active. My table image -- rightly so -- was still tight. I won a few blinds and took down a decent-sized pot with a preflop raise and contination bet while holding pocket 3s, getting me back to just over 10K. Then this hand occurred:

With blinds at 200/400, a middle-position player opens for 1,200. I have jacks, my best hand of the night, and raise to 3,400. The player to my immediate left comes over the top all-in. Whoa. He's got me covered by a bunch. I don't know this guy, but he appears solid. He has mostly entered pots with raises and has won a fair number of pots post-flop without showing. It looks as if he's doubled his starting stack.

The original better folds and the action's on me. What do I do? What's Mr. All-In got? With blinds at only 200/400 and 7,700 chips behind, it's hardly time for me to panic. His range can't be too wide. Somewhere between A-A and A-Ko. Maybe A-Q, maybe pocket 10s, but I doubt it. My gut says A-K and I call. My gut is wrenchingly wrong. He has aces and I'm on the rail. Nice play, sir.

I'm not the math genius that good tournament players are (a fact that I need to remedy), but if one of those experts would perform the calculus for me, the answer surely must be: "Fold, asswipe, you only have jacks."

Despite my math deficit, I'll do the best I can to work it out here. There are a total of six hands in the A-A to A-Ko range. For simplicity's sake, I'll eliminate jacks, so let's call it five. I'm ahead of two of those hands (A-Ks and A-Ko) -- although not by all that much -- and way behind the other three. I have no idea whether this guy is capable of making a play, but what I fail to consider, ironically enough, is my own table image. Yes, I failed to take into account what this guy thinks I might have when he pushes. Throw the math in there and I'm a candidate for Donk of the Year.

He's got aces, obviously an easy push for him that's aimed at isolating me or winning a nice-sized pot there and then. But I don't know that. Poker is a game that must be played with both sides of the brain, a phenomenon that goes a long way in explaining why I've become a Low-Limit Junkie. But this is an instance when both sides suffered from brain freeze. It's an easy fold in virtually every circumstance and certainly a no-brainer in this one. I'm not likely to make that same mistake again.

(I did manage to finish the night with a miniscule profit after buying in slightly short in the $1/2 cash game. There were a few solid players in the game, including Diablo, who is considered the best cash-game player in The Group and whom I've never played with. I'm pleased to report that my comfort level was much higher than in previous $1/2 sessions, thanks to all the hands I've played online.

Without the proper bankroll, which I figure to be 3 buy-ins, I had to play tighter than I'd like, but I don't think I was a total rock. Others at the table might disagree. There were a couple of hands I let get away by not applying proper pressure, but I made some nice laydowns as well and benefited greatly from a couple of timely double-ups.

I do know this: I was disappointed when the game broke up just after 1 a.m. My schedule is about to get crazy, which will further reduce poker possibilities, but for the first time I'm looking forward to jumping back into the $1/2 waters. Let's hope they stay warm -- and shark-free.)

2 Comments:

Anonymous Billy said...

Man. I was hoping you'd cash in CJ's game.

I just lost the rest of my "tuition" in a .10-.25 cash game. I'm going to hold on re-enrolling until next month.

10:03 PM  
Anonymous El Diabl0 said...

I didnt think you were a total rock, but I knew to stay away (most of the time) when you raised. Might be a good opportunity to loosen up and steal a few pots.

12:49 PM  

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