Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Paying a premium

I realize this is an elementary concept to accomplished poker players, but since I'm a donk trying to metamorphose into something ... more accomplished, it's worth mentioning.

Big pocket pairs have cost me way too much money/tournament chips lately.

Here is the typical cash-game scenario: You get aces in early position, raise 3-4x the BB and get one or more callers. The flop comes crap. You make a pot-sized bet or something close, get raised all-in by a smaller or similarly sized stack and find yourself un...able...to...re...sist and call. Mr. All-In, of course, has a set or two pair and you're digging into your pocket to reload. That move has cost me several buy-ins over the last month.

Here is a less severe, but no less poignant example of how I need to learn to treat those premium pockets like that achingly beautiful girl in the 10th grade who let you get to second base then forgot you even existed the next day. Let them (her) go.

In last night's $11 Group tourney on Stars, I get pocket kings and re-raise Terry Savalas, who calls along with Turbo in the small blind. The flop comes A-Q-x. They both check, I bet two-thirds of the pot, which prompts Turbo to check-raise all-in. Terry Savalas (pocket 10s, he says later) folds. It's basically 300 more to me with 1,800 already in the pot. Turbo, obviously, has an ace. Do I make the crying call and hope for some sort of miracle on the turn and/or river? Or do I preserve those 300 chips, which now represent nearly 1/7th of my stack? I, of course, call and the vicious suckout fails to arrive.

In cash or tournament play, it's an easy fold. Screw pot odds. Your chances of winning are as remote as an R. Kelly menage a trois with the Bush twins (they're obviously too old for him).

This self-imposed lesson also needs to be applied to other forms of poker, especially Omaha 8, which I've been playing more of lately. In that game, if you think someone has the nuts, fold. Chances are they do.


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