Monday, March 23, 2009

Interesting Discussion Regarding Playing Style

I got a couple of comments from poker players that I really respect regarding my bad beat story. This one came from @swyyft:

Hey buddy I am going to be honest with you, a lot of the play you describe is weak tight. While you are getting it in ahead you should be trying to take pots down with no showdown. JJ vs A4 hand. If you raised and got re-raised you either fold this or go all in right there. if you think he has AA KK QQ you are dominated why even call, if an AKQ hits you have to assume he has it whether he does or does not. if he re-raises you jam if you think you are good, if you don't then fold. Qh-10h vs. 99 This hand you should just fold in early position you are hoping for too much and its too hard to play out of position. If you do play it, raise it up so you can represent things later on. I will say this is a horrible beat and the guy was a horrible player but you can change this a bit. 10-10 vs. Q4 If its close to the bubble you need to be playing aggressive. You need to jam this all in with TT or 3 bet. QQ vs. Ac-8d legit bad beat is going to happen, but if you get this 5x in a tourney you are going to get a bad beat once. 10h-10d vs. Jd-7d quit calling with TT mid to later. raise it up sometimes and see what happens. This guy folds and you collected 5 bb and move on. I mean these are bad beats but anytime you let it go to showdown you are allowing luck and not skill to dictate the hand. stick with it. If you saw me in the 30RA you saw me go from 40k to 75k with no showdowns. I never once had a premium hand in there. I just knew they were weak so i acted like i did. After i started 3 betting no one wanted anything to do with me because they knew i was a strong player.

Here is my thoughts:

Hey Joe. Love the feedback, and thanks for the comments.

I guess it’s more that middle pairs and even higher middle pairs make me slightly nervous. They’re a hand that looks appetizing pre flop, but if 1 over hits, you can be dead. My last 3 eliminations from a tournament came with JJ, JJ again, and then As-Qs. In the case of the pocket J’s, I found myself moving, and getting called by a bigger pair.
With the AQ, I flopped a flush draw, but moved when I was behind a 6-5 caller. All of these situations, I’d 3 bet pre-flop, and either got re-raised all in, or we saw a flop and I found out I was behind.

Basically, I’ve learned not to overvalue middle pairs. I like calling with these hands to see if I can hit a set and break an over pair. QQ has been a historically terrible hand for me for some reason. I often find myself in a race against AK or up against a board that scares me stupid (any A or K on the flop has me wondering if I just lost to a 3 outer), and when I get it in good, I find that I’m rarely ahead for keeps.

The only thing that I can point to is that in the lower stakes games, I’m finding that players don’t respect pre-flop raises. I guess that’s why I’m not a big fan of putting all of my chips at risk unless I have better than 70% chance of winning. That would make me a tight player at these levels I guess because that happens only rarely. But deep stacked in a tournament, if I move with those odds and chip up well in most cases. In the mentioned cases in the post, I was better than 85% to win on all of those when the money went in, and it still didn’t pan out.

Something that I need to learn is how to pick up more pots with post flop bets, and not having to see a showdown. I don’t know if this means that I need to focus on better starting hands, or I need to play the mid-range starting hands with greater aggression pre-flop, but I do need to work on my post flop play. I also need to figure out a consistent scheme to the lower stakes games, where the players just aren’t as good at reading strength. I’m thinking that I may want to upload $300 or so to my account if I go bust, and play at higher levels, but it makes me nervous considering that I haven’t come close to mastering the lower levels first.

I’m also considering investing in some poker books. I’ve never read one. So aside from the experience of playing, everything I know about poker comes from watching TV, reading the blogs of my twitter friends, and involving myself in conversation with people like this. That's why hard for me to classify myself as any form of an expert on the matter, or a "good" player. It’s why I totally classify myself as an amateur.

It’s funny because in the cases of the hands that I posted (and lost) the only right move in those cases is to fold my monster’s, because the end up the worst of two hands. Because if they’re calling stations anyway, then I’m walking away a loser regardless of the percentages and good reads.


Jack said...

"I’m thinking that I may want to upload $300 or so to my account if I go bust, and play at higher levels, but it makes me nervous considering that I haven’t come close to mastering the lower levels first."

What's up Paul. Just some opinions here, so yeah. Firstly, higher level players are just that, higher level players. While you may be looking for the challenge, a common mistake people make when playing online poker is "these low limit players are too bad for me to beat"

Read that! Too bad to be beat? Logically it makes no sense you know? The worse players are, the better your edge, the better your profit is, the better off you are overall. While bad beats will happen more, that only means that they are playing marginal hands that you'll crush over the long term with your hand selection and aggression. In my opinion this is about taking the time to really play some hands and not move up until you are a consistent winner at your limit. Most people consider a good indicator of how well you are playing as your win rate over the course of 20,000 hands. Some say 40,000 hands. I'm sure some think even more (or some maybe less like 10,000). This whole month (all the time I've been playing at UB) I've only played 7000 hands. And I 3-4 multitabled, sometimes I even tried 5. I played a 4 hour, 1000 hand session in which I broke even after some big ups and big suck outs. But even though I broke even and it was frustrating, I learned alot. And I've only just started. A poker forum would tell me 7000 hands is nothing, and I'm willing to bet some people do more in a day than I've done in a month.

The point is, you need to put alot of time and effort and hands into your game, and it doesn't sound like you want to do that from what I've read. If you want to deposit more and have fun and play your game, hoping to do well, I think you should. Plenty of good players have gone bust before finally figuring the game out, and some only started playing well when they put in a substantial sum of money, which made the game more serious for them. But, if you're looking to really understand the game and work on playstyles, so you can consistently win I think it's the wrong way to go and chances are you'll be disappointed in poker/turned off from the game.

Considering I probably play (or at least come off as) tight weak when I play live games with you guys, you might be surprised at me agreeing with Joe, but what he said is true. Especially in tournament poker. There's not alot of room to maneuver. (By the way, I'm more aggressive online! lol. I just try and play it safe waiting for someone to make mistakes when I'm playing live with you guys... so it probably seems like I'm too tight)

I have to go so I can't type more, but Paul, check out a poker forum. Join one, post hands, look for advice. Personally, I recommend They may seem harsh at first, but post some hands in the low stakes forum with the hand converter, get to know some people there, look at other hands and the advice they give, and figure out why you would or wouldn't do that. They also have a tournament section, so theres specific advice for your game type.

I'm no where near good, but I feel like I'm learning the game more and more, and even when a crappy beat comes around, I know that if I keep learning I can do well long term.

It comes down to the time and effort you are willing to put into studying the game. IMO, a poker forum will help more than a poker book because you can post specific examples and get multiple opinions.

Good luck man!

RawrStar said...

I have to both agree and disagree with Jack.

First of all, I play better against better opponents. If anything it's probably because I take the game more seriously and I don't make as many mistakes. I tend to get slack at the lower stakes because I know my mistakes won't be capitalised upon.

However, I do agree that it's more profitable as you build your bankroll. I play MTTs and I rarely bust out early, about 7% in the first hour. I tend to break even for days, picking up minor cashes which just cover my buyin, then go really deep and make some decent cash. I can only see that as in most games I'll take a beat. In the ones I don't, I go deep.

I would also question what type of poker you really want to play, Paul. My cash game sucks. I don't need anyone to tell me that; I know it, I'm not really bothered about it and I'm not likely to spend much time working on it. My MTT play is good because I understand the need to be gaining chips all the time. If I enter a pot with a raise on 44 or something, and someone pushes allin, folding that actually makes me feel guilty because I've just lost a couple of big blinds. Your style seems to be too conservative for MTTs, to me.

Poker is a lot about post-flop play and you need to make that a strong point of yours. It'll take effort but if you play just premiums and get it allin behind forever, as it seems you are doing now, you might as well go buy yourself a lottery ticket because it's just flipping coins.

One last point; just because you haven't read a poker book, doesn't make you an amateur. I've never read one and I very rarely watch poker on TV. If people think you're a good player, if you think you're a good player, people will fear you regardless. It's a psychological game so you need to be confident because even at micro stakes, there are some players out there that will exploit your every weakness.

Joe Taylor said...

I think the minute you call someone, you have lost control of the pot. I prefer to be in control of the pot so I will 3 bet mid to later stages.

Now will I always 3 bet these TT cases? No. It depends on the player who raises. If its a tight player I respect who raises UTG and I don't have 15 to 1 implied odds then I will probably just fold TT there knowing he has a big hand.

If its a looser player who isn't that good post flop I might just call and try to play out play him post flop, but will likely 3 bet just as well.

If its a player I do not know I will raise it up knowing that I am going to get more information about the player.

When you call with a hand like TT you do not have control of the hand and you have no idea what they have.

In poker the only thing you can worry about is what you control. You should subscribe to or one of those sites.

as far as mastering lower levels, its not too hard you just need to play extra tight knowing you are going to get paid on your big hands and you can do a lot of gimmicky things. You are probably over thinking these levels.

Although I do much better at 3/6 than I do at 1/2 but that's because people play too tight at 1/2.