Saturday, March 03, 2007

You have to be willing to lose your money.

I'm becoming more comfortable with the gambling side of cash game poker.

You put your money into the middle when good situations come up and hope for the best.

You bet to protect your hand even when it might not be the best hand.

You don't try to imagine all the worst case scenarios and try to cut your losses. You leave that to the other players.

If you lose, you lose.

But you gotta gamble if you wanna win big.

I went to Caesars last night to play in their 7pm tournament but it had less spots than usual due to taping the NBC Headsup tournament thing there.

Here's Shana Hiatt walking by my table on the way out. Check out how smooth I'm getting shooting over my shoulder in my blue jacket with my phone camera.

So with no tournament for me to play I went and sat at the first available cash table. This turned out to be a 1/3 no limit table. I bought in for $300.

From the second I sat down I was completely open to the idea of losing my $300. No one else at my table played loose and I took advantage by giving them alot of action. If someone had more than $100 dollars in chips I'd basically call any preflop raise in position. I was there to gamble.

A perfect example came in my first orbit at the table. I'm holding pocket jacks on a 9,10, queen flop. Preflop raiser bets out. In the old days I could fold to "save money" (not thinking that I'm actually losing out on winning a big pot) or call and hope to get lucky on the turn. But I'm there to gamble. Even if he has a top pair hand like Ace queen it's a real dangerous board for him. I ask him how much he has to see how much my reraise will hurt him. We basically have the same chips. I push all in. And the fact that he doesn't immediately call me makes me feel great. I'm more than happy to take down the pot right now. If he calls and I'm ahead that's great too. Even if he has a hand like pocket aces I'm still gonna win this pot 40% of the time when an 8, king, jack or runner runner flush comes.

I'm there to gamble.

Another hand I call a preflop raise to 15 with 6,8 clubs. Three of us see the flop: An ace with two clubs. He bets 10 dollars into a 45 dollar pot. Uh okay, I call.

Turn misses me but he checks!

River brings a club. I bet 50. Poor kid calls and as I'm pulling the pot in with my flush he shows me ace 10. So basically he checked on the turn when he had the best hand and called on the river when he had the worst hand. It's fear poker.

He tells me after the hand that he thought his 10 might be outkicked. The problem with this school of thought is that if you're gonna play ace 10, you gotta bet it when your ace comes. Or to put it another way, it's reasonable for him to think he might be outkicked but if he doesn't feel comfortable betting it when he hits then he shouldn't be playing it.

I had another hand with another guy and same thing happens. He minibets flop when I have small suited connector flush draw. This time I get creative and reraise him. He calls. I miss on turn and amazingly he leads out with another minibet! It was so absurd that for a moment I wondered if he was trapping me with a bigger flush draw. Still I call.

I miss on the river and should be done with the hand unless I want to bluff. He leads out with another minibet. He he. I can only win if I bluff and make him fold but I just can't resist seeing his cards. And besides it's just 20 dollars. A week and a half ago I made fun of guy at 2/5 for calling my $200 river bet because $200 meant nothing to him. And now I've become that guy.

I call and yep he shows top pair. Interestingly enough this same guy freaked out later on in the evening when his pocket aces got cracked by a flush draw. Someone needs to tell him to bet more to protect his hands.

Playing against players like this makes poker easy. This must be what it feels like for people like Phil Ivey when they play against the rest of the world. For me it only occurs right now at 1/3. Although that might be too harsh on myself. I've played at higher limits but I think the key is feeling comfortable losing your money on the table. So it's not that I can't play with the rich guys at 25/50 no limit. It's that I don't have the bankroll and thus the stomach yet to play correctly. At this level I'd be sitting back waiting to trap them. Rather than be willing to play correctly. And by correctly I mean willing to lose my money.

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