Friday, May 27, 2005

Very mediocre session from tilt?

I believe that describing actual results from a session serves little purpose. In the case of my last $20/$40 live session, I turned an acceptable session into a very mediocre session, mostly from tilt. I earned less than 1BB per hour in a moderately good, but not great game. I only list the result to try and help me understand why I played the way I played (and why I failed to play the way I would have online).

The bottom line is that I let the outcome of recent hands affect how I played the current hand. This is a mistake that is a high priority for me to fix.

After being drawn out on in 2 big pots, I paid off 3 solid players all the way to the river where it is obvious (in hindsight) that I had 2nd best hand. Getting drawn out on is a perfectly normal situation when you play against chasers, but my frustration from those hands led me to pay off the 3 solid players. Those 3 hands cost me 7 BB more than I should have paid. In a 4 hour session, pissing off 7BB is a huge long run leak. (I think) In this instance, it converted an acceptable session into an extremely mediocre session.

The game: 10 seated $20/$40 live limit ring game. It was a main table (there were 2 main tables, and 1 must move table. Must move tables feed players into a main table whenever there is a vacancy - I think I will make a separate post to describe all the rules/conventions of live ring games since there are a substantial number of points that do not exist in online play). For the majority of the session, the table was arrayed as follows:
Seat 1: Loose passive chaser
Seat 2: Loose passive chaser
Seat 3: Tight passive
Seat 4: Loose passive chaser
Seat 5: Tight Aggressive (prop player)
Seat 6: Tight Aggressive (consistently winning player)
Seat 7: Semi-loose Aggressive/Aggressive
Seat 8: Tight Aggressive (consistently winning player)
Seat 9: Myself
Seat 10: Tight passive
The good points of the game were the 3 loose chasers. They were all on my left. The bad points of the game were the 3 tight agg players, but fortunately they were all on my right. In all, I believe a very beatable game.

During the 2nd half of the session, I became involved in 2 very sizable pots when coming in from the BB in an unraised pot. (These type of hands are often referred to as a "big blind special" - 2 trash cards that flop a good or great hand) It is definitely debatable about how I played these two hands. Perhaps I could have played them better, but I didn't play them too badly I think.

Hand #1
Seat# 7 has the button.
- UTG calls, EP + 1 calls, EP + 2 calls, MP folds, MP + 1 calls, MP+2 folds, CO folds, button calls, SB completes, I check in the BB w 63o (pot: 7 small bets, 7 players)
- Flop comes 63T with 2 diamonds
- checked around to button who bets, SB calls, I check raise, UTG folds, EP + 1 cold calls 2, EP + 2 calls, MP + 1 calls, button folds (thanks for betting!), SB calls (pot: 18 small bets, 5 players)
- Turn come 63TK still only 1 flush draw. SB checks, I bet, everyone calls (pot: 14 big bets, 5 players)
- River completes the flush (I don't remember what rank the card was, it may also have completed some straight). I check, chaser #1 bets, chaser #2 calls, chaser #3 calls. SB folds. I fold getting 17:1 odds, but seriously I won't pay here even getting 30:1 odds. chaser #1 shows the nut flush and wins a 17 big bet pot

I could be overplaying my hand (vs. possible sets), but my thinking at the time was that if a strong opponent (re)reraised me on the flop, then I would "know" I was up against a set and could get away from the hand cheaply.
An alternative strategy for me would have been to wait until the turn to check raise. Obviously, the chasers still would have chased (and hit), but theoretically I would have maximized my EV, and this is my primary goal. My check raise on the flop had very close to 0% probability to get the chasers out with any draws (even backdoor draws from these donkeys). The drawback to waiting for the turn is if the button or SB has a set, I won't discover it until the more expensive turn street. Button could have a set, but I think SB raises with a set on the flop.
Yup I think I made the wrong play here. The only justification I can make for the raise on the flop is to make any opponent with a single pair pay an additional small bet to try and 6 out me. This is definitely not worth it because ~all~ my opponents on the turn had the right pot odds to call on the turn. (My pot equity is probably no more than 33% and my opponents are getting between 10:1 and 13:1 on their calls)
If the flop had been a rainbow flop (3 different suits), then I definitely would have waited for the turn to check raise.

The second hand is remarkably similar to the first, with only a slight difference on the flop.

Hand #2
Seat# 7 has the button.
- UTG calls, EP + 1 calls, EP + 2 calls, MP folds, MP + 1 calls, MP+2 folds, CO calls, button calls, SB completes, I check in the BB w J2o (pot: 8 small bets, 8 players)
- Flop comes J26 with 2 spades
- checked around to button who bets, SB check raises, I 3 bet, UTG folds, EP + 1 cold calls 3, EP + 2 calls, MP + 1 calls, button calls, SB calls (pot: 29 small bets, 7 players)
- Turn comes J269 still only 1 flush draw. SB checks, I bet, everyone calls (pot: 21.5 big bets, 7 players)
- River comes J269Q, Q completes the flush. I check, chaser #1 checks, chaser #2 bets, chaser #3 calls, everyone else folds to chaser #1 who calls. Chaser #2 shows 7 high flush and wins a 24.5 big bet pot (UTG whispers to me that he would have made the T high flush)

Now, how was this hand different from hand #1? I had already been planning to only call on the flop and then check raise on the turn, but when SB check raised, I decided to 3 bet to see if I could get anybody out (and I did get the winning hand out from UTG).
I'm really curious as to whether or not SB had me beat. I believe that he did not have a set because he neither 4 bet the flop, nor bet or raised the turn. Would he have only called the 3-bet with top 2 pair on the flop? I very much admire the way SB plays because he ~never~ unnecessarily shows his hand. Would he have check raised on the flop with top pair top kicker (TPTK) with a backdoor nut flush draw?
At any rate, I believe he would have shown more aggression on the flop and/or turn if he had me beat.

I understand that in both hands that my pot equity was not terribly high (I would really need a set for that to be true), but I highly suspect I had the best hand on the turn in both hands. Perhaps I need to think and study more about how to protect my hand.

One question I have about these kind of hands. If I check raise the flop (or 3 bet cold), is there any likelihood that I will be able to perform a check raise on the turn? Nobody is folding to a single bet, but I understand it is an even worse mistake if no bets get put in on the turn.

I did not have the good fortune to make any monster hands vs the chasers. The hands where I flopped a set or better tended to be small or moderate pots. I wondered if I played those hands too fast, but no I think not. If the chasers had any draws, they would have come along for the ride. Luck has many forms.

After these two hands I paid off strong players 3 times in the last 2 orbits that I played:
i) I raised preflop w AKs, and my top pair top kicker (TPTK) ran into a flopped straight from a strong player in the BB, and I ended up paying the maximum because I tried to "protect" my hand vs 3 opponents (I raised after my opponent led out and bet the turn). The strong player would not have been giving me so much action without having me beat. Cost of mistake: 4BB
ii) A strong player open raised in mid pos and I was the only caller in the BB w T9s. I flopped 2nd pair on Q92 rainbow board. I bet and he raised me on the flop, and I called him all the way down. How on earth could I think my hand might good on the turn based on the information I had? He raised preflop from ~middle~ position, not late. He raised me on the flop. Cost of mistake: 2BB
iii) I open raise in mid pos w AQo, and get 3 way with the button and BB (BB being the strong player). I flop top pair As, BB flops top 2 pair. Long story short, I should not have paid off his river bet. Cost of mistake: 1BB (the reason why I should have folded the river is because of the recent 2 hands where it was obvious that I had been recently been calling down my opponents on the river, and the BB was an observant player. He would not have bet a hand that I could beat)

These 3 hands are kind of "cold deck" situations. However, I still feel that if I had been playing well, I could have saved those 7BB. It is funny because I want to be able to make reasonable laydowns, but I have to balance that between being too weak on the river and paying off too much. It is an interesting balance. I think that it matters most when I play against either very tricky and/or very observant opponents.

I think part of the reason I paid off the solid players on these 3 hands was because I was playing only at a single table. Good hands come so infrequently, I overplayed them against solid players. (I know I know, T9s in hand #ii is not a good hand and is definitely one of my worst played hands in the session)
If I had been quad-tabling online, I believe I could have gotten away from those hands very cheaply because I would be seeing 5-6x the number of hands, and would have waiting for better situations against poorer players.
Additionally, I could have gotten away from these hands if I was having more confidence in my hand reading skills. I think I have more confidence in my hand reading skills when I am doing well in a session though, and I need to figure out how to be more consistent regardless of results. This has very little to do with live vs online play, except that there is more information to read hands in a live game. (including knowing when your opponents are paying attention to you)

A final point. I wonder if I had my hand had held up in the 2 big pots, whether or not I would have spent any time analyzing these later 3 hands. As I said earlier, I probably would not have gotten too involved in those pots vs strong opponents, but my point is that maybe I wouldn't have cared as much. I should care about making the correct play on ~every~ hand, regardless of how I am doing in the session.

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