Friday, October 07, 2005

Shorthanded play

Boy, it is just amazing how many $3/$6 6 max tables you can find with VPIP over 60. Again, I'm thankful for the usability of PokerAce for doing table selection.

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I think I really need to work on my short handed play.

I spent about 1 table hour playing headsup and 1 table hour playing between 3-4 handed, and particularly in the headsup game, my turn and river play could use some work. The time period was way too short, so I will try to experiment again in the near future.

I had been quad tabling $3/$6 6 max while eating dinner, and I got creamed in the first 40 minutes. I dropped approximately 65 big bets in that time, perhaps winning 3-4 tiny pots. All the worst possible situations; KK vs AA with a uber lag having the AA, AA vs a set, A high flush and river card pairs board (full house), etc. etc. And this was on 6 max tables! Towards the end of this period, I made 2 bad laydowns in 6-8BB pots, and made 2 bad call downs. Yuck. I remember reading an article by Annie Duke recommending that a player should essentially have a stop loss of -30BB. The reasoning was something like if you are losing that much you are either way overclassed, on tilt, being cheated, etc... This number seems somewhat appropriate for live play, but it is a bit low for short handed multitabling. I guess I would have a stop loss somewhere around -100BB. Certainly, I had (at least) started playing poorly when I made the 2 bad laydowns and call downs. I don't think I had hit what Mike Caro calls the "Threshold of Misery" (when the losses are so big that additional losses seem pretty meaningless), but I would definitely have been in bad psychological shape if I dropped over 100BB in that time period.

I moved the dinner plate out of the way and tried to settle down. The next 45 minutes was pretty much the opposite; I was definitely lucky, but I do think I made fewer mistakes including better value bets. The bounce back was somewhere in the neighborhood of +90BB. I guess that is just the variance of short handed play. It would have been a lot easier to take if I just won 1BB every 3-4 minutes instead, but that's just the way it is.

During the action, some of my tables started getting very shorthanded. The very first table that got down to headsup contained a significantly LAGgy player (although he didn't last much longer). Because of the LAG, I remained at the table. After he left, I didn't have time to leave before another player joined, so I continued with the headsup play. It seems to require much more attention both because the avg decision is more important and the frequency is much higher.
I ended up dropping down to 1 full 6 max table, 1 headsup, and 1 3-4 handed. Even with only 3 tables, I felt incapable of processing the situations quickly enough. I think I could manage 2 full 6 max tables and 1 headsup, or just 2 headsup tables. Maybe it will get easier if I have more headsup practice, but for now there is a lot of room for improvement. I should probably go back and read some Sklansky chapters on short handed play.

1 comment:

eric said...

I have to disagree with Annie about the 30BB stop-loss for live games.

I've been in many a great game where I've dropped 30BBs simply because with six people seeing every flop for three or four bets, variance is going to be huge. Some of those games I wouldn't leave if someone paid me half my losses on the spot. I've come back for some pretty big wins in games like that.

I think the determination whether to leave or stay should be completely a function of the player's psychological state and the game's conditions. If the player is strung out and frustrated, whether he's up or down or the game's good or bad or whatever, he should leave, period.

Assuming he's in a healthy mental state, if the game sucks, leave, once again whether up or down.

I feel much better if I leave a bad game stuck 20BBs than if I hang around and leave even, if I only got even because of a few lucky hands.

Ultimately, it's all about future expectation.