After a 4+ month hiatus I have returned to the live poker stage. Mostly because it’s time to sharpen up before WonderBoy ‘07. The time-off has certainly dulled the edges a bit. On the plus side it appears I have unintentionally changed my approach to the game.
In the past I used to live and die so to speak each and every event. I can easily recall numerous nights where I’ve come home emptyhanded where I’ve stared at the ceiling in bed rehashing the mistakes I made and chastising myself for them. On the other hand, on victorious nights it has taken me hrs to come down before nodding off.
Out of necessity I can no longer afford this luxury whenever I am fortunate enough to be able to slip away for a poker night. It’s hard enough coming home at 12 or 1AM not knowing what’s in store for the rest of the evening already missing out on some prime sleep time. There’s no time to be replaying hands when there’s sleep to be had.
This is a good thing. This limitation has folded over to my overall approach to poker night. I now have a mindset that win or lose it’s only one night in a night of many and this particular outcome has no significant bearing on what I think about my quality of play or what others think about my quality of play. That’s not to say I do not still enter the arena with the desire and the skills to win. That hasn’t changed.
With this new attitude, doors have opened up. I am a little more daring and willing to play players instead of my cards. Prior to this rebirth I would back down on prime opportunities to steal pots because I didn’t want to take the chance and bow out early. Now, I am inclined to attack when I see weakness and with the the ability to display the confidence required to ignore your own cards and represent strength.
And so this is how I entered my new season of poker. And I had relative success last night. A night where I was getting more junk than good. The only ‘good’ hand I had pre-flop was KK and I lost a good chunk of stack slow-playing it and losing to a 92 that hit for 2 pair on the turn. So bluffing was the path to my success yesterday. A first for me. A shift in my play where I was more interested in placing bets that would isolate me against weaker opponents in weaker positions.
Yet it must be told that playing your own cards and sticking to pot odds is usually the way to go. But when you have crap on a night you need to mix it up. In the past I haven’t recognized this in time and placed middle of the pack. With my newfound approach on poker life I am now able to see the subtleties in the night and change pace….knowing that if I fail and fail hard it really doesn’t matter.
I had to laugh at one point early in the knockout phase: One particular player (who is very tight) was able to force an all in on one of the better players and had him dominated AQ over QJ with a Q on the flop. Admittedly he played it very well and should be commended for his play. But he got beat hard on the river when a J came up, thus eliminating him from play … the 1st man out. That hit him hard and he was clearly upset. Everyone at the table including the winner were unanimous in their condolences that it was very tough luck. His demeanour was like looking in a mirror if that happened to me a year ago. And just like him I would have gone home and stewed over it.
Then you have in the opposite corner my friend Tim. Later in the night he got beat bad when he had rockets over an A7 suited. He pushed in another of the tougher players and was very sly in doing it. But he was beat when the flop and turn provided the flush to the opponent. His reaction was laughter and c’est la vie. Which is why he was able to claw back in and make a run to the final four. That is the behaviour I have taken on, and as Time will not lose any sleep over the events, so won’t I.
Back to the game:
So, a lot of bluffs thus I was always near the bottom of the stack count. Yet always with enough to hurt someone should they call an all-in. In the elimination round I took a couple of hits so I was forced to go all-in on a few occasions to try and steal blinds. It was unabashed play which is why I wasn’t upset in the least when I was fingered for obvious bluffs. At this point my intention is not to be ‘bluffing’ even when I have marginal hands and nothing has hit me on the flop. I’m seeing the flop and relying on the fact that the opponent has hit nothing either and thus is not willing to take a chance and dance in case he goes down and loses. Therefore I employed the strategy against those who were in the middle of the road for chip count and would be hamstrung should they go down.
With a call on an all-in by Tim I was able to take him down with A high and find myself quite even in the final three. A monster hand battle with Jay having QQ and Gerald with AA (And Jay almost folding pre-flop because he sensed something was unusual) it was showdown with Gerald up on me around 2 to 1 in chips.
A gutsy call to his bully all-in I was able to even up when my K3 paired the board with the K and beat his 22 (which I stated I hoped he had when I called him).
Then, unfortunately, my real-life kicked in and I got a vmail from Sonia that OG was not co-operating with her sleep. We are going through a double-barrel shotgun of fun at home with OG having a nagging cough coupled with teething of 3 of her eye-teeth. A recipe for limited to negligable sleep these past few nights.
Unfortunate or not certain things take precedence so I indicated that things are ‘not going too well at home’. Gerald expressed that he would do a chop which at that point would have been very close to 50-50 but he was interested in continuing if possible. I could not honestly allow this game to be chopped as it would not have been fair to him nor to the people that contributed to the evening of play. So I lied to him and said things would be fine at home and said play-on. However, I was resolved to pushing my chips all in at the slightest opportunity that was not evident that I was blowing the game.
The chance came 2 hands later when I called pre-flop Geralds 3x bet with only Q8 not suited. This hand was actually profitable for me 2 times that evening: once in a showdown and once in a bluff so I was comfortable calling the bet since I thought G-man was being a bully on my big blind.
The flop was 24A with quick check from Gerald. I checked quickly as well. Then a J on the turn. Quick check from G. A 2 second pause and an all-in from me. Representing to Gerald that I hit my J in addition to me ‘telling’ him that I know he dose not have a A with my quick check on the flop.
After 5 minutes of staring me down, which is very tough to endure when one is on an extremely bold-face bluff, Gerald called me down. He had K4 with a 4 on the board. But I can take great pride in Gerald’s comment that he was basically 50-50 in believeing that I had the A or J and that he was not able to get any reads off of me in the 5 minutes I spent staring at the chips in the pot. His call was based on the way I had been playing that night. He is very observant and knew I was being a little more ‘loose’ and bluffing a lot of hands. So kudos to him for making that play.
Neither a Q or 8 came on the river and thus ended the night. 2nd place isn’t too bad after missing 4+ months of poker. No regrets about having to force my hand due to extraneous circumstances which would not have been easy for me stay last year.
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