Winning and losing

Tonight I lost two games I expected to win, and won two games I expected to lose. I already posted about the first game I won.

The second was inexplicable. I had terrible cards most of the game. Occasionally they’d hit trips, but from an unplayable position. I was angry at the player to my right, who was a “raising station” who never saw a hand he didn’t like. He yo-yo-ed between winning and losing big pots, and eventually busted somewhere in the middle, but I had to wait about a half hour, and could have played and won at least a few hands during that time, so I felt robbed of those opportunities. I did a good job of controlling that anger, though, and didn’t try to rush and make up for the lost time. Mostly I continued to fold awful hands and watched the table bust, somehow or other I managed to go up maybe around a thousand chips, and then it was 3-up, I’d survived the bubble and found myself in the money. T

he two big stacks were evenly matched, and in no hurry to end this. Both of them were middle ranked players, and seemed to be having better luck with their hands than I had been, and had about 2.5-3x my chips. I continued to get dealt terrible cards for most of this time, but then managed to get lucky on an all-in, and took most of the stack away from one of them, basically trading places. I screwed it up and gave it back, and was all but dead. Then I hit twice on all-in hands, one where I was dominated and paired my bottom card, the other one was AK actually coming through for me. The other big stack finished him off, but heads up didn’t last long. I got AK, flopping AQJ, my opponent bet about half his stack, I shove, he calls, he has a weak King, and I have top pair, top kick, his only out a Broadway draw to chop doesn’t land, and suddenly I’m the winner. After feeling like I was on the ropes the whole game.

It seems like so many times when I win, I feel like I am vulnerable and getting dealt garbage the entire game, then manage to get lucky and hot at the same time, right when it really matters. And when I lose early, it’s because I won early, and had a stack I thought I could play with, but it got me into trouble and I couldn’t recover, usually getting beat when I’m way ahead and call someone who hits their improbable out. I prefer the feeling of security that comes with winning and having the big stack, but when it comes to going all the way in a tournament, I seem to be most dangerous when I’m back to the wall the whole time, and just trying to avoid getting into any hands that I don’t absolutely have to play. I need to work on figuring out a way to enjoy that feeling of being constantly under threat and not being able to make any mistakes.

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Confront them with annihilation, and they will then survive; plunge them into a deadly situation, and they will then live. When people fall into danger, they are then able to strive for victory. - Sun Tzu


Man, I just did it again.

9-seat Astral Pugasus game, and I get into trouble early, and it’s looking like I’m going to bust early and finish 7th at best, down in the basement sitting on just 1400 chips, and then at one point around 800. I ended up holding on, and just folded my way through the 7th, 6th, and 5th place finishers.

Four-up, I had to win a hand or two in order to avoid bleeding out, which I managed to do. I got lucky shoving AK, AK, QJ when I was at a point where it was desperation shove time, and doubled up each time.

I’m still avoiding every hand I don’t have to play, even folding good cards to do so, and basically playing only premium cards and the BB, and I end up outlasting the #4 player, getting into the money.

Still the small stack, I now have to play hands, but I still only play the ones I absolutely have to play, start hitting boards and somehow or other the #3 player busts, and I’ve managed to secure #2.

Heads up with a much bigger stack dominating me, I have about 6000 chips or so, he has the rest of the table’s chips, probably about 3-4:1 over me. I have enough that he’s reluctant to call when I shove, which I have to do a few times, and I have enough that I don’t have to play absolutely every hand.

The blinds go through 500/1000, all the way up to 3000/6000, and most of the time I’m limping the BB, seeing a flop, check-folding if I miss it, and betting or shoving if I hit it. I manage to get about even, and then slightly ahead, and then I hit two pair on K3, and by now I’ve been check-folding my hands so often, my opponent is trained to bet when I don’t, so I use it to my advantage, allowing him to bet every street before I push all-in on the river, which unfortunately was an Ace, which probably put the scare in him, so he didn’t call, but I still win most of the chips at the table in one hand, and he’s left with just around 2BB. So I put him all-in preflop on the next hand, but he wins it KTo over Q4, and gets back up to around 6000 chips, we go back and forth a few hands, when I pick up AA, he shoves a weak King at me,I call, nothing funny happens, and I end up winning the whole game.

I still had a lousy day overall in terms of Ws and Ls, winning 4 games while losing 7, but it ended up being a +V day in the end, and that last win was very satisfying, thanks to to perseverance and not giving up in that last game.

Oftentimes, the best thing you can do in poker is sit out and play tight and let the rest of the table beat themselves.

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The week that was:

Wins - losses 9 - 12
ITM% 43%
Wins 5
2nd place 3
3rd place 1
4th 1
5th 4
6th 2
7th 3
8th 1
9th 1
Entry fees 2,100,000
Winnings 3,078,000
Profit 978,000
Profit % 47%

Overall, not bad. I played through some rough spots and kept my sanity (mostly) and ended up winning a lot of games Friday and Saturday.

It’s looking like I’ll end up with 200k in promotional chips from Pegasus league for the First 20 and Best 20, unless someone sneaks in past me. If I’d run a little better during my First 20, I could have done quite a bit better, but my Friday was pretty bad.

For not being one of these guys who plays 30-50 games/week anymore, I’m doing pretty well with just 20-25.

Overall, I’ve had a pretty flat month, profit-wise, bouncing between around 17.3M at peak to as low as 15.6M, but am on an upswing now and should be close to peak again by the end of the month at this rate.

My “best” (by rank) hand of the week: a 9-high straight flush. where I got all-in the easy way, getting a set of 7s to raise me fearlessly even as I had flopped the nut flush. The river just iced it.

Now all my “top hand” on the Hands page are straight flushes, including 4 royals, and 3 King-highs.

I’ve played over 70K hands now, folding 68%, winning 17%, 57% at showdown. When I first started playing, I was winning 22% of my hands, and about 50% at showdown. I think I’m winning fewer hands now but bigger pots when I do win, which is a sign that I’m getting better at betting for value.

I’m currently the 1444th richest player on the site, but not necessarily the 1444th best player. I now have 61 “friends”, adding 3 more just this week. People who go up against me in tournaments have been paying me compliments on my play, especially in heads-up.

Moodwise, I don’t think I’ve been actually on tilt for any extended periods over the last several weeks, although I’ve been feeling super angry at the cards for at least the past 2 weeks, though I wish to emphasize not at any players. If I’m going through a long streak of getting dealt playable hands that either miss or cost me a lot of chips on mirages or improbable suckouts, I’m usually not too happy about it. I can take getting beaten, I just don’t like “variance” too much, and I think through the middle of this month I was dealing with more than my share of it. I had a week of 0 first place SNG wins, in part because I didn’t play that many games, which hasn’t happened to me in a really long time.

I continue to make adjustments to my game, and I feel like I continue to grow stronger as a player. September hasn’t been as profitable as August was, but I feel like I’m playing better in the last couple of days than I was in August. I’m not going to give away too much detail on the specifics of this, though, for reasons that should be obvious. But I’m finally starting to feel like I can open strong hands now, where for all of August it seemed like any time I opened, I was destined to get screwed, and the only way I could win a hand was by sneaking into a flop, and had all but given up on opening. Now I’m getting good outcomes from my opening range these perhaps roughly proportion to expectation, which is making a difference, and it’s nice to feel like I’m able to play a more standard strategy that isn’t so limp-heavy, and it makes the “ridiculous” hands a bit easier to put up with. This may take some getting used to.

Let’s take a look at some hands:

  1. Very early in a new SNG, I get KK. When I’m on a slide, I can’t tell you how many times I started out with KK and ended up going bust in one hand with it, often the very first hand of the game. So I wasn’t too thrilled when I opened to 10BB, got one call, and then flopped an Ace. But I Turned a set of Kings, and I guess my opponent must have had a strong Ace, because they called a big bet, and I took a big pot. Like you’re supposed to with pocket Kings.
  2. KQo, middle position. I open, evidently not big enough, and get 4 callers. I c-bet a 9J9 flop and get a 2 folds, 1 call. As luck would have it, I end up rivering a King and win the hand, coming from behind to beat a low Jack. Here, with the pair of 9s on the board, I am more hoping to hit a 9-K or Broadway straight, but if I can win with 2 pair that’s acceptable as well. But let’s face it, I got lucky here.
  3. 78o, SB, and I get to limp it, flop into the middle of a straight, 5-9. I check-raise the flop, get called by the BB, who leads out on me again on the Turn, when an Ace hits. I raise them, they re-raise back, I get them all in, they show 53, they hit bottom pair, with a weak kicker, and drawing dead, I guess thought it was worth trying to bluff me with or I don’t know what, and I blow them off of the table. Did they think the river would bring them a 4 AND a 2? It’s always good when someone blunders into giving you all their chips like this, but I don’t feel like my skills were really a factor here.
  4. AKo, one off the button. I raise, only the player to my right stays in. I flop top pair, and bet it, they call. Flop is KJ8, which makes me worry slightly about being up against KJ. Then the Turn brings another Jack, and I’m now worried about a lone Jack hitting Trips against me, and I quit betting. The river brings an Ace, which makes me feel a bit more secure, but not against a paired board with three Broadway cards, so I don’t try for value here, figuring if I’m ahead, villain isn’t putting more chips in, and I do win the hand, beating T6s, but not for such a big pot. Considering they could have probably bet me off this pot if they’d felt so inclined, I again feel more lucky here to not have faced a better opponent, than I feel my skill is winning this hand. What sort of bet might I have called with on the river?
  5. ATo, hitting Broadway on the Turn. I semi-bluff bet on the Flop, and am lucky to see the Jack fill my straight on the Turn. With a third diamond hitting on the river, I’m less confident than I might otherwise be that my nut straight is really the best hand, but it is. I bet the river for value, figuring if I’m beat, I’m beat, and my opponent mucks, and I’ve taken another big pot.
  6. 43s in the BB. A hand I would normally never try to play, only this time the flop comes in low, 325, and I’ve got middle pair (3s) and an OESD + backdoor flush. The backdoor flush actually ends up hitting for me, and I even have a possible straight flush at the Turn, with 5s2s to compliment my 4s3s, which gives me just enough courage to call a big bet on the Turn. The Ts fills me on the river, and although this is a low flush to be betting with, I feel like the way this hand has gone, it’s pretty difficult for someone else to have two spades here, so I bet back and end up not getting called on my half-pot river bet. The turn call here may not have been a great decision, but I believe I read it rightly, that my opponent sensed weakness when I checked, and tried to steal with no-hand. I felt the pair of 3s + straight flush draw were enough to call with, even if the straight flush was unlikely to fill. Improving to a flush was better than having 3322, but I still could have been beaten by 55, or T, 5, or 3 paired with a 2, or any two larger spades. I think my reading of the hand here gave me confidence that my opponent likely had nothing, so I’ll chalk this hand up to skill.
  7. JJ on the Button, raise 4BB, get a call, flop a set of Jacks, villain leads out with a shove. Does it get any easier? They have A4s, and paired their 4, and I guess thought it was right to bluff here? I call, they end up rivering trip 4s, but it just fills my Jacks boat, on the way to knocking them out and collecting nearly half the chips at the table in this hand.
  8. QJo, flop top pair Queens, with 68 on the board, I bet pot and get a call, Turn is another 8. I let out another pot-sized bet, villain has an 8 and made trip 8s, raises me, and I’m in trouble. Pot committed, I call, and river saves me as a Queen hits to give me Queens full of 8s, to beat their 8s full of Queens. Hooray, for once I’m the one who sucks out.
  9. A3o in the BB, SB limps, I check my option, and flop two pair AA33. Yet another gift hand, SB bets into me, half pot. I min-raise, and they try to come over the top with a 2x pot re-raise. I re-raise again to put them all-in, and they call. We flip up, they have… Q8o, for a complete air bluff. The pair the Queen on the Turn, but it’s irrelevant to the outcome of the hand, as I knock them out. This makes the 3rd massive blunder a villain has made against me this table, all three of which knocked them out and added a bunch of chips to my stack.
  10. 89o, heads up, on the Button, in the BB seat. I flop 2nd pair, 9s, and bet, get called, and improve to trip 9s on the Turn to win the hand. My opponent must have had Jacks, and didn’t want to lay the hand down until I put in a pot-size bet on the river, which was too much for them. Often, I’ve seen in HU play that someone who hits top pair, or any pair, will not be bet off of it, and will even go all-in, so I was hoping to get the max value out of the hand by making a pot-size bet there. Oh well.
  11. KK, final hand. Another gift, villain flops a pair of 5s and shoves on them, after I raised their initial bet. Easy call, although with the flop coming in 452, I was worried that I was up against A3, 36, or something that would make me regret calling like a rag set. I had them well covered though, so had to accept the risk of that being the case, although if the had won the hand, it would have put them back up over me, just slightly, which would have been annoying.

In all, I played my hands well, my opponents made it easy for me by giving me all their chips when I had hit strong hands and they tried to push me off with their entire stack, and I get half the table that way. Looking back at it, do I have skill here? Some, but maybe it’s that I’m doing something that induces clown-shoves, and that’s the real skill? I don’t feel like I had any particularly hard decisions in most of these hands, the 43-flush hand being the one tricky play, but that was a fairly questionable call. And then there were a few hands where I just got very lucky.

I dunno. A win’s a win. I’ll take it.