Something Xflixx said recently has really impacted my game for the better - it's a simple enough little parable - so much so that I feel it's almost totally transformed my game. I'm paraphrasing, but it was something along the lines of :

"If you can't have position, take the initiative. When you won't take the initiative, have position
and where possible, have both."

 

I have had decent confidence in my ability to play cash games for a while now, despite having technically been a losing player over around 9k hands at 2/5nl (though most of these hands were played before I ever really understood what I was doing at all). After solid results recently at the lower limits, and being properly rolled for it thanks to coming 3rd in a big field, small buy in tourney (Hot 0.55 - 3rd for 430USD) I decided to take a crack at 10NL and I must say, for now, I feel right at home.

The mantra I acknowledged is definitely one to live by so far, especially when approaching hands with a plan. So often in the past I had been flatting hands like AJs AQ 10-10 and a myriad of other holdings from OOP (to a single open, not a 3b) and I feel that the profitability of doing so is negligible at best. It's absurd (well actually it's logical, but allow me some creative license! :p) how often you're not going to make a pair with your big ace/paint, or how regularly you'll be faced by a board full of overcards with your 10s and Jacks, facing a CBet OOP, with little room for maneuvre. I'm not saying I've gone mad, and started 3 betting all these hands "as standard" from OOP but in so many cases (dependant on any number of factors, obviously i'm not 3 betting the biggest nit at the tables UTG open with my a10s etc) erring on the side of passiveness (in my opinion) is a mistake.

So I've played a few sessions so far @ 10 NL, the longest of which was this evening for around 500 hands, bringing my total up to around 1300 so far (I only play 4 tables at present and find concentrating on long sessions a struggle - but I'm aiming to massively increase the volume as I get more familiar with multitabling cash). Obviously, this is a small sample size but I am confident in my play thus far. Despite having made a paltry $7, the results don't tell the whole story. When looking at my EV graph I am actually running a whopping $35 below EV due to taking a plethora (again with the artistic license! :p) of bad beats, some small, some not so small. In a strange way though I'm even more pleased with myself due to the nature of how I took them. 

After a fairly quiet  first couple of sessions ending with me up around 1.5 buyins and making some silly errors - but learning along the way - I settled in for some hands this evening. Within the first 20 or so hands I had dropped 2 buy ins in pretty ugly fashion. After 5 bet jamming my AhKh in a button/blind battle against an opponent who had been openeing pretty loose, what by all accounts should have been a chop turned into a dropped buy in when his AsKs flopped the nuts. Moments later my KK was cracked by 77 and frankly, I felt like quitting for the evening, but I didn't. For once I calmly gathered myself and realised that I should be happy and that 4 times out of 5, I'd be up a buy in and hungry for more poker.

A little later in the session after winning a slew of small/medium pots - confidence restored - this hand cropped up : The villain (who seemed to be a reg) and I had a very aggressive dynamic, he'd been 3 betting my buttons relentlessly and I'd already 4 bet him light (clicked it back) in a pot where we chopped on an A255K board (both showing ace rag)



I decided to click it back again for several reasons;  to emulate my earlier weak 4 bet, to give him a chance to spazz out and ship on me or to come along with any of his much worse hands. The flop came relatively dry and i instantly fired out my standard C bet, a little faster than usual hoping to convey an impression of weakness. He called pretty quickly  and on the turn I decide I don't want to waste any more time - confident in my read that he'll stack off very lightly - I tank for a pretty long time and eventually ship it on the turn for a pot sized bet, figuring that I would be 100% betting this turn anyway and never folding to his shove, plus I want to convey as bluffy a line as possible. Ultimately I'm very happy with how I played the hand even though it was an unorthodox line. The result? MEH.


Even after this - yet another pretty ugly beat, though far from the worst you'll have seen - I was able to maintain a lucid mindset, make (mostly :p) solid decisions and finish the session just one buy in down. Regardless of the result I feel like this was my best session so far and on a day where I didn't run like diahrrea, it would have been pretty darn profitable too!
I'm not getting ahead of myself and I still have tons to learn (and lots of hands to play) before I can genuinely say I'm a winning player, but I feel like (thanks in no small part to PSO and all of the trainers therein) I'm on the right track.

-AKBlows