Third Time Lucky

Here it is you lucky people. (All poker players are lucky, right?) The third in an indefinite set of blogs about my experiences in the world of poker. Yes, it's exciting stuff, I know. As promised, I even managed to write this one before the weekend's over. What...? Tuesday? Damn!

Quite a few people were kind enough to stop by last time. A couple even wrote comments, giving some very useful advice. It really is much appreciated. I try to make the posts an 'easy read', as someone called it, because I can't fill it up with dry stats or exciting tales of high-rolling games in saloons, ending with six-gun shoot-outs. Sadly.

This Week

Over the last week (and a bit) I've deliberately been more careful about faliing in to the newbie trap of playing too many hands, seeing too many flops, particularly with a low kicker. Regular viewers will know I'm only playing NLHE with 1c/2c blinds while I work on improving my game. As such, I only started out with a $10 bankroll. I could've put more more in but I didn't because I wanted every dollar to feel like it counted, if not every cent.

At first that bankroll went south because I was - how shall I put this? - playing with all the style and aptitude of a manic puppy on a waxed floor. Pretty soon I was down to only $2. That's when I got annoyed.

There should be a poker adage that says, "Being tight leads to playing tight". (There should also be one that says "Don't get mad, get evens.", but that's not important now.) I did not want to lose my entire bankroll. I know everyone has a bad run sometimes but that really wasn't any excuse. I just wasn't playing very well.

So I kept referring to the PDF I found (but can't find now, hence no link) with the recommended action, pre-flop, for various hole cards based on position, and the pot odds table for post-flop play. Soon i was playing consistently enough to see my bankroll climb back to $10. In fact, it went up to $22. My faith was restored. Hallelujah! Praise the Board!

It took quite a while to build up the cash though. Hours and hours. At one point I was following the recommended action and folding hands I might otherwise have played. I was winning, but very slowly. So I played a little looser, used my stack to intimidate, mixed up my play more, and it seemed to work. If I don't hit the flop it doesn't really matter because the blinds are so small. Not sure I'd play this way for bigger stakes.

Fight Club

I've read in various places how we should play very strong or monster hands aggressively. It makes sense. If you've got the nuts and your opponent is throwing chips on the table like confetti, go all-in and reap the rewards.

On that basis, I've been targetting the tables I'm playing - looking for big average pots and lots of players seeing the flop. In theory it's a good plan but I'm not sure the PokerStars table statistics aren't too transient. I'll keep at it though and try to work out whether there are real opportunities or if I'm just chasing shadows.

Question Time

There's two things I haven't been able to figure out this week.

Firstly, the sage advice says to avoid limping in to the pot. However, the guide I have for betting pre-flop often recommends calling. You can't have it both ways, you experts. I'm probably missing a subtler point but a confusion shared is a confusion doubled. Or something. If anyone has a succinct answer, let me know.

Secondly, I rather like calling from the SB with trash hands when it only costs me an additional cent. Does this make me a bad person?

Over And Out

If you follow Liv Boeree on twitter you may have seen this TED Talk on poker and decision making she posted recently. I found it very interesting so I thought I'd post it here too. If you're twitter inclined, you'll find me there too - @WyveronPoker

Until next time.