Poker face it, you're rubbishSo I was disappointed to bubble in R’s tourney, but I guess I only had myself to blame. It was all quite instructive, illustrating how the game might have its ups and downs but good play rests on solid principles.
I think you cash small tourneys more often than not by playing solidly, but you have to play solidly all the time, not just most of it. It’s a failing of mine that I can go wrong for a hand or two.
The principles I felt were illustrated yesterday were:
Solid play is best.
When they raise, they have it.
Don’t expect them to play well.
If you hope to be a good player, you must be able to distinguish good play from good luck.
Do not play scared.
I pick up KsTs on the button and make it 3xBB to go. This is the standard raise and I’ve made it all night without varying for hand strength. L, who thinks he is a good player but has been a calling station all night – I guess he thinks he’s good enough to LAG it up – calls in the BB. The flop comes QJx with one spade. I bet out, hoping to take it down right away. He calls. Another spade comes on the turn, he checks, I check behind (I think). The river is a third spade. He bets, I raise big. He thinks for a very long time and folds. I can’t figure out what you had, he said. I can’t see what fits that action. I don’t tell him but later he tells me he had AA. Well, you fucking butchered that, I’m thinking. Solid play is best. But I’m kicking myself for betting so much on the river, because he could call a smaller bet, I think. Still, the big bet looks a lot like a bluff. Unfortunately, the river card also brought in a straight draw (not the one I had), so he was more willing to lay it down than he would have been had it bricked.
Later, W, who has tightened up a bit preflop but is awful postflop, completes his small blind and I wake up in the BB with Q9. I should just openfold that hand against W because a month or so ago I flopped two pair out of the BB and raised him when he bet. He called the raise and turned an A, which gave him two pair and I boneheadedly pushed into the exact hand I had put him on. Anyway, this time the flop comes A96 and he checks. I make a small bet calculated to get him to lay down whatever shit he completed with. He calls. Uh oh, I’m thinking. He’s probably slowplayed an ace. So the turn is nothing and he checks, I check behind. The river is a Q. I bet out and he raises quite big. I call it. He shows AA for the flopped set. WTF? Well, okay, I made a mistake. I’m quite capable of laying that river down. It’s a mistake I make to rationalise others’ plays into ranges of cards that I beat. In this case, I put him on Ax, but not two pair. But W is a weak player, who will not bluff in this particular spot, and would likely just call with that hand. When they raise, they have it. So after the hand, he starts mouthing off about how he “milked” the hand? I’m like what the fuck? Dude, if I hadn’t rivered a Q or 9, you would have only made the bet I made on the flop. Milked me? Hardly. Quite the opposite. He played the hand very weakly, giving me a chance to outflop him for free, failing to get money in when miles ahead, and then needing to be lucky to make any sort of pot from a huge hand. I don’t have a problem with slowplaying a monster and letting the other guy catch up, but you can’t claim you’ve done anything special. If you hope to be a good player, you must be able to distinguish good play from good luck.
Trying to get tricky preflop is usually a bad idea. Now, I played some of my starting hands a bit too fast, and didn’t get action on them, which was annoying, and I also played made hands too fast, playing scared. When you’ve been burned, sometimes you tilt a bit and start thinking they’ll always catch up if you don’t take pots down. That’s a big failing in my game. I need to remind myself: don’t play scared. I am tons better when I play aggressively and bravely. But slowplaying is a recipe for disaster. Unfortunately, it didn’t bite my opponents, but it easily could have done. In one hand, D, an older guy who fancied himself a player but didn’t look all that solid to me, limped from the button, W completed and I checked my option with J4. The flop came all diamonds, KJx. All checked. The turn was nothing special. W checked, I checked, D made a weak bet. I knew he had hit the flop so I chucked it. He showed his hand, AdKc. A monster. But here’s the thing. He made nothing with it, and risked everything to get it. Preflop, he gave us a chance to outflop him for nothing, and after the flop he gave me a shot at pairing my kicker on the turn. An offsuit four on the turn and I likely bust the idiot. A jack and he’s in a bad position, unsure when I bet whether I really have it, and hating to throw away his draw (which could be – but wasn’t – dead).
The biggest hand for me was one I’m not sure about. On the bubble, I had the big stack (which makes it all the more painful to win nothing). UTG I have 77, and make it 3xBB, which at this stage is 3000 chips, a big chunk of most of our stacks. I expect most times to fold everyone out. T, a weak player who has been riding his luck, but has learned since I last played him to get aggro with a shortstack rather than get blinded out, pushes. I have him covered by plenty and I’m getting 11.5 to 4 on the call. In this spot, I tend to discount the likelihood of both big and little pairs. He doesn’t have the balls to push 22 in this spot, and there are far more big aces than big pairs. So I figure I’m probably ahead of AK-AJ. Against his range, I am probably dead on even. I think he folds smaller aces. Do I call? The pot odds say yes yes yes, but I can fold, avoid risk and maintain a very decent stack. I can definitely find better spots to get money in than a coinflip. I don’t think I can lay it down though. Maybe the result is influencing my thinking too much. Had I won it, I would have had a stack big enough to slap the other guys around, and I think I would have won the tourney. Anyway, I call quickly, and he shows AK. It doesn’t really matter which overcards he shows, of course, so long as they’re not suited. Except that the flop and turn were all lower than a seven but the river was, of course, a king.
Finally, I forgot that even though I have started treating Friday home games as SNGs, and playing them accordingly, my opponents don’t, and they don’t have a clue what good play even looks like. Shortstacked, but covering W, who is BB, I push UTG with QTs. I think this is a good play, because the table is playing tight and I’m a good chance to get three folds. But W calls with KQ. WTF? This is an autofold in the BB against a player who has you covered. Against any range he can put me on he’s behind for all his chips. But he doesn’t think like that. He sees two face cards and thinks “wahey!” Don’t expect them to play well. I do not improve and double him up and that’s me very short.
Well, it could have been different. I played pretty well, and my mistakes were not horrible. But for a rivered king, I would have had the stack my play had merited. Maybe folding 77 on the bubble might have been better because I really didn't need to get involved. I dunno. It's easy to think you played even worse than you did when you lose.