Thursday, May 11, 2006

Trigger Lock

There is still a leak in my NL game.  It manifested itself last night in somewhat of a bizarre fashion.  The source of the problem is using data not relevant to the current hand to shape your actions.  Frankly, it’s somewhat embarrassing, but I’m posting it anyway so I can refer to it later when I hopefully stop thinking in such counterproductive ways.

What set the stage for me was losing my stack in a simple little $10+1 turbo SNG on Titan poker (Titan had sent me a free $10 so I figured what the hell.)  Someone who needed runner-runner to beat me called my all-in bet on the flop.  It was comical and it really didn’t bother me, but for whatever reason its absurdity stuck with me.

I closed down the software and fired up Full Tilt, logging into a $200NL ring game.  I posted my $2 big blind in late position and on the very first hand I was dealt pocket Aces.  My mind immediately jumped to insidious thoughts.  These cards dealt to me on the very first hand on a brand new table were clearly evidence of a conspiracy against me to give me two consecutive brutal beats in a row on two different online sites.  It’s obvious to anyone who’s played online poker that this thought is completely rational.  Right?

When the player to my left raised pre-flop to $9, I just called.  And there, my friends, is my huge error.  I wasn’t going to let the online conspiracy get me this time.  If I were bound to get my Aces cracked, it would not be for my entire stack.  One other player called, which was disappointing because I had hoped that the other player’s raise would still be enough such that we’d be heads up to the flop.

The flop came QQ2.  A-ha!  I was right.  It’s even more evident now that I am bound to lose this hand.  The pre-flop raiser bet out $20.  I totally ignored the evidence that a good poker player would use to realize that this was a strong indication that he did not have a Queen in his hand.  I smooth called and the late position player folded.

The turn was a blank and the pre-flop raiser checked.  Again, more evidence that this player did not have a Queen, but still I checked behind.  Because I was not going to go broke on this hand, even though a good poker player would realize that pocket Aces were still good.

The river was a 3rd Queen.  And the pre-flop raiser bet $45.  A good poker player, not swayed by irrationality, would have realized that this action was completely and utterly consistent with him holding a high pocket pair and him feeling confident that I did not have a Queen based on my actions.  So I smooth called again.

I won the pot, about $160, because pocket Aces held up against pocket Kings.

And I was pissed.  At myself.  For a variety of reasons.

I should have stacked the guy.  At the very least I could have min-raised the river and got a crying call out of my opponent.  The biggest mistake was not re-raising pre-flop.  Had I done that, I am nearly 100% certain that we’d have got all our money in pre-flop.  I was brand new to the table and it was my first hand.  The guy with pocket Kings would have pushed had I re-raised, how could he not?

In the end, I left about $120 in equity on the table because I played the hand so weakly and passively.  And that is not the way to play strong, winning poker.  I’d like to say that perhaps I played it cautiously because a decent player could have made a good play with a Queen in his hand.  But I just sat down, had no reads, and more often than not, the action described above means that he did not have a Queen.

I’ve never won a hand where I felt so mad at myself afterwards.

No comments: