<$BlogRSDUrl$> Poker Comic - Tales from the felt & stage
The life of a New York City stand-up comic and amateur poker player - where two worlds collide.

Monday, November 24, 2003

Knowledge without comprehension

I've been getting a good amount of responses about our home game thru the internet, but it seems like not many can commit on a regular basis. We have several new players though so I'm confident we'd be able to get a game going. This past week's game was in jeopardy with two cancellations at the last minute but fortunately, we had three come down late and were about to play a short 2-3 hour game.

As usual with my low-limit play, I ended the night down only $1 and Rob came out the big winner up $60. I enjoy playing live much more than online, but these limits are so showdown-oriented that you can play almost while on life support. It's profitable for sure, but it takes a long boring time to grind out your wins. That's the plus with online play as you can play two tables at once, both seeing twice as many hands as you would live. It's a faster profit there.

No-limit cash tables, from my recent play on PokerStars, seem like much more juicier games. The WPT and WSOP coverage made the abbreviation "NL" the most enticing to new players. They say "I can play just like the guys on TV!". Inexperienced and under-read, there are a TON of people diving into this high-risk world and filling the pockets of even the marginally good players. While limit poker is a very mechanical game, bad players don't stand to lose too much money, at least not very quickly. No-limit is another beast and solid, experienced players will break these newbies in no time.

This past weekend, I tried out the Queens game with the $100 max buy-in NL table. NL cash is my strongest game and I'm very confident in my abilities, but expected to have much stronger competition than I am accustomed to. Normally not a pessimist, but I went in to the venture willing to lose up to $200 to test out the game.

The setup there was very nice - two professional ten-handed tables, custom clay chips, kem cards, etc. There was plenty of food and drinks also for the taking. I was very impressed. Only one thing shocked me. I was one of the oldest players there! College kids and high school students comprised the biggest portion of the clientele, but there were several people even twice my age there. This was the game I was afraid of? I thought "maybe these are really smart kids and they play really well." I never judge someone's talents based on their age, so I wasn't going to take the competition lightly until their play revealed itself to me.

I played for several hours, typically playing nine-handed, with others playing 3-6 limit on the other table. Right off the bat, I see that this is not the type of game I'm used to playing at PokerStars. Usually it's pretty passive and it's rare that players bet enough to protect their hands. I'm able to play pretty loose, hit flops and try to bust opponents with a very aggressive image. This was not the case here. The game was extremely aggressive with a lot of overbetting. It was pretty common to see pots over $100.

I knew I had to play extremely tight, especially since I didn't know much about the players at the table. In didn't take me too long to realize who I was up against - very bad players for the most part. There were maybe one or two good ones though, yet was confident that I was the best by far. It was unbelieveable what hands people were playing, of course, no one even caring much about position at all. I remember seeing someone raise early with KTo, re-raised by Q9s and then both going all-in pre-flop. There were players calling huge pot x 2 bets with draws, not even to the nuts. People playing K2o, 43s, 97o, etc. Players calling pre-flop raises cold with K9o. I was appalled at the play.

With the play so loose and aggressive, I hunkered down and used my patience and discipline to my advantage. I pretty much was playing only Sklansky group one and two starting hands and almost nothing in early position. Pre-flop limpers were commonly picked off by large raises in late position, so I knew I had to be the one in the pot first, open-raise or fold. I enjoy trying to bust people playing suited connectors, but I threw almost all of them away not cold-calling with 98s. I was well aware that players were making improper raises with hands such as A9o, KTo, QTs, etc. but I wasn't going to risk a lot of chips not being sure they actually had a proper raising hand. I wanted to know I had the best of it. There was one player making HUGE bets, sometimes with nothing, sometimes with the goods to back it up. He was still part of the flock in loose play, so I was looking for him to make a move when I had a real hand. Striking fear in most minds, his play worked very effectively at times.

I used my tight image to my advantage. Showing strong hands when I won pots, I was able to take some small ones in situations like having AKo with a low flop. I'd have the best of it nine out of ten times, but was able to steal some chips when I didn't. I received several compliments at the table from others on my tight-aggressive play and was sure that everyone thought I was the class of the game.

I won my biggest pot off a time the maniac pushed all-in at the wrong time. I raised $10 early with KK and got three callers. The flop came 9-5-3 rainbow. I bet $20 second to act and the maniac pushed all-in behind me. Two players folded and I called. He turned up 98o, didn't catch anything and I took home about a $300 pot.

The odd part was that several of these "kids" actually had a good deal of knowledge of hold'em - at least they know how to talk a good game. I can almost pity players who lose tons of cash playing every flop and chasing cards to the river, but not ones like this. It's amazing to see someone that knows about the importance of position raise with 66 UTG. It's appalling to see someone that understands the relative weakness of AJo call three bets cold pre-flop with it. It's like they've read all the books, but don't incorporate much into their play. This I cannot pity.

There's a difference between talking the talk and walking the walk. This game isn't about impressing your friends or poker playing comrades, it's about making money. If you want to accomplish this, you must be very disciplined and use the concepts you've read. I ended up +$125 for the night and will be going back there on a regular basis.

posted by Jordan  # 12:32 PM

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