Returning the Favor and other Slices of Life

Returning the Favor
Returning the Favor
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Thursday, June 29, 2006

Fear. It’s a killer. It’s what makes grown men sweat from their eyeballs, shift uncomfortably in their chair and pick their teeth in public. It’s the insidious worm that crawls in underneath your certainty and brings along its bitchy sister with bad 1987 Tiffany hair, Doubt.

Fear and Doubt are the Wonder Twins of bankroll destruction. “Form of the Second Nut Flush!” “Shape of Runner-Runner Inside Straight Flush Draw!” Fear will cripple your game and beat you into a pile of squirming, gelatinous poo steaming on the sidewalk in August.

But there’s a cure. Fear and Doubt are just like any other monsters, they have their weaknesses. They have their garlic, their silver bullet, their Kryptonite.

So how, you ask. How do I banish Doubt and Fear from my play?

I’m glad you asked. There’s no rocket science involved. Just like poker. You really don’t need an advanced degree to play this game (although a couple of them don’t hurt), just a few simple strategies and metric fuckton of common sense.

Doubt and Fear fade away (like the glamourie that made you think she was hot last night at 4AM when you wake up next to her on a Sunday morning and immediately commence to gnawing straight through your bicep so you can get the fuck out of there and back into your Pinto before she wakes up) in the face of game selection and bankroll management.

It only took me 2 years to figure that out. But I grew up in South Carolina, so I’m fucking excused.

First, pick your game. If you want to sit down and bludgeon people with chips, play Power Poker and ram & jam a bunch of pots, this is going to be really effective at some tables. When I’m in the mood for this I look for tables with a small average pot and a large percentage of people seeing the flop. Lots of limpers, but not a ton of money in the pot equates to a bunch of people who never make it to fourth street, which is perfect for when you’re playing a hyper-aggro strategy. In the interests of full disclosure, I totally stole this idea from a blog post I read of the Blogfather’s a million years ago when I first started reading blogs.

I like to play this way on full tables, and if I can peek at the average stack, I like for it to be around 60-75% of the max buy-in. I don’t want to sit down somewhere with three guys that have tripled their buyin already and are feeling strong and frisky. I’d rather play this style against timid players, folks that aren’t very interested in risking chips.

So this is an example of table selection that has allowed me to beat up on those F&D bitches. But it’s not going to help if I’m playing too high, or even too low. I’ve got to find the limits that work for my game right now, where I still care about the buyin, but don’t fear losing so much that it cripples me.

For me, with my bankroll hovering around $2500, this is the $25 and $50 NL tables. I’m not detached enough yet to stomach the same swings at the NL100 tables that I can take without being phased at NL50 (and NL25 is such a fish farm I can’t tear myself away from those tables, because it’s sooooo easy to run that $25 into $60-80 in short order). By playing at a table that I don’t mind terribly losing a buy-in I allow myself to push my hands harder, and use all the tools in my kit, including the all-in. If I’m playing too high, I’m less willing to shove all my chips in the middle, and that’s a valuable tool that I’m denying myself.

I’m still playing a bunch of limit as well, mainly $2/4 limit, and that’s another case where table selection and even site selection is critical. I find the limit players at Stars to be a lot tougher than at Party or Crypto, so I only play up to $1/2 there. The limit players at UB are so amazingly aggressive, that I can play tight and wait for good hands, but I can also watch long enough to figure out how many bullets each raise-monkey has in their gun and steal a few pots from them that way. So game selection is critical here, too.

Not really sure that went where I thought we were going, but that’s why I’m a blogger and not a college professor.

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3 comments:

mookie99 said...

Great post, I love reading stuff like this as it helps me make way into the cash game arena.

Thanks for making it out to the tourney last night.

Joaquin "The Rooster" Ochoa said...

well said.

DadWarbucks said...

Once again my dear friend Falstaff missed the boat. Playing smarter and at tables where you've done better is NOT the cure for "fear & doubt". Not worrying about losing your bank roll IS the Cure.
Gambling money is (and should always be) entertainment dollars that you can afford to lose and still pay your bills.
To me, poker is an absolute blast, win, lose, or draw. Obviously I want to win just like everyone else. It's simply NOT the "be all, end all".