Thursday, July 13, 2006

Continueing the grind, but what is the goal?

I was talking to a friend yesterday who has read my blog and pointed out to me that it's not clear what my main focus and goals for the short term are.

The long term goals are probably pretty obvious. After turning the 25 dollars into 10k I'll continue till I'm a millionaire, get a big house with a nice white fence, buy a private island and then spend most of my days watching Blackadder re-runs from my jacuzzi.

Other than that, my short term goals are perhaps less obvious. Right now the end goal of playing at this limit is to work my balance on pokerstars up till I have over 600 dollars there. Which means I'll have a bankroll of 300 big bets ready for the 1/2 dollar games. But it's not my focus to get there as fast as I can.

I think I could earn more if I played 'fit and fold' poker. Which is a playstyle many good tight-aggressive players use in the lower limits. It simply means you won't get involved in pots where you missed the flop, but play those where you think you have the best hand with the proper aggression. Those players make good money since there are so many bad players at the lower limits and they take little risk, but they are very easy to read.
I regard that playstyle in much the same way as acrophobics regard skydiving: technically feasible, but strictly for other people.

My focus is to get better at identifying what the right situations are to take down pots without having a good hand, extract as much money out of people as possible when I am quite sure I have the better hand, and to get out of more pots where I have a good hand but someone has a better one. To do that, I need to become much better at reading opponents, pay more attention to what they do in certain situations.

What does the player two seats to my right do when he gets reraised on the flop while he just holds two overcards or middle pair? And when he has top pair with a decent kicker, does he play it different then when he's on a draw? Can he release a hand like top pair when an overcard comes and he suddenly gets reraised?

Here's an example from today to show what I mean:

Poker Stars
Limit Holdem Ring game
Limit: $0.50/$1
10 players

Pre-flop: (10 players) Soultwister is CO with Jack of Spades King of Clubs
4 folds, MP2 calls, MP3 folds, Soultwister calls, Button folds, SB calls, BB checks.

Flop: Ace of Spades 10 of Diamonds King of Hearts (4SB, 4 players)
SB checks, BB checks, MP2 checks, Soultwister bets, SB raises, BB folds, MP2 calls, Soultwister calls.

Turn: 8 of Diamonds (5BB, 3 players)
SB bets, MP2 folds, Soultwister calls.

River: 4 of Clubs (7BB, 2 players)
SB bets, Soultwister calls.

Final pot: 9BB
Soultwister showed Js Kc
SB showed 7s 9s

The player in the small blind here is a slightly loose aggressive but tricky player. But he plays his big hands slow, his weak hands strong. Against most other players at this table, I would definitely have folded to this flop checkraise while having middle pair and a weak straightdraw. But I was pretty sure that if this player had an ace, two pair or a straight he would have waited for the turn to checkraise, even while the board looked so scary.

I could have done two things here. Reraise to find out if my read is correct, which would probably lead to him folding, or play in such a way I get the most money out of it. So trusting my read, I decided to just call him down giving him more chances to bluff into me, making him put two more dollars into the pot. Further, other people on the table observing this hand may take note of my 'bad' calls and that could lead to them paying me off better on my good hands.

The reason for working on this is that my edge against my opponents will get smaller as I go up in limits, and I'm thinking of switching to shorthanded tables in a while (no tables with 10 players where you can wait for hands, but tables where there are 4-6 players maximum forcing you to get involved in many more hands). Shorthanded the win rates are higher, but so are the losses and the variance, so I'll need every edge I can get then. Just playing the cards would be a losing strategy there.


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