Thursday, August 04, 2005

The Poker Gods Must be Crazy, Strange Moves, Royal Flushes, Power Outages

A rant over at Felicia's blog, which I'm not bothering to point to as it's a "for members only" place and you either read it or you don't reminded me I haven't done much poker posting lately. As you can probably tell, I find most poker blogging boring; it's like listening to someone tell you about a dream they had the night before... interesting to the teller, usually (much) less interesting to the listener. But one poker blogger I follow regularly likes replaying a hand and asking for advice in comments. I like the stories and I'm amused that the opinions are usually split all across the board, ranging from raising, folding, calling, breaking down in tears, and pulling a gun and taking the pot.

While recounting one hand, Maudie notes that after she had won a pot her opponent said in chat , "strange move." He might have been talking about himself, as a review of his and Maudie's bets from pre-flop to river would indicate that both of them thought Maudie had the better hand from the git-go, but he apparently was talking about Maudie's play, which as she said, "perplexed me." As it should, as his play, at least from the perspective of someone wanting to win the pot - or even thinking he already had the pot won - didn't make sense. To me and to Maudie of course, but I'm sure from the player's perspective his play made perfect sense. If you play online poker - and probably live games, but I don't play live games very much - you run into this sort of irrationality all the time; people who have convinced themselves that they hold the winning hand even when all evidence points to the contrary. There are bluffs and semi-bluffs run all through the game of course, but in my experience, most people bet the hands they're holding most of the time. Poker, to misquote someone, is a game of making decisions with incomplete information. Part of that information, especially in on-line poker where physical tells are irrelevant, is your opponent's betting.

The heart-breaker, of course, is that irrationality also wins out a lot. I was in an online tourney at PokerStars yesterday - more on that in a bit - and watched a mad bomber take pot after unchallenged pot with all-in calls from every position until someone finally called him holding AA. The mad bomber held an offsuit 8 7...and of course pulled a straight; crippling the guy with the big pair. That's, as the saying none of us wants to hear goes, poker. The Mad Bomber finally met justice, getting wiped out in a few more hands, but not before causing extensive damage, taking out some better players who had, pre-flop at least, better hands.

Me, I usually pull a Phil Ivey when this happens, falling into virtual sleep and not betting with anything until the Mad Bomber self-destructs, or he or I get moved, or something. I don't like having blinds stolen, but I have this thing about not going all-in pre-flop, except in certain, varying circumstances. A pair of Aces is still just a pair, and can evaporate like dew in the sun after the flop.

So, how am I doing? The usual. I go on winning streaks where I think I'm the Balls (as opposed to the Bals), and then go on longer losing streaks when whatever Poker Muse who is in charge of me apparently feels the need to get creative in her torture. Some of it is bad beats. More of it is bad play. Consistent inconsistency pretty much indicates that I'm not as good a poker player as I would like to be... or even think I am.

When this happens, I moan to Peggy, I quit for awhile and do other things, I try to think about what I'm doing more when I'm playing and plug the many leaks I have - or think I have, as a poker player on a losing streak can find an uncountable number of things wrong with his play when he goes into Red Army self-criticism mode.

In other words, I do about everything all of us do when we're losing at the tables. Eventually I start winning again, and all is well till I start losing again.

Yesterday I thought I had broken the losing streak in a small buy-in/rebuy tourney at PokerStars. My modus operandi with these is not to rebuy, except possibly with an add-on at the end of the first hour when re-buying stops. I thought my luck was running true to form, as I had lost more than half my 1500T starting stack within the first half-hour, and things were looking grim. Then the variation changed as quickly as a mountain wind, and I doubled and then redoubled in two hands with a nuts flush and then a full house. Both of those instances were examples of people either not following - or not caring - about my betting; the flush being a perfect example, as I had called a low raise with A3 of diamonds in my hand and two on the board, and immediately went all in when the third diamond hit the turn. My opponent had two pair and didn't wait a moment to call me. Because I was short stacked and he thought I was bluffing? That he was okay with dropping half his stack cause he knew he could rebuy? Who knows? Made sense to him, and it was okay by me.

I hung around, and was doing okay, and then came this hand. I'm under my usual alias of ricoM...

Table '10685994 55' Seat #9 is the button

Seat 1: babytea (3760 in chips)
Seat 2: GOTTASET (6523 in chips)
Seat 3: gregisme56 (4490 in chips)
Seat 4: ricoM (6025 in chips)
Seat 5: Seabring (5965 in chips)
Seat 6: fredrik7311 (3080 in chips)
Seat 7: Accmatrix (3250 in chips)
Seat 8: spaceglider (6765 in chips)
Seat 9: gbirman (4345 in chips)
babytea: posts small blind 75
GOTTASET: posts big blind 150

*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to ricoM [As Js]
gregisme56: folds
ricoM: calls 150
Seabring: folds
fredrik7311: folds
Accmatrix: folds
spaceglider: folds
gbirman: calls 150
babytea: calls 75
GOTTASET: checks

*** FLOP *** [Qs Jc 6s]
babytea: checks
GOTTASET: checks
ricoM: bets 400
gbirman: raises 400 to 800
babytea: calls 800
ricoM: calls 400

*** TURN *** [Qs Jc 6s] [Ts]
babytea: checks
ricoM: bets 5075 and is all-in
gbirman: calls 3395 and is all-in
babytea: calls 2810 and is all-in

*** RIVER *** [Qs Jc 6s Ts] [Ks]
*** SHOW DOWN ***
ricoM: shows [As Js] (a Royal Flush)
gbirman: shows [Ah Qh] (a straight, Ten to Ace)
ricoM collected 1170 from side pot
babytea: shows [3s 7s] (a flush, King high)
ricoM collected 11430 from main pot

... as you can see - or even if you can't - I again had the nuts flush at the turn, and not only drew all-in an over-optimistic gbirman, who only had a pair at the turn, and pulled an inconsequential straight at the river, but also babytea, whose King high flush had also already lost at the turn, but had insult added to injury when I pulled the rarest of rare hands, the Royal Flush. Both of them went bye-bye, although rebuys were still available.

Flushed, ahem, with success, I'd battle through the tournament for another 3 1/2 hours, in the middle of the pack with around 50 players left from a starting 400, still playing well and beginning to believe I had a shot at the final table...

When the power went out in Merrimack.


Maudie said...

Ohhhh ROTHFIP (rolling on the floor in pain...) What a cruel karmic trick... the poker gods are demons. Nasty demons.

DuggleBogey said...

Wow. That hurt just reading it, It must have really kicked your ass when it happened.

Ouch. That's a bad fucking beat.

fhb said...

It was one of those things so bad, DB, that there wasn't even a good response for it. :-)

I went and sat outside for awhile, had a drink and cigar, and hoped that the power would be restored before my stack was blinded away.

It didn't. It was. Having a couple of days to think about it, though, while I'm pissed that I lost the opportunity, I'm happy that I was playing well and strongly (and lucky, at least till the end). It had been awhile.

Thanks for your comment.