I still don’t have that urge to play poker at the moment – well not to the levels I have previously enjoyed – but I am starting to play one or two games. I think it gonna take just a little longer to get back to normal. I have come to the realisation that I have hit the poker burnout wall with a hell of a whack. I seem to have climbed that wall but am now sitting precariously on top of it – teetering on the edge between the precipice and poker heaven, as it were!
I hope to play a few games this week, including some of the forum games. This should let me know if I’m going to get to the other side of the wall or if I’m going to fall off backwards!
Anyways… on to my main topic of discussion…. expanding your game. Or, another tool to expand your game.
Most people know that if you want to expand your knowledge of poker there are some things that you should really try to do, like read poker books/articles; discuss your plays with friends; get someone to analyse your play during a game etc… These are all valuable learning tools for all poker players. But I want to look at a different route – hand histories! Hand histories can be a great learning tool if you are prepared to trawl through the data, but more importantly give you instant access to a specific hand that you want – or need – to look at again. Analysing your own play, or even better having someone analyse it for you, can be invaluable to improving your game.
Last week, I was put out of a (league) tournament by Petrafyde – a forum member. I was absolutely raging with her play that ultimately knocked me out of the game. I thought it was no more than an unbelievable bingo play! Here’s how it unfolded…
Blinds are 10/20 and I’m the shortstack at the table with around 700 in chips, after having to (rightly) fold a couple of big hands. I’m in the SB.
Player 1 folds
Marty123 raises to 40
Player 3, 4 and 5 folds
Petrafyde calls 40
Player 7 folds
Gofer1971 (me) re-raises 100 to 140
Player 9 folds
Gofer1971 raises all-in for 560
I show . Petrafyde shows . No help on the turn and river so I’m out. I am absolutely raging. Not that she called the inital raise by Marty – it was only double the BB after all, but that she called a big re-raise. J10 suited is a garbage hand when you KNOW you are beaten. I let Petra know my feelings and leave the table to go and kick and punch anything I can find!
Where’s this going you may ask, and what does this have to do with expanding your game?
Well, on retrieving the hand history, and analysing it over and over, I changed my initial assumption of how Petra played the hand. And here’s my findings…..
- first off, Petra had a significant chip lead over me. She had close to 2000 chips to my 700
- In a pot of 240 she only had to call for 100, and we were heads up
- J10 suited is not that bad a hand, heads up
- If she missed the flop, it would be an easy fold with minimum loss
- She had position on me. I was first to act after the flop
OK, the flop was very kind to her, but as the call preflop wouldn’t give any great concern to her stack, she was quite right to make the call. It was not the monkey call I had potrayed it to be the moment the hand had played out. My thinking now was that if our positions were reversed and she was shortstacked, I might have called too. Another thing that might have swayed her decision was that I had raised 3 hands in a row after losing a big pot. I don’t know if she thought I was on tilt. (I wasn’t – I had 4 very good hands in a row that merited raises.)
Anyways, analysing this hand in depth has proven to me just how useful hand histories are to the online poker player. There will be so many times when you read through them and you will congratulate yourself on a good hand played, or berate another player for what you consider to be a poor play just because your Aces were cracked.
But look carefully at the histories. Gather all the information you can from them, from position to chip counts; how you (or others) have played previous hands – do they seem to be catching, only playing monster hands, or look as if they could be on tilt?
Hand histories will give you more information about how others, but more importantly, how you play, than any other form of reading material. Over time, you will start to see patterns emerging in your play – things you can improve on, things you need to remove from your game or things you need to do more.
So in short, sorry Petra for bitching about the hand. We both agree you got lucky with the flop, but the initial call was a good one. As we all know, in NLHE, the game is won on the flop most of the time, and it proved it in this case. But more importantly, this particular hand, and the analysis that followed has shown me a different outlook on how to play connectors against someone you know has you beaten pre-flop, and hopefully I can use it to the same effect as you did in this hand.
Lastly, the answer to the question I was asking myself most about this hand – what could I have done to avoid that situation? Only one thing in my book – ALL IN! Even with my shortstack going all-in preflop, I don’t think Petra would have risked a 1/3 of her chips with J10 . Lesson learned me!