Expanding your game

post split

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
Marty123 folds
Petrafyde calls
Flop shows 7c 8d 9c
Gofer1971 raises all-in for 560
Petrafyde calls

I show ac ad. Petrafyde shows jh 10h. 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!


6 Responses to Expanding your game

  1. zitlips says:

    Brilliant observation ya underground rat.
    I myself am far too lazy to wig through hand analysis’s.(spelling)
    I have cut it much shorter by understanding that being on a shorter stack in comparison to the remaining players is ALWAYS a disadvantage.
    It IS their duty to take you out, even if it means they may chip you up by calling with an inferior hand. And as is usually the case, they hit. The scenario is of course reversed if you were the much larger stack.
    I make a lot of final tables with a short stack and 90% of the time I have to wait for “those sure good fightin cards” to chip up, only to be called by those chip leaders with totally CRAP cards to call or even raise and hit.
    Getting knocked out like that MAY give me two different sensations.
    One (the usual one) is outrage, which might make me unload at the player, the table or the site via the table. Then I feel kinda embarrased and realize that if I wait for 2 minutes and don’t react the rage dies.
    The other sensation is a good laugh. I wish this would happen more often but it don’t. As amatter of fact I can’t figure out why this sensation even happens at times. Where in the hell did it come from, and why can’t I always laugh when I get unduly clobbered out of a game?
    Overall, I know where your at my friend and agree that the only people who will call and win in those situations, are the chip leaders, and the other short stacks, so EXPECT it…lol
    Better luck in ALL your next games : )

  2. svcmgr says:

    I enjoyed reading your post. It is well thought out and well written.
    I, myself, do not do a lot of hand analyzing (sp?) especially if it is a MTT and I have played for a couple of hours because the file gets real long and hard to follow.
    The one thing I do a lot is use the Replay button. I think a lot of people don’t realize that if the hand gets called down and you muck, you can still see the cards that were played in the replay.
    I use this a lot to help me determine what type of player they are. Loose aggresive, tight passive, etc.
    That is why it is still VERY important to watch the play even when you are not in the hand.
    This is one of the advantages over live play. When a player mucks in a live game, you never see.
    Lippy makes some good points too.
    I don’t get as mad as I used to when I get short stack whacked. I have had a all-in called with a 2 4 off before and lost. I try to look back and see how I got myself in the short stack position in the first place. That is where my problem is, not trying to last is a short vs big stack war.
    I tell myself, “I’ll run with these cards and whatever happens, happens”.
    It hurts to loose going in with the best hand but at that point, you are out of control of the hand.
    Hopefully, you will make it over the wall……
    See ya soon.

  3. Sarah says:

    Hi Gordon.

    Thanks for letting me know about this.

    I think you have it all pretty down to pat there. I must admit I was surprised at your initial reaction, because I’d felt as though I hadn’t made an incorrect call to begin with, but did wonder afterwards tbh!

    In reply to your last comment, yes, you’re right. I would’ve folded to a large raise/all-in 🙂

  4. dagopher says:

    Thanks for the comments guys, and I’m glad I got my last comment right Sarah! 😉

    From now on I’ll just punch and kick what’s ever around me (kids and wife not included 🙂 ), then disect the hand as I did here. If I THEN think I was harshly done by then I’ll make my rant! lol

    In all seriousness though, hand histories is not normally my thing, but I have proved to myself – if no-one else – that it can be a very useful tool.

  5. netsson says:

    I have never considered the handhistory as a tool! Hmmmm? maybe i should reconsider that and try it for a change.

    I however do as Svcmgr use the replay as a tool to evaluate my combattants at the table. I find it very useful to combine with the notes i write about the players.

    In extreme situations i do a screenshot and write that in the notes i.e see shot num so and so date and in that shot i can insert a longer note if i find a player who are “atm-easy-to-extreme”, “beware-the-sharpened-shark- teeth” or any other tell that are a bit longer and in need of an illustration! This method is very useful at sites who don’t have notes for example 3D

    Hmmm? thought of a brilliant idea here…….. maybe write a book on “vegas-players-tells”, “a This is how players at Vegas play” or any other site we play at with big colourful illustrations and sell? Maybe i’ll be a millionaire that way?

  6. dagopher says:

    You go for it Netty…. just send me a complimentary copy! 😉

    As for hand histories, I’m usually the same as you guys. I normally do the replay stuff to look at a hand. But if you are absolutely steaming about a certain hand, can you look at the replay to gather all the info? All they give you normally is the hands and how much the pot was worth. The hand history will tell you this too, but add in starting chips (usually) and the individual rounds of betting right to the end.

    In this perticular hand the replay history didn’t do enough to appease me. I didn’t have the info to make an ‘informed’ opinion of what actually happened.

    Don’t get me wrong… I don’t advocate trawling through every single hand in a game, but there is always a selected few that you will be sitting there thinking “I could have/should have played that better”. Even hands that you won.

    BTW, I’m still interested in getting a group together to play where we send in the hand histories to Blagz (if he’s still up for it) and get a game analysis.

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