Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Minimizing Mistakes

I know how to get value from strong hands. I know how to raise to cut the field. I know how to bet to make people think I'm holding the nuts. What I'm still learning, however, is how not to pay people off when they hit their draws. It'll be an obvious draw, and I'll have said to myself right there on the flop They're on a draw but I'll go ahead and put my money in when they hit it, either to represent what only they could have or maybe just to punish myself for not being effective at pushing them off it. It could even be denial, like thinking Surely that big raise on the river is a steal bluff! when I've just read their hand perfectly, know it's far stronger than mine, and I go ahead and call anyway. I've really got to stop it, as it's the biggest and definitely most expensive leak in my game. I think it's going to be a goal to precede all others, before getting to 20k, before making $50ph, before thinking about ending my job. Because if I'm still making mistakes this big, well then I'm just like the vast majority of the poker planet, and that is something I never want to hold true.
Step 1: Don't put money in when the flush card falls on the river.
I have KK orr AA. I raise, and get a caller. The flop comes with 2 of a suit and no overcards. Bet from me, call from them. Turn is a blank. Bet from me, call from them. River is the 3rd card of that suit. Here comes the genius bit: I bet -to represent that same flush! In doing so I make myself pot-committed, so when they push I throw away the rest of my money because of pot odds. And there they were, wondering how they were going to get value from that miracle river card. No more. Scare cards will be checked, and value bets paid off by discretion. We'll save the tricky stuff for the 10-25s.
Step 2: Don't get fall in love with overpairs.
I have KK or AA. I raise, and get a caller. They check the flop, which has no overcards. I bet, they call. Flop brings a blank. I bet big, putting them on a draw, and they reraise, minimum or a just little more. I of course call, knowing I'll be ok provided that river draw card doesn't show. It doesn't, but the big bet on the river is still made by them, and of course if I call I should really throw in the extra 50 or 100 into the already massive pot, and so I do. And there is the set of 2's or maybe 3's, no matter that I raised or reraised so much they should never have called in the first place. Once again, I pledge no more. I will think long and hard before calling a check-call check-raise with a mere overpair, and remember the biggest pots that are lost are with big pocket pairs that are UNIMPROVED.

My current average is at $40ph, and in just 120 hours I'll have hit 20k. And only 3 weeks til I'll be in Vegas. How does that make me feel? Well, to borrow a phrase a friendly local shared the last time I visited the gambling capital of the world:
"Get hard player!!!!"

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