Archive for the ‘Game Write-ups’ Category

Variance turns

Posted: May 23, 2009 in Cash games, General
Calvin Argh

An early bird session at the Empire this morning, almost tag teaming Tom out of his seat after he’d played through the night. Good grief though, my strategy went out the window, I played relentlessly aggressively and was eaten alive. Seems that the pool of half asleep morning fishies have in the main been replaced by the sharks. Needed a little luck on my side to prevail against a strong crowd, and this morning just ran horribly.

Looks like it’s back to the early evening sessions as I guess that’s where the money is once more…



Posted: May 13, 2009 in Cash games, General

After enduring a well documented train wreck at the poker table in 2008, I was looking forward to a turn in the tide of variance. With the antics of the last few weeks things are suddenly firmly going in my favour, and in a fairly significant way. Let’s hope it lasts!!

I finally took the Canines for a decent score in April, winning £880 playing Pot Limit Hold’em, a game that better suits my more controlled style. Went on to notch up a single session career best at the Empire on Saturday, winning £1,150 from a field of generally poor players. With an invite to the Baron homegame next door on Bankside last night for a few hours I fully expected the tide of variance to wash over me once more, and for at least a small portion of my recent winnings to be donated back to the community.

However, delighted to say that it was not to be. With a continued good run at the table, I managed to notch up my second ever four figure win, cleaning the boys out for a further £1,040.


Thought I’d take the opportunity to post an update to my career earnings for review. Although I’ve been playing for almost twelve years, I’ve only really been playing regularly and keeping records since 2004. The first few recorded years were comparatively small fry, but I was at least pleased to be one of the consistent winners in the weekly East London home game that we ran for about three years over 2005/06/07. By late December of that year I’d run my bankroll up to a three and a half grand profit, and with the waning of the home game started to migrate my regular play to the Loose Cannon. You’ll note the sudden and consistent downward turn in my bankroll graph, the majority of the big hits being at the hands of Tom ‘Baron Luckbox’ Spence, where it all seemed to go horribly wrong for a fairly prolonged period as I unsuccessfully tried to play his game for a period of a few months (see here, here and here for examples).

Well since the start of 2009 and a low point in the graph that was back in the triple digits profit, things have finally turned around properly. Certainly I’m playing better than I ever have, but I’m not going to delude myself into thinking that it’s all talent. Variance plays a huge role over the short term, and by the short term I mean 10,000 hands or so. That’s a good few days of multitabling online (which I don’t partake in); playing live it’s closer to a full year of poker!

With this in mind, I’d suggest that the measure of a solid player is as much their ability to minimise their losses during the bad patches, as to maximise their gains in the good. Easier said than done however, and while I’ve broadly lived up to this aspiration I’ve had my moments of madness, notably a £900 loss in a horrific weekend homegame in Cheltenham; where despite being the only player at the table grabbing some semblance of a night’s sleep, I still managed to bomb five buy-ins butting heads against some of the boys who played 25 hours straight, one of whom had drunk the equivalent of ten bottles of wine during the session!

Anyway, back to the present and really just one major hand of note from last night’s game, but there’s a little bit of yarn spinning in the preparation, so bear with me.

I joined the game late, after an extended work day spent on a conference call with Vancouver (should have been there in person, but all HSBC travel canned thanks to H1N1; pigs might fly, but fLukey cannot). Fortunately the boys had all bought in relatively sensibly, so my first £150 sit down was only slightly short-stacked. The Baron had been gracious with seating arrangements, and locked-up the chair to his immediate left for me. Honestly I can’t play an enjoyable game of poker with this unpredictable maniac unless he’s close to my right hand. I intend to stick to my plan of avoiding any No Limit game where he’s stacked, playing wildly, and has position on me. Although I can make a profit in those situations, the game is just painfully dull as I find I have to tighten-up to rock-like levels pre- and post-flop; it takes all the fun out of the game when you have to pass virtually all your prospective hands, and play big pairs so fast. Far too beginner ABC strategy, feels like playing scared, and that’s just not a mindset I enjoy.

With his usual charmed timing, the Baron picks up AA in the very first hand I sit down to. However with the two of us in the blinds, and Devski (seat 3) doing the betting, he elects to slowplay, and I’m able to take my KQs to the flop, hitting top two pair and getting it all-in good. The board doesn’t pair to counterfeit me, and I instantly double through to £300. Same orbit I succeed in stacking another player to very quickly run my starting stack up above £500. An excellent start!

All is controlled and quiet for a few hours, although in general I’m running rather good (thank you Gods of variance). Tom and I had already recently tussled at the Empire game on Saturday, where I made a point of passing a number of big hands to his wild raises (Jacks preflop at one point (erroneously as it turned out), and top pair big kicker a few times). After I had an opportunity to make what I assessed to be a similarly good but quite big laydown in the homegame, I decided to show. Had another opportunity against the Nit mid-evening, mis-playing a flush on the turn and letting in a fourth club on the river. With only two overcards to my jack, I elected to pass to the Nit’s £75 raise into a £100 pot, a move I’m not certain was correct once Devski claimed to have passed the ace. However nonetheless it was another excellent advertising opportunity for my ‘weak’ game, preparing for an opportunity to take on Tom’s bullying tendencies later.

Having built my stack to £800 with a continuing rather lucky run of cards complemented by a few quiet steals, I finally found my opportunity to make a big score against the Baron in the final 30 minutes around 3am.

On ‘the magic stealing button’, the Baron made it his usual £8 to go. Holding 99 in the small blind, I raise to £26 to isolate. Baron called in position, and we took a flop of T32 rainbow. I didn’t necessarily fear the ten, so opened for £25, not expecting a fold. However rather than simply calling behind as I expected him to do with the majority of his range on a safe board, Tom raised £93 more. I know he’s capable of either raising or limping his huge hands, but really AT/JT are his most likely hands, certainly more probable than two pair or an overpair – although at this point in the hand he could have any of those, or air.

I’ve not shown down a bluff for quite some time, several sessions in fact, which according to Sklansky means I’m not stealing enough. My own view on this is that a lot of the time you just don’t need bluff. Apart from simply winning a pot you’re not entitled to, a key benefit to bluffing is to disguise your strong hands later; however if the table are calling you down regardless of previous playing tendencies, it just feels a bit unnecessary. I’ll semi-bluff when the time is right (although possibly still not often enough), but it’s fairly infrequently that I’ll run a complete steal – and if I do it tends to be in rather judiciously selected situations.

I know Tom is very aware of this playing tendency of mine, and so having been the out of position pre-flop raiser, I make a conscious decision to play my image and try to get all my chips into the pot in a convincing manner. It’s a safe board, so I play my nines the same way I’d play my aces, and flat call rather than three betting.

The turn is a suited jack, putting a few draws on board. I check my ‘aces’, and Tom bets £250. However I’m suddenly alarmed that his bet is too big! He’s got me covered, and I now only have £375 more to raise into a pot of what will then be almost £850. If I shove he’ll have odds of 2.5:1 on his call, pricing him out of a one-way draw (he needs 4:1 with either a straight or a flush draw, but if he has a multiway hand he’s likely to think he’s priced in). However thinking it through properly, I eventually realise that the situation does work in my favour. If he’s drawing I’m actually fairly likely to still be ahead with my one pair. If I shove the turn as planned, my line looks incredibly strong (I’m out of position, am the pre-flop raiser, bet the flop and check-raised the turn). Combine that with my deliberately setup ‘weak’ image, and my tendency to play straight-forward poker betting when I have it, and I don’t think Tom can put me on any less than an overpair to the jacks, all the sets are also in my range.

Anyway, I stick to my guns and shove for the last £375, and Tom makes a fairly quick pass with Q8o, for the gutshot and overcard. As it turned out he was drawing pretty thin with just five outs (I had two of his nines), so I’d actually have relished the call. However at the time I just remember being relieved that I’d got away with taking a big pot off of him. We wrapped soon after, nailing me a second consecutive four figure for this week. Verrr nice.

High tide

Posted: May 11, 2009 in Cash games

Joined the Baron and the Nit for an evening session at the Empire on Saturday. Ran rather well all night, coolered a stacked Spence, and put a horrible beat on a Hungarian guy to score a £1,150 profit. Pleased to note that I am now officially back to my previous bank roll high point, last seen in Dec 2007 shortly before I started playing regularly against the Canines.

Having unrolled itself, I can now presumably expect the tide of variance to wash over me once more.

Folding the nuts on the river

Posted: February 1, 2009 in Cash games

Donkey!Only a £2 pot, but I should have known it was going to be a mistake laden session when I threw in my rags on the river in an obvious split pot where myself and the other blind were both playing the board in a checked down hand.

After a Saturday putting my hand to some satisfying DIY at home, I thought I’d spend a few hours of the evening at The International. Turned out that it was a £300 freezeout festival warm-up night, so the club was rather busy. Nonetheless they were opening a new table as I arrived and I fairly quickly got a seat in the 1/1 NLH game. Opened aggressively, often three betting when in position with prospective cards. The trouble with this style though is that after a while you have to figure your opponents are onto you, and will start playing back at you with weaker hands. Correspondingly that causes you to need to tighten-up and start showing down some real hands, and during the back and forth you’ll often find yourself in a quandry holding a hand like middle pair against an otherwise tight opponent. This was the source of my first ‘proper’ error of the night, my three bet in the cut-off with A2s being called by a tight button. Flopping top pair no kicker and no draw, I put out a blocking bet with the plan of passing if he raised. He did – all in, and then it started to occur to me that he might make this play with a range that didn’t necessarily include bigger aces. Thinking about the situation the next day as I write up this entry, I’m not sure how I convinced myself it was worth calling for the last £60 of my first reload, but at the time I guess hopeless optimism and a sense that he was trying to get one over on me prevailed. Of course he had A8 for top two pair.

A different sort of error, but on at least two hands in the subsequent hour I failed to get full value for a couple of big hands: Flopping a king flush I bet out too strong and drove away what turned out to be two people drawing to second best hands; rivering the nut straight, I put an opponent on a smaller straight and overbet the pot, looking for a big call but failing to find it.

As for today’s post title, and probably my most ridiculous playing error of the last five years of poker – folding the nuts on the river? Well how else are you going to play your pair of tens when there are four overcards on the board and the button has bet every street..?! D’oh, definitely time to go home methinks…

Piggy in the middle

Posted: January 16, 2009 in Cash games

Another solid performance at the International this evening, unfortunately cut-short by a call from Katrina’s colleagues tellling me that she was busy throwing-up in Canary Wharf and that I need to go collect her…

Anyway, wanted to review my final hand of the night. Not entirely sure I misplayed it, but is annoying nonetheless.

It’s the International £1/£1 hold’em game. In about two hours I’ve run my starting stack of £100 up to £270 with some fairly loose aggressive play and a couple of good calls at a generally weak table.

Seat 1 – “Bluffatronic” Straddles £2
Seat 3 – Me KQo calls £2
Seat 4 – “Tighty” calls £2
Three other callers

Flop Q75 two clubs
Bluffatronic checks
I bet £7
Tighty raises to £20
Rest of table folds
Bluffatronic calls
I call

Turn 5 of spades putting a pair on board
Bluffatronic checks
I check fearing another raise from Tighty, with just top pair I want to control the pot
Tighty checks behind, so now I think maybe I was ahead after all

River 3 of clubs, putting the flush on-board
Bluffatronic bets £45 into pot of £72

I find myself in a bit of a crap spot. Bluffatronic has only let a pot go once on the end without trying to steal it. If I don’t have a player behind me I call every time (as I had been doing all night, and steadily cleaning him out). However I can’t see what Tighty has raised me with on the flop that I can beat at this stage. I’m still behind to any two pair or set on the flop, and the only legitimate draw I can beat is 86. In position he would have checked the turn with any of those draws, and conceivably also with a set that just turned into a boat (it’s a poor play not to give Bluffatronic a chance to hang himself, but I see weak players check the nuts on the turn all the time).

If I call the pot becomes £162 and Tighty has only got another £80 behind, so if I’m beat I’m fairly certain that I can’t raise him off of a marginally better hand (e.g. AQ).

I pass. Tighty passes. Bluffatronic shows ten high for his usual no hand / no draw. After the hand Tighty claims QJ, which I tend to believe.

How would you have played it differently? Re-reading my summary, once the board pairs perhaps I should have bet the turn to take control of the hand. But then I have to pass to a raise, and out of position how do I play the river if Tighty just calls behind me. I think I prefer to check the turn to see what he does next.

You might say reraise the flop perhaps to see whether he really does have 77, 55, 75 or a big draw (QQ, KK, AA, AQ would all have raised preflop), but then Tighty has been playing pretty solid ABC poker. I think my top-pair king-kicker is behind to most of his raising range, which based on his playing style I struggle to put any more hands in; JQ is very marginal to be honest, I don’t see him raising with that given his history, but then he did, so I guess I was caught out by a change in gears. Thoughts from the readership appreciated on how I might have played this hand better.

General update – we’re only a few weeks into the year, but I’ve completely turned my game around in 2009. Over the last series of seven consecutive winning sessions I’ve rewound my bankroll back to the July 2008 level. Another two grand and I’ll be back at my start of 2008 position, before I went mental trying to outplay the Baron…

Living it up

Posted: November 30, 2008 in Cash games

More brutalisation tonight, courtesy of my own drunken rambling at the poker table. Should’ve gone to matter.


I’d rather be lucky than good

Posted: November 29, 2008 in Cash games

Spent seven hours of my life in the 1/2 Empire cash game last night. A great table all evening, with a combination of loud characters and poor play to keep the game flying along. After losing a first stack having JJ outdrawn by 55 after the money all went in, I took a seat move to put the richest muppet to my right and found myself in a great spot to clean up with my second rebuy of the night.

Rather effortlessly managed to run my second £100 back up to 300 over a few hour period, putting me nicely in the black and positioned to double through for a decent win if the right spot came up. Made a couple of great plays in the right places, calling a bit of a mad Irishman down with fourth pair in one hand; semi-bluffing a big pot with a 14-out draw on the turn in another; outright stealing with an out of position call/call/half-pot line on a board that just got uglier and uglier. In short, was rather enjoying myself.

And then Tom arrived.

Swaying gently from the reported effects of “far too much Jack Daniels” (surely an alcoholic travesty for a Scotsman), he rather fortunately took a seat two to my right where he couldn’t do too much harm to my stack. As preplanned via email that day, he opened his first pot blind from UTG for £12, managing to get the whole first £50 short-stack in preflop against said Irishman, Paddy, who couldn’t believe his luck finding such a fish when he had KK in the hole. But it was to be a welcome to the bad beat club, as following the deal of a ragged unconnected board Tom turned up a 7 for one pair, and an offsuit Ten for a second. Strike one to Baron Luckbox!

Paddy’s buddy Ray was to imminently share his fate, several hands later getting into a similar same spot against a Baron who took the flop blind, again sending the best hand to the rail.

Ray’s torrent of good natured banter and tongue in cheek insults raised in volume as he rebought for another £100, returning to the table with some good timing to get his whole stack in the middle this time with 9To against my KK on a 963 rainbow board. I was in great shape with a healthy 80% to win, but was not to be after he turned a ten and rivered another nine for a boat.

A decent hit to my profit, but with a still reasonable three figure win in my diminished stack I was happy enough with his (bad) call that’s going to give me the money most of the time.

Two or three hands later, I found myself UTG on the Baron’s small blind. Opened to £8 with ATo expecting the usual three or four callers, however the Baron was not to allow such passive play, and pumped it up to £126, overbetting the pot with a 5x all-in. Not too much pondering to do here, he’s going to play a wiiidddeee range of hands in this manner, so I make an excellent call pre-flop against what turns out to be his dominated T8s, earning myself a healthly 70% edge. Once again though the Baron strikes gold with an eight being the only pair card either of us has on the random looking board, crippling my stack and putting me in the red for the first time in hours.

From these few big hits, Baron Tom’s luck continued at a pace, unrelentingly turning terrible starting hands into a combination of trips, straights and in one spot an excellent call with fourth pair against a reeling field. He put uber tilt on Santiago, newly arriving at the table with a cheerful manner, and quickly being stacked three times in a row by the luckbox.

I trade blows with a clueless half-asleep Indian chap that I’d been picking great spots against for most of the night. Had my JJ busted by his 44 after the money went in preflop (when I’m an 81% favourite) but then shortly after getting the money in good on the flop with a small set of threes against his AA.

Despite the three hits, I’m feeling good about my game and looking ready to make a comeback with a stack of around £170 for only a small loss, when the following situation comes up.

In position, I call Tom’s opening raise to £8 with 78o. No other callers on a flop of 37J rainbow, Tom bets £15 into a pot of £19. I’m fairly certain I’m ahead at this point in the hand, but if I raise, the stack sizes are perfect for Tom to make a reraise that I can’t call with second pair no kicker. I call to take a turn and see where I am. It’s a delightful second seven, and Tom doesn’t disappoint me by pushing his whole stack forwards to cover me. “I think this is the hand I double through you on, I have trips”, I tell him as I push my call into the middle. I’ve clearly caught a great opportunity to get firmly back in the game as Tom nods to tell me I’m good, however a seemingly blank 6 on the river turns his nod into a look of embarrassment. “I’m sorry mate, I’ve got a straight”, he tells me, flipping up 45o for the rivered gutshot. Un-be-lieveable, as he catches his four outer in a spot where I’m a huge 91% favourite to take down a £360 pot.

And that’s the end of me. We try to leave the table, but due to protestations from the field at Tom leaving after winning a massive pot, we agree to stay another thirty minutes. I pop out a final token £50 to mess around with, and after a bit of minor fluctuating for a while make a blind pre-flop push from UTG with the remaining £26 against four other players in a pot that of course Tom also wins, once again turning unconnected rubbish into trips.

Net result: Luke -£250 in six hours, Tom +£730 in two hours from a £50 start.

Reflecting back on yesterday though I have to say am pretty pleased with my performance. I went into the game with good preparation and a great attitude, made a series of excellent plays, and honestly can’t remember making a single big mistake the whole night. Yesterday was one of my strongest performances for a while, but it still just goes to prove the old poker adage, “I’d rather be lucky than good“.

Just like buses

Posted: November 16, 2008 in Cash games

It’s been an absolute age since my last posting, so thought I’d drop in a quick update before 2008 is all but passed.

With Katrina away in Copenhagen for the weekend with the girlies, I figured I’d dedicate my Saturday to the poker tables. Having abandoned my frankly doomed attempts at LAG play, I’ve determined that tight/aggressive is the style that works for me, or at least the style that I can make pay most consistently. Took this approach to a six hour afternoon session with the Baron at The International, netting a healthy £350 profit, primarily in the Omaha playing a field that in general weren’t able to make the laydowns that are necessary for a solid game.

Joined some friends for dinner, and then decided to see if I could continue my run at The Empire in an early hours session at the table, only taking the profit with me figuring that I would freeroll the evening.

Started the first 30 minutes at a £1/2 self-deal waiting for my seat in the main game, folding the whole period while enjoying the attentions of an extremely attractive ‘Ibiza Angel’ tableside masseuse. My upgrade to the dealer table came soon after she’d finished unknotting my neck, and I sat into a hyena’s den that seemed to be owned by a gang of four talented young Sikh lads. One was running extremely hot, building a stack of well over a grand, at one point picking-up AA, KK, JJ, AA consecutively. Good grief!

My seat proved to be somewhat less hot, the next four hour’s dragging past in a haze of unconnected offsuit junk. I quite literally found myself having to pass almost 95% of my hands, rather unfeasibly out of the approximately 130 hands dealt picking up one pair of fours, one pair of sixes, the trappy ATo twice, AJo once, and just three suited connectors the entire period. Used this powerhouse collection of hands together with my image to bluff steal some small pots to slow the inevitable demise of my starting chip stack.

Finally around 4am, resigned to dumping the remaining £60 of my initial £150 stack in with any two cards so I could split, I kicked-off the hand with my first straddle of the night. Called and folded around to the button, who pushed. That’s annoying I thought, I wanted to get the last bet into the pot. So look down expecting to see the usual crap only to be surprised by AK of spades. “Yippie, a hand, I call”. Rest of the table folds, but unfortunately I can’t win the race against TT and am stacked. However, perhaps this is finally the end of this card-dead torture, so I rebuy for another £100 in the big blind. There’s a small raise mid-table, a caller including the small blind, and I peek a look when it comes to me to see glorious AK again. Raising the pot to £25 I only pick-up the small blind caller this time, however once again the fickle  gods of poker conspire to cold deck me, and I get it all in on a flop of AQT only to be shown KJo for the stone nuts. Great call out of position with a trap hand, well done that man…

Seems I had small blind covered though, as there’s £50 change coming to me from the pot. In the small blind this next hand, it’s folded around to the button who opens for £20. Having waited four hours for a hand, it seems that just like buses three have come along at once, and against an over-betting late position raiser, my 55 looks fairly good for a race, and may even be ahead to some of the ace-small combinations in his range; but is not to be as he calls me with JJ to send me packing just after 4am, for a net £250 loss and an irritatingly small £100 profit on the day.

As I was saying to the Baron in the car on the way home earlier in the day, I believe the weakness of my TAG style in these low limit cash games is that I need to hit cards to make money. In a loose game like the Empire on Saturday, I think it’s rarely profitable to bluff. The average opening raise in this game is 6X, and even that tends to have half the table calling. Typically three players go to the turn, and with this field of gamblers, far too many hands are shown down at the end to warrant getting your money in light.

The Baron has a patented move of getting his first stack in blind sometime in the first hour to establish a reckless table image, and in a nitty game I think that one move can pay by increasing your equity for a good long period on the rest of your decent hands. However again in a loose game like the Empire I see the table spewing chips at each other regardless. It seems to me that it’s hardly going to help to encourage the fish to call down even lighter than they seem to be already?

Although my 1H2008 run of ridiculously bad cards has come to an end, I really can’t seem to have a session with anything approaching a ‘normal’ distribution of hands, and either run fully hot or cold. Maybe I need to give some credence to the luck-factor and start walking away from games after the first hour if things aren’t going my way. That’s certainly how I built my bankroll in the early few years…


Posted: April 23, 2008 in Tournaments

Only really dropped into the LC on Tuesday night as was wandering past on the way home from a work offsite along the river, glad I did though.

First the thirty minutes was a hilarious round of each – NL river of blood / PL Omaha. Won a few big pots, and in a fairly outlandish ROB hand saw my bottom two pair hold-up on a board of [3 5 6 8 T J K] showing two possible flushes! Won just shy of £70 in double quick time, so elected to stay and freeroll the £50+5 league game.

With the carefree/freeroll approach, I played fast and hard from the outset. Set myself two key rules of zero limping preflop (although I broke it twice during the whole tournament), and always putting the bulk of my money in with fold equity on my side.

Ran fairly madly well. Put a rather sick beat on Mike’s AA when my KK all-in pre-flop spiked; the hand played itself though, so although was a beat was not really a bad beat. After that went on to eliminate more than half the remainder of the 12 player field in the following confrontations:

  • 3-bet all-in with 52s preflop against Andrew’s KJo. Spiked a 5 on the flop. After opening for a raise, Andrew had folded to a reraise on a number of previous hands. Figured my push had decent fold equity.
  • Called all-in preflop with T9s against Tom’s 66. Spiked a 9 on the flop. Tom consistently reraises my initial opening raises with a wide range, knowing he can take me off most hands on the flop. My first open raise/fold early in the final table was with junk and to set expectations. I opened with T9s expecting to get put all-in and planning to either call or push any flop.
  • Called all-in on the flop with a set of 3’s against James’s third pair A8o. Believe this was a blind against blind confrontation. James was correctly playing back at me after I’d shown down some fairly random hands in the course of the evening.
  • Called all-in reraise preflop with QQ against Deven’s KJo to make the money. Tony opened for a raise, Deven pushed with a short-stack, I woke-up with a hand in late position. Bad luck mate.
  • Called all-in on the flop with Q3s on a [3 9 T] board against Tony’s QJs to get heads-up. Tony was also playing fairly aggressively, his pushing range was quite wide on the flop. I made a good call, and my bottom pair stood-up against his 11 outs twice.
  • Called all-in with 99 against Mark’s A7o to win the tournament. Mark was outstacked by about 10:1. Just had the bad luck of running into a big hand so early in the heads-up phase.

So, score a point for the first trial of a relentlessly aggressive approach, but noted that my combined odds to win all of these confrontations was in the region of 1.8%!! I could have survived losing any two of the six races, but would then have had to take my foot off the gas, and would probably have had a different result.

Whether this proves to be a winning approach long term will take a year or so to evaluate properly, however it is at least a hell of a lot more fun than my previous fold-fest style.

Cash vs. Tournament

Posted: April 11, 2008 in Cash games, Tournaments

Played the inaugural Wednesday night dealer’s choice game at LC this week. Only myself, Maltese Mike (nee Mike the Fish), Deven, Roy (the proprietor, lured off the bench by the offer of some old school stud action) and the dynamic duo – Tom & Jerry (James).

A fairly hilarious combination of games played, with Pineapple and Turbo Texas Hold’em standing out as the most chosen of the new games. Turbo isn’t strictly another variation, it’s just regular hold’em with a 10 second clock on every action. Made for some crraazzyyy loose play, especially given that James was hammered enough that he’d have to spend the first 5 of his ten seconds standing over the table just trying to figure out what cards were on the board.

With a run of good cards and one fairly bad beat struck on Tom I finished the night the big winner, but I won’t dwell on the game other than to highlight how I noticed some of the guys were playing the cash game like a tournament. Their too frequent all-in moves whilst deadly in a tournament, are rendered somewhat ineffective in a cash game – where a second best hand can just reload. It didn’t help that a number of these pushes were against Roy holding the nuts every time!

Thursday night was League Night, now reduced to a £50+5 from the previous £75. Despite bubbling last week, I’ve still not cashed in this event. It’s a pretty poor showing given the number of sessions I’ve played. My play yesterday was appalling, one of the most clear tournament mistakes I’ve made in a while.

Playing tight and holding AKs under the gun on the third round of the table, I limp for 100, Tom in seat 4 calls behind me, table folds around to Jody on the button who makes it 500 to go. The blinds pass, and it’s back to me to act.

Now, with a pot of 850, and 400 to call from my remaining stack of about 3,000 I think the deep stacked play is to call, and hope to pick-up top pair top kicker on a king or ace high flop. This is the right play in a cash game, where typically you’re calling for 3-5% of your remaining stack. However in a tournament situation, calling for nearly 20% of my stack out of position, the right move is clearly to push all-in and give Jody a decision. Although his range includes AA and KK, there are many other hands he’ll play the same way that I’m either dominating or 50/50 against. If I can buy all 5 cards up-front I’m getting my money in good.

However in a move of brilliant stupidity I just call. I hit my ace on the flop, but it turns out that by letting James in with 22 I’ve allowed him to hit his set. All the money goes in on the turn and I’m effectively done for the night.

Last week’s lesson was zigging when I should have zagged. This week’s lesson is remembering to play cash like cash (not a problem), and to play tournament like tournament (big problem).

After ten years of almost exclusively playing cash games, it’s proving to be an uphill battle to tune in my tourny instincts. A more arduous and expensive journey of discovery than I expected when I set out to ‘change my game’ about a year ago…