Friday, February 18, 2005

Gut Feelings

Today's thoughts will not be ordered. You've been warned.

Those are the kind of opening sentences I settle on when I've tried to write dozens of others with varying degrees of failure, ranging from "idiotic" to "couldn't be crappier."

Friday finds me lugging around back-to-back positive poker sessions, something that has not happened since...let me don't know. Can't find it in my notes. Perhaps that's because the last time it happened Cro Magnon man was still writing pictures on cave walls.

Regardless, Mistress Variance (now appearing nightly at The Body Shop) popped up and gave me a big ol' soul kiss on Wednesday night. Last evening was more of a peck on the cheek sort of deal, but I'm happy for even the slightest attention from this fickle muse.

I've noticed something else. My head no longer resides in my ass. No matter how loathe I am to admit it, this down-turn has been exacerbated by my sub-standard play. Tilt, both obvious and covert, sent me on chasing expeditions, to the wrong tables, wrong limits. Basically loosened me up more than a Bangkok hooker on Ecstacy.

I made too many plays HOPING I was good, as opposed to KNOWING I was good.

For the last two nights, I've managed to turn that around, not only winning pots--and making the correct bets--when I had the best of it, but also divining when I was behind or beaten.

A good example from a .50/1 PL table:

I limp with KJs in LP and see a flop that comes Jc 9s 4d. UTG leads out for $3. I raise to $6. All folds to the original bettor who simply calls. Now, I know that play. I like to lead out when I have good draws, too. I recognize it. And I think it's more likely he's playing Q10 or 108 than it is that she has a jack. I'm on alert.

The turn is an 8. UTG bets the pot. I spend a little time trying to assess all the possibilities, but I ultimately come back to my first instinct. My hand isn't all that great anyway, and it's with little reluctance that I fold. He shows Q10, for which I thanked him, since it makes me feel pretty good about myself AND gives me some blogging material.

Another example from the same table:

Again, I have KJs, this time in the BB. Again, the flop comes jack-high. I bet $2 and a solid player raises me. A jack for sure. and he wouldn't raise with a crappy kicker. Now, I went ahead and played this one all the way to the river, but cautiously. Ended up check-calling on the turn (for $3) and then getting a check-check. He showed AJs. Yes, I lost a little money there, but the possibility existed that I could have lost a lot more. By tempering my aggression, I saved some bets.

Maybe I could save more by just throwing KJ away whenever I see it.


So, I've finished reading "Blink." It is terrific. Apart from being smart and engrossing, it gives rise to a number of intruguing questions regarding poker.

I plan to blog about this at length in the very near future. But that requires some research and constructing an actual coherent narrative, so I'll get this quickie in while the content is fresh.

For those unfamiliar with the work, it's about our "adaptive unconscious," that part of the brain that operates our first impressions. It explains how those impulses might actually be more useful than rigorous study, especially in times of high-stress or crisis (like say, a WSOP final table).

There is a fascinating chapter about reading facial expressions and reports of people with the uncanny ability to correctly judge a situation (or a statue or a tennis player) in a fraction of a second. These same people also can not explain why they feel that way. They just do. Obviously, each of these items would have an application in poker.

So, there's your teaser. Or, just as likely, a complete turn-off. Either way, listen to your first impression and come back to read. Or not.


At 2:31 PM, Blogger Bill Rini said...

I've got Blink on my Amazon wishlist so at some point I'll be ordering it and reading it (just have to finish some of the last batch I ordered). I'm looking forward to your posts on Blink and poker.


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