I garnered so much blogable poker content over the weekend that I'd need a month of Sundays to churn it all out. Alas, time is short and other demands are infringing. It's pretty difficult to jump back and forth between this and the novel, the blog being tales of Drunken Pokery and the other concerning a protagonist mired in abject misery at this point. Regardless, I'll try to hit the highlights of an ass-load of Weekend Poker.
The big highlight of course was my Sunday night tourney score. Of all the reasons my game is back on track, they all pretty much bloomed from a single factor: confidence. Confidence in my decisions, in my game, in myself. Poker demands we question our play, with regular self-analysis, rigorous study. It's the nature of the game. It's when you begin to DOUBT, rather than question your game, that trouble lies. I'm guilty of that. I let the bad beats affect my play, making me more timid, restraining myself from making +EV plays for fear of the underdog hitting his card.
One of the most obvious reasons I've felt much surer lately is playing with the bloggers. Those are the toughest games I play in, and with a couple notable exceptions, I've not been out-classed. HDouble's home game (aka Murderer's Row) is a prime example. I've had to play my very best to survive there and surviving breeds confidence. Same with the Dr. Pauly and Six-Gun Shootout tourneys. I didn't win, but I played as well as I was able. And the Re-Buy result on Saturday night...well, that one sent me through the roof, as evidenced by the fact I spent most of my Sunday morning sick...oh, and playing SnG satellites to the Stars $500K tourney, which I felt more than ready to take a shot at. Though I didn't qualify, it was through no fault of my own, consistently getting my money in with the best of it.
That's the mind-set I took to the $8K Guaranteed on Sunday night. And really, I can sum up the change in my game in just a few plays:
1. It's the first hour and I have just above the starting number of chips. I see a free flop of AKQ rainbow in the BB with A8o. I bet half the pot, feeler-style, and get one caller. The turn is a King and I'm not ccrazy about that, so I check. Caller bets 120 into a 480 pot and I immediately put him on a draw. He's got a jack or a ten. On top of THAT, I know exactly how he's gonna double me up, and it's not by pushing here. I call. River is a rag and I check. I actually said aloud, "Here comes the overbet." Sure enough, he bet 1100 into a 720 pot, which puts me all in. I insta-call and he shows his busted J9o. Passive me, self-doubt me doesn't play it that way, may not even win the pot.
2. I fucking hate pocket Jacks. In passive poker mode, I just call a pre-flop raise with them and hope for no overcards, playing them as cheaply as possible and easily getting away from them. Pussy. With blinds/antes at 250/500/50, I get JJ in MP and face a 3x raise in front. One factor is my position. A call and I'm almost inviting people into the pot behind me, especially the bigger stacks. Can't play it passively here, though a call would only amount to 10% of my chips, whereas a re-raise almost a third. But a re-raise would only be correctly called by 5 possible hands and the expectation that I get the 2200 already in the pot is worth the 3x re-raise to 4500. So I do, and it's folded around. Not passive poker. Not poker where you simply call and hope not to get drawn out on.
3. I was never involved in a race situation until I got to the Final Table. I didn't feel like I had to gamble to build my stack. I was aggressive in position pre-flop to keep myself comfortably ahead of the blinds. I pushed my big hands (though I never got AA or KK, I got QQ half a dozen times) and made strong continuation bets when I felt I was ahead. Not once until the Final Table did I get all my money in without being dominant (and flopping the nuts and getting paid off by top pair, no kicker is quite a hoot). I did arrive at the Final Table with the short stack (was in fact 10th with 10 left) and won both races while there. So often, especially early, I get the sense I need to build a stack by taking chances. I'm not saying that's wrong, because many times it isn't, but taking chances for the sake of taking chances, instead of playing solidly and working your way up is not the way to go. I mean, if anybody has experience playing on the short stack, it is I. But I'd lost the confidence, the patience, it takes to be effective doing that, leading to some fishy play in a misguided attempt to stack up early.
I guess that's about it. I really wish I could do justice to last Friday's home game with a kick-ass write up, but I'm afraid that is well beyond my skill level. Oh boy. Lots of alcohol, lots of laughter, record number of 15 players in the tourney, a new game that defines "Action", a broken glass, a walk into a closed slidiing door, mean whiskey drinkers and some pretty damn good poker play from all quarters. Hank announced this week's game, saying it'll be tough to top last Friday's but we'll try. I am of the firm opinion that if last week's game gets topped, someone will likely end up in prison.