The Play's the Thing
One of the things I realized after playing Real Live Poker on Saturday night (and I'm a special idiot so don't mock me for being a little slow on the uptake) is that the cards matter only as much as you let them matter. Over the course of the six hours, I won a dozen pots with absolute garbage. I raised out of position with crap. I dropped four bleeping hammers. The only reason--well, maybe the Newcastles and four soCo shots gave me some inner peace--was because I had a lock on every player at the table. Between chatter with my fellow opponents, I watched and recalled and pegged. It was a symphony and I had the baton.
To be sure, it's not always like that. I've sat at the felt and had little clue who was coming from where. But I can unequivocally state I have never been in that zone playing online. I may have been in zones where I was playing well, where each turn of the card was met with my sure knowledge of where I stood. But I can't bluff online with any confidence. Online, the cards matter much more.
This epiphany (of sorts) doesn't take myriad factors into account. Often, even online, it's obvious your opponents are weak. But it's quite a chore to be able to find a guy who will be scared off by a smooth call on the flop. Or one who will lay down two big overcards to a ragged flop. Of course, that works to your advantage when you DO have cards.
I played the 10K Guaranteed on Full Tilt tonight, my first online foray in a week. I got one of the aforementioned mouth-breathers to double me up early when I punished his J9o with KK. I busted a short-stack with my set of 8s to take my stack north of 4K less than 40 minutes in. Thanks to the cards.
I then dropped 600 chips with AKo (Editor's Note: I just took down a pot on an AT99 board with 77, which I raised or bet on every street, so I guess I had a pretty good read on my opponents there) when the SB called my raise and check-called my continuation bet on a Q-high flop. Then I dropped another 600 re-raising with TT. The BB pushed behind and initial raiser called, so I had to let it go. AA and 88. Good fold, ten on the river notwithstanding.
The point is, I was only playing good cards, and I ran into better hands. It's frustrating, because I lose the sense that I can "play." That's my favorite part. Pushing monsters is part and parcel of online play. Big starting hand, big flop, just shove the shit in. I'm getting bored with it. This style of play is not improving my game. I can play at that level with my left hand and left eye while my right hand is locked in mortal combat with my penis and my right eye is trained on some girl-on-girl porn on the big screen. You know, as an example.
So, I was short and I waited for big hands some more and raised UTG with AQs. The SB called and checked on a queen high flop. I pushed my monster and got called by KK, knocking me down to the felt. I was out soon after, though I did double up once with 43s against Big Slick. The point is not being busted. The point is that I felt like what I was doing took no more skill than pulling a slot machine lever and I fucking hate slot machines.
Right when I began this poker thingee, it was clear that I was going to be a "feel" player. I worked on the math and I've got a handle on it. But it's the situations that drive me, finding that perfect response to a bet, knowing, beyond a shadow of a doubt where you stand and sure you can extract maximum punishment. I can't get that feel too often online, be it due to atmosphere, medium, attitude or a combination of those and other factors. I'm just not finding any rush in it, any feedback, any lessons.
I guess the quick and easy answer to this is to move up limits. I have the bankroll for it. And I guess that's what I'll do. Now is not quite the time, however. And if I had my druthers, I'd play live a lot more. Sadly, I just don't have the room to fit it in right now and don't see much space for it in the future, either. I don't exactly want to take a break. I'm playing very little as it is. I guess I just want to feel challenged, which is not to be read as "I want tougher competition." I'd also like to have a little more fun. I get both at Murderer's Row and the WPBT gatherings. Not a places to get rich, but places to get better and have (more than) a few laughs. That's why I like poker. Right there. And I'm missing it.