Monday, April 24, 2006

Play good poker

I just folded Kings preflop.

I don't know if I've ever done that before. I raised preflop to $3 from early position in this .5/1 NL game, and then a MP player reraised to $13. I made it $30, and he pushed for $150. I had him covered.

It felt good to make that laydown. Maybe I was wrong to do so. But it felt very right. And I would only make that move if I felt like I was playing well.

So I saved my stack for another time, while proceeding to kick ass at the other no limit tables. After making some money there, I opened up two very fishy $10/$20 shorthanded limit tables. I know I've railed about shorthanded play before, but these tables looked just about perfect, and I was playing better than I had been in days.

I got sucked out on a few times at those tables, but I lost the minimum and won the maximum each hand. And I even came out ahead, despite the ugly rivers! How often does that happen in a limit game? Usually the terrible beats negate the profit, but not when you're making perfect reads (one of my favorite opponents showed his hand every time).

I don't know what it is, but poker is starting to make me more superstitious after a long period of forcing me to look at everything from a pure expected value standpoint.

Specifically, it seems like attitude and mindset make a difference that I can't measure by going through hand histories. I'm speaking literally -- when I go through hand histories, it's hard for me to pinpoint where exactly I went wrong on many hands. That isn't to say I didn't go wrong. What I'm trying to convey is that I find even my bad moves are somewhat defensible when given the read on my opponent, the table texture, the range of available hands, etc.

And when I feel like I'm on my game, I don't think I'm using math or taking notes any better than I normally do. It isn't that I want to win any more or less than normal.

It's just that I feel like I can make decisions based on all the details, including the ones that I may not directly realize.

Maybe there's something to be said for intuition when you have some evidence that you're on your game. My only fear is that I would start to use intuition as a justification for suspect plays.

I don't think I will do that, though. That's Level 0 thinking.


kurokitty said...

I wouldn't say it's just intuition. You're combining the table-years of experience you have accumulated. When you're playing right, you're less agitated and you're thinking clearer. I think this allows people to see what they're doing better and to catch mistakes or problems.

It's easy to play well when you're in your comfort zone. To perform well when you're not is the trick, as in everything else.

Mark said...

True, true. I'm just saying that sometimes, when I'm in the zone, I feel like I have something extra going for me that's hard to describe in terms of reads or odds. Maybe it's just luck.