6-13-04One thing I struggle with in Poker is giving up on a hand. Sometimes you just have a lose a hand, give up the pot, but I have trouble accepting that, especially when the pot is big and I've already put in a lot of chips.
I've started playing $50 single-table tournaments just as practice for my tournament mojo. So, I'm playing today and I'm totally dominating the game, if I do say so myself. I get the big stack near the end, about 30% of the chips. Everyone tightends up, trying to slink into the money, so I start raising and raising, and I just keep taking the blinds; a few times people play back at me, I fold the bad hands and get all-in with the good ones and catch them a few times. By the time it gets heads up, I have 90% of the chips. I figure I'm a shoe-in to win. Ah, Poker's not so nice! First he gets all in with the Q8; I have the K7. I hit the K on the flop, and he proceeds to hit two running 8's ! Now he has 20% of the chips and I have to worry a bit, but I can still just get all-in a few times and knock him out. We steal each others blinds a few times, until I pick up 44. I raise, he goes all-in (we're both playing very aggressive at this point), I call. He has KT. I'm a slight favorite. He hits trip tens. Now our stacks are roughly even. We go back and forth a few more times, the blinds are getting very big now. I'm stealing more often, but every so often he comes over the top of one of my raises and I have to let it go, so we're staying about even. Finally I raise, he reraises, I go all-in with the A9, a pretty good hand heads up; he has the A4. I figure I'm gold. The board comes all junk, no pairs, I'm starting to dance, then I see all the chips moving to him - what's this? He made a flush! Damn you Richie Rich! Richie played well, but if I'd only hit one of those hands where I was a slight favorite, I'd be in 1st instead of 2nd.
My style in poker tournaments is very aggressive, constant raising. That's not because I particularly want to play that style, it's because my opponents' bad play *forces* me to play that way. When I see people folding to the minimum bet, that just cries out to me "please, take my money, I'm weak, just breathe on me and I'll fold up like origami". So, I have to bet at them. So many players never adjust properly, or they do try to adjust and do it wrong. Many players just always play poker a certain way; they've learned from experience what hands are good, they play by patterns. That's completely the wrong way to play poker; poker is about situational strategies and adaptation; the way you play should be entirely based on how your opponents are playing and responding to you. Since most people don't respond well to variations, you can beat them simply by playing very differently than they're used to. Generally that means playing very aggressive; against some people you can kill them by playing very loose (surprising them by hitting junk flops), or playing very tight (letting them take small pots, but then taking their whole stack when you show a monster).