8-23-05 [poker] - 1

8-23-05 [poker]

There's all this glorification in poker of crafty moves, bluffs and steals, reading people, tells, etc. Really the most amazing thing to me, and the most difficult, is when people can just play straight up poker and do it right in hard situations - that is, bet, call, fold when you're ahead/beat. Being able to fold a big hand when you're beat, being able to call down a hand when your King-high is good - that's just straight up value poker, and it's amazing.

I just took a 1st place then a 2nd place in $20 two-table tournaments. I feel like I played super-fantastic in both, though the key remaining weakness in my game was brought painfully to my attention. I've become afraid of getting all-in with anything but very big hands. I just can't stand the idea of getting knocked out when I'm all-in on a bluff, or trying to catch a bluff with a weak pair or something like that. This makes me soft, it means I can be exploited by smart players, and I'm missing value in taking pots with the big bluff. Early in my career I used to get allin on bluffs and calls a lot, partly because we played a rebuy structure so if I blew out early (as I often did) I could get back in and often enough win it on the rebuy. I play much better now, but I need to lose that fear, without getting reckless - it should be a smart, calculated allin.

The thing is, getting allin on a bluff is just like getting allin on a good hand. I would certainly get allin with AA , in which case I'm probably 80% to win. So why not get allin on a bluff when you estimate you win 80% of the time? The percentage plays out differently - with AA the randomness comes in the draw of cards, on the bluff it comes in the hole cards your opponent already has, eg. you've estimated he has cards that he will fold 80% of the time. Of course there are differences and actually you want to be more sure than that with the bluff.

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