Monday, November 5, 2012

Flushing your Winrate with Bad decisions in Key Pots

This week I played at Bill's, Bellagio, Venetian (twice), MGM (twice), Ballys, Flamingo, Harrah's, ate at 1 buffet, and got a room at the LVH (formerly the Hilton) for two nights. Played in the NPL bar league, Bought a Bill's sweatshirt on comps, and did a lot of walking. Congrats to @NicolakPoker (John Kim) for getting 3rd in a tournament while I was at Venetian (I think).

Turning $200 into $300 in two orbits is good.  Turning $100 into $525 in a couple hours at Bills is good.  Turning $200 into $766 at MGM in a few hours is good. Doubling $200 into $400 at Flamingo in a couple hours is good. These are Great hourly rates!  Using good bankroll management, it would be hard to go broke.  But it only takes a few mistakes to erase All of the above profit.  All of the above happened in the past 10 days.  Including the mistakes and bad bankroll management.  Sharing the mistakes will be good for me.  Hopefully it will help you as well by reading them.
  Playing all night at Venetian, I got in for $200, topped off a couple times to be in for $400 total. Made one bad call vs young kid from Alabama, after first folding to him giving him credit for straight.  Two hands later, he raises my river bet by $150. I've got trips and put him on making a play with two pair, and reluctantly call, where he has the straight again. I should have reluctantly folded and found a better spot. No regrets though, just clearer hindsight, and $150 error.  I get a table change to a softer table when able, and run this up to almost $1000 over a few hours.  Here, my good habits and bankroll management are kicking in, and I'm looking for a rack, and announcing leaving soon.  NEVER wait until you "just clear $1000" before going, or set a certain amount to attain BEFORE you can leave.  Just like stocks, the market might go down before it goes back up.  Before I leave, an entertaining semi-pro (claims he isn't, but plays like one, not sure yet) sits and decides to sit with position on me. Very engaging, he is obviously targeting the big stack at the table (me!) I end up staying because I'm having fun, and getting engaged in the challenge.  There is no reason to stay at a table with a reg who is targeting you, when there is easier money to be had, especially if you are ready to go anyways.  You should have a real good reason for staying for a reg versus a recreational player, such as they are on tilt, you have a good tell on them, they are short stacked and not that big of a threat, etc.  But, I took the bait. I got engaged, I moved to have position on him when he was on break, he moved again a while later, etc... we ended up on opposite ends of the table.  It was an epic battle, it was fun for us, it was fun for the other watching, it was fun for the dealers.  I kept catching him semi-bluffing, but he kept getting there.  Some days are like that.  You make the right read, the right call, get it in good, but lose anyways.  That's poker folks!   
  But the bad part, is that I stayed despite the -EV (or higher variance probability) until I gave it ALL back.  The final hand, I made a bet big enough to make myself pot committed in an inflated pot, with 2 9 in the big blind (hit a 9), thinking I didn't leave him enough room to bluff on top, but he did anyways with his semi bluff with OESD, and I called, and he got there, again.  He was very cordial, and very interested in talking to me after I said that was it, break time.  He asked if I had a tell on him, because I never let him get away with anything, and he knew he had gotten lucky quite a bit.  So my ego won, but my bankroll lost!  This is in direct contrast to playing at Green Valley Resort on Thursday, buying in for $300, and cashing out with $570, where I couldn't be happy about getting it in with Set of 4's vs a flopped straight (couldn't put him on 56s  with preflop action) vs a reg, and pairing on the river for a quick double up, and then staying out of trouble for 2 hours.  My play was bad, but I got rewarded.  However, I avoided being results oriented. 
 In the past, I might have been hard on myself for such mistakes, for not leaving when I thought I should, for not protecting my bankroll and getting most of it off the table, buying back in for 1 buyin if I want to continue playing, etc.  I KNOW what I did wrong, and when I made the decision to stay, and being aware of that, is part of my main focus.  I want to develop good, ingrained habits.  Being aware of them is half the battle.  Exercising them is the other half.  How many times will I choose to make the same mistake before I stop?  The key point is, until I decide NOT to!  You always have a choice.  
  When I decide I am done, I ask the dealer not to deal me in.  Even if he or she does, I most often do not even look at the cards, instead mucking without even touching them!  I force myself to table select, instead of sitting at a bad or not very good table.  I live in Vegas, where there are plenty of tables!  Even in San Francisco at the Oaks or Lucky chances, there were often choices of other tables to switch to.  I would often scope out the tables there first, then get on the list for a specific table and wait for it, watching in the meantime.  It is human nature to think about moving but then stay anyways at a the same table. Everyone has done it at one time or another.  Knowing is half the battle.
  So after my bad night playing at Venetian, I played a full night at Bellagio, only my 2nd time playing there. (didn't enjoy it much, but will talk about that in another blog)  Doyle Brunson, Howard Lederer, Elie Elezra, Antonio Esfandiari, and a few others, were there playing in Bobby's room.  I sat at one of the most boring and not fun tables in over a year! I asked for a table change and got away from it at as soon as possible.  I then sat at the new table for a very long night.  I turned my $150 into $600 in a couple hours, and then slowly climbed to about $900 for next few hours, despite the addition of 3 other regs.  I had one on my immediate right, that I had seen be spewy before, but he was playing solid all night, and later I had decided he played better than I had seen anyone play in a long time, absolutely flawless.  We had a little history going and were going back and forth for a while, but mainly not getting too involved for the most part.  There was another reg, who kept correctly calling my smaller bluffs on the river after a lot of hesitation, much to the tables amusement, and even my own I must admit!  It was getting late and we were all threatening to leave soon, when the reg playing great that night and I got into a few hands.  He seemed to be leaving soon and really tired.. he had just beat me with J7o on a straddled pot.  The very next hand, I got J7s in the BB, and flopped 2 pair on a safe looking board.  I put him on a jack, raise big, he tanks, looks like he is going to fold, then shoves for $625 total in the pot, and I cover with $750.  I don't think long enough at all, say call, and immediately feel I made the wrong decision, flip over my top 2 with a backdoor flush draw, and he flips over a set of 7's.  OUCH! come on Jack! ... his hand holds up, and I'm back to $125, again.  Apparently I don't like money yet..... and I am very unlikely to make this mistake if I am backed and playing with someone else's money.  However, when it's my own, it's easier to be less responsible with my bankroll.  Seems kind of backwards, doesn't it?  This is apparently more common than I originally thought, as a lot of other reg players have talked about this same problem.
  It's these "little" mistakes that can be big mistakes, erasing a lot of hard work and good playing in just an instant.  Taking your time in a spot like this is highly advisable.  Think it through.  If had taken even 5 seconds more, I probably would have folded, albeit reluctantly.  Learn from your mistakes, or you'll be doomed to repeat them.
$625 + $150 + $900 = $1,675 of bankroll that could have been saved with just 3 "little" decisions.
After all that, we just played the NPL bar league, where I was in the running, with two 2nd places in the first 2 tournaments, able to chase down the leader with a win in the 3rd, but ran short and ran into kings to bust midway through.  Filo was able to get three 2nds in a row for 33 points and the win. I did run my $20 match play up to $43 on Video poker to help pay for dinner and the tips to the dealers.  
That's the end of this weeks report, and indeed my playing much for the rest of the week, unless I do well at the mixed game tonight for the Cannon game (MGM 6pm).  Good luck at the tables whether virtual or real, and may the flop be with you.