Friday, October 29, 2010

Plugging the Leaks -- Venetian DSE IV 2010

This Sunday is my birthday. I will be 36 years old. This age has no emotion attached. 30 bothered me. I imagine 40 will as well. I just may be 39 forever like Jack Benny.

I love the day I was born. As a kid I got both candy and presents. I got to dress up. Everybody wore costumes and got candy. It was like the world was celebrating my birthday! When I came to Vegas it got even better. The whole state took a day off on my birthday! Nevada Day is October 31st.

I am a big baby and have to have take time off from work around my birthday. Days off is good, especially when the Venetian has the Deep Stack Extravaganza IV going on again. Yesterday was the opening event. I played both yesterday and today. I did awful.

When a weight loss patient comes into my office for a follow up visit I always ask them why they did or did not do well. It is not uncommon to run into many people who have little, or no insight to themselves and their actions. Part of it is denial, which is an effort to avoid thinking about things that cause you emotional pain.

Driving home from my second bust from the DSE my brain wanted nothing to do with hashing over the events that occurred today. I knew I would find some serious errors in my play.

I can honestly say that lately I have been playing very good poker. I truly feel I should have made some serious cashes in the last 2 months. I do not think I am delusional in any way to say that I did not succeed because of bad beats. Yes…I whined and blogged about those bad beats, but this blog is about my therapeutic ramblings…

These last two tourneys just seemed much tougher than the tourneys I have been in, tougher than Caesars Classic, tougher than WPT Bellagio..I just had much more difficulty finding the right spots to make moves. When I do not feel in control of my table I have a tendency to tilt to varying degrees.

This blog is potentially exposing some very bad decisions I made. Painful, painful, painful. If I want to improve though I have to think about them. I cannot avoid them if I am to learn from them. I have yet to think about them at length and so this might read as streaming consciousness.

Yesterdays tourney I busted level 2. I honestly must have blocked the details of the hand that tilted me out. I had a tight image. I do not remember what I had (making me think I was bluffing), but I remember raising pre-flop and getting flatted by one person. I cannot even remember the board. But I bet on every street and was re-raised on the river and folded. I didn’t lose that much, maybe 2k out of my 13k stack.

Then it happened. Passive calling station tilt person showed up. I was eaten down to 5k

Notable Hand #1: Blinds 100/200

Under the gun (UTG): 28k ~ loose image

Middle Man: 7k ~ passive cally like me

Me on the button: 5k

UTG raises to 650

Middle Man Calls

With AsKs I re-raise to 1600

UTG thinks for a while and then shoves all-in

Middle Man Calls

I call.

UTG shows red JJ

Middle Man Shows Ac10h

Board: 7s9h3s … Qc … 10c; And my day is over.

So I guess the question is this. Should I ever have been in this spot?

I had 25 big blinds, If I am going to three bet I have to be prepared to call all-in if I am four-bet back. AK is a great hand if used wisely. Unless you run into AA or KK at worst you are a coin flip. At best you are dominating your opponent. With the right image and situation shoving all-in gives you an additional edge from fold equity. I should have considered shoving. Having to call his shove makes that edge disappear. The fact that I have been leaking chips away in my calling station tilt also might make me look potentially volatile with light hole cards. In retrospect I should have called and saw the flop. 33% I will hit the board and can with fair certainty shove my remaining 4,000 chips and know I will usually take down the pot or possibly double up. The reality is flatting might have doomed me as well. Having a nut flush draw and two over cards….well, I don’t think I could let that go. I guess I had 20 big blinds. I really don’t want to get into 50/50 situations unless my situation is desperate. Is 20 big blinds desperate? Probably not….not at level 2. I could have called and let that hand go on the flop…waiting a bit longer to look for a better place to get my money in. I wish my brain worked this way then.

Today was a new day. The leak I was determined to correct was my passiveness. The plan was to open and re-raise with top 10 hands. As long as I had 30 big blinds I planned to use a foldable “3-bet bluff” weapon in what I felt were the right situations. This worked very well. By level 4 I had 28,000 chips and had already knocked someone out. I was picking and choosing my spots well, and had good control of my image. The seams started to loosen when a short stack shoved 6k and I called with AQ sooted. She had 10 10 and the bricks rained down on the board bringing me to 22k. Not much later I pick up aces UTG and 2 callers to my 3x raise.

Notable Hand #2: Blinds 150 – 300 -- 25 antes

Limpy #1 --- 17k….this is a new table for me, unsure of images

Limpy #2 – 9 k

Me – 28k on the button with AhAc

Pot: ~3,000+

Flop: 3d 7d Qh

I bet $2,000

Limpy 1 calls and Limpy 2 folds

Turn: 2d

So of course now I am concerned he was on a flush draw. Maybe I should have been ready to give my aces up at this point and just check /fold them. I couldn’t rule out a medium pair. I couldn't show weakness and fear. Could I?

I bet $3,000 into the turn and he called. Maybe I needed to bet more…maybe I showed weakness in my bet.

River: 5d

Well now I’m almost certain I lost. My only hope is that he hit a marginal flush on the turn and I could get him to believe I was representing a higher flush. I bet $4,000, hoping that it would look like a value bet. He thought for a short while and then moved all in. I of course folded. Should I have bet more? Should I have given up? Should I have given up on the turn? I was down to 14,000. I hate being out of position.

Did some aggressive tilty silly fancy check-raisy crap with junk hands…stuff I never do. Lost at least another 5k.

With 8-9k left I get moved to another table where slowly I become a short stack. I put on my tilt play list --- listen to songs like GnR patience…puts me in the right frame of mind, to wait and pick my spots…slows me down. I was able to build my stack up again to 19k. Mostly thanks to JJ Liu. Who was short stacked with 6k shoved her KJ into my AQs. Of course I had no idea who she was. I kind of pegged her as a weak calling station, since in a heads-up hand against me earlier she limped and called my two-pair me to the turn with AA out of position…she bet out on the river with a KQ8J10 board. Of course I folded. Once again after I knock her out I find out that she is like Miss World Poker Tour. I guess I have only been in the tournament scene for 6 months or so.

Getting my stack up there was done with a lot of applied aggression, the situations that I saw I could take advantage of were arriving more frequently, and I pounced. I didn’t stop to think enough about my image. I was very aggressive and getting away with it. I had a lot of call equity, I needed to tighten up...a lot.

The table chip leader on my left raised UTG to $1500 ($300/$600 blinds)…I looked down at pocket 2’s. I have about 17k in chips, if I can hit a set and make 15k from my 1500 call I’m getting the right odds. With that in mind I call. A guy behind me with 8k shoves all in and UTG calls. I am forced to fold, and forced to watch UTG’s AA vs Shorties AK…forced to watch the flop; 525.

Can't listen to my tilt songs...iPhone battery is dying....again. Much quicker these days it seems.

Very next hand I am tilted and UTG with pocket 8s. I limp. Get raised by and old man. Fold around to me. What do I do? I once again shove my chips in the middle. He thinks for a bit and then calls. Showing me death in its purest and most vile form. Pocket 9s.

Honestly…this was not the right time to make a play like that. Not with my image, not with this particular guy who raised, not in that situation. Not when I have close to 30 big blinds. Not when I am at best in a coin flip situation. Not with a stack that has me covered. I know better than this.

I failed at being an emotional rock. I made a number of bad decisions. Maybe because I was not well rested last night… Maybe because I still have yet to master emotional stability on a variance roller coaster…

Lesson to be learned:

1. Do not put yourself in 50/50 or worse situations when you have a big stack against another similar or greater stack

2. Do not tilt to passive calling station, ever; raise or fold…If I make a mistake I would rather do it as the aggressor, not the caller.…always

3. Take my time a bit more to think about my image

4. Take my time a bit more to think about the situation I am about to get involved in

5. You NEED your Tilt Play List!!!!!!!!!

Not sure when I will be doing my next DSE event, but I feel more prepared having done this exercise. Please feel free to leave me any opposing or additional opinions.

Happy Halloween!


  1. If both you and the guy in hand #2 flat called with AK things would have been much better for you. You'd have saved a bundle and then tripled or at least more than doubled up. Nice knocking out JJ Liu, I've seen her play a lot on TV.

  2. Happy birthday! 36 is a fine year.

    I often find myself thinking in a 55/45 spot while playing against a bad player that perhaps I should just wait for a better spot that will inevitably arise against a bad player. I am not consistent about how I handle these situations but I do consider this as a factor.

    As to the idea of always erring on the side of aggressiveness, that is something I firmly believed some time ago, but now I feel sometimes passive play against aggressive opponents can be very productive. In a sense maybe it just comes down to choosing the right tool from your tool bag for the different kind of opponents that present themselves.