Sunday, January 04, 2004

Damn The Torpedoes!

I've read in several places over the course of the last few months about players who have managed to turn huge days. Poker Odyssey, on Christmas day, turned his $50 buyin into $212 in under 5 hours of play.

Now I know how it feels. Today was huge.

After a hearty breakfast of Frosted Flakes while watching the World Series of Poker coverage, I set down for a couple of hours at the tables before work. Found myself at a rather tight/passive table and set to work. I had some pretty cold cards for a little while, but then the deck hit me square in the temple. Great starting hand after great starting hand came my way, and the flops were very generous in giving me ram and jammable hands. 20 minutes later I'm up $15, and I mean I'm just getting hand after hand. Call, raise call raise, pre-flop raise, I was going nuts. It didn't take me long to earn a maniac/aggressive tag from several players I'm sure, and their betting patterns fleshed this out. Several times I'd get guys trying to move me off a pot, or just cash in on this maniac. It was, in a word, beautiful. At one point I had my $25 buyin up to $62. I missed on a few runs to the river and found myself down to $56 or so and decided to call it quits for Party. So, up +$31 today for Party.

I went and got some lunch and played with the cat some, then sat down at UB for a short spell. Sat down at two tables, one a regular 9 player .25/.50 ring game, and the other a .25/.50 kill game. For those not familiar, a "kill game" is the same as a ring game, with the exception that if one player wins two pots in a row a "kill game" is declared, and the game goes to .50/1 for one round. Now, the only reason why I ended up in the Kill game to begin with is because it was the only 9 player ring game with an open seat.

I love Kill games.

I started the day with around $45 in my UB account. I bought into the standard ring game for $25 and the kill game with the reminder, a tick over $20. Things start slowly on the standard game, but within 5 hands, we're into a kill round on the other table.

I get AQo. Now, the thing about the kill game I've noticed, everyone things it's a friggin jackpot round or something. I get 5 callers to me and I raise it up. MP re-raises and I call the 3rd bet. Flop comes AQ4 rainbow. Boom. A bet and a call to me and it's raise time again. Re-raised again from middle position and this time we cap it with 2 followers. Turn comes a 6 of something. Checked to me, I bet, MP checkraises... I'm thinking rockets, but the pot is a monster, and I'm committed to see it to the end. I call. River drops an ace. No rockets for raiser-boy... That must mean Queens, which means happy times are here again... My Aces full sinks his Queens full. Checked to me, I bet, MP raises, We cap it with both hanger ons calling to the river. Sure enough, the ladies for the MP, set of 4's for one of the hanger-ons and the other guy mucks. I rake in a $20 pot and suddenly my $20 buyin is closing in on $40. No sooner do I sit down from dancing the jig on this that the other table lights on fire. The deck is hitting me in the head on BOTH TABLES! It was unreal. I'm getting wonderful starting hands, I'm pulling miracle cards out of my ass... I can't miss, and the table chatter starts up livening up with guys going on tilt. After about 45 minutes of this, the Kill table vacates until it's me and one other guy heads up. I figure this would be a little entertaining so I go for it for a while, and end up bleeding away $8 of my profit to leave the Kill table up $15. The other table I kept jamming at for a little while longer and left there another $20 up, for a take at UN of +$35.

Total take for the day, +$61

So, for the first two days of taking on this "tight pre-flop, maniac post-flop" approach, I've found huge success, but I have to wonder if I'm getting lucky or if this is a viable long term +EV strategy. It stands to reason that, if a pot is big, you should almost never fold away from it, especially if you had reason to be there post-flop to begin with. Consider that, if I stick to the best starting hands, I'll be playing with either hands that contain high pair potential, or great draw potential (or both). On the flop, if I do manage to fit it, almost always it'll be the nuts at that point, which means I have the best of it and need to ram and jam. If I get enough callers, then even if the turn comes a scare card, I've committed myself to the river, and since I had the nuts at the flop, there is a good chance that hand is still a winner. Also, even if it isn't the best hand, my aggressive stance may well scare someone with a winning hand off the pot.

I still have this feeling that one of these days soon I'm going to sit down and get my ass handed to me with this tactic.. It seems rather maverick to me, but part of analyzing my play is to look at what took me off my game when I was a newer player. Almost invariably, when faced with a guy who would charge me to try to make a hand, I'd get frustrated. Many times I'd fold away hands that contained top pair and questionable kicker. You start to wonder how that guy can have so many good hands (when in reality he didn't, but he made the guy who would have beat him fold to the pressure on the flop or turn). You don't know when to strike, or when to fold and get out of the way. You take control of the table, and when you take people off their game and make them play yours, you've beat them.

For the first time in my poker career, I was playing the people as well as the cards.


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