Spot Remover

Hey all. I am back with another blog post discussing a topic that has been on my mind lately. Also I will post a hand I recently played that did get me thinking about this topic. Hopefully you guys can post some feedback for discussion.

No limit holdem is a great game. We can all agree upon this. Not only is it fun to win money, but for a lot of us, we love the psychological warfare that we engage in with other players. He thinks that I think that he thinks can not only be fun, but it sometimes gives us a rush that money just can’t buy.  I guess you can buy it from your local drug dealer, but I am talking about a natural high.

As good as poker can be sometimes, it can also be very disheartening. One bad turn or river card can really seem to ruin your day and sometimes even longer than that. There are many nights I come home after I bust a tourney and count the little holes in my ceiling for 3 hours trying to figure out why I feel so bad after busting a tourney.

In poker, you are going to win and you are going to lose. Hopefully you do more winning than losing, but both are going to happen and the losing in MTT’s is going to happen a lot. Probably about 80-90% of the time. Sure you can try and min cash to cut the losing percentage, but that is not the way to play the game. You have to play to win at all costs and not worry about busting from the first hand you play until the last hand you play. This is written in books and blogs by way better players than I am so I truly believe it to be true.

So this got me thinking. If I want to give myself the best chance to win, I should be doing things that make the game easier, not harder. That is common sense right? Playing a hand the easy way would seem to me the better way to improve my winning percentage. Pretty hard to argue this right?

Next, I thought about what I do to put myself in not so easy spots, or hard spots. Why do I do this? Why would anyone do this?

My answer to this question is that sometimes we put ourselves in bad spots because we just don’t realize they are bad spots. Maybe we haven’t been trained on the exact spot that it isn’t a very good spot. Or maybe, just maybe, we let our ego get in the way and it tells us that we can play out of it. We are better than everyone at the table and no one can outplay us right?

Looking my answer over, I came to realize there are a few things players do sometimes out of impulse and not really think ahead in a hand. I am at fault for doing these things sometimes too. Maybe it’s a raise on the flop because we have top pair or some big draw that we should just call but instead we raise because we let our ego take over and we acted so quickly that we didn’t think the hand through.

The point is that to become a better poker player, a few things need to be looked at in your own game. Are you playing too fast? Are you thinking about the other player and what he/she might do if we play a hand a certain way? Are you letting your ego get in the way of a good decision because you want to “outplay” the other player?

My belief on this issue is this: Most of us non-pro players have some of these leaks in our game and if we can work on closing them, we will all become better players. It seems to me a good way to become a better player is to cut down the hard spots we put ourselves into and work on trying to get in better spots throughout the tournament.

Bad spots happen in cash games also but this is mostly about tournaments because if you put yourself in a bad spot in a cash game and it costs you your stack, you can always rebuy right back in. We don’t have that luxury in MTT’s so it would raise our winning percentage if we try to avoid bad spots if at all possible.

I belong to a group on Facebook that posts hands and the group comments on them. It is pretty cool to have some friends that you can post a hand and get instant feedback on. Even though you may not agree with all the comments, if you can keep your mind open, you might just learn on what the most profitable way to play the hand was. Having this group openly discuss hands has helped me more than words can express.

Lately, a few members have posted some hands that I personally looked at and thought “why did they do that?” I just didn’t get it because I thought they really put themselves in a bad spot if the other player put pressure on them. I know it’s tough to think about when you are the one in the hand, but I still think to get better, you really have to play all the scenarios in your head before you make the play. I would say after I have played hands that I thought were marginal at best; I would spend some time, think about the hand, and probably would change what I did. Good news is that if you do this and the spot comes up again, you will now have more than a few options on what to do.

In conclusion, I really believe that if you try to avoid the tough spots, your game will improve dramatically. Raising UTG with KJ offsuit might not look that bad to you at the time, but depending on your table, you may get put in such a bad spot that it will cost you a lot of chips you should not have wasted in the hand.

Now on to a tough spot I was in recently. This spot not my “fault”, it just happened and I am not sure I played it the most optimal way but hopefully this hand will at least get you thinking about the last time you were in the situation, what you did, and was the result good or bad?

This hand is from the LAPC that I played in last Saturday night. It was a $340.00 buy in with over 550 players and we were on the money bubble playing hand for hand. I think this was like the 3rd or 4th hand of hand for hand.

I had a tighter image because I was pretty card dead and there were a couple of Internet Whiz Kids that looked pretty competent and had a heap of chips. One of them would usually open raise every hand and get into some battles with each other.

Anyway, I was in late middle position with AQcc. Blinds were 1k-2k with a 300 chip ante. I started this hand with 55k and both the villains (the kids) had me covered.

I raised to 5k. Looking back this was a little high but it’s probably ok. Kid #1 flats the button, Kid #2 tank calls the SB and the BB folded.

Flop comes J73cc. Boom. Nice. Kid #1 checks, I lead 8k and the Kid #2 on the button calls pretty quickly. Hmmm. Kid #1 folds.

So now the pot is getting pretty big. 36k at this point and I have 42k behind. The turn is a total brick. It was the 2h.

It was on me first of course and my question to you is this…what do you do?

Please keep in mind that Kid #2 seems very competent and aggressive and I really haven’t seen him get too far out of line but I defiantly think he is capable of making a move with air. Also remember that he didn’t raise my flop bet. Lastly, another part of this hand is that we are on the exact money bubble.

 

That is it for this week. Hope my blog got you thinking about your game and how to keep yourself out of bad spots.

Please comment on the hand. I am looking forward to reading about what you would do if you were in this exact spot.

Take care and have a great weekend and enjoy the big game on Sunday.

 

Dan

 

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