Despite the fact that the WPBT's next tourney is a little more than a week away, I am about to tell all of you about a pretty big hole in my game. It's up to you to decide whether I'm only doing this to set you up or not.
I think I play pretty solid poker. I generally make money when I play, and that's a good thing. If I lost as often as I played, I'd be broke right now. That would make me a compulsive gambler, and I'm hoping to avoid that label for as long as possible.
But I digress...
I have a problem. I could make more money if I figured out a way to eliminate a huge hole in which my money manages to disappear.
It's what Gary Carson would call "Fancy Play Syndrome" (FPS) in his great book about low and mid limit poker.
There's a few things that fall under the FPS category. I manage to avoid most of them. I don't bluff too often. Bluffing is only effective when done sparingly. The check-raise is an important weapon in any good player's arsenal, but if you do it too often, you run out of bullets. I don't check-raise too often.
And then there's slow-playing. That's when you flop what you think are the nuts, only to allow players to draw into hands that are better. I'd like to say I know when to slow-play and when not to, but I can't.
I can't help myself. I check the BB with 74 offsuit only to catch a flop of A-7-7. Jackpot! I check, it's bet, a few callers and I simply call. The turn is a blank. Looks like this pot is all mine! I check, it's bet, there's one caller, and I raise a little, finding two callers. The river... and Ace. What the hell was I doing? I check, there's a big bet and I make a crying call. I'm an idiot.
This happens again and again and again. In the above example, it's possible he may have called me no matter what, figuring I didn't have the 7. The point, however, is that I never forced him to make a tough decision.
Poker is a game of decisions. The player who makes the fewest tough decisions is usually the winner. Making easy decisions is, well... easy.
I like easy decisions. Like my first hand tonight in the BB when I check with 52 of hearts. The flop? How 'bout A-3-4 of hearts. Does it get any better than that? The only problem is that no one caught anything resembling a hand and I only made a few bucks. In that case, slow-playing was the only way to go. I had the nuts, and only the worst luck imaginable could beat me.
I've got to learn when to force my players into a tough decision, and when to allow them to set the pace. Winning at poker isn't about how many hands you win, it's about how big the pots are. But if you slow-play every time, you'll throw a lot of money away.