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Poker Blog established in 2003 as the first stop for poker news, poker stories, and bad poker advice.

October 19, 2005

High and Tight

by G-Rob

Let's get the manditory truth out of the way up front, I am a horrible poker player. If poker skill were playa moves, I'd be some middle-aged dimwit slouched on a couch with a laptop for a lap.

Somehow, I think I just proved chicks dig great poker players. Which is silly. I have MUCH better TV hair.

How about this?

If you could stack all the stupid at every poker table... it would be about 6 foot 5.

6'10" with the hair.

HIGH

I wrote about the bigger games, I played them, and baby, I liked it. I've finally moved up in limits online. It's like starting over with a clean slate. In some sense, I start the bigger games with a break-even record. It won't be hard to dig out of the hole.

Not long ago, Iggy wrote about that attitude on a hand-for-hand basis. No matter what happened on the last hand or the one before, play each new deal like the first hand of the day. You have new information, he says, but the success of the previous hand is irrelevant. We should already know that, of course, but I actually found myself repeating his exact words after a tough beat the other night. It's like meditation for the tilting mind.

Still, like many of you, I was a loser at first. Even in the smallest limits I'd lose seveal buyins. I'm not ashamed to say I made several deposits from my bank account to several online sites. I'd win for a while, then give it all back. Some people became bonus whores by moving their bankroll around, I was a bonus whore because I was totally out of money. It took a year to recover.

Somehow this is different. I feel like a blank slate with a brand new bankroll, buck naked at square one. That's how I approach it anyway. When I wrote about playing the bigger home game, I was writing as a first time player and it's visible in my game. I've changed my style. I've learned some moves. I've started a new game.

TIGHT

The change in stlye is both simple and signifigant. For some time, my entire live strategy was based on the other players, but not quite enough to be consistent. My best move was a slight ability to read the strength of my opponents hand and take advantage. I'll play almost anything if I'm fairly sure you're weak. I'll only play a monster if I know you like your cards. That paid off fairly well. It allowed me to show down wins with very weak cards which, just like a good hammer play, would lead to bigger payoffs later. But there was a major hole in the game.

Not long after I got a good grip on that style, the faux loose-aggressive, I ran into people who would blow it to shreds. How? By remaining IN the hand, calling bets with hands that we both knew were lousy. I'd detect weakness, but have someone call me down with second pair. One of our locals, SHEP, would kill me that way. I'd build a stack, then give it to him.

The key, of course, is a second read. It's not only important to understand the strength of our opponent, but also their willingness to lay it down. Some players play more hands. I had a big problem adjusting to the STYLE of my opponent. GOD that seems obvious. Good players are laughing at my obvious revelation, but it took me a long time to work it out.

So once we understand BOTH the style AND the strength of the opponent it's time to adjust our own game.

To be short, at last, blind devotion to ANYTHING is foolish, including our own particular "style". Good players will figure it out and take advantage. The best style, is no rigid style at all.

So, when I first played $200NL here, I changed my game. I saw almost every player limp to almost every pot. Better still, the average late position, post-limp raise would get at least a few callers... no matter what. So what stlye does that entail?

Suddenly, I'm tight... and paid off. No sense judging the strength of their hands, at least before the flop. You can't steal blinds. You need a different game. I still bluff at that game, by the way, but I can't worry about a bluff until later in the hand. I think DOUBLE As calls it the "pressure points". He, rightly, notes the timing of pressure varies depending on the player. Looser players feel pressure LATER in the hand.

Joaquin Ochoa says to, "Hunker down, brother. That's all I can say".

He's exactly right. There's more thinking involved.

TOURNEY

I've been playing those MTTs at bigger buyins, too. Otis (you have no idea how much it pains me to credit him but he's finally found something about which he knows far more than me) has always told me about the rationale for the more expensive tourneys. It goes something like this:

If we're fairly confident we can make the money, just make the money, in a large MTT... then a small buy in is a waste of time. At least 60th place in a $30 Party tournament pays money worth having. How many times have you bought into a big $5 MTT, played for 2 or 3 hours, and "won" a net gain of about $2. Whoooopeee. Even my TV job pays better than that.

Granted, the payout RELATIVE to buyin is roughly the same. But, again, if we're relatively sure we'll usually finish IN THE MONEY, then why not make money you can actually use. I spend more than $2 on Diet Pepsi almsot every day.

Tighter, more timely, aggressive play has helped me feel fairly sure I can MAKE THE MONEY in most, or at least a high percentage, of those HUGE MTTs.

ONE MORE THING

Speaking of Shep... I played with him again last Thursday. As we both stepped onto BadBlood's porch for a break, I told him his game is MUCH stronger these days. I'd say he's improved as much as, or more than, almost anyone I know. He's come a long way.

He told me he owes it all to poker blogs. This site, fox example, which does make typing it a slightly -EV position. Still, in this one post, I've had to reference a half dozen of my blogger friends. Just like Shep, I owe a great deal to the wisdom of others.

Thank you.

And if you ever want to join me in a game...remember

I'm GRobman at PokerStars.

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