Monday, July 14, 2008

Oops, oops and more oops

Posted: Sun Nov 18, 2007 10:47 am Reply with quote Edit/Delete this post

I told a joke at a table I was playing the other night. It went like this:

Knock knock.

Who’s there?

Pocket Kings and Pocket Aces.

Pocket Kings and Pocket Aces! Wooo hooo! Party time! Come on in!

What I didn’t see was the suited connectors that snuck in the back door while I was at the front. By the end of the night, those sooteds had drank all of my good booze and put cigarette burns in my carpet.

This little scenario pretty much sums up my experience the last couple of days while playing at Full Tilt Poker. I have had the above combinations perhaps ten times in perhaps 400 hands. Each time, I have either garnered little or more often, lost my stack. Only one time did my hand, KK, lose to AA, and once my AA lost to QQQQ. All of the other times I have lost to suited connectors. Essentially, after grinding away for several days to make $125, it was lost in a matter of four or five hands, both in ring and tourney play.

OK, so I’m having a bad run. I’ve had these before. My last one at Poker Academy lasted ten months, and some readers will recall the blighted games I related from my casino experiences. I am happy to say that the PAO slump has diminished, due in no small way to the re-establishment of a value for PAX (read between the lines on this). Sadly, my casino days are over for the most part, so redemption on that front will have to be postponed. (I’m broke.) As for Full Tilt, I have been in this position a number of times at that sight, and I am sure that I will recover somewhat by pulling back to playing the micro tables and small tourneys. Or not. The bad run may continue until I am broke there as well.

Another joke: Full Tilt Poker called and they want their money back.

However, if I do go broke at FTP, it will be their loss. How so? And why should they care? Simple: rake.

I have no idea how much I have paid in rake to FTP over the last year. I started with $150, and with their matching bonus had another $150 to play with during that time. I have had huge swings compared to my bankroll. I currently have $100, and have been up as high as $400. Generally I hover around my original $150. If I had to guess, I’d say I’ve played about 15,000 hands in ring alone. That’s a fair amount of rake. As way of comparison, in the last year at PAO I’ve played about 70,000 hands, and during the bad run, my rake paid was out-pacing my winning by about 10 to 1. As recently as last moth I was negative dollars won with over $3,000 in rake paid. Big single losses will do that. It’s considerably better now, but I’m still behind about $900. In that I have not been able to accumulate a bankroll at FTP, I would imagine they have made a lot more money from my play than the $150 they gave me as a sign-up bonus. Rake is the silent pilferer.

And one more: If one slightly crosses one’s eye when looking at the Full Tilt logo on their felt, it becomes Evil Tilt Poker.

Such an observation can lead one astray fairly quickly. Conspiracy theory time: a quick profile of my nick shows that I’ll push to the showdown with a big pocket pair. So give him his pair and load someone else with a spoiler. Knock him down so he has to keep playing to “break even” or better. In today’s world, computers can do anything, right? So why not utilize such a strategy against dupes like me. This paranoid approach is easy to swallow because it allows me to avoid analyzing my play, and more than likely, keeps me repeating the same mistakes just to prove I am right: “How could you play those cards with my raise UTG? You must have known how the cards would come.“ (I have seen players type such things.) Sure, FTP makes their rake. My opponents make more.

So, the question remains: how do I avoid going broke with big pairs? Is this the age-old question of the novice? I worry that betting too much pre-flop will give a way my hand. Say I come in 6 or 7 times the big blind from under the gun, or after several limpers, come in late for the same amount….what does this tell the 9 10 suited that came in early? He calls and hits two pair on the flop. Barring a set, I’m doomed and may not start to realize it until after the bet on the turn. (And I don’t care what anyone says about getting my money in with the best hand. As sure as God made little green apples, as soon as a loose player looking for a cooler doubles up, he leaves the table. Your optimal play won’t get that money back later in the game.) I appreciate the way Sklansky approaches this: if the only cards that can beat you are a 5 and a 7, if the betting pattern says that what your opponent has, no matter how unlikely, rest assured, your opponent holds those cards. It puts big pocket pairs into perspective. They are not the nuts. A broadway on a non-flush board is the nuts as is an ace high flush on a non-paired, uncoordinated board; and add to that the reminder that trips are not a set and that two pair often suck. These are the mantras that I must continue to chant, not “RIGGED.” That way I may stand a chance of holding onto some of the money that FTP has so graciously allowed me to win.

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