Fun With Strangers

I got back on the poker bandwagon this week. Poker Room has updated their software, and things are organized in a much saner format now. I like it. This organization brought to light what may or may not be a new type of sit ‘n’ go: heads-up.

I think pretty highly of my ability to crush the $5 Turbo SNGs. If I can get to the final two with more than a couple big blinds, I have a pretty good chance of winning the thing. I did a foolish thing a while ago and tried the $10 SNGs. I got lucky on the first one I played, and thought I was good enough to play them. I then sunk too much money in to trying to repeat. I dropped back to $5. I have more to learn.

Anyway, seeing as I think so highly of my heads-up play during the turbos, I figured I’d try the heads-up tournaments themselves! I really liked the structure (very deep stacks, blinds go up at a reasonable speed), so I played some more. My first day of playing these little buggers (at $5 plus $.50 juice), I won 4 out of 5. Sweet! The next day, I played a few more and won 2 out of 3. I thought I was sensing a trend.

Last night, I won 1 out of 4.


My record at $5 heads-up SNGs is now at 7 and 5. Math tells me that, factoring in the losses to the juice, I’m still up $4. Math is awesome. But Math does not make me feel better after losing three of these buggers yesterday.

So I’ve been going over what I did and what happened. I realized something. It wasn’t luck that kicked me out. I mean, it ultimately was, like the hands that technically knocked me out were luck lost on coin-flips. But it was the stupid folds and stupid calls that put me into the all-in-or-fold mentality. Calls! Who calls in heads-up play? Losers, that’s who. Passive players can’t win heads-up.

So why was I being so passive?

Well, I think I’ve figured out what it’s like to be on tilt.

I generally have a good handle on my temper. I definitely have a temper, but in my “poker career” (HAHA!) I’ve managed to keep myself from letting it lose over a game. I don’t let anger over a bad beat get to me. It’s just a game. There is some luck involved. I don’t let asshole’s calling me names get to me. It’s just a game. And it’s actually kind of funny to see them seethe. In the real world… sometimes, my temper flares out at inopportune moments. But generally, it is relating to things that I think are far more important that a silly game I play for fun (with the benefit of occasionally winning some money).

I’ve identified before, in large multi-table tournaments, a kind of boredom tilt. It’s the kind of tilt that whispers in my brain, “K-5 is a good hand, at least it’s suited. Come on, you haven’t played a hand in an hour! Seriously! You’re second chip lead at this table. You can speculate.” And then when the flop comes King high, that same voice says, “You haven’t played in so long, they’ll think you’ve got a monster if you bet.” Usually, it’s after someone calls me down with K-Q, a perfectly reasonable hand to be playing, that I wake up and realize that I’ve tilted away half of my stack. Oops!

I don’t play many multi-table tournaments anymore. A lack of patience is -EV.

Yesterday’s tilt was not boredom tilt. Playing heads-up can’t possibly be boring. You have to play 90% of the hands you’re dealt or the other guy will just raise you to death. I’m pretty sure I can pin down my tilt to one incident. I was playing an opponent who had some actual talent (most of the people playing $5 heads-up are suckers… probably including me). I’d relive the hand, but that’s not really what matters. All that matters is I let my opponent buy the pot from me.

From that point on, I was a lost cause. I was folding everywhere, and just calling when I was pretty sure I had something worthwhile. Why was I scared? I honestly couldn’t tell you. But I was put off my game by a player who may or may not have been better than me. He probably deserved to win that battle. But the next two people I played… they were awful. Pure “call if I got nothin’, all-in if I have the nuts” types. But I let them bully the passive me around.

When I came to, I decided to walk away from the heads-up challenges for a while. I went on over to play some low-limit Omaha Hi/Lo. There were three full tables, so I put my name on all three waiting lists. Then I opened up a new table. My new table got going within a couple minutes, so I got off the waiting lists. I prefer to play short-handed. Let me list my favorite types of players to see at an Omaha Hi/Lo table:

  • Texas Hold’em players that think KKT9 is a good Omaha Hi/Lo hand.
  • People who think they’re good at Omaha Hi/Lo that only raise preflop if they have an A2 in their hand.
  • People who call through to showdown with nothing but a non-nut low.

We had all three specimins at the table yesterday, along with one other player who had a clue. It was an interesting and fun table. We saw a Royal (not mine) and a 6-high straight flush (mine for a tasty scoop!). We saw the high chopped on a full house (neither one of them was excited for that). And I saw my buy-in double.

Ultimately, yesterday was a good poker day.

October 26th, 2005 • 9:55 am • dinane • Posted in Poker

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