I’ve been in 4 poker games this past month and each one has variables that either help or hurt my game. My thoughts.

Game 1 – $.50 / $1 – $100 Buy In – 8 Players – Home Game

The skill level ranges from below average to Evan (who was told he’s a skillful 2/5 player by a senile old man). I showed up after having about 5 pints and was feeling good and loose, but not wild…yet. After about 20 hands I had a JQ and flopped the nuts against a tight player. We got it all in on the flop and he had a set of Aces and I held which is always nice. This was a quick double up and allowed me to open up my starting hands.

There was one player at the table who is overly loose. I believe he sees himself as a bully and everyone will fold to him which allows him to play any 2 cards. He makes big pre flop raises, big flop bets, big turn bets, and big river bluffs if he thinks you will fold. I was 2 seats to his left and in ideal position. 2 key hands were one where I turned a flush, the betting went 10, he bet 30, I raised to 100, and the first guy folded and he called / folded the river. Then I had 84 on a flop of K83. He bet 15, I called. Turn K. He bet 30 and I called. Turn was a Q and he bet 75 or so, which I called and had the winning hand. The final hand I had AA against a solid player on a 368 flop, 10 turn, we got it all in and I spiked an Ace against his set of 3’s in a $200+ hand. I walked away with $500+.

Game 2 – .50 / $1 – $50 Buy In – 6 Players – Home Game

This game was of lesser skilled players and I ended up losing $120. What kills me in this game is that I don’t feel right raising 50% of the hands and turning it into a wild game where anyone can lose more money than they most likely expect. So I play a more check / call game plan and generally reactive instead of active. This usually results in a lesser swing for me as I will usually still hit some hands. Instead, every time I folded I would hit and every time I played, I missed. It was having the 2nd best hand most of the time and not a great session for me. C’est la vie.

Game 3 – 1/2 – $300 Buy In – 9 Players – Sugarhouse

This was a horrendous session that had me showing up three sheets to the wind and being an absolute maniac. I was 3 betting to $35 against anyone I thought I could bully around. It was half working when I hit top pair and stacked a guy who must of had AK. A few hands later I had QT suited and hit top pair and ran into a set of Jacks to get stacked for my guess is $200+. I ended up losing at least $500 for the session with the table calling me down so light it was embarrassing. This was not well played by me at any point of the night.

Game 4 – 1/2 – $300 Buy In – 9 Players – Sugarhouse

This game happened on Saturday night and I had this post almost finished before it happened, so consider this a bonus. I showed up lucid at an extremely tight table with no one except a Chinese man to my left who had over $300. I was raising to $10 anytime it was limped to me and it was evident that people were getting annoyed with my loose strategy after a few orbits. I started out dropping a quick $200 when my 26 of clubs got beat by a higher turned flush and I bet $60 on the river, only for him to check raise me to $99 (which in hindsight, I had to fold). I recovered when I had Q9 and hit 2 pair against an AJ who hit top pair. It got me back to near even when I went on a tear flopping a flush and dodging the nut flush draw on the turn and river for at least $100. Then I called an all in for $75 in a raised pot with 9T which was top pair that held against AK. This brought my stack up to $750 and I was starting to be a bit of bully. Here’s where it got interesting.

The table fell down to 5 people and we were all respectable players which makes it a bit harder to generate action unless people are hitting big hands. 4 dealers show up from Parks or Sands and the action started to pick up again. I was hitting some big hands and consistently winning money without showing down. I flopped a flush and stacked one of the dealers for about $200 to put me over 1k before a player decided to pick a vendetta against me. I wish I could remember the exact hands, but the action went like this for 3 hands almost back to back to back. I raised to 10, he’d raise to 40, I’d call. I’d check the flop, he’d bet all in with whatever he re-bought with which was usually a $200 bet into the pot of $100. Remember, I’m sitting there with over a K, the drunkest person at the table, and not taking shit from anyone. I called him with Q8 one time that hit 2 pair on the flop and held. Another I had JK and hit a K on the flop and called his all in. The run out had a Q and a T and my pair of kings held. I took $900 off the guy in about an hour. This raised my stack to over 2k and the table literally broke down around me. I gave the cage $30 and the cab driver $100 before I went to sleep at around 3am for about a +$1,500 session over 8 hours.

What I Learn

Everyone looks at money from their own perspective. The people who are the best poker players are the ones who can separate “money” from “poker chips.” When I had that huge stack on Saturday, I was an extremely dangerous player because I had no fear. When the guy is betting $200 into a $100 pot, my normal self is he has an overpair. When I’m sitting on a huge stack and drunk, now I’m thinking, “there’s no way he’d do that with a big hand.” I don’t look at it as $200. It’s a ridiculous bet. When I’m fully sober, I can’t make that disconnection. I’ll flat out say I’m a bad poker player when I’m not drinking. I’m by the book. Tight. Flat out boring. I won’t go on big swings. The table can read me like a book. But when I’ve had a few drinks, I’m unpredictable. The table notices this and it causes them to adjust uncomfortably. Do you realize how hard it is to win 7 buy ins in 8 hours. Note:

5 – 9 bb/100 = Amazing. This is a very high winrate at any level. Consider moving up.

Dealing 30 hands an hour is average. That means at 1/2, in 8 hours, saying you win 10bb every 2 hours, you’d walk away with a profit of $80. I won 750bb’s. This coincides with tipping AT LEAST $150 to the dealers during this run and giving $5 for a PBR pounder about 8 times. Did I run incredible? Of course. I may not have another session like that again in my life. My point is though that I don’t care about that money. That’s why I’m even able to do that. Do you know how many sessions I have where I walk away busto? More than I can count. I don’t necessarily think I’ve turned a corner, but these 4 sessions were, for the most part, more wild than any I’ve played and the one X factor is the disassociation with money. Phil Ivey’s take:

“In order to be one of the best poker players in the world, it’s important to be able to put everything on the line — that’s gambling. To be really good at poker, you can’t be too tight or cautious with your money. No one is saying you should play recklessly, but too much caution can cost you as much as being too reckless. The overly cautious player will lose just as much as a reckless player — just more slowly. Because you’re always gambling for big amounts of money, you have to have a certain disregard for money. You have to believe that you will get it back if you lose.”