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playing poker and teaching science: Fold, fold, fold….
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Location: Indiana, United States

I'm a middle school science teacher, wrestling coach, poker player, scuba diver, aikido black belt, amateur writer, and student of life. In the past I have tried to give back a little by volunteering at a children's home in Belmopan, Belize, Central America. I also love Frosted Flakes. I have taken a year sabbatical from my teaching position in order to sail the Caribbean. Does that sound crazy to you?

Monday, August 22, 2005

Fold, fold, fold….

The essence of making money in limit play is to fold. I tell myself this again and again as I’m playing. It’s become my mantra along with “I don’t have to win very many hands.” So what do I do time and time again? I enter a pot in early position with a marginal hand like J10 or Q10.

Why don’t I just fold?

This is a question I’ve been struggling with over the last 10-15 playing hours and I think part of the answer is that when I change a routine that I’ve devised, I begin to lose some of my focus and that allows the “beginner’s mind” to creep in.

A reading from the book of Terry’s Poker Notes, chapter one, verse one:

In the beginning Terry watched poker on television and, being adept at numbers and patterns, decided to learn more about the game Texas Hold Em. He bought books, read articles, and played for free. He amassed as much knowledge as was possible without actually risking any real money. In the beginning Terry learned that “blackjack” hands were good hands and he played those hands only, and they were good.

You see, the beginner’s mind didn’t take into consideration the importance of position. Position is important if you are playing to make money consistently with as little fluctuation as possible. Should you play J10? Sure! But is J10 played in early position facing a raise and a re-raise a good starting hand? Absolutely not! Will you make money occasionally? Yes, you will.

A huge problem however is that the beginner’s mind tends to remember the times J10 won a big pot and he forgets to note if they were suited and from what position they were played. Experience steers us to more profitable play.

I changed the routine that was working so well for me and this has resulted in some losses that, while not taking me backwards, have slowed my forward progress. I was at a point where I was making approximately $35 an hour and posting many more winning days than losing days, but after I set up a spreadsheet to keep track of my online play, I stopped taking meticulous notes and allowed my mind to slip a little. I played marginal hands from early position and then tilted a little and tried to get back to even playing suited kings and the like, inevitably flopping top pair and getting outkicked.

After my third $80 losing day I reevaluated my play and have since begun to bounce back posting my third winning day in a row and a solid 10 hours of successful play.

Here are some words of wisdom posted by everyone’s favorite uberposter Iggy that have helped me while I contemplated my losses:

1) Other players bad play will make me far more money than my fancy or brilliant plays.
2) The guy that leads with a bet on the turn, after not betting previously, often has a big hand.
3) Folding costs me nothing pre-flop. If it's a close decision, I can't go far wrong by folding.
4) Feeling ANY sense of immediacy in poker is a BAD thing. I'm talking cash games, here, obviously.

From my perspective, bad beats are the sign of a good game, damnit. I want players chasing. I want players calling two bets cold on the flop without proper odds. It's why I don't have to work for the Man anymore. Just accept it when they hit and move on. Don't freaking tilt, damnit.

I’m still averaging more than two big bets per table per hour of play, but the profits are not what they could be. The battle of the beginning mind continues.

Thanks for reading.


Blogger Shelly said...

I suffer from that "beginner's mind creep" too, especially when I'm tired of folding or see a lot of fish suck out with junk. You know - you look down and see Q6 suited under the gun and think, "hey, maybe I could hit a flush..." Fold fold fold is a good mantra :)

10:15 AM  

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