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playing poker and teaching science: The introspective poker player
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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?

Friday, September 16, 2005

The introspective poker player

Spending time thinking about poker may be as important as the experience gained from actually playing. That’s what this blog is for. I play some poker. I think about my play. I write about my play.

Then I kick myself for the mistakes I make over and over again.

I just read Iggy’s last under-uber post and he says that his family has found his blog and that may be cause to stop writing. Hell will freeze over and all Guinness will cease to flow before the Igmeister stops writing, but that brought to mind the fact that my new girlfriend, hereafter referred to as “My Little Bulgarian Beauty” (hi cutie!), now reads my humble blog and a comment from someone blissfully ignorant of the intricacies of this game called poker can sometimes give one pause.

Following a second losing day in a row after posting nine consecutive winning sessions, I told her about playing poorly and MLBB said, “Why do you make the mistakes you just wrote about not making?”

Uh….I dunno….because I’m stupid?

Out of the mouth of Bulgarians…..

It gives one cause for introspection so I am posting the top 11 on-line poker mistakes I’ve made in the past and reflecting on each as I give myself a grade (the teacher in me) from A to F.

First the top 11 mistakes:

1. Playing too many hands.
2. Calling raises on the turn.
3. Miscalculating odds with two cards to come.
4. Drawing to outs that won’t help.
5. Playing limits above bankroll.
6. Not paying attention.
7. Bluffing too much.
8. Playing short handed.
9. Trying to get back to even.
10. Always betting the river.
11. Not betting the river in order to check raise.

Then the grade:

1. Playing too many hands. B+ when playing well/D+ when having problems with mistake #9.
I’ve squashed this for the most part but still occasionally play J10 from an early position even though I know it is –EV.
2. Calling raises on the turn. B+
When I’m in the “I don’t need to win very many hands” mind set, I do well at folding here.
3. Miscalculating odds with two cards to come. B+
The only time I have a problem with this is when I have the nut flush draw. I rarely can get away from that, but since I am playing mostly limit, the odds aren’t too hard to calculate.
4. Drawing to outs that won’t help. A-
I only do this occasionally from the blinds.
5. Playing limits above bankroll. A+
Not a problem. I currently have more than 200 big bets in my bankroll for the top limit I play.
6. Not paying attention. C+
This is probably my second biggest problem. I look at email, read the news, fold laundry and sometimes this causes a totally unacceptable mistake. I actually folded a straight flush when a forth spade fell on the river and I only held the seven. It didn’t dawn on me until I was in the act of clicking that the river 5 was joining the 4,6,8. Yes, there was someone holding the ace AND a total fish staying in the hand with two pair.
7. Bluffing too much. B+
I rarely bluff, but if I am at a severely tight table I will keep firing bets with middle or bottom pair from the blind.
8. Playing short handed. A
If the table gets short handed I usually leave.
9. Trying to get back to even. D
I’ve found myself chasing Even from time to time, especially when I am on a run of winning days and am sitting on a small loser with my time limit drawing to a close, but much worse, when I have had some big hands beaten and try to “get lucky.”
10. Always betting the river. A
If I raised and bet my aces or TPTK the whole way and have been called, I will check the river and save a bet to the player who got lucky and caught two pair of a set and slow played it the entire way. This is a noticeable improvement and has saved me innumerable bets.
11. Not betting the river in order to check raise. A
If I have it I bet. The fish will call.

If these grades are accurate I’m carrying a B average right now. Not bad, but if I’m going to make serious money at some point and play consistently in a $5/$10 or $10/$20 game, I need to move into the A/A- range.

Where are some areas in which I could dramatically improve? I believe paying better attention and not trying to get back to even are the two most important areas. I’ve found that while I tend to win more than twice as many sessions as I lose, my losing days tend to be on the average, higher than my winning days. I have found myself time and time again playing inferior hands out of position when I am losing or after having had a big hand beaten. This is a HUGE leak!

I think one of my problem is that I’m a little bored just playing to make money so I’ve cashed out all of my profit since April, approximately $1000, and will use the remaining $150 on line at Party Poker and hit the $25 and $50 no limit tables for a while. I’ll be able to have some fun and not risk my bankroll.

Let the games begin!


Blogger Shelly said...

"If I have it I bet. The fish will call."

This is one of the best things I've taken heart of lately. With all of the tricky play you see on TV, and slowplaying monsters that may not remain monsters (or even those that will), I was losing tons of bets by trying to make tricky plays. THE FISH WILL CALL - so just bet it! Bet bet bet! :)

9:42 AM  
Blogger Wes said...

I don't think anyone would recommend a bankroll of only 200 BB unless you want to go broke.

1:43 AM  

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