Friday, February 24, 2006


I haven’t posted too frequently on this thread recently, mainly due to the fact that I’ve been updating on the EPTs, but also because I want to avoid filling the thread with irrelevant waffle. I feel today’s entry, however, might interest a few people, and I firmly believe that it is a problem that occurs for many an online player.

Last Thursday was the Birmingham Open £300 event at the Broadway Casino. I’d promised myself that I would win either this event, or the £300er at the Midlands Medley in Walsall. Although I experienced a victory in a £30 freezout at the Gala last month, my form in the bigger events is questionable. However, I was determined to start hitting those final tables again, and I saw no better place to do that than my own hometown.

On entry, I noticed a whole heap of familiar faces. In fact, the 100 plus runners seemed to be made up of quality known players from the circuit. Joe Grech, Paul Jackson, John Shipley, Micky Wernick, Dave Colclough, and co had all been lured by the bright lights of Brum. Actually, El Blondie was on my table, along with Ash Pervais, Craig Wildman, Frankie Knight, and Matt Tyler. It was a pretty tough table to be honest, and, at the most, there was just the 1 fish.

My thought process before we kicked off was thus: Don’t try and show off in front of Dave and think about every decision. Also, I wanted to add a bit of flair to my game. The table was lacking in fish and I needed to show some rags so I could be paid off somewhere down the line. Most of the table knew me, but hadn’t played with me too often, so would naturally assume I was a rock. Therefore, to have any chance of the aforementioned players paying off my monsters, I needed to show that I’d come here to play.

After a round or two, I just wasn’t finding any hands and my plans were going to pot. So, when I was one off the cut-off position, I decided to raise whatever my cards. Big mistake. I had K-5 off, a dangerous hand to start messing around with. I could easily get caught by a bigger king holding, and it’s not the sort of hand that’ll catch a nice flop. Something like 9-7 would have been much more appropriate.

Anyhow, I did raise, and both blinds called. The flop came 8-8-9 with two diamonds. Both checked. I bet 600. Another big mistake. With a flop like that, it’s way too dangerous to start betting out when both the blinds are involved. I could get called by a 9, 8, flush or straight draw, even overcards. Getting them both to fold is nigh on impossible.

The small blind called and the turn came a raggy diamond. Hmm, not good. He checked, I checked. The river then brought a J. He checked. I dwelled for ages, wondering how I was going to get out of this one with some pride in tact. Another mistake. Do I really care that much about pride? With that board, there are so many hands that could beat me. I wouldn’t be surprised if he turned over a nine, or even a straight. So, for that reasoning, I checked. He flipped over pocket sixes, and I was left blasting myself for not making the bluff.

I was about to muck my garbage, when I suddenly decided to flip it over. Pretty embarrassing, but I thought I’d swallow my pride and let the table know that I was willing to play any two cards. I got a few smirks and the odd, ‘K-5? What you raising with that rubbish for?’ but I can take it.

So, not the best of starts, and it wasn’t to get any better. From here on in, my concentration completely slipped and I started playing like an idiot. I didn’t think logically about any of my hands and the amount of mistakes I made is insurmountable. I wasn’t receiving any big cards, and I became impatient, unnecessarily so.

Online, I have a matter of seconds to make my decision due to the fact that I’m playing four tables simultaneously. For some reason, my brain was still in multitabling mode and I was treating my live decisions as online ones, hitting call, fold, or raise ASAP.

One hand I raised to 200 under the gun with 6d 5d. There were 4 or 5 callers. (Well, at least they’re willing to play with me) The flop came Ad 2c 4c. Everyone checked, to the button who bet 500. This guy was a weakfish player and I was pretty confident that he had the ace. For some reason, I decided to call. Why? Well, because I’m a baboon. This is the sort of call I’d happily make online. I have a backdoor flush and a straight draw. It’s pretty cheap, and I know that if I hit, I can get called by a top pair holding, even if I massively overbet the river. Also, there’s a good chance that he’ll back off and check the turn, therefore giving me another chance at hitting. It’s not the greatest move, but online, it can be surprisingly profitable. Live, however, it’s a donkey play, especially when your chips are already diminishing.

Anyhow, the turn came a dreaded 6s, making me a pair. Both of us checked. The river then brought the Qc. Now, I know he has the ace, I know he’s a weak player who could never fold top pair, I also know that, before the river, I was happy to pass if I didn’t hit one of my 11 outs. So, what did I do? Yep, a little demonic voice in my head chanted ‘Bet. Bet. Bet’. And I couldn’t stop myself chucking in a 1000, which clearly wasn’t enough to push anyone off anything, never mind a weak player off top pair. Inevitably, he called and showed Aspades Th. Great going snoops. I looked down in dismay at my 2.5k stack. I hadn’t received any bad luck, no bad beats, no nothing, but I was 3.5k down already from my 6k starting chips. What a waste. An hour clock with miniscule blinds, and here I was throwing it all away.

Online, this wouldn’t be a problem. I’d accept my mistake and refill back up to the max. No worries. Unfortunately, my brain was still in online gear when I sat down at the Broadway. I was in a ‘I’ll just refill’ mood, and it was threatening my existence in the comp. I kept telling myself to get a grip and start focusing, but I didn’t seem to listen. Immensely frustrating in hindsight.

Well, after doing some more chips and then doubling back up to 4k, I eventually sang my swan song the very next hand when I raised 350 preflop with Ad Qd. I found two callers and a flop of Js Qs 4s. I checked, the guy next door made an overbet of 1600. I mulled it over for about a split second, then moved all-in. The overbet smelt like a bare ace to me. He called in a shot and showed Aspades Ac. Awesome. I was a gonna.

Whilst some said that I couldn’t really get out of it, I was convinced that I’d made another boo boo. I’d only invested 350, and I had no spade, so it really wasn’t worth me moving all-in, especially when I know I’m going to get called. Why I didn’t think any of this through at the time, I don’t know. I made no attempts to read my player or the situation, instead opting just to make a random decision. Once again, my brain was looking at a monitor with four tables, believing it had to make a decision pronto and that, if I was wrong, I could just refill. Well, not this time. I trundled off to the bar with my tail firmly between my legs.

I was absolutely gutted. I’d payed £300 to play like a fool. I don’t mind getting bad beats, but when I knock myself out of competition through play as bad as that, it really gets me down, especially when I’m in need of a win.

But why did I play so badly?

The day before, I played 7 hours of non-stop online poker. I encountered the clawback and managed to drag myself from $700 to just $100 down. I’d played all that time without a break, and still lost money. Intensely infuriating, but that’s the way it goes sometimes. My mistake here is not recognising that the clawback scenario can count for live competition too. If you recall a post a while back about the ‘clawback’, you’ll remember me identifying the god awful session that inevitably follows. You manage to claw back a loss, and then do all your money the very next day. Well, I guess that’s what happened here. I endured a clawback, went to the Broadway the next day, and did my money by playing poorly. I suppose I should be thankful that I got it out of my system before I hit the online tables, which could have been a lot more expensive.

Also, my mindset was much too focused on online play. Not thinking about my decisions, bluffing unnecessarily, forgetting that I couldn’t refill, not paying attention to my diminishing stack size, not making efforts to read players, acting too quickly… the list just goes on and on.

Ultimately, I failed to adjust to live poker and it cost me £300. It’s something that I am now aware of, so next time I’ll make efforts to avoid a repeat performance. Not playing a seven hour session the day before, recognising the importance of a clawback, and making sure I staple a thinking cap to my head, would be a jolly good start…


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