Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Before it Breaks

Unyielding to the latest storm after a lifetime of bending
On her most recent album, Give Up the Ghost, Brandi Carlile sings of regret...of mistakes...of moments at the crossroads, in a beautiful song called "Bend Before it Breaks"  (lyrics here).

Though I don't think she was writing about poker, I often find myself experiencing these emotions at the poker table.  Always the result of my own mistakes. 

I'm learning to take the beats...it's part of poker:  MDFR (make decisions, f(orget) results) (a little something I'm learning from Jennifear and Mathew Hilger's book The Poker Mindset). So while I can deal with the beats, it's the mistakes I'm making that are so heartbreaking to me.

Take this weekend's game, for example.  It was a nice 3-table homegame in BFE Texas with a $100 buy-in. 17,000 in chips, 30 minute blinds for the first two hours, with blinds starting at 25/25.  Lots of room to work and play.

We draw seats and shuffle up and deal.  First hand, I'm in the BB.  Folds around to cut-off who 3xbb raises.  Folds to me and I look down at AhKh.  Many times, I will reraise with this hand from any position, depending on the players, table dynamics, any reads I might have, etc.  This was the first hand.  I'm out of position.  I know nothing about the CO player so, I flat call. 

Board brings me a black A, a black 3 and a black 5 (not same suit).  I check.  She bets.  I call.  Turn's a blank and I check.  She min-bets and I raise.  She calls.  Turns another blank.  Because I raised her turn bet, I lead out with a little over 2/3 pot and now 7000 of my chips are sitting in front of me rather than safely in my stack. While I put her on an A, I didn't put her on a set of them.  Sigh.

Patience. Patience.  Patience. Small ball.  Small ball.  Small ball.

I worked my way back up to having a very solid stack, certainly second in chips at my table (and Ms Trip As had long since busted and we were down to two tables, ~14 players remaining) after 3+ hours of solid play, when disaster strikes.

Disaster in the form of pure aggression without thought.

7 handed at our table I notice that the newest addition, who is immediately to my right, has begun raising my blind when it's folded to us in a blind v blind battle.  Since he's to my right and I have position, I will defend and do.  It folds to him in SB and he 3xbb raises.  I look down at Ac2c and 4bet him.  He folds.

Very next BvB battle between us, it's folded to him and he 3xbb raises.  I look down at KdQd.  But I don't raise.  I just FC.  Why didn't I raise?  Why did I raise with the crappy A2s but not the KQs?  I had position. He folded the last time I 4bet him, why not continue with the pressure?

My thought process was this: "I raised the last time he did that.  He won't believe me if I do it every time.  Why not call and see a flop?"

A crossroads.  I turned left when I should've turned right.  I should have continued with the pressure and put him to the decision rather than putting myself in the position of possibly having to make tougher decisions post flop.

Preflop my hand was better but once he flopped two pair (QT), bet and moved AI to my reraise, my stack was decimated (I had him covered).

Solid, consistent, good poker hand after hand, hour after hour.  That is the goal.

One misstep and it's all over. 

Well-timed aggression is good.  Knowing when to bend before you break is even better.

And it saves me from crying to Brandi Carlile and beating my steering wheel to death on the ride home.


I cashed out my PokerStars bankroll after my DN debacle last month and have been playing some at FullTilt (if you're not playing their Twitter Poker Tour tourneys, you should!) and downloaded the software to Phil Laak's poker room, which I think is just a skin for Cake Poker

I got a very nice email from PokerStars after their "official statement" stating I was always welcome at the site and for that reason (plus my more than 17k in VPPs, which translates into dollars over time), I decided to redeposit a new bankroll back into my PS account to take advantage of those VPPs and the micro MTTs (the $2 and $4 90-mans) that they offer.  If you know of similar grindage opportunities at any other online site, please let me know and I will check it out.

On September 1, 2010, I redeposited $600 into PokerStars.  On that date, I played 6 tourneys at a cost of $14.05.  I shipped one $2.20 90-man, winning $49.59 and min-cashed in a $1.10 MTT for $2.25 for a total profit of $37.79.   

Min-cashed in a couple on the 2nd and lost some buy-ins on the 6th but had a good day today playing 10 tourneys (buyins -$35.20) and final tabling 3 for a net profit of $72.80.

BR = $695.55
Thank you for reading and I welcome your comments. 

Until next time, good luck at the tables!


  1. Hiya, I always like peeking in here from time to time. I like your BR management style, and it reminded me of something another poker lady posted: http://www.pocketfives.com/blogs/jennifear/

    She's a well respected player/coach on the SNG circuit.

    Another well respected poker player, and member of Team PokerStars Online: http://nichoelpeppe.wordpress.com/

    You may remember her as one of the "last women standing" from the '09 WSOP ME.

    Incidentally, I'm doing about the opposite of what you did withdrawing from FT and concentrating on Stars. Mostly for bonus purposes.



  2. Stevo - thanks so much for the link to Nichoel's site, she's awesome! I spent some time reading and checking it out this morning - very cool.

    Also - Jennifear is amazing. I actually worked with her earlier this year and she is an incredible and very reasonably priced coach. I would highly recommend her to anyone looking for an MTT coach. She is the person I've looked to for BR advice, too, and I link to her BR management advice often here on the blog - it's that important to a poker player's game (imo, anyway).

    I think the PS bonuses are really attractive and I am very much a loyalist. As I mention above in the blog post, that bonus program (and PS' public statement on the whole DN issue that got me riled up in the first place, plus their subsequent email to me (which I didn't post) is the main reason I re-deposited back into my pokerstars account. I'm glad I did because I was able to recover a $125 cash bonus w/in just a few days of logging back in and that is gravy for the ol' bankroll. I've still got over 17k in FPPs plus my VPPs and from a purely business/poker bankroll perspective, it just didn't make much sense to throw that away - especially in light of PS' public statement on the issue and their email to me - just because DN hates AD.

    I learned a lot from that whole experience. Mainly - sometimes it's best to keep my big mouth shut. =)

    I hope you're doing well!


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