Sunday, November 8, 2009

The Weekend "Player" - In the Money

As many know, many of my weekends include continuing to enjoy and sharpen my poker game, which subconsciously helps my trading focus while allowing me to forget about trading for a few days at the "conscious" level ... if you know what I mean.

So following up on yesterday's poker-trading comparison post, this weekend consisted of my making a somewhat shorter 107 mile trek north to Rockingham, NH -- versus my usual 130 mile trip to Foxwoods -- to check out the "Rock's" poker room.

I actually wasn't going to do much else than home and yard chores, yet I woke up feeling unusually focused, got my chores done by noon, and then made the drive on a beautiful fall day in New England to play in their 2pm tourney.

And for the next 7 1/2 hours, I played my best poker ever amidst a field of 120 -- with zero mental mistakes and several solid calls, all-ins, and strong folds -- ultimately ending up in the money in 12th after a rather odd beat on the last hand ... more on that in a bit.

Highlights included:

- Playing 3-4 well (no pre-flop raisers) when the flop came A-2-5 to give me an instant "wheel" (Ace thru 5 straight), at which point I checked and then just called the bettors. The turn came 6, where I repeated the same play with two others still in the pot. The river then came K ... another great card as I still couldn't be beat and likely would have gotten anyone with A-K in deep trouble. At that point the initial better bet strong, got called by player #2, at which point I went over the top all-in and got both to call. The result was my $9K stack going to about $30K in one hand.

- Losing the minimum twice, even though each hand played out where I really believed I had the best hand. In both cases the play was checked down to the river where the final card gave me top pair with a solid kicker. One time the river was a K where I held K-Q, and another time it was a J where I held K-J. In both cases I was beat by the same guy that held A-K and A-J, respectively.

- Keeping my tourney life alive during a sequence where I held an Ace high straight throughout the play, but lost on the river. The hand played out that I held A-9, and the flop came 10-J-Q (with 2 diamonds). Action was checked around at which point a K hit on the turn. I bet about 3/4 of the pot, and got called by a solid player with the chip lead (instant warning!). The only hands I could put him on (I was also playing very tight ... and he knew it), were trips (3 of a kind), my same hand, or a lower straight. The turn then came 3 of diamonds, where I put in a value bet (small bet to encourage a call, without sacrificing too many of my chips if I was wrong), at which point he went over the top all-in.

After thinking about it, and as weak as that river card seemed, I realized he had to be holding either my same hand, a lower end straight (unlikely though since I was playing tight-aggressive), or two diamonds. I correctly put him on the diamond flush (he also had the low-end straight which is why he kept calling), and laid down the Ace high straight. Jellie lesson: When the premise for holding your trade disappears -- no matter how good it looked at one time, get out of dodge! The hand cost me about 1/3 of my stack, but at least I was still alive to play, and later came back to make the final 12.

- And finally, losing on a sick play by an amateur where I was 12th and short-stacked, got dealt pockets 5s, and pushed my remaining chips in. Believe it or not, the guy calls with J-2! Of course, the flop then came 2-2-3, and there was no 5 to be had on the turn or river. One of the challenges in this tourney was that there were "bounty" rewards any time you knocked out an opponent, which likely (at least I hope!) factored into his pretty stupid call, which he'd lose the vast majority of the time.


All in all, as frustrating as the last hand was, I was very pleased with my play as I really didn't make any mental errors in the 7 1/2 hour grueling session, which was one thing I'd been working on in my game as I usually have one or two blind spots as to hands that can beat me, which also occasionally happens in my trading game if I lose sight of higher timeframes.

Let's hope that play carries over to the trading "table".