Friday, March 18, 2011

Know yourself...then maybe wins will come.

Over the years playing poker you learn a lot of things through normal play, talking about hands with others, reading about poker etc. These lessons can stay with you, they may become your culture and you just do before thinking or they may be things that you used to do, switched your game up and may have forgotten but one day you re-read something or over hear something and it reminds you of a piece of your game that you could possibly go back to.
My wife really hates the fact that I have books, magazines and notebooks full of notes and has asked me to start getting rid of...something. I started by looking through my poker magazines and I happened upon an interview in Cardplayer August 2009 with Matt Hawrilenko, under the Capture the flag section with top cash game pros. Matt talked about an important aspect of his game and that is not learning to read your opponent's hand but learning to read your own hand. Here is an example of what he means, "Suppose someone raises, the big blind defends, and the board comes j-6-5 with two hearts. Some guys in the big blind will never check-raise a 6. All they will check-raise is a jack or any sort of straight draw or flush draw. So, when he check-raises, the bulk of his distribution will be flush draws and straight draws. If the board runs out Q-J, there are a lot of guys I'm calling down here with king high, because their hand distribution is just so heavily weighted toward drawing hands that have missed. This is where good players just eat people up. It's very important to have the appropriate mix of different types of hands in every situation. When I was really improving, that is the thing I focused on the most."
My take is this, when you are playing tell a good story in every hand that you play, bet size correctly to get the most value and represent your hand correctly, in doing so your game will improve and your wins will add more green to your pockets! Stay within your comfort zone and play to win, but try not to bluff bad!
Stay nice as Rice and Mello as Jello!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Attention to detail

As an Ops Manager for Frito Lay, I am pretty laid back and not hyper aggressive. I tend to let most things go and allow my people a lot of leeway. I come down on the big things and continue to coach and train on the smaller issues. Working in the environment that I do it is important that you pay attention to details, address them before they become bigger issues. I know, it's only chips, but it is a business and it exists to make money. My point is when I am at the table I am very opposite of how I am at my job. I am very aggressive at the poker table, sometimes too aggressive for my own good. I make good reads and have been able to play a loose aggressive game for most of my poker experience. Recently however, I have transitioned to a more tight aggressive game. I don't get to go play very much so I have to reduce my negative variance. The key though is to watch out for the details. How did his hands move when he saw the flop, people have learned to control their facial features, however they still have not been able to work on the neck down. Watch and observe if you are not in the hand and see if they move towards the table or away after the flop and if he/she goes to the river what did they have? Usually when they move closer, their hand is pretty strong. Moving away sometimes indicates weakness. These are a couple of the basic reads. As you play, continue to observe the table when you are not in a hand. I know that others like to watch the ball game, cocktail servers or what have you, I suggest you watch the other players and how they might put a chip on their cards or keep the left hand on for a strong hand or their right had on for a weaker hand. How they bet could also indicate strong versus weak...if they throw in a big chip, they might be strong, if they bet smaller chips and try to make them look right, might be weakness. Consider this, because I am still working on this myself, when you are playing this game you are playing with real money, do everything in your power to get it in for the most profit. Observe the other players because when you do get into a situation you may have seen something from your opponent that would give you that extra insight to make the right decision. Pot control, bank roll management, bet sizing. These concepts will always be important as you continue to try to become a pro or if you are a pro. I just wanted to give my two cents...get out there and make the right decisions and you will eventually be rolling in the dough!
Stay nice as rice and mello as jello!