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Hi Vegas and High Variance

I played in two games last night, a $11 6-handed SNG and a $26 Token Frenzy. I won my token but lost the SNG in 4th place when I suffered a suckout for all of my chips. When it happened, I simply closed the window, maximized the $26 Frenzy window and moved on with my poker. I guess I've got that going for me.

Lately, whenever a negative thought crosses my mind, I return to one thing: Vegas. If you don't know by now, I will be attending the WPBT Winter Gathering from Dec. 6-9 this year. It will be my first time ever to Vegas with the blogging crew, and my third time to Vegas ever. The first time was with wifey Kim. She had a friend from college who moved to Vegas and a bunch of her college girl crowd all met up there. I spent most of my time with the boyfriend of the Vegas local, visiting assorted poker rooms while wifey Kim saw the Hoover Dam (where she allegedly said, "Wow, this was built by beavers?" -- although she denies saying this). I had a tough go in Vegas, suffering a string of bad luck, compounded by the overwhelming feeling one gets when he or she visits a site of great religious significance. Vegas is poker Mecca, and it was all too much for me to take in. If you are interested in reading more about this first stint, you can read about it in a post called Suckouts and Bluffing in Vegas. That post really was the protype for my future Trip Reports (all collected in the Trip Report Index)

The second time I was in Vegas was for Dave Roose's bachelor party. The trip was awesome, since I was surrounded by friends who could share in my poker degeneracy. I had a great time with my buddies and I loved playing excessive amounts of poker. For the most part, I was able to let my degenerate flag fly, with minor exceptions for when we did things as a group. Alas, I didn't have the best run of luck either, and then was summarily crushed by my inability to keep away from table games. It was an expensive lesson, but a lesson nonetheless. You can read about that trip in an 8-post Trip Report, starting with Arrival in Mecca, Adjusting for Conditions, Poker Oasis, Poker-Free Intermission, Losing Begets Losing, Tanned and Flushed, Winning Begets Winning, and finally, Decimation.

Now, when I am faced with life's indignities, I just think one thing. Vegas. My plan is very loose. All I know is that I'm staying at the Imperial Palace with PokerPeaker and will be playing the WPBT Tournament. Other than that, I'm just taking it as it comes. Dave Ruff and Timmy Bones will be in Vegas at the same time and will likely also play at the WPBT event. I'll probably join some NY bloggers for another tournament or two inspired by Baconkini Mary. I'd like to actually sit down and have a nice meal at some point with some random blogger brethren. But other than that, I just hope to go with the flow. Seems like enough of a plan to me.

I was looking back at some hands I saved. This one stood out to me because it exemplifies why I have had trouble closing the deal in recent tournaments.

I was in a $10+1 Knockout tournament on Full Tilt. I had over 21k in chips, with blinds of 400/800 and 100 antes. With TJo, I raised from the button to 3,200. Gray, the SB, called with 49k in chips. The BB folded.

The flop was AJT, rainbow. He checked, and I pushed all-in for about 18k into the ~8k pot. He called with KJ, and then turned his King.

In hindsight, he actually had 10 outs: three Kings, four Queens for a straight, and three Aces for two-pair Aces and Jacks with a better kicker.

Some of you may see this hand and wonder why I'm making a play with JTo preflop. Ostensibly, its a steal, which is something most of us can understand. But it is also a lot more than that.

My preferred style of play is very aggressive. This often leads to situations where (a) I hit hands that people do not expect, and (b) I get paid off by inferior hands because my opponents do not respect my copious raises.

It's not a bad style of play. But it can be HIGH variance, because people are more likely to call you, and therefore, there are more opportunities to suck out. I have previously advocated playing tight to avoid all-in confrontations. I think that is also a very smart, winning strategy. But it is not the only one, and it is definitely not the style that fits me best on most occasions.

In that particular hand, I started off with a steal with cards that had a lot of potential against callers. The flop was ideal. The AJT flop put me way ahead of any preflop callers who had an Ace and not AJ or AT (very unlikely, given the fact that I had one Ten and one Jack and the board had one of each). This isn't rocket science. These are the types of situations that can really pay off.

So, when it checked to me, I pushed. I was okay with taking down the already sizeable pot (8k+). And, if he had a strong Ace, like AK or AQ, he'd likely call and I'd be in good shape to double through him. As it turned out, he called me with second pair, second-best kicker. I didn't expect that, but I damn well invited it. It was a poor play on his part, but he probably saw my aggressiveness and figured that I was making a play with an underpair. All things fell into place and he called almost 1/2 of his chips with that crap hand. The fact that he hit is almost neglible.

ALMOST, being the key word. I keep going deep, but I keep falling short. When I look back at recent results, though, I see a definite pattern. My opponents' loose calling requirements are generally at fault. I can control that by establishing a tighter image. But I do not want to do this. In the past, I wrote that when I do win tournaments, I usually work up a dominating stack. That is the other end of this high variance style. Ultimately, if I switch styles now, I will not be ready when my luck has come in.

This has all given me new long-term perspective. But before I get to the long-term, I get to go to Vegas. And now, if you'll excuse me, I think I'll return there now in my mind.

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 10:27 AM,


At 4:51 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

I'm just hoping to play some poker with you that Thursday and then maybe have a nice meal with you and Gary and TripJax at some point...otherwise that's it.

At 2:17 PM, Blogger Schaubs said...

I have zero plans myself.

I'd like to get a nice meal or two in for sure. Pai Gow also interests me... but we'll just have to see how that goes.

Package has been sent, I hope it arrives safely in about a week... snail mail.

At 2:46 PM, Blogger Alan aka RecessRampage said...

Looking forward to meeting you in Vegas. Happy Thanksgiving!

At 8:54 AM, Blogger David Westbay said...

Re: Vegas - I am staying at the Stratosphere and have heard that the restaurant at the top of the Tower is very good, so I would be interested in trying it out. How about you? Considerations: I hear it is pricey, and requires advance reservations. But I'm willing to splurge at least once on this trip. E-mail me or leave a comment on my blog if you are interested.

Re: your playing style - everyone has to play the way that is comfortable for them, but it's good to be flexible and willing to change gears too, so your opponents can't predict what you are going to do. I know I need to work on being more aggressive, since I tend toward the tighter (and weaker) end of the scale. Good luck, and see you in a couple of weeks!

At 8:16 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

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