Staying Hard

out of position,

Among a mountain of hands to review from this week, including three very poorly played ones from a session where I felt out of sorts and it showed in my handiwork, cuddling my opponents with small ball plays, going Dutch pot control, and caressingly missized raises, this one example illustrates very strongly how I really want to play the game.

At 5/5, I make an undersized open to twenty with AdAh from EP.  I don’t like this sizing, even if it is standard for the table because, though it’s early in the session, these guys did not come to the casino to fold.  (They are Hard Men.)  In any case, I doubt it really mattered, as my preferred 5x was not scary to these compadres, and five of them call including the SB.

On a flop of 567cc with 120 in the middle, that SB leads out for his entire stack of about 220.  I look around and the murderer’s row of overcallers looks at me.  I can feel the interest in this flop.  Now, I’m a big advocate of check raising as the preflop raiser; it’s such a beautiful play that turns position on its head.  However, I have no option here.  I can see that someone, maybe two of them, are going with this hand.  I may be still ahead, or I may not be: I can’t know.  What I do know is that I do not have range advantage, I have lost positional advantage, and since the pot is all in for everyone who wants to continue, I don’t have any skill advantage.

Except for one thing.  I can make a strategic fold that not everyone will make. I can win the war of reciprocity.

Now I know what many players will say, and so do you, but going with this hand against up to five players who can hit this board is not using the information I have at hand.  It’s just gambling and asking the Goddess to let AA win, one time!

That’s not how I want to play: I want to make Hard decisions where I exercise true tactical use of my chips and position.  I recognize the board, the situation, and the mood of the players.

I dump it.

A couple folds, and a fairly nitty late position player, a good player, counts out a reisolation, then sticks it in.  When the dust clears, the pot is chopped: both the LP player, who folded out the button, and the small blind, had big draws that both got there.  They were at the bottom of their range that would play for stacks and I was briefly ahead. I would have lost full stacks to the deeper LP.

Results oriented you say?  I don’t think so, not a bit.  I’m not here to gamble.  I’m not here to win flips and celebrate, or lose them and cry.  I’m here to compete.  To fold out my opponents or get them to pay me off.  The situation was against me, and this hand, which would look like a cooler whichever way it would have went, had I called it off, is a good example of the rigorous approach to the game I am striving for.

What wasn’t at well played by me was this hand from 5/10.

In a straddled pot with a limp in front of me, I see A10dd.  This is going to be an isolating hand for me most of the time.  However, I decide to make a ily-livered capitulation to insane game conditions  The straddle at earlier called my fourbet with 63s, and the SB behind me puts the mania in maniac.  I will create a three or four way five hundred dollar pot if I raise.  So I miserably flat, turning my optimal line into an exploitative one, much as I did here.  The SB calls, and we see a multiway AkQcc flop, which I bet when checked to.  The maniac calls.  He can have any draw and any pair, but I felt draw based on the speed of the call.  The straddle folds, and the turn is a nine, which I check behind. I don’t mind this; I want to have some strong checks to play the river with.  Fifth street brings an eight, and the small blind overpots it.  I had a plan to call or bet for value, and now I waffle.  He has so many weird hands that improved on the final streets, that I just don’t know what is going on.

I fold, and get shown a naked flush draw.  I screwed up.  I had a plan preflop that I backed out of (my raising range), and a plan for the river which I also found excuses to weasel out of.  I chose the passive turn play, even though that was okay, without the follow up call, I might as well not bet the flop.  I went limp.  I think Hunter Cichy is right: you have to force yourself, sometimes, to make the correct move, the one you know is right.

These days, seeing the game as clearly as I ever have, knowing isn’t enough.  The discipline is keeping it hard.

No spooning.

2 thoughts on “Staying Hard

  1. Ha “No spooning.”

    Great post. Helpful post. Courage and discipline are hard to muster particularly after a long streak of bad results. I question the logic of A10 as a solid isolating hand given the dominating hand ranges you are likely against, I’ll I see it has a place. That aside, I totally understand that feeling of knowing the right play and choosing the lazy, timid or passive path.

    Like a boxer covering up when he should be punching. The incoming punches will be a bit softer or deflected, but punches will predictably continue until collapse.

    When you check there with the A10, you are inducing him to bet all busted draws and given your read, those are likely, so, the river fold is much worse than not isolating with A10 or your turn play imo.

    1. Your assumption that the hand is dominated is the misunderstanding. Playing against loose, attacking, and calling players means I will be up against worse aces, K and Q high hands, and I can either shut out their equity or get value from them more often than they can outplay me when I three bet.

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