Saturday, May 1, 2010

A game of edges

Poker is a cruel game. You can manipulate and outmaneuver your opponents such that you get all the chips in the middle with a big advantage. But there's always a chance that your patience and cleverness will go unrewarded. In the grand scheme of things, however, this is actually a necessary evil.

The non-zero frequency that the deck bails out bad players is a feature of the game that keeps poker alive, since without the suckouts and bad beats the bad players would go broke without a chance to keep their bankrolls intact enough to keep donating to better players in the long-term.

I just wish it didn't hurt so much in the short-term when I keep losing after getting myself in situations where I play four or five big pots as a 9:1, 4:1, etc. favourite and lose every single one of them. That's just plain old variance at its cruelest, but I have to keep a proper perspective: if you keep putting yourself in good situations, you are going to take more than your share of bad beats.

Consequently, the lesson here is to keep playing this particular game because the players are so transparent in their play: but only after I've rebuilt my bankroll enough to withstand the variance. Taking shots at juicy games at higher stakes is one thing, but I still need to keep ten or fifteen buy-ins saved for this particular game.

Here's an example of what's been going wrong for me lately. This was a hand where the effective stack sizes were over 200BBs, and the preflop action let me find out just what sort of hand my opponent likely had whilst I had sufficient implied odds to see a flop. And it just so happened that I flopped well enough to play for a 400+BB pot (since postflop I am well ahead of two of the three possible hands he could have, as my opponent's range was polarized to QQ+). Sadly, this did not have a good ending for our hero. (NB. I would fold preflop if the stacks were shallower but I had very good implied odds, enough to see a flop with in my opinion when I was able to invest less than 10% of my stack preflop with a chance to win more than ten times my initial investment.)

I might have lost two buy-ins here with 4d5d, but I can take solace in all of the Galfond bucks I earned in this hand. My opponent's call here with aces was extremely unprofitable if you estimate the equity a pair of aces has against the range of hands I have for making this big check raise: sets, two pair, KK+, and drawing hands with 14+ outs. My strategy on this flop was to try to make myself appear like a shove-monkey making a play for the pot; and I induced a big mistake by my opponent who got stubborn with an overpair and couldn't lay it down.

Unfortunately for me, Galfond bucks can't buy anything in the real world.

1 comment:

nzgreen said...

Great post. I'm always trying to get myself into situations like this. And of course end up disappointed when it doesn't work out (esp if the play knocks me out of a tournament).

We all need to keep pushing those edges. Thanks for the reminder.