Friday, August 10, 2007


How Good's Your D Game ?

... because mine sucks ass. I didn't feel too bad on leaving the house for Luton today, not massively up for it but still OK, and even half an hour on the M25 (three miles) didn't discourage me too much, but as soon as I lost a pot (AK v AA on a K high flop where I actually got off fairly cheaply) I just didn't want to be there, and from that point on I really played quite horribly. I couldn't put anyone on a hand, I was betting for no reason, and on two occasions my entire thinking process was "Er ... fuck this, all in". The first time I had JT vs QJ vs As9s on a board of Ts9c8s. Fortunately QJ was the short stack and my hand "held up" for the 4k sidepot. I use quotation marks because he was in fact 51-49 for the side. I won a couple of medium pots with a set on an all-spade flop (no one called my flop raise) and KK (somehow my opponent passed QQ on a ten high turn with only 1.5 x the pot left in front of him). Then I drained back to 4K again and butchered the rest drawing dead on the turn in an unraised pot. Smooth.

It was actually embarrassing to play so badly in front of a couple of players I know (Kevin O'Leary and Simon Trumper), although screw all the rest of the eggs :-). And I'm sorry to the guys who swapped %s with me and whoever stuck £20 on me (between them) on Betfair. Apart from that, live and learn. If I can't buy in to a tournament on the day, there's really no point me playing unless I can be sure I'm going to be motivated to play. This is a big factor with live poker, especially tournaments. How good your A game is really isn't as important as how good your D game is. Lucky for me that I can just log on and play online whenever I feel good about it, especially in SNGs. It also beggars belief how much money I have won in tournaments, especially live tournaments, when I'm basically hopeless at reading peoples' hands. LOL donkaments indeed.

I know the "I don't want to be here" feeling only too well. It's probably six years since I stood up from some tourney in the Dungeon and just decided that I wasn't enjoying this any more. I've been half-tempted to return to the new Empire for a tourney or two, just to get me out of the house. But my body-clock is totally out of sync with casino hours. I was re-reading Greenstein, and even he admitted that playing well after a full day's work was beyond him. Preparation is all. I can hardly hope to beat a collection of college kids and dolesters who can decide when and if to bother to get up.

Ferguson is another player who doesn't seem to try to put people on hands, and I've heard many ctiticisms of people who do try this to the detriment of proper play.

Certainly if you put someone on a hand and then stick by that hypothesis through thick and thin (for example, the "find a hand he might have that you can beat" syndrome) then you are asking for trouble, However, online, but even more so in B&M, there is an element of shading a player's range into a read. Kind of "OK, this is his range, so what does the manner in which he played the hand narrow down that range?"

I do fairly well there, which is lucky, because the rest of my live tournament play sucks.

Actually, I suspect that my entire live play sucks these days. Online is just completely different -- as different as tournaments from cash. Knowing the correct play against a short-stacked 12-tabler is useless if you are playing live. The "I'll put in a mini-raise because I know he clicks autofold" or "Perhaps he'll read a silly raise as an all-in bet" are of no use in a live game, where different experience comes into play. I suspect that if you played more often live (perhaps some cash games live?) your player-reading skills would go up immensely.

"KKK (somehow my opponent passed QQ on a ten high turn with only 1.5 x the pot left in front of him)"

I would love to know how that hand played out because they are either a genius or an uber donkey.

On the subject of playing badly, it is very difficult to force yourself to play well once you start playing badly. I cannot recall a situation where I started with the D game and recovered to the A game. If (and this a very big if) you realise that you have bought your D game to the table the only way I have of turning it round is to move to a fixed formula like "Kill Phil" this might be not as good as the A game but in most tourneys it gives you some sort of fighting chance and is way better than a game from the darker corners of the alphabet (I am sure I have a X-game within me somewhere).

Reading hands badly is worse than not trying to read them at all.
holy cow!! Is this a reincarnation of bluescouse? Time for a vacation, perhaps? Anyway, you have a lot going for you. I started reading your blog, because you are one of the few that actually knew what he was talking about, and you helped me tremendously with my pre-flop play. (I now have two pre-flop styles: "small-ball" and "English"). The odd thing is I have always felt that hand reading was one of my best poker skills. But perhaps that's just a donk talking out his ass.

I think the idea is to so ingrain your psyche with proper play and thinking that even your auto-mode "D game" isn't too far from optimal.

One thing I would like to hear about in future blogs is how you feel about playing full time. Are you getting sick of it yet, etc?

Great comments from everyone, thanks guys. As you say, knowing that you're not a great hand reader and playing the percentages is better than a lot of the "putting him on AK" that people do. But reading hands accurately would be better still :-).

The KK/QQ hand went down like this. 50-100 blinds, I made it 300 in MP with KK. He (Mick Fletcher apparently, the name means nothing to me) called in the SB. (Pot 700) Flop T7x rainbow, he bet 250, I made it 850, he called. (Pot 2400) Turn ... 8 or something I think. Definitely not higher than a T. He had about 3500 left and checked, I just set him all in (half the pot or so might have been better). He dwelled up, passed and showed QQ.

It still could be either. If he makes this kind of fold routinely, that sounds terrible to me. If he picked something up specifically from a read, that sounds great :-). Take your pick.

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