Random poker thoughts … after a couple of home games

poker game
Image by scmtngirl via Flickr

I got the chance last night to play No Limit Hold – tourney style at the Boston Social Media Poker Tour held in Watertown, MA and hosted by Kevin. He tries to run the event monthly, but it is hard to get people in the summer to commit to a Thursday night poker game.
I was the first arrival at his home last night. He said that 15 people had responded in the affirmative but that one had backed out. About 35 minutes later we started the “single table tourney” with six players. Due to the low turn out it was decided that the top two players would split the entry fees 60/40.

I have been card dead of  late, meaning that I am not getting many reasonable playing hands such as pocket pairs and last night was no exception. In the first tourney I was able to hit a flush with me holding the 6 8 suited to take down a good pot . For the rest of the session I was having to fold all but “Ace any” as I like to call them and hope for an Ace on the flop. For the most part the table was not overly aggressive, with the most betting occurring after the flop. Our host Kevin, was perhaps the most aggressive, always raising when ever he got his “favorite hand”. We were never able to find out what that was as most of us folded after his raise. Maybe next time we will find out?

I was able to hold on in the first tourney and finish third, the bubble, meaning that I just missed a chance to win money.  Because we had only six people in the first event and finished earlier that expected, we decided to play one more game. Two more people decided to drop out, leaving only four to play. Prior to playing, we decided that this would be a winner take all event. I did a little better this time and finished second, again just one spot away from winning a payout.

In both events, I was basically blinded off, meaning that I would be putting in the amount for the small blind or the big blind and would be forced to give those up when raised.  The reason I would fold was due to the poor cards I held. When ever I tired to re-raise and get the opponent to fold, it would not happen and I would lose more chips. I think that what I take back from this event was that I was not aggressive enough at spots when I could have taken the blinds. There were too many hands that were checked down and I would lose to a low pair that my opponent made at the river. Any reasonable bet made would have caused them to fold, so it turned out.

Have you ever had sessions where your hands were just not good enough to play except for a bluff and you knew that there was a good chance that your bluff would be called? Did you realize that your lack of aggression might have cost you chips? Or was your opponent more aggressive than you were and you were not able to adjust to their play?

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6 thoughts on “Random poker thoughts … after a couple of home games

  1. It's tough for me in tournaments when I'm not getting hands, just because I can't reload. Especially in a home game like you described, I'm sure the starting stacks are like 50BB or at most 100BB. When my friends and I started playing home games we only did 25BB.. with those kind of stacks you need a good starting hand because there isn't much room for post flop play if you are raising preflop. Maybe try starting with 100BB or 150BB? Also you say, that many hands were just checked down and you lost to a pair that the opponent would make on the river. I mean, assuming you raised preflop, why not fire a continuation bet on the flop? Double barrel the turn? Again, I think part of the reason is because you don't have enough chips in live home games to make much post flop moves. If you bet preflop, and then continuation bet and are called, and you only started with 25BB, you're pretty much all in. 50BB makes a turn bet an all in.. etc.I hope this made sense. The deeper the stack the better you can play post flop and the better edge you will have against players worse than you (and the better the edge people better than you will have) *in general*Sometimes you've got to fire off that continuation bet if your opponent checks to you, or if you are out of position and the flop looks scary enough for them to be pressed to call without a good hand. Don't be afraid to fire out a bet that supports your “story” of the preflop raise, having a strong hand, etc. Put pressure when given a good spot. Obviously, if there are multiple people to the flop, avoid the continuation bet unless you have a hand :P.

    • What I mean is lets say you have something like 89s in late position, 6 handed (like you said) and someone in the middle position limps with KJo when it's folded around to him. While you could JUST call in this spot with your 89s, it makes the hand alot easier for your opponent to play against. So you can fold, or you can raise. I don't really like calling unless the whole table has limped or something weird. If you raise him a solid amount (maybe 4xBB?), dealer folds, SB folds, BB folds, the original limper calls. Flop comes A47 rainbow, chances are he is playing hit or fold and will check to you. When he checks to you, you have a good shot at taking down the pot just by betting. You raised preflop, he likely doesnt have the ace (he checked flop to you) and you can easily represent the ace because of your preflop raise. Think about it, your line is raise, raise and clearly the ace doesn't scare you much. Your line becomes really strong and hard to call (assuming your opponent is not a big donk) with nothing but K high. Your starting hand was much worse, but by playing in position and putting pressure on the limper by raising you take down the pot alot more than not just by making a continuation bet. If he limped with KJo, you called with 89s (instead of raising) maybe dealer decides to limp… and small blind completes, BB checks… flop comes the same (A47)… now of course you have no hand, you let everyone into the pot. Maybe big blind gets to see that flop with his 47o now and hits two pair. Even if everyone else folds and its just you and KJ guy, in a limped pot, unless you hit, there's nearly no point in raising especially when for all you know he could have something like a 7 in his hand and want to call you down. Then of course you'll end up checking to the river. Sometimes you've got to create situations to win chips! Sorry if this was convoluted.

      • Jack, once again, your comments are full of very useful information, some of which I will be sure to apply in the next short handed home game. After the fact, I realized that I was waiting for hands to firm up and that did not help. I know that I should have come in for a raise and fired off a 4bb bet pre-flop and a cbet after the flop if I had not taken down the pot. I am sure that my lack of aggressiveness had cost me at least four pots or more during the evening. I appreciate your insight and comments.

  2. Jack, once again, your comments are full of very useful information, some of which I will be sure to apply in the next short handed home game. After the fact, I realized that I was waiting for hands to firm up and that did not help. I know that I should have come in for a raise and fired off a 4bb bet pre-flop and a cbet after the flop if I had not taken down the pot. I am sure that my lack of aggressiveness had cost me at least four pots or more during the evening. I appreciate your insight and comments.

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