Poker: Reflections on a well-earned break

So I drop about a grand in three days which usually wouldn’t be a big deal, but I’m not running bad I’m playing bad. So I took about 2 weeks off of poker, only playing occasionally. Read a lot of posts and books and analyzed some leaks in my game. Played like 200 hands of $1/.50 and won 2 buy-ins while running bad and felt completely back on my game so the break will be over, but wanted to write about what I learned. So here are the top-5 leaks in my game that I am working on:

1. Calling a late position raiser with a hand that requires implied odds-

A guy raises 4xbb on the button you find 33 in the SB, this is a fold not a call b/c even if you hit your set it is unlikely the raiser had a strong hand, it was likely a positional raise. If the same raise comes from early position it is a call.

2. Overvaluing top pair/ fear of being bluffed- Not letting hands go when people play back at me because I’m convinced bluffs make up a large portion of their range when it is unlikely they do. For instance if you raise AK and get a caller on the button. Flop comes down K 8 2 rainbow, you continuation bet and they raise or call, you are probably beat. I’d probably call one more bet and see how much they go for on the turn but the truth of how money in poker is made is this- when the money goes in you don’t want TPTK and against good players AA is usually losing as well. You want to be the one holding the sets/monster draws/ 2 pair.

3.  Needing to tighten up at higher levels- At NL25 I could be a winner playing 80% of hands. At NL100 I can win playing 35% of hands. at NL300 I need to tighten up to 25% I think because the 10% of hands I can play profitably at NL 100 I play unprofitably at NL300.  The reason for this is two-fold, pre-flop and post-flop. Playing 2-gap suited connectors and open-limping can be profitable at NL 100 because people do not reraise light and they love going broke with one pair. The implied odds for the monsters aren’t there at NL300 as people can dump AA. Also they reraise a lot more and the last 10% of hands plays really badly to 3 bets preflop.

4. Lack of sleep- I had been living on 6-hours of sleep and at with that level of sleep cognitive functions are diminished. This is enough to push you from your ‘A’ game to your ‘B’ or ‘C’ game and cost you a lot of money.

5. Overconfidence- Because of my circumstances I stayed at NL/PL25 for way too long and won at about 14bb/100. Then I moved to 100NL and won at about 8-9bb/100. Then I moved to 300NL and have won at about 6bb/100. I have never had to deal with any real adversity in poker, but that also has made me overconfident. Taking this break, admitting mistakes and not blaming others when my results are sub-optimal are all important steps towards being a long-run winner.

Hope everyone had good holidays and good luck at the tables,


4 Responses to Poker: Reflections on a well-earned break

  1. brooklyn bum says:

    Great post T. I feel I have the same leaks especially when I have AA and can’t seem to fold them. It’s true what they say about AA. You usually lose a lot more than you win with them. I have to learn to fold these good hands if I’m going to reach another level in my game. I’ve gotta learn to fold these hands plain and simple. As for you running cold, I think it’s all a learning process. You’ve gone up in levels where the players start to get better and it gets more difficult to make money. I would say the level of play stays the same on the $25-$50 buy in levels (even at the $100 NL levels the play is suspect but the level of play increases dramatically after that.

    Great to see another poker blogger admit to leaks in their game and is constantly looking to improve their game. Keep up the good work T.

    Quick question T. What are the blinds at the $300 buy in? And are you playing limit also? Additionally, could the reason for your bad run is that you’re adjusting to the level of play at the $300 NL level? Once you’ve figured it out, I have no doubt that you’re going to start raising that win rate. Good luck and I’m looking forward to your next post.

  2. joseffreedom says:

    Blinds at 300 are 3/2, which allows for some interesting blind battles because if the person to your right is passive you are getting odds to play almost any hand, while if they are aggressive you can run elaborate traps against them.

    I never have played limit hold em because the edge is much smaller for a good player and the game is boring for me.

    I’m happy with 6bb at 300, that is a very good win rate for that level. If I can win more, great, but if I quit my job and just played poker I could have a nice living off that win rate at 3/2. I also am learning table selection is much more important at 3/2 because there are a couple of awesome players and staying as a far away from them as possible is very important.


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