Monthly Archives: December 2009

New Year (Poker) Resolutions

It’s that time of year when millions of people decide to stop smoking, start an exercise regime, or change one of endless other things in their life. For the 90% of the population who decide to do something different for the new year, it usually lasts until the 2nd week of January. Yes that’s very negative from me, but it’s pretty accurate. Good luck to all of you who do decide to make changes and let’s hope you’re in the 10% group.

Of course this is a poker blog, so let’s talk poker. The key to success at poker is improving your game, plugging leaks (don’t say you have none!), and doing it all over again. While you should always be studying poker, reading the latest poker strategy books, articles, analyzing your stats, etc – now is a good a time as any to reflect on your game and start afresh for the 2010. Here’s a brief list of what I’m going to do come January 1st 2010:

* Spend more time reviewing my hands after each session. I usually play 90 minute cash game sessions, and I might have a quick look at some hands. From January 1st I’m going to play 75 minute sessions and spend 15 minutes or more reviewing some poker hands – ones I played well, and ones I played badly.

* Controlling Tilt. I try my best to avoid tilting, but I know I could do better. I’m going to play much closer attention to this part of my game, and if I feel myself tilting I’ll leave the tables immediately. I think this one will have a massive impact on my bottom line.

* Table Selection. I’m going to be more selective in which tables I play at, and stop being lazy by sitting in a poker game with no fish. I’m going to leave and rejoin tables regardless of how well or badly I’m doing, but based on the quality of the table. I should do this anyway, but I often fail.

* Play at more online poker sites. I keep meaning to play at more online poker rooms, but I always seem to end up on Full Tilt. I might (haven’t decided on this yet) avoid playing on Full Tilt completely in January. You could say I’m going on a Full Tilt detox. Though I think this one will only last till the 2nd week of January.

* Blog more. I’ve been a little lazy updating the blog lately, so I’ll try harder with this.

Well that’ll do for me. If you’re making any plans for 2010 then good luck with them – see you at the tables!

Playing Poker Live for the First Time

A couple of months ago I took my cousin to play in his first ever live game. He’s 21 years old and I promised him a few years ago that’s once he reached 21 I’d take him to a casino/cardroom to play poker. So, I took him to a local cardroom for a $50 tournament. And no, my cousin isn’t Joe Cada!

We met for beers and a bite to eat beforehand, and I offered him some advice. He asked “how many is it for a straight – four or five cards?” which had me slightly worried. I told him to play tight and observe the other players at the table, and to not play any hands other than premium cards until he was comfortable. I said the other players would be understanding since you’re a beginner.

As it happens we were sat next to each other. He’s a confident kid but was very nervous. I’ve never seen someones hand shake so much when placing a bet. The other players at the table were laughing. I was a bit worried I’d thrown him in too deep. He also folded instead of checking, and other beginner mistakes – and was playing far too many hands.

Anyway, we reached the first break, and he was fairly short stacked. I told him – “just wait for a big hands and then shove it in”. The first hand after the break there’s an UTG raise from the shortest stack at the table. It’s folded around to my cousin who thinks for a few moments, then folds. The button calls and flips over AA. My cousin told me (and the table) that he folded QQ. I couldn’t believe it, and neither could anyone else. I told him later; “never tell people what you had when you fold a major hand – they’ll run over you”. It was a great fold on the surface, but the truth is it had nothing to do with getting a read on Mr. AA – so it was really an insane fold after my advice of “wait for a premium hand and then shove it”. Not that it matters, but he’d have actually hit a set and got the much needed double up.

As it happens he lasted a little while longer and even outlasted me by a few hands, which he was very happy about. “Wait till I tell everyone in the family that I outlasted you” he said. I then proceeded to give him another poker lesson, mentioning the variables at play in tournaments and how anyone can outlast anyone on any given tournament. It’s the long run that counts. I’m not sure he understood, but he sure had fun – which is the main thing.