Gargoyle Tournament Series, Season 9, Game 7

Started out poorly by losing a few hands, but then I was right back in after I hit a set of 2’s against one of the players who had just taken most of another player’s chips. However, after really thinking about how I’ve been playing, I came to a big realization.

I limp 2/2 from one of the blinds and call a normal raise. I check/call the flop after I hit a set. I check/call the turn and do the same on the river. My opponent was VERY gung-ho about his hand and that scared me. I played scared.

Realization – I’ve been having a good run of having the second best hand. I’ve also noticed what seems to be a good number of folks either slow playing me or calling with any two cards and winding up with monster hands. This has resulted in me playing scared. Truly, playing like a losing player. I think this has had some very negative effects on my game. I will need to focus some attention on this and will let you know if I can affect change.

A little while later I look down at A/Qo from the big blind. Gargoyle raises and I call. Flop is Ace high, 2 hearts and I check/call. The turn is a King. I check call. The river is a heart. I really don’t want to call a big bet here so I put out a reasonable sized bet hoping Gargoyle won’t raise. He does. A lot. I thought for a good minute or two here and finally decided he probably has the same hand I do. I don’t think he has a flush or if he does it’s a terrible one. He likely has an Ace with a good kicker. Hopefully not A/K as that would crush me. I call. He turns over A/K. Good read, bad call.

Based on the fact that I was 99% certain that he didn’t have the flush, I think I could have gotten away with an all-in bluff here to represent the flush. Thoughts?

My next hand of note was calling with 3/3 and flopping a full house (Q/Q/3). I check planning to check/call or check/raise. The turn is another Queen which I hate. I bet and get a call. The river is a Jack and I bet and get another call. He shows something like K/J for the rivered better full house. Again, I think if I play more aggressive instead of passive here I could have taken it down without going to show-down.

By now I’m getting pretty short stacked. I shove from the button with K/Jd and get 1 caller who shows A/Qo. Yuck. The flop is A/Q/4, 2 diamonds. I don’t hate this flop, but I don’t love it either. The river gives me my 3rd diamond and I get a needed double-up.

Mr N had been doing terrible. With him directly to my left it was fun to play with him, but from the small blind I look down at K/K and after it folds around to me, I go all-in on him. He calls with 5/6s. He was laughing about how I would hate this call and I did! The flop was something like 5/6/x (of course!) but the turn paired by board and I was able to eliminate him. I like this aggression, but of course it was backed by very impressive cards. Nit-much?

So now I’m sitting on 6,000 which is still not great, but better. I call a raise with 9/9 and plan to shove any flop that’s good. Flop is good and I shove, but the original raiser has A/A. C’est La Vie!

With about 2,000 left I decide to button-raise and try to steal with K/10o. One caller, The Rule, from the big blind. Flop is Ace high, which I hate… but decide to bomb away at like I have a strong Ace. No-dice, he calls. He checks the turn, a queen, and I give up and check back. The river is an interesting Jack giving me a straight and he makes a big bet. I announce all-in and look to see for how much only to realize it’s for less than his bet. Up to 5,000 through sheer dumb luck!

After this I truly go card dead, the deadest of the dead, and slowly blind down. With hardly anything left I go all-in with K/J and am called by Gargoyle with 3/3. His 3’s hold and I’m out in 22nd place.

So again, I’ve really been doing a lot of thinking about how I play and I’ve come to the conclusion that I’ve turned into a weak/passive player. I’m not sure when this happened, but I really need to pay attention to that and try to get myself out of that style as I know it won’t be successful for me in the long-term.

I think I know what’s happened though. Much like other players, the pressure of never seeming to win has been gnawing at me. I had a lot of success early on and now it seems that no matter what I do I just can’t seem to find a win. This has caused me to really become over-cautious. Logically it makes sense why I’m playing like I am, it’s just not who I want to be as a poker player though.

Tell observed: No names to protect the guilty.

One playing I was observing made a pretty big 3-bet. After the bet they looked off into the distance as if they were dreaming without a care in the world. This is a classic strength tell and I correlated it with this player to mean they were REALLY strong. Like A/A or K/K strong. The other player folded and I asked them which it was and they showed (I don’t remember which, but it was A/A or K/K).

I talked with them during the break and they revealed that they knew about the tell but didn’t realize they were doing it at the time. They also told me that they will sometimes use it during bluffs as a false-tell. Brilliant! That’s some good self-awareness to be able to do that.

After the break I saw them make a huge bet and then go into this tell. However, I immediately suspected a bluff as it wasn’t quite the same as when they were strong earlier. For the strength version, it was a very peaceful stare with hardly any movement. Sort of like a wild animal that doesn’t want to get caught. For the bluff version they were still staring off into the distance, but there was some movement included, like they couldn’t quite decide where to stare. One might even say anxious. These types of behaviors are usually correlated to bluffing so therefore, I decided that this was their bluff version. Their opponent called and sure enough, bluff!

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