Thursday, May 09, 2013

Atlanta Braves

Do you have some online accounts with security, like banking, email, or shopping, that use logon name and password, but then they also have you give answers to some “secret security questions?”   You know, like a pet’s or girlfriend’s name, or the street you grew up on, favorite high school teacher, or TV show, whatever.  

One account I have asked me a cute one:  “Name the sports team you love to see lose.”  Seriously, that was their question.  Lol.

I’ve said it before, but it’s worth repeating— —  The only sport I’m really into is: Co-Ed Wrestling.

But some years ago, when stationed at Ft. Knox, Kentucky, Mrs. Rock & I were actually genuine baseball fans.  We lived on the base in family housing, about a mile from the gold depository, in a two story end-unit townhouse, plus full basement, in case of tornados.  Seriously.  We also had cheap cable TV, with HBO, and stations from LA, Toronto, Atlanta, New York, Chicago, Cincinnati, etc, etc., plus ESPN, and the networks.

Well, we were big Dodger fans back then, and watched lots and lots of games.  This was in the days of Steve Garvey, Steve Sax, Steve Howe :-), Mike Scioscia, Dusty Baker, Ron Cey, and of course our hero, the man, Fernando Valenzuela.  Later, Orel Hershiser was a hero, too.

And it sure irritated me to see the Dodger’s big rival, the Atlanta Braves, call themselves “America’s Team” on the Turner Station, Channel 17.  Some nerve.  I’m in America, and they’re not my team, so WTF?  Therefore, although I must admit they were a pretty damn good team back then, I liked to see the Braves lose, even it if wasn’t the Dodgers beating them.  

And so that was my "secret" answer on [I’m not saying what site]:  Atlanta Braves.

Well don’t we all have our own “Atlanta Braves” at the poker table?  You and I both want to win, want to beat the other guys, sure, but aren’t there a couple guys you *really* like to beat?  Or maybe guys you just *really* like to see lose, even if it’s not you that beats them?  

Like, for instance, Lenny Whiner, from Florida, playing 40/80 at Bellagio during WSOP the last three years running.  Actually I’m just guessing at that last name, but here’s a guy that, well, I don’t know, it just makes me smile inside when somebody sucks out on him and he gets all steamed up and acts like a baby.

Then there was TWA (Tall White Asshole) in the 40 game at Commerce last July, a curly hair guy we’ve seen several times, Vegas and LA, along with his hot (?) GF with the inked neck.  He was teasing and torturing the dealer by mucking as far away from her as possible, making her reach, then next time more or less throwing the cards at her, and  asking “How’s that?  Any better?”  So did he get on my Atlanta Braves list, and become someone I will like to see lose?  Sure.

But then it turns out that, sometimes, I’m the other guy’s Atlanta Braves!  Lenny, for example, doesn’t speak to me, pretty much ignores me.  But he sure will smirk when he sees me take a beat.  

And here’s something a little hard to admit, kind of puzzling, but looking at it objectively, well, it's true:  Here at Diamond Lil’s, if you polled all the regular 20/40 players, most of them wouldn’t name anyone in particular as being their Atlanta Braves.  

But it used to be, for those who did, I think the name given most often would have been:  Sarge.  I know, right?  I couldn’t believe it either!  I never dissed anyone, don’t get ugly or arrogant, don't gloat when I win, and sure as hell don’t deride bad play when they suck out on me!

But there was this small clique in the DL 20 game, all guys from [redacted],  who pretty much didn't speak to me, and would openly discuss how much they wanted me to get beat, even to the point of occasionally “cooperating” with each other by whipsaw raising a little when I’m caught between them.  Those moves tended to backfire on them more often than not, so I didn’t really mind too much.  :-) But for sure, I was their Atlanta Braves.

The good news is that there's been a big thaw in all that. Seems like NOT taking the bait, and NOT getting into arguments, ever, and being excruciatingly polite if there's a dispute and I'm involved, and remembering to STFU if I'm NOT involved . . . all that paid off. I just treated them all with courtesy, and a little respect, even when it was a one-way street. Eventually, then, it becomes, grudgingly perhaps, a two-way street. Well, in most cases. Sadly, not all. But I'm working on those too. I still wonder what I did to get on these guys’ shit list.  Misbehave?  Hardly.  Insult, disparage, or otherwise disrespect anyone?  Never happen.  

The Theory of Relativity

Imagine if the best college baseball team in the state went up against a typical little league team from your town.  College boys gonna kick ass, right?  

Now imagine that same college team versus the N.Y. Yankees.  Whose ass gets kicked now?

So when you ask if a particular guy is a “good, winning poker player," it’s kind of like asking if those college boys are a good team.  The answer has to be:  “Compared to who?” It's relative.

On a good day in the DL 20/40, I feel like a college team, up against mostly little leaguers. On a bad day, in Vegas or LA, I feel like I ran into MLB. And for my Bellagio WSOP side action trips in 2010 & 2011, I had lots of bad days.

The problem? Both times, my performance was exceptionally poor for that single most important component of a winning poker strategy: Game Selection. Ego, over-confidence, and the adrenaline rush of "Hey, this is Vegas!" combined to help me find the courage to sit into games five times bigger than I play at home, and to completely blow off, and ignore, how they were also way tougher. Sure, there were a couple ding-dongs here and there, now and then, but mostly VERY tough guys in those games.

So I was outclassed, and I knew it, and yet I played anyway, and both times blew in a couple weeks the BR I had built up over a year at home. Doing that once is bad enough, but that I did it twice, two consecutive years, is, well, I don't know the word. Pathetic?

So last year, for our WSOP 2012 Vegas trip, I played only the 40/80 side action, 23 straight days, then went on to Commerce for another 10 days of 40/80, and this time didn't blow the year's BR, although neither did I grow it much. Then we came on home, and finished the year playing at DL.

Seems reasonable to me, and you've probably heard this too, that a good pro, in a game like the DL 20/40, should win something like 1 big bet per hour, that a VERY good pro might win 1.5 BBPH, and that a long term win of 2 BBPH in pretty much any limit hold game would be, well, exceptional.

Now that I'm turning pro, I need to know which of those categories I fit into, right? So I was planning to go back to keeping detailed session records, starting May 1. And since then I did play at DL every single day, but I got lazy, and didn't keep track after all. And that's a real shame, too, because if I had, then I could know just exactly how many dollars per hour I've lost so far this month.

Situational Awareness

Sometimes the situation, or the "Personality of the Game," makes you want to play a hand differently than you normally might. An extreme example that comes to mind for me was about a year ago, when I cold called a preflop raise, in the cutoff, with Queen Jack offsuit. Never did that before or since, but in that particular exceptional situation, the most *dysfunctional family pot you ever did see, I just had to do it.  

( * like a Wheel of Fortune "Before and After")

Last night another exceptional situation came up, but I spaced and didn't recognize it quite quickly enough. UTG open-raises, and I'm right behind him with pocket fours. Just as I'm releasing my hand, I can see at least two guys behind me gonna just call the raise. And the Personality of THIS Game, with these particular guys, was multi-way, 5, 6, 7 guys seeing every flop, most often for just one raise. I remembered all that a split second too late, and thought to myself, "Damn, coulda, woulda, shoulda made an exceptional call this time!"

Then, when the flop came J 4 4, I was sure of it. :-(

- - -

More posts in draft, coming soon, now that I have time. Can I get some comments? I live for comments. Thanks.


stevew said...

Good to see you back posting. Looking forward to seeing regular updates. Your stories are both entertaining but also educational.

Ed Baker said...

Good post, well written. Much better than this comment, but you wanted comments, so this is what you get. Get back to keeping track of your play. How hard can it be.

Ed Baker said...

Good post, well written. Much better than this comment, but you wanted comments, so this is what you get. Get back to keeping track of your play. How hard can it be.

David said...

What ed said. I like Ed so I probably would like you.

Also there is a guy I like but he is still my Atlanta Braves (AB). He is a VERY good loose player so he "sucks out" a lot when he has odds. Still although I like him he is a bit of a prick to me and only me. Go figure.

I don't track individual sessions just my BR. Maybe if I had a sustained down turn (like over a year) I would start to.

David said...

You folded pocket 4s preflop in a loose game to one raise?! You are a nit :-)

Keith said...

Game selection in Vegas and LA puzzles me.

I assume we are about the same age; I'm 65. Been playing poker of one type or another since the 1950s.

I've booked my biggest road wins at tables that I was desperate to leave. Because of the must-move situation in crowded rooms during the WSOP, I'll end up at a table where I recognize the players as tough, aggressive and knowledgeable. While I'm deciding where the best table is, or trying to bribe my way there, I find myself getting in good situations where I am.

I suspect what is happening relates more to the table's perception of me -- how I am profiled -- than with any imbalance of abilities.

I've puzzled over this for years, but I seem to well at tables with 20- or 30- something pros.

Have you ever experienced anything like this? My couple of weeks a year for ten or so years isn't a significant sample size.

North Shore Mike said...

Your blog was suggested to me by another former RGPer, Zbigniew. Great to see you writing again.

North Shore Mike

Anonymous said...

I know these guys you play against. I know them from way back, like, mid-late 60s and beyond. I think of this cat in Hawaii, Chinese, name Wo Fat, crafty, clever, a charmer. I get 6 deuces under and lay down nines, he blanches, I gotta take the high ground, I say " how about I introduce your face to my Florshiem"s " and Wo blinks, passes his private stock of aged soy sauce. Until that moment, always the same response. " no teriyaki sauce ". Teriyaki no longer a factor Love you, man.