Thursday, April 21, 2011

Would you look at all this free time!

Ok, I kid. Free time. Ha. That disappeared years ago. I'd swear your kids occupy much more time after they stop needing you to clean up their digestive waste, feed them and the like.

So, my version of internet poker is dead. Funny thing, it looks like Party Poker might just have the best chance of being invited back in the fastest when all this clears up. I hope they've taken some time to spiffy the place up.

A few posts back, I posted about a hand (link - go read it, I'll wait...) I played at my local bar poker league. JamyHawk and Jordan over at HighOnPoker (it's your turn btw in WordsWithFriends (OhCaptain)) both left comments about their thoughts on the hand. I figured I should rebut a little with some more thoughts about this and bar poker in general.

First, Waffles comment on his blog is in someways very true. When you are married with two kids and the nearest casino with Limit Hold 'em is a one hour drive away (that makes it two hours round trip) you really want your night out playing poker to last longer than 20 minutes. I haven't even got the label half way worked off the bottle of my first beer yet. Let's savor the freedom, the peace and quiet. ( hear that...ah...everyone is sleeep)

Second point, not all bar poker is created equal.

I've played in my share of locations since legal bar poker first appeared in Minnesota. Yes, it was illegal up until a few years ago. Sigh. Friggin' blue law state. (Why the hell can't I buy beer on Sunday? Geez) Quite a few of them we poker played in a Keno style. You shove your chips in with five of your closest friends and see what happens. It's the NumbBlowMe rebuy tournament in a bar. Not much fun.

I've chosen to play at the bar I have based on the level of the game. It's a few steps above this. Quite a few of the players are much more skilled then just playing shove monkeys. Granted, it's still a bit more loose/passive then a lot of games, but so are many of the low buy in casino tournaments I've played. But I ask, what better environment to learn to play and read players of that type.

This brings me to a rebuttle a point made by Jamy when he says,
"When you say "I decide to check and gather a bit more information". I disagree. I don't think you are ever going to get information by checking."
This is where playing in a regular game differs from online and live games with lots of strangers. The Well Manicured Man and I have played hours of poker together. I pride myself on building very accurate reads on players I have a history with, and this guy, I have. He spews information as long as you are willing to look for it. One thing I hope no one ever tells him about, he spins his top chip in his bet pile when he's a big hand and just sets the chips down with no spin when he's fishing....but I digress. Checking to this guy gives me a ton of information. He has a really bad habit of bet sizing differently on his continuation bets with a hand and without. A cardinal sin when you are trying to keep me off balance. If he bet small (which he did) he's got nothing. He bets big, he's got something worth protecting. This habit of his is spot on. The second way this helps me is, for free, I get to see the reaction of the other man in the hand. In a game like this, while I have no history with this guy, I know that for whatever reason, he's going to be paying attention to the last guy to act, WMM and not me. So I get to watch him without him trying to hide from me. He shows bubkiss. So for free, I got to watch as one player told me he's got nothing and the other player told me he was holding a weak hand. All for the low price of nothing.

All while sipping a tasty bottle of 312 from Goose Island Brewing Company.If there's a beer company out there that wants to sponsor this blog and get some SEO magic, just look me up. (But why oh why does Anheiser Busch need to buy up my favorite little breweries? I'll miss you 312)

I've noticed over the years that I have more success at bar poker when I adapt my game to fit the situation. In Jordan's post, he writes,
"When you have a strong hand in a game where donkeys are likely to call with ATC, that is not a sign that you should play the strong hand slowly; that’s a sign that you need to stamp down on the pedal as hard as possible. Rather than fearing that your opponents will suck out on you, focus on the reverse. For players to suckout, they must be behind. Therefore, more often than not in that situation, you will win."
When thing I was never really afraid of was my opponent sucking out on me. Actually quite the opposite. My call from the BB is waiting to see the flop before committing all my chips. See previous comment about wanting to strip the label off my beer. It's true, they will call with any two cards, so it best not to commit everything with QQ and find yourself racing against 2 other players. Mathematically, it's too close to call with the range of over cards they could be holding. Second, after the flop, I do slow play it because my read is telling me I'm way ahead here. Scaring people out of the pot at this point to me is playing with fear of losing to a suck out. I'm playing the hand for value. Remember, the longer I have chips, the greater my opportunity to strip the labels off of beer bottles.

I think another big difference between bar poker leagues and straight up tournament play has to do with the payment structure. When I play a tournament for money, I want to get paid. The deeper I go, the more money I make. This point is well understood. Now, bar poker leagues are a different beast. While sure, there's some gift certificates for 1st, 2nd and 3rd. I like me free stuff, but the bigger prizes comes after weeks of play. Each week, the top 30% of the tournament gets points. If you think about the random donkeys that play these things, you quickly notice that while going really deep once is cool and all, the people that make the points most often usually find themselves moving on to bigger pastures. Making the final table every week pays better long term than winning once in a while.

It really all depends on which prize you are shooting for.

While I wait for the hope of seeing my online funds returned to me, I guess I'll have to play what I can. Maybe we can finally find that online euchre or 500 client...I know, I'm dreaming.

And thus ends the rambling.

The Free Poker Network, the parent company of my Minnesota league has an online poker client now. It's no where near as polished as Stars, Tilt or Party Poker, but it is another way to get into their bigger tournaments. My first forays into playing the site but it at about bar poker level of skill. If you are interested in trying it out, their affiliate program requires me to invite you with an email. Shoot me an email and I'll invite you.


Drizztdj said...

Treasure Island it will happen.

I need to throw around some money there to get some freebees in October. Offered to bring my mom to Vegas for her 60th, she wants to go to TI (MN) instead. Bleech.

HighOnPoker said...

Hey Captain. FYI, it's Jordan with an A. Woffles is the only one who calls me Jordon. I've corrected him, but he prefers the O, so I now refer to him exclusively as Woffles. You don't want to be Ah Coption, do you?


OhCaptain said...

Jordan, really quite sorry about that! I hate misspelling names! It's been fixed :)