Friday, July 16, 2010

Why I Miss Live Poker

Played in a $500 tournament last weekend. 7.5 hours to finish 14th 0f 68, where 6 got paid. Can't say it wasn't frustrating.

Can't say I played particularly well either. I started with a table I SHOULD have been able to run over if I had either cards or chips. Sadly, I had neither of those things. I had hoped to build a tight image, and be able to show a decent hand or two before taking advantage of that, but no decent hands came my way until the second break. Needless to say, my tight image was established, but by then my chips didn't mean as much. I treaded water for most of the game, got some chips and slowly bled them away again. In the end, I made a tactical error with snowmen, followed by presto going down to a turned two pair on the board and my opponent holding the ace. I hate that.

But this isn't about my flushing away of money. This is about missing live poker.

When I sat down, I immediately started observing my table. I watched every hand, no matter how quickly my cards were in the muck. I watched one guy shake like a leaf whenever he was holding a decent non-nut hand, scared that he was behind. I watched the table chipleader's hands tense up whenever he had to really think about something, be it chasing a draw or figuring out his value bet. The new guy couldn't stop breathing like he'd run a marathon when he was bluffing, and made obvious value bets when he was ahead. The aggressive guy might as well have played his AK like it was face-up, but I happily paid him off the minimum to make sure. In short, it was a table full of tells and plays that I could read like a book, and I was aware of all of them. I was engaged in the table, watching for every sign and read I could get, while trying to minimize any of mine that I didn't want to purposely give off.

Online? Not a chance. I take the odd note, but can't commit to watching bet timing, sizing, and tendencies of other players. Too many distractions, and not nearly enough on the line to care. But live, it's always good to know my reads are still good.

And then there's the conversations. Nobody has a casual conversation in the chat window, but live? One guy explaining the concept of M to another, without knowing what it's called or where it comes from. The other guy coming back with how he just goes by big blinds. Both revealing their panic zones, and hints to their ranges in those times. Thanks guys.

There was the guy talking about how bad Joe Cada was at the cash table he was at in Vegas last week. Others sharing bad beat stories, and WSOP hands, and analysis on all of it. Thanks guys.

Sharing info on the other regulars at the table gives me, the out-of-town new guy, info I couldn't hope to have had otherwise. Thanks for that. My ears are quite good.

And where else can you see Q7 vs KK win when the Q comes down on the x7xx board and EVERYONE at the table obviously knew it was coming? Not the 7, but the Q. No bullshit "I knew that was coming", because it was in everyone's eyes when the cards flipped over on the turn. And oddly, nobody claiming live poker is fixed, even the poor guy walking away.

Not that live poker isn't without its distractions too - my favourite hand, which I wasn't involved in:

Bets and calls pre, 2 spades on the flop with a J. Bet, raise, call. Spade on the turn, check check. Ace of spades on the river... and the very hot drink girl comes by to bring first-to-act his beer. He turns to pay her (no freebies in Canada folks), and then remembers he's still in the hand and asks her to wait a sec. Sees the 4th spade and checks. Turns back to pay, other guys checks. Cards are flipped over - first to act has KsKx, second has QsJx. Yes, that's right, the nut and second nut flush both checked on the river. Neither realizing what they had until the cards had been flipped. Ks had been distracted by a bigger pair bringing him beer, and Qs had forgotten he held the spade. What SHOULD have been a monster pot was a bust. I told the Qs he owed the cocktail waitress a tip.

I really need to get to some real poker tables more often...


Schaubs said...

Drinks next time are a must. Fuel can pay again.

Memphis MOJO said...

Great post. I'm lucky enough to live close to casinos and play live a lot. I can vouch that it's as bad as you say.

Ks had been distracted by a bigger pair bringing him beer


Jordan said...

I feel your pain. I miss live poker too.

As for online tells, I just don't trust him. Is the guy taking his time because he is thinking or is he taking his time because he has a porn site open in the other window and he is too distracted to notice it is his turn to act?

Fuel55 said...

you forgot to include donking me with the ass end of a str8 ...

BamBam said...

You should play live more, reading here makes me smile.

Astin said...

Schaubs - for sure. Didn't get back until late Sunday. Wedding went longer than expected, and apparently your highways need fixing near Langley.

Mojo - I'm 1.5 hours from the nearest legal poker room. Just too far to make a regular journey. And when I do, I find myself rolling dice more often.

HoP - There's that, but I find that many online players are more consistent with their tendencies. Bet-sizing, regular pauses, etc. I can usually call pretty well there too, but get distracted myself.

Fuel - Yah. Thanks for that again. Worst case, you river me and I play craps while you roll on and I take 20%.

Bam - I'll do what I can for you sir.

Wolfshead said...

Nice read, sounds like a good time. I too used to live about 1.5 hours away from live poker but as of today, supposedly, it is now 25 min. I've always enjoyed live over cyber. Of course being unemployed puts another obstacle in the way of regular play. Oh well, bankroll building starts next week, i hope.

OneLifeLiveIt said...

she must have been a stunner!

Dawn Summers said...

Where is new york blogging?? And New York picture putting upping? BOOOOO