Sunday, September 25, 2011

When You Are Not Papa Smurf

Part of the continuing Poker Diaries. As always, feel free to bail on these if it's not your cup of degeneracy.

Saturday night, I took up the invite from one of my old friends and poker regulars to come sit in at his friend's game. I probably wouldn't have gone if it weren't for his offer to drive and my kids suddenly coming down with an illness that made leaving the house a little more appealing, especially after a day spent with them. But my buddy went out of his way and I appreciated the gesture, so let's roll.

It was a simple single table setup, with the kind of fun eye-widening talk that you only get at home games. Tournament, then cash, and by the time everything ended, I was chopping the first place prize in the former and taking down a nice little payday in the latter. As we were driving back, my friend told me that it was good to see me win, since the home game hadn't gone that way for me so much this year, and how he feels that everything I've got going on during that game puts me at a disadvantage.

And while I'd like to think this isn't the case, because I play that game more than any other... well, the numbers are with him. I've played poker 20 times in 2011; 13 times at my home, twice at other people's home games, once at a country club tournament, and the rest at casinos. The 35% of the time that I've played outside my home has brought home nearly 80% of my profit for the year.

Now, during a game at my house, I do a lot of things. I prep the room, clean up afterward, pass out rebuys, keep a chip count during the breaks, color up the lower denominations, update the player of the year standings, make sure the money is right... and I've never really felt at a disadvantage from all of this, since I've been so engaged with everything that's going on. I don't ever feel overwhelmed by what I've got to do to run a good game, and I get whatever help I ask for from my regulars.

But, well, then there are the numbers.

Tonight on the big blind in the case game, there were raises before my action, where I held A-K off suit. With 4 callers in front of me and a raise, I doubled the bet and saw three go to the flop. With 2 low hearts and a queen in front of me, I had squat... but ran the value bet continuation bluff that only works if you are able to broadcast power to the rest of the room. Three agonized folds later, I raked the pot as the super-aggro player on my right talked about how smart his A-K laydown was. OK then, sir.

Does this play work at my game? Probably not; I also doubt I even try it, since I've been so conditioned to getting c-bets called, with several any-two-cards players running white hot this year.

So if I run OK in casinos, and I run OK in other people's games... why don't I run OK in my own? Ah, the subtle pleasures of mind trash. Self-generated, like all of it.

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