Sunday, July 22, 2012

The Poker Diaries: Return To The Profitable Past

Tonight at my personal poker palace of horrors (Parx, the massive action heavy room in Bensalem, PA that probably deals more hands than any other place in PA, and will host a World Poker Tour event in a few weeks)...

My best enabler and I walked back into hell. (How hellish is Parx for me? I've played there seven times now, and four of those times, I've been completely felted, most times with speed. If you add up every game and casino I play at, you'd see small to sizable wins in most venues... and then a massive hole labeled Parx. Yes, it's that bad.)

Tonight, we sat at the same table, played for about three hours, shared some laughs, left with money and didn't feel like we were, well, violated without lube. We are even looking forward to going back, and that's the first time I can ever say that about the place.

What changed?

The game we played.

See, Parx is filled with $5/$10 players who troll the $1/$2 tables. They raise pre-flop with air and 10X blind raises. You'd think that shoving is an option, but they take coin flips with abandon, and usually win. You can just also call with solid cards, wondering why it's so damned difficult to see a flop here. Then, you hit top pair and feel good about life, especially with no flushes or straights on the board... only to see that Aggro Boys hit bottom random two pair, and now has a wildly large share of your chips. Over and over and over again. I know it seems mathematically impossible, but that's what happens. You buy in for your stack that's half to a third of theirs, and eventually, it's all over in their stack. It's about as much fun as surgery.

So rather than keep doing the thing that was driving us crazy, making us think that poker had passed us by, or that we needed to find some heretofore unknown Dime / Quarter game where the trolls had stacks that resembled ours...

We played $4/$8 limit hold'em instead.

I'll take you through one hand in particular for how much better it was. Under the gun, I have pocket nines. In NL at Parx, I know I'd have two options. Limp and watch an over the top raise and call, which would result in calling for too much money, since an all-in would get called down by the big stacks because sucking out on the river is more fun than playing good cards. Then the flop would miss my pairs, and then I'd either lose all of my chips calling down bets all the way to the river, or I'd just throw them away on any kind of pressure. It's just funsies.

Tonight, I just limped with them. And appreciated the lack of a re-raise, the third nine in the window, and raking in the $75+ pot. But the game is good even while you are losing, as I made a series of great folds to avoid losing my stack.

You see, limit isn't dull, or weak, or just for nits, or whatever you might imagine. It certainly allows for more drawing hands, but if you play a lot of them, you'll get hammered for it, just like in no limit.

And no matter what kind of game you are playing, it helps like hell when you get hit with the deck, which was happening for the better part of an hour. I recommend that a lot.

So if you find yourself becoming alienated by the way the game is being played now, or just find yourself taking it in the face from a room....

Try limit. Bluff less. Play fewer hands. And feel like a poker player again...

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