Poker Ramblings of cmitch

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After a rough cash game stretch (Feb through Mid-March) that caused me to move down in limits, things are finally starting to look up again. I feel like I am back on my game after not playing my best for a while and am beating the game for a pretty good rate.

It took taking a big step back and re-examining my game/play overall for me to realize that I wasn't just running bad. I was playing bad and letting bad beats and coolers really effect me. I am definitely playing my A game again now after taking the time to fix the massive amount of leaks that I had let sneak into my game mainly due to complacency.

Some of the things that I am doing differently (cash game wise):

1. Not trying to play catch up when down/Quitting when I am down. - When I was running bad, sometimes I would compound things by starting to feel like I needed to get back to even for the night. (I am sure every one of us have felt this way at times.) I should have been doing what I am doing now - If I am playing bad/not my best I will close down the cash game tables and either turn off my computer or jump into a smaller buy-in SNG or MTT. I know that the games will still be good tomorrow and I can earn the money back a lot quick with a clearer/more rested mindset. Poker is a marathon, not a sprint.

2. Letting go of hands that I know are beat. - There were times when I just had "that feeling" that I was beat and knew that I should lay down a hand but didn't. It was usually when I had just taken a bad beat or lost a cooler hand and was looking to get my money back. This, of course, only made things worse and the swings greater. I had to take a step back and tell myself that one picked off bluff is -EV vs. two bad calls against "real" hands - especially when I could use the fold to my advantage later against the same opponent. I am back to paying a lot closer attention to my opponents, putting them on a hand range, and making my decision based on all the information available to me. Everyone isn't always trying to make a move every time. (It is sometimes harder to make the correct laydowns when things don't seem to be working for you.)

3. Keeping pots smaller in marginal situations. - I have started making smaller bets in marginal situations (or even checking behind) to keep the pots smaller. I have been throwing in more blocking bets to help avoid having to call big river bets out of position and figure out where my hand is. This has been working well and had helped to more clearly define my hands in close spots. It has also helped a lot on later hands against some players to induce bluffs when I have a monster.

4. Getting all my chips in when I know my opponent will call with a lesser hand instead of trying to slowly milk him. - When I was running bad, I started feeling like I needed to get the most out of every big hand. I was miminizing my wins because I didn't want to "scare" my opponent away. This goes back to paying closer attention to my opponents and making the most money possible with my big hands based on what I think each particular opponent will do. (It helps knowing which players will call off all their chips with top pair and which players are the nut peddlers.)

5. Not being afraid to put my chips in without the best hand when I know my opponent will fold. - I wasn't using all the information available to me when I was making bluffs and wasn't making them in the right spots. Now, I have been thinking my way through any bluff and leaving myself outs when I get called. There are times when you just know that your opponent can't/won't call if you bet $XX. I wasn't making those bets when I knew that I should be making them.

6. Tightening/Loosening up based on table conditions. - I would get into the multi-tabling mode of playing the same style on every table instead of playing to the table conditions. I am now back to taking the time to feel out the table/players and play whatever way that I think would be most profitable based on the table conditions.

7. Realizing that I don't have to always continuation bet (basing it on how the other players have been reacting to them) - I think watching some of sbrugby's cardrunner videos really openend my eyes to this again. When I was running bad, I was cont. betting way too often in less than ideal spots.

8. Leaving a table once all the fish are gone. - Like the saying goes, "There are plenty of fish in the sea." I am paying more attention to the dynamics of the table. If the fish leave and the table becomes full of tight regulars that won't pay you off, I leave.

9. Riding the rush. - I have been trying to put in longer session when I am running/playing well to maximize the profits from the rush.

10. Taking a step back and look at the big picture after a bad beat. (Avoid tilting/opposite of riding the rush) - I listened to sbrugby's pocketfives podcast interview and he said that one of Phil Ivey's best qualities is being able to walk away from the table after a bad beat or cooler. He is able to leave and just decide things aren't working for him today. I think that this is one of the hardest things to do in poker. There were times when I would start playing less than optimal hands in less than optimal spots. I found myself calling bets when I shouldn't against players that were horrible. I am now calling those bets or raising when I know that I can extract the most from a player that is willing to get all his chips preflop with 88.

11. Basing my actions on what my opponents think that I am going to do based on my past actions. - During the bad run, I wasn't paying enough attention to my table image. I wasn't basing my actions on what my opponents thought I would do. I am now staying fully aware of my table image and how each player will react to different situations.

12. Not letting my ego get in the way - At times, it is hard not to let your ego get in the way. There are players that I played against a lot at 5/10 and 10/20 that I see at the 25/50, 50/100, and 100/200. I know that I am better than some of those guys, because I was winning against them at a pretty good rate and there was nothing spectacular about their play. I had to swallow my pride and move down stakes when I was running bad. It took a while for me to adjust to the different play at the lower limits and I had to constantly remind myself that I didn't need to be playing high stakes. I am now comfortable at my current levels and have a plan to very gradually step up in stakes. I don't have a problem not moving up to the next level until I reach a certain bankroll number.

13. Studying/Challenging myself - I was winning at decent rate for a long period of time and my game started getting stagnant. I wasn't reading as many strategy posts in the forums, posting for feedback on hands, watching as many videos, etc. I was happy with where my game was and wasn't doing everything that I should to keep things fresh and challenge myself. During the downswing, I started devoting a lot more time to doing these things. It has helped to plug all these leaks and make me realize that I need to constantly push myself to improve.

I am glad things have turned around and will come back and read this if I start to play bad or run bad in the future. Hopefully, I have plugged most of the leaks and will keep up the great run that I have been on recently. I will continue to review my play and challenge myself daily to be a better player.

10 responses to "Slump Busting - A Long Hard Look in the Mirror"

  1. Man, some good stuff in this post. Thanks for sharing.

    See you at the Mookie tonight?


  2. Very nice post. #13 should be #1 though. To me it is always the most important thing.

    I wouldn't mind seeing a follow up post to "3. Keeping pots smaller in marginal situations.". It is something that I am working on, but still not a strength of mine. Love to see some hand histories and more of your thoughts.


  3. 3 and 7 kind of go together. I am not a big fan of c-betting more than 50% of the time as better/higher limit players pick up on it and selectively start to repop yer ass. By not always c-betting and occasionally checking top pair on the flop you definitely bias pots to a smaller number which probably lowers variance but can lead to suckouts.

    I still have nightmares of twin-caracas' QJ rivering two pair against my AQ (TPTK pre-river) for $7000 at $25/50 ....


  4. all very good points Mitch.

    btw, i didn't know u had an ego. do alot of players have BIG egos? just askin'


  5. Tripjax - Yes, I'm playing the mookie tonight. I am going to try to make as many of the events as I can.

    Lucko - agreed on 13 should be #1. I didn't put them in any particular order. I'll try to post more hhs in the future.

    Fuel - Good point about the c-betting against aggressive players, but there are some players that fold to cont bets way too often that have to be attacked and are easy to read when they call.

    smokkee - ego, smeego


  6. Excellent post my good man.

    This should be kept by alot of players to go over as well when they are playing badly.

    or even to refer back to as a check list when reviewing sessions.


  7. I have been in a slump for a long time. Well, more like not improving my game. Your post really helped me to starting thinking in a different direction. Thank you.


  8. Great post. Oh the troubles a cash game player goes through. MTT guys can't take it.


  9. Wow, thanks for referencing back to this post. This is a great post (unfortunately this was also my pre-opoker days). :)

    And glad you're having a nice vacation!


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