On the spur of the moment Friday night, Morris and I decided to take a road trip to Lake Charles to play poker. We left at 11pm and arrived at 1am. Before I talk about what I learned, or should I say "paid to learn", I need to put the weekend in context. We were in Lake Charles for 34 hours. I played $5-$5 No Limit for 25 of it. The other 9 was spent sleeping (4 in the car in the parking garage and 5 in a hotel room on Sunday morning). Lesson No. 1. Get a room, and get some sleep. I'm not in college anymore, and I was in bad shape on Sunday.
The first night I managed to book a profit of $187. The second night should've been much better, but ended up terrible. I bought in for $300 at about 1pm on Saturday. Although the game was incredibly juicy and there were some truly terrible players, I took a few hits early and had to reload twice. I was stuck $600 after about 3 hours, but I wasn't too worried as I knew I'd get a chance to win it back.
I started grinding my way back up. At about 6pm I was moved to the main table with about $700 in chips. For those that have played in these types of must-move games, chip stack is even more important than it normally would be. First, the buy-ins are limited to $100-$300. No more, no less. That means that the must-move tables generally have smaller stacks and poorer players. By the time a player has a chance to build up his stack, he is usually moved to the main table. Also, with the constant influx of new players, the chip stacks are relatively even (about $300). Also, the poorer player usually can't survive until the main game, so there is constantly new fish arriving. These games are juicy and worth playing.
The main table however is another story. People there are generally better (if not because they simpy survived long enough to get moved). They also generally have much larger chip stacks, because they've been playing for a longer period of time. At one point I counted approx. $17,000 in chips at the table. That's an average of $1,700 per player on a $300 buy-in table. See what I'm talking about.
I moved to the main table with about $600 in chips. Luckily I hit my stride and fell into a nice rhythm and started winning some good pots. At about 10pm I had built my stack up to $1,800 (for a net profit of $900). I spent about 3-4 hours as the commanding chip leader and was successfully using my chips to push people around and buy lots of semi-small pots ($50-$100 each). I was in the zone. A picture of my chips is below (~ $1,775).
The problem that I noticed was that about 7 of the players had a lot of chips ($1,200+), and the shortstacks (< $600) were generally new players from the must-move who rarely lasted more than an hour or so. Most of the "regulars" were in lock-down mode and weren't willing to risk tangling their big stacks with other big stacks. Therefore, we were really just trading money around without too much risk.
Looking back, I should've cashed-out with my $900 profit, then waited the minimum 1 hour before buying back into the must-move game for $300. This would've been a smart move. Instead I played and lost all my chips due to one big mistake.
I flopped a Q high flush against another player who flopped the nut flush. He led out on the flop for $60, and I raised it to $120, and he smooth called. The turn was a blank and he checked. I bet $150, and he moved all-in for $590 more. I should've really paused to think about this bet. First, he was an older man, and we all know that older people generally don't bluff as much or expose themselves to unnecessary risk. Second, he was a fairly tight player who I had not seen get involved in many pots over the past several hours. Third (and I didn't notice this, but other players did), he was shaking so much when he went all-in that the player to my right later told me he thought "the guy was going to fall out of his chair." I didn't see it because I wasn't looking. Fourth, I was drunk and delirious from playing for so long. I wasn't thinking clearly. Fifth, I had a nice healthy profit on the night, and shouldn't risk so much money on a hand my vulnerable hand. After all I had only committed about $270 so far to the pot. Sixth, it was a checkraise. I should've just given it to him.
Instead of thinking all these items through, I decide to call. I guess I thought I was invincible and figured he didn't have one of the 2 cards that could beat me. He flips over A3 and I am drawing dead. I lose approx $860.
The next mistake came 30 seconds later when I didn't get up and cash out. I still had $600, and could walk away with a total weekend loss of only $100. Instead I stay and try to double up and get my money back. I consciously know that I am tilting, but I can't do anything to stop it. I try to tell myself that, "it's no big deal and it was almost all profit, so just relax." I don't listen. In less than 1 hour I have pissed the rest of my chips off. On the final hand I flop top two pair and slow play it like never before. I have $300 in front of me, and there are two players in the pot. I decide I'm going to triple up. I wait until the river to move all-in (big mistake), and lose to the river card which completes a set for one of the players. I played it terribly and deserved to be sent home broke.
Total poker loss for the weekend = $815.
1. Get up and book a profit.
2. Don't tangle with big stacks when there are better fish to target.
3. Don't go all-in for $900 with a vulnerable hand against a tight player
4. Watch players more carefully for tells (physically shaking)
5. When you're profiting, try to win a bunch of small pots instead of going after the "big one"
6. Don't drink 35 cocktails when you're playing big stakes poker.
7. No Limit is a game of mistakes. Capitalize on other's mistakes and try to limit yours. When playing in a big game, one mistake can cost dearly.
8. If you get popped for a bunch of chips, and are now short stacked at a table with good players, it makes sense to get up and leave. The chances of you winning it back (in a short period of time) are very slim.
9. Recognize when you're on tilt, and walk away.
10. Get a hotel room before you start playing so you don't have to sleep in the car in the parking garage. :)
11. Recognize check-raises from old men who have been playing tight.
My only consolation is that I didn't have to pulse a single time, and that all the money I lost came from Northside winning last week. Oh well, back to the drawing board...
Oh yea, and the funniest moment of the trip came when I was concentrating on the cards with a cigarette in my right hand. I didn't realize it, but my cigarette was touching a man's jacket next to me (he had gone to the bathroom). I burned a hole clean through the shoulder of the jacket. I wiped it off and tried to conceal it so he wouldn't go cajun-style on me when he returned. I figured that if he saw it I would just buy it from him (since it was an old London Fog Piece of Shit Windbreaker). He never noticed.
Those are all good lessons. One thing about tilt - lots of people think it's just getting mad and losing control. It's not. Youc an be on tilt and not mad, so long as you are in an emotional state where you are not making rational decisions, you are on tilt.
I also like the "go cajun" line. I know exactly waht you meant by it!
I agree totally. I wasn't pissed about the hand. I was outplayed and beat fair and square. I was however upset that I had given away a ton of chips that I had worked so hard (played for 9 hours) to acquire.
It caused me to think that I could double up quickly (after all I was tired and knew I didn't have too much more playing time in me). I also forgot that I was not in the same position as 10 minutes ago. No longer could I see $25 flops with bad hands and hope to muscle people around. I needed to go back to square one tight play. Unfortunately I didn't.