AUTHOR'S NOTE: Today's entry comes to us courtesy of DB, who ran a lot of smack before last night's game about how she was going to dominate. Did she dominate? I'll leave it to you to decide.
My comments will be interspersed with hers in italics.
It was a quiet night for poker. Only 4 players were in attendance; Gary, The Mayor, Smitty and me.
Despite me giving everyone else a nickname, I find that no one has given one to me. Although I seem to have been dubbed "Evil Gary," based apparently on someone's pet rodent.
I'd gotten myself a nice little stack and I'm the big blind. When Gary raises in first position, tripling the blinds, I call. I have a J-Q so I take a look at the flop. Flop is J, 7, 3. I flopped top pair with an over card for a kicker. Gary bets, and I raise doubling his bet. He immediately moves all in - then starts his song and dance. Now let me tell you something about Gary. I can read him. I've pretty much got him down pat, and he knows this. I'm looking at him - chest is heaving like it always does when he has something good - he's knows I'm reading him and he starts his reverse psychology. "Call me, put it in" he says, over and over. Covering SOMETHING. Is it reverse psychology or reverse psychology with a twist? I can tell he thinks he has something good - but does he have better than what I have? I know he raised big in first position, so I think he didn't match the rags on the flop, unless he has trips. It's about 7 minutes into the first game, and I don't really want to put it all on the line, but it's Gary so I call him out. My buddy has J-3 off suit (jack off for a jack off) and he's flopped two pair. This is the guy who complains about my luck at the table. Anyway, I don't catch another pair, and I'm out. Game one is over for me and Jack Off has a win under his belt. POKER ISN'T FAIR. Neither is life, I suppose. That pretty much set the tone for the rest of the night. We played a total of four games. Gary won two and Smitty won two, and I sucked eggs.
To give DB credit, this accounting of the facts actually bears a little resemblance to actual events. The way I remember it is this: We were at the first round of blinds still, where the big blind is tiny in comparison to everyone's stack. I was under the gun (first position after the blinds) and looked down to find J-3 offsuit. For no reason other than to mix up my play, I raise a standard raise, 3 times the big blind. Smitty and the Mayor (who has been re-christened "The Mighty Timekeeper") fold down to me. DB, of course, doesn't. She could have had two rags and she'd have stayed in with me, because the very thought of me winning a hand uncontested so incenses her that it clouds her common sense. And she hadn't built up a stack - it was seven minutes into the game, and we all had more or less the same stack. Anyway, the flop comes J-3-4, not 7, and I connect two pair, top and bottom.
My thinking was along these lines: she thought I had nothing, and before the flop she was right. Not for nothing is she my main adversary. I could have bet small, or checked, but I decided that I would reinforce her notion that I was bluffing, and went all in after she bet. So she starts deliberating on her hand.
Now obviously I want desperately for her to call. What I did was exactly the opposite of what she said I did: I started an act that indicated that I knew she had garbage, and stop wasting everyone's time and FOLD ALREADY. I never begged her for a call. I begged her for a fold, which was, as she suspected, the double-reverse psychology with a twist - what Daniel Negreanu calls "third level of strategy." She calls and I triumphantly turn over my cards. The hand holds up and I tell her that I can work her like modeling clay - and I'm right, and she knows it. She can talk all she likes about luck, but at the end of the day it was the way I played my opponent that made that hand, and that's what irked her the most.
I'm a firm believer in creating your own luck at the poker table. I believe successful players are aggressive and force others to make hard decisions. I like to go into a pot with a premium hand, just like the next guy, but my experience tells me that if you only play premium hands you're not playing correctly. You need to pick up as many blinds as you can. Squirrel away those small pots so you have something to work with. I didn't play that way last night. Last night I played conservatively, (read scared) and when I do that, I never win. I'm much better when I play aggressively...so is Gary. Gary was better last night. He played better AND had better luck. But that was just one night. Let me catch the Jack Off with a jack-off next week...they don't call me DB for nothing.
Ah, DB. If you'd truly played conservatively you wouldn't have called my all-in with top pair and decent kicker. And as I said to you last night: Some people play their cards, and that's fine - but good poker players play their opponent. That's what I did, and that's why I walked away with your money and not the other way around.