Day two at the Red Chip East Coast meet up was a great success. We all met up at the Golden Nugget in the early afternoon and played about four hours of half $1/$2 NLHE and half $1/$2 PLO. This was my first time ever playing PLO and I have to say that I get why this is the game everyone’s talking about. There’s lots of drama. There’s lots of action. And most importantly, it seems extremely easy for bad players to think they’re playing well or that they have some kind of natural talent for the game. Plus you get four cards! Four cards! How can you not make a hand? Easiest game ever!
The Worst Player At The Table
The game was a great learning experience for me, but it was also a humbling one. After spending as much time as I have studying, practicing, and just constantly thinking about poker, looking around the table and realizing that I’m easily the worst player, well, it can be a bitter pill to swallow. I don’t say this to put myself down. I think I’m just being self-aware.
It also wasn’t a big surprise. I was surrounded by experience. There were multiple pros at the table. There was at least one poker coach. There were years of studying and volume. My experience was just a drop in the bucket compared to what was around me. But luckily I came away from the session not feeling down about where I’m at in my poker career, but feeling good about how far I’ve come and inspired to work even harder. Even just in relation to the previous Red Chip meet up last spring, my game has improved leaps and bounds.
I also need to remember that I have been consistently grinding out a respectable profit for quite awhile now. My guess is that there is only a very small percentage of the poker community that can honestly claim that. But I’m not satisfied with where I am – I really do want to play at the level of those I played with today (and beyond!) and feel inspired to put in the work and study to make that a reality.
Just Trying To Survive
I wasn’t exactly playing my A-game either. I played much tighter and cautious than usual. Honestly, I just wanted to survive with my bankroll intact. The game was uncapped, so even though it was only $1/$2, there was a lot of money on the table and a lot of action. A few players, like myself, bought in for a standard size for $1/$2, around 150 to 200 big blinds (though even that is a little bigger than my normal buy-in of 100bb). But there were some that bought in for 500bb or more. Obviously this game was playing much bigger than I’m used to. Plus a couple of the players are pretty well know for being super aggressive. So opening raises and 3-bets (and 4- and 5-bets) were larger than average and pots became significant pretty quickly.
Luckily I did survive with my bankroll intact. In fact, I ended the session about $250 ahead. Most of that profit came from a single PLO hand towards the end of the day, which helps prove my point that even bad players can win and come away feeling like they’ve got some skill. I’m definitely not going to start playing PLO regularly. I still have way too much to learn at NLHE and want to stay focused there. I would like to read maybe a single book or some articles on PLO so I’m a little better prepared in case I happen to find myself in a similar situation in the future (any suggestions on beginner material would be greatly appreciated).
A Learning Experience
Like I said, this was very much a learning experience for me. I learned a few specific things about my game that need work and received some great advice on how I should think about playing AK in raised pots (thanks napncrash!). But I also noticed a few general things about the skilled players that I’ll share with you.
- Stack Size Awareness – These players were extremely aware of stack size. For many of you this is probably a fundamental concept you take for granted, but I notice so many players at the lower limits making mistakes that prove they are not paying the least bit of attention to their opponents stacks. I first became aware of this when I noticed that the skilled players with big stacks at our table were playing very differently with us shorter stacks than the were with fellow big stacks. They were entirely aware of the specific situation and were adapting to it. In no way were they just playing their own hand. They were playing the player.
- Thinking Through Hands Thoroughly – Even though we were all friends and there was lots of joking and needling, as well as a lot of strategy talk, the game moved very quickly. Folds were made quickly preflop, no stalling or unnecessary tanking. But when there was a decision to be made, the skilled players took their time. Much more time than I usually take. You could see the wheels turning. Hand ranges were being analyzed. Every possible action was scrutinized and compared until the optimal action was determined. I found their abilities to think through hands so thoroughly in the midst of the action very admirable and something I aspire to. [Note: It is possible that one player, Dirty Moose, seemed to be analyzing the hand but was actually thinking about the potatoes he’d had for breakfast. Who can blame him. They were fucking delicious!]
- Tilt Affects Even The Best Players – Sadly, in a game like this, with lots of action and money on the table, there are going to be some significant losers. And even though it was much less than I would normally see at a table, we were all friends after all, there was some obvious tilt. It’s hard to say how much it affected their game, but you could see the mood change, not only in them, but at the entire table. Everyone seemed to be very considerate of the tilting player, not needling them, but giving them the space to work through it. See, there is humanity in the poker world. It was a nice reminder that no matter how much you work on strategy and how skilled you become, the mental game never stops being vitally important and needs to be tended to constantly.
Big Action, Massive Pots
With lots of money on the table, and aggressive players in the mix, there was bound to be lots of action and some huge pots. The game didn’t disappoint. There were a few pots well over $1000 and one pretty massive, three way all-in pot between Red Chippers Fausto, napncrash, and Persuadeo, with Persuadeo taking it down for around $1700 [Note: screen names used to protect the innocent].
It was very exciting watching the action in these huge pots (to be honest, I’m glad I was just an observer. It was just too intense for my fragile heart and fragile bankroll to handle. LOL). Seeing the skill level mixed with pure luck makes for a lot of drama. It really was great fun.
A Huge Success
All in all, I have to say that the meet up, just like the one in the spring, was a huge success. It is so great to see old friends, make some new ones, and put some faces to forum screen names. I am constantly impressed with the Red Chip community. When I first signed up with Red Chip, I would never have guessed that it would become such a significant part of my life and that I would meet such great people who would not only help me improve my game but become friends. I feel so lucky to be a part of that community.
Lastly, a special shout out to Alex “Mr. Don’t” for hooking me up with a place to stay at the beautiful Water Club at The Borgata. Without setting me up with that room I’m not sure that I would have come and that would have definitely been -EV. So thanks, Alex!
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