Change My Luck

I’m fortunate to have this whole week off from work, so today I went up to have lunch with Debbi at Specialties (mmm, yummy cookies). Afterwards, since I was in the area, I went to Lucky Chances to play poker, since it’s rarely convenient for me to get up there.

Monday afternoon before Thanksgiving was surprisingly busy, although most of the people there were older than I am – certainly at my table. Fortunately, it was not so busy that I had to wait long for a table.

I’d been reading up some more on low-limit Hold ‘Em, and was especially interested in this Mike Caro article on how many novice players fold too often, so I wanted to try to fold less often once I was in a pot, since I suspect I get pushed off pots too easily.

The table was medium-loose (maybe 4-6 people typically seeing the flop), and passive (people didn’t usually bet after the flop unless they had a pretty big hand). As you will often hear me complain, I didn’t get dealt many pocket pairs, and after 2-1/2 hours I’d only been dealt one, a pair of Kings which held up. I mentioned this to the guy on my left, and promptly got dealt a pair of 2’s (which were good when a 2 came on the turn), and another pair of kings shortly thereafter (which made a winning straight).

I had a lot of luck with straights, limping into pots with things like J-Ts (that’s “Jack-Ten suited”, for any of my non-poker-playing readers who have gotten this far) and making a straight. One thing about straights – unlike flushes – is that they’re much harder to see just looking at the board, so they can be a sneaky way to get more money into a pot you’re likely to win.

I probably lost a little money in some small mis-plays. For instance, not betting my straight at one point when I was fearful of a full house when the board paired on the turn. I need to stop playing from fear, I really do. Also, when I had my pair of 2’s, everyone checked on the flop, the turn was a 2, as I said, the guy on my right bet, and I raised, and everyone folded. Probably if I’d just called I could have gotten at least one more bet – maybe more – out of the pot. My thinking was that I was at risk playing against a higher set, but really, the odds of that are not likely.

My biggest mistake was one pot where I thought I had a good chance to push people off the pot with middle pair (a pair of 9s, with a King on the board), but I wasn’t able to push off the guy with a King (despite his poor kicker), and although I had a straight draw too, it didn’t hit. Probably I was too optimistic there.

Overall, I finished ahead by a few bucks. I felt like I played much better than I have in recent months, not a big “aha!” session, but just some progressive improvement. If I can think through what I’m doing better while I’m at the table, I ought to be able to do even better. But, you know, it’s a start.