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The Princess of Poker

My journey to discovering the world of Poker!
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The good news is that since setting my goal of only playing MTTs and the Open Skills League from mid-January, I have actually maintained my word. That means no Spin n Go, no SNGs, no cash games, and most importantly no venturing out at Full Tilt with the wild adrenaline games (my favourite was the Adrenaline Rush games where you raise or fold) .

Yes, because we all know what happens eventually- it’s a tale as old as time: What did curiosity do? - “curiosity killed the cat.” Well, perhaps in this context I ought to substitute the word ‘cat’ with ‘school pass tickets’ or ‘bankroll.’ 

This January, I have been using my school pass tickets to participate in the events, and I have also participated in the odd Women’s Sunday satellite and Women’s events (0.11 NLHE & 0.44 rebuy). The Women’s Sunday Satellite was the most fun – although the first time I played too tight:  the blinds increased so quickly that next thing I know I had no more chips left. The second time, I loosened up a little but literally ‘gave away’ my stack due to a silly mistake, which brings me to the topic of this blog post: calling ‘all-in.’
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The ‘All-in’ Calls…:


To keep track of my poker adventures, I have made a spread sheet in Excel where I type in which tournaments I participate in, and the tournament details. I also have a ‘notes’ section.
In that section I include what my exit hands were, and my general approach to the tournament.

After a couple of games, I noticed that my exit hands have involved an ‘all-in’ call in a specific situation. After a few more games and even after acknowledging this tendency, I noticed that it happened again in the same situation. And again.
Seven satellites later, the curse continues and I am still calling ‘all-in’ raises in the same situation: out of position, on the turn, against a larger stack. At this stage, I don’t even have to type a single word in my ‘notes’ section: Excel does it for me. It pre-populates the situation which caused me to exit the tournament:  ‘Called all-in against a bigger stack, on the turn, out of postion.’ 
Something is not quite right. After an error is identified, surely preventative measures are taken in order to not make the same mistake again?
It seems that I am making the same mistake time and time again, despite being aware of it. Ooops…

Maybe this is what my work colleague means when he says that I am, “academically brilliant but with no common sense.” Actually, he says “absolutely” no common sense. He actually emphasises the word, "absolutely." (I don’t like him one bit). In my defence, that day a new debit-card machine had been delivered to the office -  it had buttons, switches, levers, and many compartments. Plus, I wasn’t even given the instructions. How am I supposed to know how to use something when I’ve never used it before??! And no instruction manual – you can’t be serious!
*echo*… common sense…*echo*
I had to include this *points at picture below* - I can totally relate to the son in this story. Common sense is not that common after all...

Thanks to the school pass tickets, tiny buy-in satellites and documenting my exit hands in the ‘notes’ section, I’ve realised the following: there is something about these situations which triggers me to ‘call’ – perhaps I am over-valuing my hand or I am simply not adapting to my opponents, and am not ‘reading’ them properly or maybe I am just clicking the ‘call’ button without giving it proper thought. It seems that when I am out ouf position, on the turn, against an opponent with a larger stack who raises 'all-in,' my mind translates the “call” button as “click me now!” Oh dear...those neurons... 
Hopefully, I will discover a possible root cause when I review those exit hands individually.


Conducting my Self Review:


So far I have reviewed my game as a whole to see if I could spot some patterns in particular situations and try to identify potential errors. These include revisiting:


1. Winning hands
2. Losing hands
3. Hands that I wasn’t sure about when playing
4. How I play hands in specific positions, and what my range is.


Overall, I could see that I have been playing so tight that not only was I missing opportunities, but I blinded down quickly as a result. Another pattern I noticed was that I lose more chips when I alternate between passive and aggressive in the same hand, because the uncertainty causes me to fold on the turn or river.
I haven’t started reviewing my exit hands yet because if it wasn’t for the ‘notes’ section where I type in my exit hands, I probably wouldn’t have noticed this tendency of calling too often in that particular situation, in quite some time to be honest. The penny dropped after a while even when the answer was right in front of me…

My Action Plan!


Action??? But...that’s a ‘doing’ word!
A review is no good if one doesn’t act on one’s findings. Therefore, it’s time to ‘do’ more and hypothesize  less!

1. I will tighten my opening range in EP, but loosen in LP
2. I will not limp. I will not limp. I will not limp
3. I will keep my lines consistent
4. I will not check/call
5. I will avoid calling an 'all-in' raise out of position, on the turn, against a larger stack (I don’t know why I keep doing this or how to deal with it so for now I am going to avoid the situation whilst I investigate).
6. I will adapt my actions in relation to my opponent when I notice that they suddenly act different.

Counteracting the Curse...

Since I began my poker journey I have been learning and improving on a lot of skills such as attention to detail and especially applying abstract concepts to practical situations. These skills are helping me to grow professionally at work too. What intrigues me the most is how my personality traits in real life seem to reflect my approach to poker, and vice versa.  I think it's because a major aspect of poker is about making decisions, and the whole thought process to getting to a particular decision. 

Perhaps I ought to spend less time reading and more time 'doing' practical things. 

And the bad news? Well, let’s be optimistic – there is no bad news, since I have discovered so much about what I need to work on to improve my game, and the action plan should help me progress! I definitely recommend anyone who does not use a poker analysis software to use an Excel spreadsheet too, and to have a look at the exit hands in particular. It's a good starting point. 
In the meantime, I will not call ‘all-in’ out of position, on the turn, from a larger stack…
I won’t…! Honestly.  

Well, not until my investigation is complete!

 

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