Poker Update

Update: Ole ole convinced me I’m being a whiner. At the bottom I’m adding in some of the mistakes and good plays I made last night. I remember a lot more of the hands the day after then I did that night when I was cheesed off.

Very frustrated. I played the whole night very well. I didn’t get many cards, but I got the most of what I had. I got caught bluffing twice, but it set a later play for me to double up because the other guy thought I was bluffing.

I have 4,400. Blinds are at 300-600. I have played one hand in the last 35 minutes. The blinds are raised to 1,800. I have A-Q. This is against the same guy who knocked me out with A-Q a couple weeks ago. (I just flipped through the poker posts. I didn’t write that one down. Anyhow…) I call. The flop is A-7-6, so I have top pair and a very strong kicker. He bets 600. 600? That’s a weird bet. But he’s a weird guy frankly, hard to figure out what he has because his bets are often non-standard. It doesn’t even matter. If I fold I’m down to only four big blinds. I am sure he doesn’t have A-A, pretty sure he doesn’t have A-K. He might A-7 or A-6, but I have to take that chance. I go all in. He turns over pocket 7s, he hit his set.

So I am annoyed. Why else am I annoyed? When I get a small pair (7s or below) I rarely raise, but I almost always call. The odds of flopping a set is about 8-1. If I do flop the set I should be able to get a huge pot of it. If I don’t I may be able to bluff the pot, I may have the best hand anyhow (no other made pair), or I may give up on the hand. I have called with a small pair about 25 times in the month or two and I haven’t hit a set once.

This is why I’m extra annoyed. I haven’t gotten this particular break in a very long time and despite a night of good playing I got screwed by someone else getting it. Oh yeah, and this guy got knocked out twice during the night because he went all-in with terrible hands, so against me is when he happened to get lucky, and it’s part of what makes him hard to read.

On the other hand, my reading is getting better. I don’t always trust my reads, but I am concentrating much harder on reads and gradually getting some the right feelings about some key hands. Twice tonight I called the exact cards someone had in their hand.

How I ruled:

  • I had A-J, an ace came on the flop. Me and another guy both bet fairly heavily on all the rounds. I had him figured for Ace with a lower kicker. It turned out he had A-10. I was proud of that read.
  • I got pocket Jacks again just as the blinds had gone to 150-300. In the small blind I raised it to 850. The big blind thought for a while and went all-in. The big blind player has cashed 9 weeks in a row (a very impressive streak). And he does bluff but in big pots, he usually has the goods. He isn’t the type to normally go all-in with less than premium cards. Nonetheless I instantly called him. His A-10 didn’t hold up and I doubled-up through him.

How I sucked:

  • I was in the big blind, one player and the small blind limped. I decided not to look at my cards for the sheer fun of it. The flop was A-x-x. Small blind checked. I still didn’t look at my cards and checked. The last player threw in a few hundred. Small blind folded. “Guess it’s time to look at my cards!” I had pocket Jacks. A great hand, but there was already an ace on the board. I thought the raisers play was consistent with A-8 through A-10 – a limp and then a stab at the pot. Guessing he had the ace, I folded. He later told me he did not have the Ace, or any card over an 8. (It came out because the next two hands in a row he had pocket jacks, so we were talking about my hand also.) If I had looked at my cards like any jackass should I would have raised preflop and won the hand easily.
  • On hands where I had a strong but not the nuts hand (for example, Q-J suited and the flop is Q-x-x) I was betting pretty big. I wanted to get other people out of the hand. Which worked. And it was consistent with my actions when I bluffed at the pot. However, it set up a bad dynamic. My good hands didn’t get much money because I took down the pot right there before it could grow. My bluff hands either took down the small pot or I eventually had to fold or lose a big pot. My good hands made me a little money and bad hands lost me a lot of money. I realized this about an hour in and tried to switch it up a little. When I had A-9 and the flop was A-x-x, I checked, and checked again when a third ace came on the turn. Then my big river bet was called. That showed a weakness in my game – I think I have to have the courage to take good-but-not-great cards a little further in the hand so I can get more money out of them. I think, what do you think?

    (Maybe this is whining also. Because I never had the hand where the other player had Q-9, or some second best hand that would keep them betting with me. But if they did have that second best hand and raised big I would have to make a good read to call them. Avoiding the difficult decision is a good thing also.)

  • Missed a few opportunities to steal blinds because I was too passive and just didn’t feel like making the stab at them.
  • On the very last hand I should have gone all-in preflop. I was gun shy because the exact same move against the exact same player had knocked me out a few weeks ago when it turned out he had pocket kings. But that shouldn’t have mattered. Putting 4400 into a pot of 2200 might not have been enough to get him out, in which case I would have lost anyhow. But it might have been enough to push his pocket 7s out. With only 7 big blinds to my name, A-Q is good enough that I should have forced the issue.
  • I had pocket jacks twice, A-K once, A-Q once, plenty of A-high and K-Q cards, low pocket pairs three times – I had enough cards tonight. I am still cheesed about the last hand but I can’t complain about the cards overall. It should have been enough for me to win, or at least have a big chip stack that could absorb the unlucky hand.

Charity

For no good reason, the Muttrox family gives charity in lumps. At some point in the year we sit down and figure out how much we’re going to give, pick out our favorite causes for the year, and write a few checks.

If you want to do good, there’s always a tension. There are two main ways to do good.

  • Relieving symptoms: Giving money to a begger, giving a meal to hungry people, adopting, helping out at Meals on Wheels, etc. You can only help a few people at a time. You have an immediate direct impact on lives, but their problems will probably come back the next day or year and your efforts are a drop in the bucket.
  • Attacking root causes:Giving to human rights, political causes, overpopulation, curing diseases. You go after the core issues that you think cause a lot of the problems of the world. You think your money could conceivable help the entire world. But if it does it will be in years or centuries and you never get the immediate payoff of concretely fixing something.

There aren’t many causes that span the gap. Microlending perhaps. I tend to favor the “root cause” approach. It fits well with my personality. It doesn’t call for personal involvement or ever meeting the beneficiary of the charity, but I believe it’s more effective in the long run. This also seems like the approach of the Gates Foundation.

How about you? Where do you send your charity funds? Or do you give at all?

This year the Muttrox family gave to four causes. I have two causes that go firmly in the “root causes” category: Human rights and literacy. I firmly believe that if you took any of the worst countries on earth and gave them governments that couldn’t torture them to death arbitrarily, and the populace was literate enough to learn about the world, there would be dramatic improvements. I give to Amnesty International. Literacy is harder, I haven’t found quite the right organization for me yet. In the meantime I gave to Literacy Action, who provides adult literacy programs in Atlanta. Can you believe it costs $2,000 for one adult for one year? Wow.

The other two are more in the symptom relief category. Solidly in the symptom relief camp is the Atlanta Food Bank. Their donations have plummeted and their needs have skyrocketed, both driven by the poor economy. We stepped in a little bit.

The last two years the majority of our charity money has gone to The Innocence Project. This group is dedicated to freeing wrongfully convicted people. Reading a sampling of the people they have helped is eye-opening. How would you like to spend the rest of your life in prison because of bribed witnesses, incompetent lawyers, corrupt judges, etc.? Maybe like this guy in the news this week. You have DNA evidence that will prove your innocence, but the system won’t let you take the test. Or you’ve already proved it but you still can’t get sprung. I am very glad to be a supporter of this group.