Random Thoughts 03/16/04

Whenever I think about playing a marginal hand, I try to take Lee Jones’ advice in Winning Low Limit Hold ‘Em; Look for an excuse to fold. I’m usually pretty tight but if you’re sitting at a loose table, it’s very easy to turn a profitable session into a breakeven or losing session by playing some mediocre hands. When you think about it, it should be obvious but if you haven’t seen a flop in a couple of orbits or you’ve watched the fifth pot in a row being called down with low pairs there’s a tendency (at least for me) to want to broaden my definition of what’s playable and what’s not. I try to keep myself in check by imagining how much trouble this hand can get me into unless it completely smacks me in the face. Sure, K7s might sound like a good hand if you’ve seen nothing but hands like 93o for the last several orbits but what if you make a pair on the flop? You have a weak kicker but a big enough hand that it’s hard to get away from it even if someone starts betting into you. If you can’t lay it down, you’re going to see the turn and you may even pay two bets to see it. Now another one of your suit falls and you’ve got a four flush draw with your pair with a weak kicker and there’s no way you can get away from this hand. You check-call it and see the river, which doesn’t improve you. You’ve got top pair so when you check on the river and your opponent bets you have to call. Of course, he turns over K8 and you pull your hair out because you just put in 3.5 BB to get beaten on a hand you shouldn’t have been playing in the first place.

That’s why I consider the BB position to be so dangerous. You may see the flop with a lousy hand even if you don’t want to. If you get a big enough piece of it you may stay in hoping to improve and get rivered with an overcard. Again, normally you wouldn’t even be in the hand but once you were you can get into a lot of trouble with a weak top pair or a weak kicker and you’ll give up several bets only to get sucked out at the end. When I see that 72o in my hand I start praying that someone raises it so I can lay the hand down.