I’m All In Too!

Hello! Welcome back!

My last post brought up the idea of “Going All In.” I chose to be very limited on my poker referencing because I wanted you to feel, and to understand your life moments that required a 100% commitment. Those moments, regardless of the outcome, are some of the most important moments in your life.

Just like life, pokers “All in Moments” are extremely important. When you go all in, it’s important to have as much information as possible. It’s important to be prepared for every outcome. It’s also important to keep your emotions in check.

For starters, I want to talk your reasons for going all in. With “all in” being possibly the last bet you may make in any given tournament, or cash game, why put your chip stack on the line? Well, there are a few reasons you can make this kind of bet. First, if you have the absolute “nuts,” and there is no possible way for you to lose. Here’s an example of this: You are dealt 9c 10c on the button. Blinds are 500 and 1000. Middle position has raised it to 4500. Folds around, and you call with a decent mid ranged hand and great position. The big blind calls. The flop comes out 6c 7c 8c. The big blind bets out 5000. Middle position then raises it to 15000. You can expect that at least one of them is going to call your bet if you raise it, so this is a good time to either, milk the hand and get maximum value, or its time to eliminate a player. In a cash game your goal is to extract maximum value here, but in a tournament the goal is to inevitably be the last person standing.

Let’s take a second to think about the hands that would be betting in this situation. If the big blind is betting, you have to put him on 1 of 3 hands: a flopped set, a flopped straight, or a high flush. There are very few hands that should be called from the big blind. You can eliminate AA – JJ based on no second raise pre-flop. The raise from the middle position is generally a pretty easy situation. My thoughts: continuation betting with A K or A Q off suite, one of which could be a club, pocket pair higher than the board, or he has flopped the flush with a Q of clubs or better. Realizing that there is absolutely no way for you to lose this hand, it’s time to eliminate a player, and go all in.

Calling someone’s all in bet can be extremely nerve-wracking… especially when you’re tournament is on the line. So this next situation will concern calling all in pre-flop. If you aren’t holding Q Q/K K/A A you should not be calling someone’s all in pre-flop (yes there are circumstances where “the math” is right but I won’t go into that yet). Notice I didn’t put AK or AQ in there? Where they are good starting hands, they are only good drawing hands… They are not good hands to call someone’s all in with. If your hand losses to 22 you in bad shape. You can expect 1 of 3 things from a player who’s all in pre-flop: 1. they have a decent pocket pair, or are sitting on high cards. 2. they are short stacked looking to double up for survival 3. they are bluffing (this is not a recommendation…).

We all know that AA is “the best starting hand” but did you know that it’s not always the best finishing hand? Let’s say that you’ve made it to the turn with Ah As in middle position and 2 other people are there with you. The board is Jd 9d 10c 6d.  It’s just been checked to you. How comfortable are you with your Ah As? There are a lot of hands you lose to, and all of them could have called a decent pre-flop raise. Here’s a list of hand that could have called your raise: Kd Qd, J J, 9 9, Ad Kd, 10 10, KQ off suite, 7d 8d, 6 6, I could continue on here… The point is, how comfortable are you betting all in here? Can you call someone who raises you all in? I’ve listed 8 hands that you lose to; can you reasonably eliminate a player from calling you with any of them? These are situations you’re trying to avoid, but they do come up. I’m not telling you that you should have gone all in pre-flop. I’m not telling you that they were wrong for calling. What I am saying is that betting “all in” can put you in some bad spots. You need to know your situation, you need to know your opponent, and you need to know the hands you lose to. You need to be prepared to fold AA once in a while… I know it’s painful, but it’s the truth.

Surprisingly enough, betting all in is a lot easier than calling an all in. It’s nice to look down at   A A pre-flop with someone raising big into you. Just like any other raise, you need to always be prepared for someone to call. Be prepared for someone to get lucky. Losing will never feel good, but winning will be exhilarating. There’s no feeling like surviving your all moment… especially when there’s a lot on the line.

At some point you will run into a situation where using the all in bluff will be right, but I would caution that. Traps are designed to be sprung… This is a situation where using all the information you have gathered will be a key element.

Here are a few links to help you in your journey “all in.”

https://www.partypoker.com/how-to-play/school/basics/all-in.html

http://www.thepokerbank.com/strategy/hand-guide/preflop/

http://www.partypoker.com/blog/five-common-pre-flop-mistakes.html

When you do chose to go all in, be committed to it. Accept the wins and accept the losses. Sometimes you will be the one to get lucky, and often times others will. All you can ever hope to do is make the right move, at the right time. If you played your best there will be nothing to be mad at or ashamed of. Don’t let the emotional side of this game control you.

We all know there are several different viewpoints when it comes to playing poker, and I’ll never claim that mine is right, but I do hope that I’ve done and shown you enough to get you thinking about this game differently.

I’d like to finish by saying thank you for reading. You are the reason that I do this! Without you, all this rambling would be for not and I’d like to think my knowledge is useful! Please remember that poker is a game, it should be enjoyed! I hope I’ve helped you even just a little along the way! Have a good day and may many pots be pushed in your direction!

 

I’m All-In!

Hello out there! Is anyone still listening? Wow, it’s been a while. I guess it’s time to wipe the dust off the key board and start getting more content to you!

For starters, I’d like to say that taking a break is important. I personally used my away time to casually reflect on the past. Through that reflection I’ve learned a few things about myself. It’s strange to think that learning about one’s self is overwhelmingly powerful. As an individual we should be cognitive of our strengths and our weaknesses, but the grey area in between is what gets lost in the repetition of the day to day adventure.

I think it’s safe to say that as we get older we are forgetting more than we are learning. With that said, I needed the time to reflect. I needed to remember why I fell in love with poker. I needed to remind myself why it’s still important to me. Why sharing my ups, my downs and everything in between still matters.

Remember when you were little? Back when you were excited to listen to your grandpa’s stories. He always found a way to make you feel like you were right there with him. The thing I remember the most is how he ended his stories. He always found a way to tie everything together and teach you something. It’s that moment when he tells you the moral of the story. I’ll always remember his stories because of that.

One of my favorite stories was about my grandmother. Before I get into the story, here is a little about her. She was a hard-nosed woman. What she said always went. You never told her no, because you already understood the consequences. This may explain a lot of her success with business. I don’t believe she was afraid of anything- except maybe failure. One of the things she used to hammer into me was ‘Do it as many times as it takes you to do it right, then do it again so you don’t forget’.

Now my grandfather was a lover of motorcycles. To be more specific he loved Harley Davidson’s. For as long as I can remember there was always a Harley in the family. This is a huge contributing factor in my infatuation for them. When I was a kid, my grandmother always stayed off of the motorcycles. I always wondered why… So as the story goes:

One day out on a Nevada salt flat. The family had gathered for a barbecue, and some off road riding. For years my grandfather had been trying to get my grandmother on a bike of her own, but she consistently shut the idea down. So he’d decided that the time was finally right. When the timing was perfect, he’d unveiled his perfect scheme. There was no way she could say no. He’d already bought the bike, and he’d even had it painted in her favorite color. No one in the family knew of his plan, so this would be a major family event. As he pulled the tarp that was covering his prized present, there was nothing but silence… no one cheered, no one clapped, no one even whispered. “Pat, this is for you!” he bellowed. She stared at the bike. Never looking to him, or anyone else, until finally she walked over to the bike with the stare locked in on it. “This is really what you want?” She asked. “It would mean the world to me if you’d ride this bike next to me.”

After some time she finally touched the bike. She ran her fingers across the newly painted tank, continuing to the brown leather seat with the dangling leather tassels. She lifted he leg over, and sat on the bike. Put both hands on the grips, and absorbed the feeling of sitting on the bike. Over the course of this time, no one has said a word other that the two of them. She finally looked over to him and said, “Show me how to start it.” So he walked over and showed her the kick start. He then stepped up onto it, and kicked it in. It fired up first try. The rumble of the V-Twin purred across the open salt flats. He then reached across the bars and pulled the throttle back to open it up a bit and the engine roared to life. A glaze came across my grandmother’s eyes. She replaced his hand and revved the engine. Lifting the kick stand she leveled the bike. She then pulled in the clutch, putting one foot up on the peg below the gear shift petal, and put the bike into gear. Everyone moved away as they knew she was going to ride off. She suddenly released the clutch and she and the bike shot forward down the flats. Faster and faster she went, with everyone staring in awe. Then someone broke the silence and said “She’s yelling something!” The roar of the bike was so loud that no one could make out exactly what she was saying, until finally on one of her passes by the camp, she shrieked “HOW DO I STOP THIS GOD FORSAKEN THING!?” That’s when they all realized she didn’t actually know how to drive the bike! So my grandfather hopped on his bike, to run her down. He chased her for what seemed like an hour, until finally her bike ran out of gas. Once stopped, and with him finally caught up to her, everyone at the camp just watched as she screamed at him and gave him ‘the business’. To this day he still will no tell us what she said to him exactly, but she never got on that bike again…

After many years had passed, I asked my grandmother about that day. The curiosity had been killing me. I asked her what happened, and if the story was true. After a bit of prodding she finally confirmed it all. We shared a laugh, which was a rare occasion, and I finally asked her why she never got back onto the bike. Her response “It only takes going all in one time to realize your mistake.”

Now the moral of this story: Going All-In can be the worst mistake you ever make.

That story makes me laugh every time he tells it. It never gets old. My reflections over that last few months brought me back to that story several times. I’ve made the “All-In” mistake many times in my life, but I’ve also been rewarded by many of those moments. Whether that’s through business, through friendships, or through poker, it’s always taught me something.  Be passionate with everything you do. Give yourself a reason to remember the “All-In” moments in life. Before you go all in, understand that there are only two outcomes. One, you Survive. Surviving is intoxicating. It’s like a drug and you’re always looking for it. You’re always in need of it. Two, you fall. Falling lets you get back up and learn from the mistake. Falling lets you build up the armor protecting you when you are at the next “All-In” moment.

As you come to the conclusion of this post you’ll notice that I have vaguely connected it to poker. We’ll my next blog post will continue on this subject with All-in Poker play… So stay tuned for next week!

Thank you for reading my rants, and thank you for your patience when I’m lost in reflection! Remember that life and poker are one in the same. They are a game. Play well and remember to have fun!

 

 

 

Strength is Learned, Not Earned

Today, I officially started my preparations for the 2016 World Series of Poker. While I was looking over rates and creating the plan for my time in Las Vegas, it occurred to me that this year is significantly different than in years past. In previous years, I’ve gone to the WSOP not having set a bar of success for myself. My main goal was to “make good choices and have fun.” But this is the first year I’m actually setting goals to succeed.

This is a strange thing to admit. Truthfully, I wasn’t expecting this situation. Don’t get me wrong––I’ve always set up a game plan for each tournament I’ve played. I’ve tried to put myself in situations that lined me up for success. But something feels different this year. I feel like I have to have a deep run this year. Anything less would be failure. There’s nothing wrong with losing, but frankly, I’ve already done enough of it. In the past, I have always been content with whatever the outcome was. This year can no longer be learning experience. I can no longer be content with making the wrong decisions. I’ve now found who I am as a poker player. This is the year I return to winning poker.

One of the least talked about topics in poker is losing. I believe we should talk about it, and more specifically, how important losses can be in growing success. Sure, everyone talks about their wins and how they got them. There are thousands of poker books that teach the road to success and give you pointers on winning poker. The one thing that’s always missing from those stories, however, is how much the writers had to lose before they got to where they are today. Everyone has a “bad beat story”––but that’s not what I’m talking about here. I truly believe the greatest bluff ever executed is the one every poker author tries to sell: “I can make you a better poker player!” Truthfully, no one can make you a better poker player. You and you alone can do this.

Sure, there is a road to succeeding in poker. Read all the materials you can get your hands on. Your education is quite possibly the most important tool you have, but know that the information is useless if you have no concept on how to use it. Being able to absorb information and separate the useful from the fluff is just as important and making that hard lay down. If you don’t have a backlog of poker knowledge, you may not be aware that you are behind in a hand and run right into a buzz saw.

The amazing thing about poker is that no hand will ever be the same. The same concept applies to poker players. Each player will have their own personality and their own way of thinking. Why would you want to be just like someone else? Yes, the poker pros are awesome and have made millions, but none of what they have done came without loss. They’ve all put countless hours of work in. The pros are dedicated students of the game. When I watch people watching poker on TV, I’m amazed to see how idolized and revered these people have become. Yes, these people are the best of the best, but the best of the best lose too.

Daniel Negreanu currently holds the position as the highest earning tournament poker player ever. Yet he’s never won the WSOP Main Event. Phil Ivey is arguably the best all-around poker player in the world. Still, he has never won the WSOP Main Event either. Why do we never hear about the failures of these players? Why do we never read about the losses they’ve suffered to get where they are today? Truth is, they don’t want you to know about them. But it’s important to know that these are the moments that created who they are. These are the moments that teach you the most about yourself as a poker player. There is a huge amount of courage needed to succeed in the poker world. Always ask yourself, “Can you succeed and continue through the losses? Did you learn from the moment?”

I take personal pride in learning from my losses and I think it’s important to share the lessons I’ve learned. I find it hard to give credit to someone who can’t accept the losses as important information. Can you look back and be content in your moves? Can you accept that everything you did was correct? Did you get all your chips in the pot knowing you made the right move? Did you make all the right reads? These are questions you have to ask yourself. The only way to grow as a player is making mistakes and learning from them. Luck is a defining outcome in the world of poker. Some people’s success is strictly based on it. But can you be content knowing that you got lucky on the river, or are you more satisfied knowing you made the right move?

I have made many mistakes in my poker career. I spent five years playing poker as a full-time job. Most people invest thousands of dollars into their education; it’s safe to admit that based on the money I’ve spent, I should have a PhD in Poker Education. I have learned my weak points. I have discovered my strong points. It’s through these lessons that I have found out who I am as a poker player.

Daniel Negreanu was knocked out of last year’s WSOP Main Event in 11th place. As he walked away from the table, he was caught for an interview. He was quoted as saying, “Whether I win at poker, or I lose at poker, I know who I am deep down.” This is possibly the most important thing I’ve heard from a professional poker player. Know who you are in this game. Always remember where you came from. Always know where you’re going.

At some point you will have that moment––that instant when you realize you’ve finally figured it all out. There is no perfect poker player, but there are many educated players who have put everything they have into this game. Players who have lost, learned, and developed. Players who started at the same spot you did. Every poker player’s road to greatness is different. I can’t say that I know it all. I won’t say that I’m the best. But I will say that I’ve had my moment. This year is going to be a strong year for me. Greatness is just a pulled pot away.