Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Justification

No poker last night.

One thing that has been brewing inside me for a while is the justification they we poker players make (yes, I am absolutely including myself) in defending our actions. How many times do you hear that somebody played great for x amount of hours only to donkey it off it 1 or 2 hands. This will be the theme of this post.

First off, it is human nature to justify our actions. It is what it is so we just deal with it.

Let's set up an example, you are deep into a tournament but not yet to the money... You hit bottom pair and somebody puts a small bet out there. You decide to put a big raise out there because you "smell" weakness. He ends up calling you down with middle pair and you lose half of your stack. You go out a few hands later when you pocket Tens don't hold up. You then tell the story of the tourney and say that a made a "donkey" move and lost half my stack. My question is.... was it really a donkey move.... my answer coming later...

You are at a NL table at get the magic hand of 72o... And as any good blogger does, you raise it up and get called... You hit part of the flop; but EP bets out... and knowing that this guy can be aggressive and is a little short stacked compared to you... you push all-in... He calls and shows hit top pair... and you take a big loss... And you go on to tell that you made a bad move with the hammer (although most people are happy to tell their hammer beats and wins)... My question is... was it really a bad move... my answer coming later.. with an added bonus section on the "Hammer"....

This is a real life situation that happened to me in a real tournament... We are down to 2 or 3 players.. I think it might have been HU... and I am in the BB with 82o... We see a flop with an ace on it but other than that, not too scary... I check.. and bets... I raise it up and he calls... I end up going all in on either the turn or river as I know this player is a good, tight player... He ends up laying down his A2 and I took down a big pot and went on to win the tourney. My question is.. was that a bad move... my answer coming later...

Very early on in an SNG I get something like A3 of clubs... Flop comes something like 3s4c5c giving me a pair plus a gut shot straight flush draw... another words.. oodles and oodles of outs... I check... EP leads out and LP raises... Short story... I ended up laying it down (although probably a favorite with my draws)... as I thought EP might shove all in... he did.. I still would have had odds to call... as it turned out.. I wouldn't have hit my outs and would have finished in last place. I went on to finish 2nd in the SNG... My question is... was that a bad move... My answer coming later...

A similar, non poker situation.. USC has the ball on the one yard line with 4 seconds to go.. They need a field goal to go to overtime... They act like they are going to spike the ball; but actually run a QB sneak and end up winning the game in regulation... My question to you is... was that a bad call... Now for my answers...

What makes a good or bad call or move? My simple answer is, if it worked, it was a great move... If it doesn't, then it was a bad move....

OK.. Let me explain...

We all know that bluffing is part of the game of poker.... a beautiful part of the game of poker. Most of the time, if you just wait for the cards, you are not guaranteed of making it to the money or actually winning.. So what makes a good bluff? First off, let's define a bluff as simply not having the best hand at the time. Moreover, there are different levels of bluffing.. There is the "sweat your nuts off" pure unadulturated bluff when you have nothing... Then there is the Semi bluff where you are drawing... but still probably don't want them to call.

Obviously, the first type is the one that gives "us" poker players the biggest pleasure and rush; but when they don't work, some people seem to think that they made a "donkey" move that ended up costing them the tourney... My response.... WRONG!!!!!!! yes, there are times to bluff and there are also times when you shouldn't bluff. It's tougher to gauge in the online game; but if you sense weakness and you think a bluff will work... then I say Go For It!!!!! Whether not it works should not come into the equation... Again, as Greg Raymer says... it decisions not results.. If it works, then we think we are the gods of the poker world... if it doesn't we spendless seeminly countless time trying to justify or decision. I say exnay on the justifynah... I don't want to hear it.. If you felt it was the right move and you had the guts to do it... then I applaud you.. Just don't bore me to tears trying to explain why you shouldn't have done it.. Just learn from the experience and move on.

Let's get back to the hammer or 72o for you home gamers... It seems to be the hand of choice for bloggers to raise with. While I am in the huge minority here and never play the hammer unless odds predicate it... I have no problem with others doing it. Many people will say to pick a hand and when you see it, push it.. As we have said before... bluffing is a vital part of successful poker. So play the 72o hard if you want to.. I may choose 830... or K4s.. whatever the case, if this is the "chosen" hand to bluff (on a non-situational basis) with and you have the nerve to do it... Awesome... you get two thumbs up in my book.

Let's go back to our what if's? Obviously, by now you have probably picked up that the answer to every question is a hardy "Nope". They were not donkey moves... What if:

#1.. if the guy was weak and on a draw and your pair won it... you would be singing your praises on such a great read.

#2.. what you if got him to lay down his marginal (but better than yours) hand.. we all know the answer to that as bloggers are not shy about posting these.

#3.. What if he had called me and I lost most of my stack... Then you say good call and move on. Decisions.. not results..

#4.. what if I had pushed and hit my flush or whatever... or if I didn't push and folded but still hit my flush... Was the fact that I still ended up 2nd justification for my laydown... nope... Even though you have odds to push or call.. .if it doesn't feel right to you.. then don't do it.. and live with the consequences..

#5.. what if Leinert got tackled and didn't make the end zone that ended up costing them a chance at the national championship. Can you imagine the sports talk on that decision? My contention is that it worked so it was a great call... If it hadn't, then I say it was a bad call. Simple as that.

Well, there you have it... That is my opinion on justification... I may be wrong. I realize that I have just scratched the surface on when to bluff and why to bluff.... but that could be a story for another day.. this story was basically on the decision of bluffing (or not bluffing) and living with the consequences.... and for crying out loud, don't try to explain to me why you lost with such a bad move... because I don't want to hear it... Let me know your thoughts.

4 comments:

TripJax said...

Man I agree with this, I just have to use it in my game. I am a decisions guy who tries to use what i do know on odds and statistics to help me, but in the end, I have to feel it. More comment coming later...

When I make a "wrong" move it can change my whole day. I really need to just look at the whole picture and decide whether it was right for that situation. Just because it didn't work out in that situation doesn't make it wrong and doesn't mean it won't be right in a future situation. More comment coming later...

This was a good post man. Very good. No more comment coming later...

GaryC said...

I agree with TripJax on all points, except I will have no comments coming later.

Damn good post, Will.

G

G-Rob said...

Nice post.

TraumaPoker said...

This is a good post for sure. I think if more people could play along the lines of Raymer and have the outlook he does it would help their game. Don’t be so results oriented, if your bluff didn’t work out but you feel it was +EV and from a game theory stand point the correct play then just be satisfied that you will gain in the long run on that play. If some donkey got his 16K stack allin with KJ against your AK and spiked a J on the river to beat you just let it roll of your back. Don’t attack the guy for being a donkey just know that in the long run you can beat a guy like that.

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