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Old 10-02-2014, 06:51 AM   #1
AbqDave
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What it is like, being a primate

If someone came down from the planet Z and asked to be shown, in a way it could understand intuitively what it is like to be a primate, and in particular a human primate, I might teach them how to play poker.

I treated myself to a year of psychoanalysis a while back (if you've never tried it, I highly recommend it). One of the things I learned was the extent to which, in poker, I was acting out my life. I made it a point to pay for my sessions in cash that I had won at the poker table. I thought it was a joke, and a fairly good one at that; but I failed to take into account Freud's dictum that it is not possible to change the subject. My analyst, who is a smart fellow, caught onto that immediately.

I get paid to make decisions based on information that is incomplete, and at times contradictory. I struggle with feelings of aggression, and guilt over feelings of aggression.

I used to punish myself by playing golf, which really only presents one side of the equation: that life sucks. Poker is a much more balanced approach. It teaches us that life neither sucks, nor does it not suck. We are all dealt certain cards, but the cards that we are dealt do not define us. It is our decisions that define us, and within the boundaries of the decisions we are called upon to make, we have the opportunity to define ourselves. The choices are ours.

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It can be difficult to measure the benefit of psychoanalysis. But not if you're a poker player.

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I'm in the midst of analyzing and overhauling my approach to poker, and you know what that means.

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During the time I was in analysis, I was also getting some coaching by ANL. Between the two of them, they got my poker game tuned up. To be more precise, I learned the tactics and discipline required to play "2+2 basic strategy" at live low-limit games that benefit from that playing style.

Yes, ANL offers that service.

ANL comes from a part of the country and from a culture that places negative value on "putting on airs." Meaning, appearing smarter than or better than one's peers. If you're not familiar with such values it is possible to misinterpret that stance as being in favor of ignorance, and against education. That's not at all true, but it does lead to a bit of sandbagging sometimes. People from that culture think it's hilarious when they are underestimated, as they often are. ANL thinks; he reads. He understands poker deeply. Don't buy the "Aw shucks I'm just a countrified feller with a tetch of common sense."

Brunson strikes me as being that way. I read "Super System" primarily for historical interest and I'm sure got nothing out of it. I am surprised how often people on these forums quote him. I'm thinking I might should read it again.

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So here's where I'm at. I'm moving up to 2/5 and plan to move up to 5/10 eventually, when I really know something about playing poker.

I come to 2/5 with good habits and bad habits. At 1/2, I got into this mindset where I decided I wasn't going to play from OOP unless I had to. I finally got around to developing an EP range, something I literally wrote down on a piece of paper, a game plan to stick to. Good habit.

I also developed a grossly unbalanced line. Play anything I like from HJ up. Cbet the daylights out of the flop, depending on the number of opponents and the board texture. Play conservatively OTT and OTR. Given the typical playing style of a 1/2 gambler, it makes sense. Unfortunately, a lot of people at 2/5 are on to that.

So now I have a specific late position range, and I have re-engineered my approach to cbetting. I only cbet hands that might be good for two streets of betting. My flop bet percent went down, and my turn bet percent went up. Seems to be working.

This makes me kind of a 2/5 nit. Not in many hands but when I'm in, it's a balanced, high-pressure offense. My betting game is better than my calling game, but that's catching up too.

So far it's working well against TAG's, nits, and rec/gamblers. The LAGs are eating me alive, though. Gotta work on that. I have completely lost my mind on the river. I'm like some noob fish who learned how to play poker by watching WSOP on TV. I think I'm supposed to bluff, and call bluffs. Ugh. I make all this money on the flop and turn,and then spew it away with some hero call.

A lot of 2/5 players have figured out how to float a cbet. But I don't think they have yet learned how to play the river skillfully. I'm leveling myself.

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Work is going well. Great, in fact.

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Ok, here's my strategy for the coming weekend:

1. Stick to my ranges. I developed these ranges so that they basically play themselves, my calling and betting frequencies should be about right if I pay attention to the game plan. Except I'm taking AQo out of my EP range for two months to punish myself for playing like a donkey last weekend. Seriously, it takes some post flop skill to play hands like AQo or 33 from EP. I can handle the latter but I don't think I'm quite good enough to play AQo from EP. Gimme a couple months, I'll get there.
2. The flop and turn are a lot alike, but the river is different. Stop and think once I get to the river.
3. I'm going back to my 1/2 river strategy: bet for value. Sometimes I'll be betting the nuts, sometimes I'll be betting for thinner value. But never bluffing for the sake of balance. Likewise, I will assume that anything that smells like a value bet, probably is.
4. People who bluff the river are (as SpikeRaw once opined) typically "serial bluffers" who can't help themselves. I'll save the hero calls and bluff-raises for these guys.
5. Remember, the tactical situation dictates its own response. I have a strategy for the game, but each hand has to be taken as it comes.

As for the LAGs, heck I don't know. Too bad there aren't any good LAGs at the 1/2 level, where it is less expensive to mix it up with them. Looks like it's getting time for some more lessons! When I first called ANL, I was in a panic. I was spewing chips like mad. He was all like, calm down, we'll fix that for ya. It'll be OK buddy. I need that.

Last edited by AbqDave; 10-02-2014 at 06:56 AM.
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Old 10-06-2014, 11:02 PM   #2
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Re: What it is like, being a primate

On the road, forward-positioning my RV in Colorado for next summer. First stop is Biloxi.

The Beau Rivage is nice. Vaguely reminds me of the Wynn, except that its full of fat people who talk funny and don't dress well.

No 2/5 but the 1/3 is pretty soft and actiony. Got coolered twice in about ten minutes which enough for one night.

Not sure it would be worth a special trip but its on the list.

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I just read Miller's new book and am working my way thru Janda. Interesting stuff but its an open question how much this is going to help and hurt my live play.

I have finally settled down on the river, booked a nice win over the weekend.

I think the main benefit so far is it forced me to re-evaluate my opening ranges. If you choose your ranges carefully and continue with the right hands, the game pretty much plays itself. Which I think is the point.


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Great fun tonight tear-assing around Mississippi in the middle of the night on my wife's Ninja. What a great bike. Way more fun than it should be. It reminds me of that petite brunette porn star who was so hot a couple of years ago... What the heck was her name? No matter what got thrown at her, she just cheerfully took it and asked for more.

My Ducati wasn't nearly as submissive. Kind of nutty actually. Somes you're in the mood for a nut, sometimes you aren't.

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Heh! I flopped the king high straight, and I'm sitting there with two blockers to the nuts thinking, "this can't possibly go wrong!" Cool thing was, the guy who actually did have the nut straight lost too.

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Hopefully parking at an Oklahoma IC tomorrow.
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Old 10-07-2014, 06:35 AM   #3
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Re: What it is like, being a primate

Sasha Grey.

That's what you're looking for, gents. A good attitude.
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Old 10-07-2014, 11:12 PM   #4
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Re: What it is like, being a primate

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