I'm in a massive poker slump - help!

Like many players, I keep track of how I’ve done money-wise playing cards.* For 2006, I came out $120 ahead (playing a weekly home game with a $17 buy-in and 8-10 players per week, and typically playing 10-15 $5 or $10 sit-and-go’s a week online). That slight profit is gone, along with another $120 so far this year. The amount of money isn’t that big a deal, relatively speaking - I’d spend that much (at the very least) spending far less time on the golf course, at the bar, at a ball game, etc. But man am I sucking and I can’t figure out what I’m doing different. I’d write it off to a bad streak but this dates back to Jan 1. I tried taking a couple weeks off, I tried a real tight approach, then I went super loose and aggressive - nothin. I used to slaughter this home game I’m in and I think I’ve finished in the money three times this year. One thing that seems to have made a difference is that I was doing real, real well at Doyle’s site and then had to switch to Full Tilt; since then, my play (or at least my results) have been shit.

So, here’s my questions. I’m starting w a couple specific scenarios that seem to give me fits lately. My home game is tonite, I’ll let you know how it goes.

  1. How do you play JJ in early or late position?

  2. I avoid 8-9 like the plague unless its suited and I;m on the button - smart?

  3. A-K, suited or no, early position with two aggressive players to the left - you have a set way to deal with that hand?
    *and, like most players these days, this is all no-limit hold-em, typically for small stakes.

Disclaimer: I’m a small stakes home-game guy. No online poker (don’t really care for it). And I tend to damn the probabilities, think hard about what hand my opponents might have, and who my opponents are. Since they’re small games, lots of times with the same people, I have a general idea of their styles. I enjoy playing the player as much as the cards in Hold 'Em (sometimes to my detriment). So take everything I’m about to say with that disclaimer.

Honestly, for me, I usually play JJ aggressively either early or late. Sure, I’ve been burned a few times, but I tend to go after it. The only time I’ll dump it is when multiple people are really betting aggressively in front of me. In those situations, I prefer to get out of the way.

Fuck 8-9. And yes, suited and on the button is pretty much the only time I’ll play it. I’ve paid up to see the flop on this hand enough times where it’s been nothing but Aces and Kings and Queens and none of 'em my suit, that I try not to touch it.

Ugh, Big Slick is the bane of my existence. I play it super-aggressively pre-flop, to get some people out and better my chances. After the flop, if I’m not catching, I tend to re-evaluate. I can tell you that I hope I don’t have a tell because I tend to groan inwardly when I get A-K. I know I’m gonna go after it, and I know lots of times I get caught. But I can’t resist myself.

First off, if you’re playing and keeping track of your poker winnings, then pal, you ain’t got a prayer–you’re too involved (emotionally).

Second, a J-J in your pocket is just a pair, just like anything else: K-K or A-A. Everything depends on the flop: if your pair works, great! Hold on. If not, fold.

Third, A-K suit, unless you got the river to help, fold.

Dude, you seem to be playing way too hard. You ain’t gonna be a pro. It takes a lot of losses and study before you can start to figure a strategy.

Um, yeah. I’ve folded an A-A before, only because I figured the river gave him a threesome. I was right.

1. How do you play JJ in early or late position?
I hate Jacks. Hate… Jacks…
I play them like a low pocket pair: call pre-flop and look for a set. The only difference is I’ll be a little more aggressive in the rare case a Q, K, or A doesn’t come on the flop when I have Jacks.

2. I avoid 8-9 like the plague unless its suited and I;m on the button - smart?
Again, this is a hand I’d limp in with or call a reasonable pre-flop raise. Not every time I see it, just if I feel like it. It’s a hand you need help to win with, so if you don’t get it, fold. Watch how Daniel Negreanu plays low suited connectors.

3. A-K, suited or no, early position with two aggressive players to the left - you have a set way to deal with that hand?
I’d have to know just how aggressive, but generally, I’d call the BB and see what the inevitable raise will be, and judge off that.

I limp in a lot, with a variety of hands, including “good” hands. This keeps opponents from being able to put you on a hand later. If, however, it always seems to cost more than the BB to see a flop at the table you’re playing at, figure out how much of a raise you’d call with the cards you’re dealt.

BTW, I play at Full Tilt as “garygnome” (guess what my avatar is) but not for real money. I usually only do play-money sit-and-go tourney’s.

Just thinking of what M said in Casino Royale. (paraphrased) “Play the people, not your hand.” Can you really do that on line?

JJ is a good hand. You should be raising with it, from any position, early or late in the tourny.

You should be folding 89o early in the tourny, and late in the tourny, when the blinds are high enough, pushing all in.

You should raise with AK. If an aggro reraises you, raise him back, or push.

If you post some hands, I’ll let you know what I think. Posting specific hands is generally the way to go. You might also check out 2+2.

Everybody goes through slumps. Sometimes it’s because you’re unlucky, sometimes because you don’t know what you’re doing.

Raise pre-flop and fold if an overcard hits and someone bets into you. That’s simplistic, but JJ just sucks. Idiots who play any Ace will call whatever you do and if an Ace hits you’re fucked.

98 is a weak hand regardless of position or whether it’s suited. The decision to play it depends hugely on who you’re playing against.

No, there is no set way of dealing with Big Slick. Generally it’s a raising hand, but it’s hugely dependent on your position, your read on the rest of the table, etc.

I’m a poker dealer, not a poker player, but from what I have seen, most people take pocket jacks and go all in from the start. If a flop comes out with a higher card (say an Ace) you are beat. However, going all in can convince folks with a marginal ace or king or even big slick, to fold because they don’t have a “made” hand.

One thing I don’t think a lot of people realize if there is a lot of action in the hand, that could very well indicate there are a lot of high cards out, which makes your lower connectors/suited cards be more valuable. Example: Today I had 5 players in the hand, they were all calling raises, it is low stakes poker, so it is to be expected, and there was an Ace on the board. All the callers stayed in because they had paired the ace, but the guy who had the two low pair from the flop took the hand. Maybe not smart poker play, but I see it a lot. In live action and tournament play.

Big slick (AK) is a nice hand, but you have to hit, if there are a lot of players in the hand and likely they have Ax, Kx or a pocket pair (low if they didn’t raise) 4 players with an Ace or King makes your hand much weaker.

Because I am a dealer, I see marginal to sub marginal hands win a lot. I actually call pocket aces the “kiss of death.” because people will hold on to them even if there is a straight on the board, a flush on the board or two pair on the board. I think of them like the “One Ring” people get so blinded they don’t see an ass smacking on its’ way. I want to yell at them “I put 4 diamonds on the board and you are still calling raises with your pocket aces and neither of your aces match the board?”

Because so much of it is luck (yeah yeah skill blah blah) want to know the single biggest mistake I see players make?

When the pot is pushed forget about it. Do not shoot yourself in the foot in THIS hand because you got beaten by a suck out last hand. I call them spite bets and I’ve knocked more people out of tournaments because of them that I could even begin to count. Whether or not you win or lose the hand, set your mind to shake off your tiltyness and move forward. It is possible to come back with smart playing. It is virtually impossible to succeed overall if you do not play…oh what is the word I’m looking for…whatever…let the hand be water off a ducks back. You’ll already be better than most people.

Since you are playing online I would think it is more difficult to tell when someone is playing on tilt. It is painfully obvious in person. There is a player I actually call Tilty, because he just can’t let the beats go.

I can not win at FullTilt. I’ve flat out given up.

1. How do you play JJ in early or late position?
JJ is not considered one of the hardest hands in poker for nothing. Raise . It’s the only way to figure out if you’re dominated (action behind you guarantees at least two overs). In late position I might reraise/push if you have no reason to put them on a monster. I see a lot of raises from AT, suited aces, KQs, KJs, etc.

2. I avoid 8-9 like the plague unless its suited and I;m on the button - smart?
Depends how many people are in. Our local casino’s blinds start at 25/25 and you get 3000 in chips. Damn straight I’m in if it only costs me 1/120th of my stack and I’m getting 6-to-1. You’ll likely need to flop at least two pair though.

3. A-K, suited or no, early position with two aggressive players to the left - you have a set way to deal with that hand?
I like what LinusK said if your out of position.

AK really depends. If there’s just one raise to my right I would likely re-raise (try to win the pot right there). If there is a raise and callers, I’ll just call and hope you hit. If you do, everyone will likely bet the crap out of their AQ, AJ, AT, Axs, KQs, etc. If the afore mentioned aggros are guaranteed to bet, I might check-raise.

Just keep in mind ACE KING IS AN UNMADE HAND! If the flop comes unders and there’s ANY action…(unless you have a specific reason to believe the contrary)…you’re beat.

I deal in the pit but play a lot of poker.

I was dealing a game right next to the poker room and some guy comes out cussing up a blue streak. Guy at my table turns to me and laughs…“You know, why is it that everyone who comes out of there always has a STORY???”

Took my floor manager and I a good 45 seconds to collect ourselves. :smiley:

But…but…they’re Aces! And there’s two of them!

The only time I’ve ever laid down pocket Aces was in a situation much like you describe. Live tournament, I have one opponent and I’m in position. I’m betting on every street to queer his pot odds and he keeps check-calling. The river completes any straight or flush draw he could be on and he bets out. I muck, thinking he got as lucky as he was stupid for calling everything and silently congratulating myself on making such a disciplined fold, and he shows two Queens. Gah. About three hands later at another table I get Aces again. The turn and river are the third and fourth diamonds on the board and my (different) opponent pushes all in. I say something like I can’t fold this hand again and call, turn up my Aces and realize I’d forgotten I had the Ace of diamonds and have the nut flush.

Bad beat stories $10
$20 if they involve pocket aces
$30 if you had it until the river
$40 if you can make me care.

Pay up buddies. :wink:

I didn’t tell a bad beat story, I pay you nothing!

Although someone at the WSOP a couple years ago had the same idea. They set up a table outside the poker room and charged I think five bucks to listen to a bad beat story. ESPN covered them in one of their “The Nuts” segments. They looked to be doing pretty brisk business too.

Did it look like this or this? :slight_smile:

Your questions reveal some of the problem. Notice that (with the exception of Q#3) your questions are flat preflop questions with no established context. Position is far from the complete context. How many players are at the table? How many are typically in the pot? Is it usually a limped family pot, or a 4BB raise and one caller? How deep are the stacks relative to the blinds? What are the preflop calling ranges of other players. Are they passive after the flop (fold if bet into?) What do other players think your preflop range is? Also, I’m assuming this home game is a cash game, not a tourney. Advice changes dramatically between the two!

Let’s look at the AK question first:
3. A-K, suited or no, early position with two aggressive players to the left - you have a set way to deal with that hand?
No! There is no set way to deal with any hand. It depends on all of the above questions and more. But, an important fact in NL hold’em is that the small pots don’t matter for your stack, and AK will only win small pots. It also has the potential to lose big ones! This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t play it for a raise much of the time – just don’t be to attached to it to throw it in the much if you feel any heat. (Say the board is K98. Did you raise before the flop? Will your opponents put you on big cards because of that raise? (That depends on the image you currently have.) If so, someone with KT or KJ knows he may be facing KQ or AK and won’t pay off a huge bet. If you fire on the flop and the turn, these hands might give up before the river. But if you feel like “Hey, I’m totally getting paid off on my top-pair/top-kicker!”, you are possibly crushed by K9 or 98s or some such.)

I use AK to pay for my seat, picking up what I can with it but not trying too much. If I feel heat and half to slow down or fold, then sure I’ll probably be throwing away the best hand once in a while. But: small pots don’t matter.

Having said that, small pots make all the difference for your image! Preflop and flop play are where the betting is small and where you can afford to get into pots that are favorable to your image. If the table has loose aggressive (LAG) types, tight is the way to go, but you need to convince them that they can bet you off hands. Play a lot of small pots with a hit-to-win attitude (looking to flops sets, straights, etc.), and let them “bully” you off hands with a smile in your heart (not on your face, of course.) When you do hit, they will often not notice that you’ve gone on to the turn and the river, and that’s where the money is. If the table has no LAG players, this approach would be all wrong. (So, you should reply with more detailed situations/questions. I’d love to analyze them, but it’ll take more info.)
2. I avoid 8-9 like the plague unless its suited and I;m on the button - smart?
If pots are usually limped preflop with more than a few callers and the stacks aren’t too shallow, play 89s! If late position players usually come in for a raise preflop, you’ll have to think about how the opponents play post flop. 89s has a lot of semibluff value (do you semibluff? If not, you should start! Ask me how!).
1. How do you play JJ in early or late position?
Depends on the stack sizes and preflop ranges of my opponents. If everyone is Tighty McTightpants, JJ has set value and continuation bet value, but not much else. (Do you continuation bet? If not, ask me how!) If you’re out-of-position against the preflop raiser, ask "will he continuation bet a “Kxx” flop? If so, a check-raise might get some value (and stop him from continuation betting!)
Your questions as stated aren’t specific enough to really address without going on for pages and pages (hence the rambling nature of this post). Describe some specific situations, and let’s go through them. (Put outcomes in spoiler boxes to keep the discussions honest.) It sounds like post-flop play (which governs preflop actions) is a place where your game could improve. Before playing a hand preflop, you should have some idea of how the next three streets will play out under various circumstances.

Well, I’m only a Texan, we don’t know a lot about this sort of thing, but just gonna point out if you always play smart that makes you predictable.

Also, has this home game had the same players over the past year or so? More likely than not, you’re not doing anything different, but everyone else is. The home game I play in most often these days has been running for about 4 years, and it’s amazing the improvement you can see in others in few-month-long time intervals. Even if your opponents haven’t improved much against the general poker community (although they probably have), they’ve certainly adapted to your betting habits. They’ve called down your winners and they’ve been caught in the bluffing cookie jar by you enough to have (consciously or not) adapted.

Other questions for you:

  • How are your chips going? Do you look down at the end of the night and wonder, “how did I leak all off those chips?” Do you look down and usually say, “Man, that was another bad call for all my chips? I was sure he was bluffing!” Or, “How could I have tried to run that awful bluff?” One guy I play with used to be dominant at the table, but our home game evolved over a year or so to become a very aggressive one (I have only myself to blame!), and now he often makes bad calls on the turn and river for large sums thinking he’s being pushed around when he’s actually crushed. Another guy of ours is a consistent loser because he bluffs way too much. On the slow leak side, a typical leak (which adds up to a lot over the night) is calling too much early only to have to release the hand later. If you’ve got an effective post-flop player or two at the table (which you may now even if you didn’t three months ago), preflop-call after preflop-call could be going down the drain if you find yourself folding to pressure on later streets. (Not that you shouldn’t fold – just that you should change something to not get put into that situation.) So, can you identify any leaks? Post them; let’s discuss.

  • This was within my previous post, but: What are the styles of your usual opponents? I could give you a couple of lines (ways to play a hand) to try out against certain opponents. Coming into a session with a line you’d like to try that night isn’t a bad way to broaden your game.

Haven’t had a chance to check this thread lately (baby on the way, as in any hour now) but thought I’d give an update on my homegame and answer some Pasta questions.

The home game typically has 7-10 players, there were 8 last week. Two of the regulars can really play well, three of the others play what I call Poker 101, real basic strategy, don’t think too much about position, etc., and the rest are straight and flush chasing types who fall in love w any pocket pair or any couple of painted cards in their hand.

I figured the biggest part of my problem - I have or at least hadn’t had any bluff equity at that table. At all. Stupidly, I had shown a few too many of my bluffed winning hands in the past and now I was getting hardly anyone to fold to me. So this week (seven players) I tightened up, tried to show down with only premium hands and never tried to steal a blind. Of course, going all in late in the game with nines, getting two callers and flopping 9-9-K helped a BUNCH. :slight_smile: I ended up splitting the ‘main’ pot w the host and taking the side pot (high hand). And, since I didn’t get caught in a bluff once, hopefully I got a little bluff equity back.

First off, if you’re playing and keeping track of your poker winnings, then pal, you ain’t got a prayer–you’re too involved (emotionally).

  • someone posted this earlier and it makes absolutely no sense to me. Smart players typically try to keep an eye on their streaks and whatnot, right?