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Do As I Say

by Gavin Griffin |  Published: Mar 18, 2015

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Gavin GriffinLast night I was playing in my usual $5-$5 no-limit hold’em game. A semi-regular who is fun to play with raised it to $65 from the small blind after one limper. He had just come back from the brink of a disastrous (for him, he only buys in for the $300 minimum) session and had run his stack up to about $900 and nearly back to even for the day. Of course, this should never inform how you play in a given session, since each session is just a part of one long session. Nonetheless, this is how people think and I could tell he was feeling relief from the tilt that he was previously experiencing. I had A-K in the big blind and I knew that his value raising range to this sizing looked something like A-Q, J-J, Q-Q, and perhaps K-K. He makes it smaller with A-A, A-K, and usually K-K, though when he’s coming back from losing as much as he was, often he makes it big with K-K. He could also be making it $65 with a medium to bad hand, even as bad as K-8 suited. I wanted to be able to stack him and he’s relatively passive and very sticky postflop, so I needed to get some money into the pot to be able to get stacks in more easily. I made it $200, the limper folded, and the small blind called. The flop came K-Q-X rainbow and he checked. I bet $200 and he jammed for roughly $500 more. I can rule A-A out of his range since he just called preflop and there is only one remaining combination of K-K. He would do this with any king with which he saw the flop, along with some weird medium pocket pairs. I called since I’m smashing that range, he showed J-J, and I won the pot.

He reloaded for the minimum. Someone else I like to play with made it $20, there was a caller, and the previous villain called on the button. I called in the small blind with KHeart Suit 4Heart Suit and the big blind came along as well. The flop was A-6-4 with two hearts. I checked, the big blind led for $35, the initial raiser folded, and the previous villain made it $100. I could put the big blind pretty squarely on a decent ace, but generally not two pair, as he would have led for more with two pair or better. I also was 100 percent certain that he would fold one pair if I raised and that’s pretty huge for me. Previous villain would raise to $100 with an ace, a six, two pair, flush draws, and straight draws in his current mindset. Since I’m doing very well against that range and have the added benefit of getting the big blind to fold hands that I very much want him to, I made it $200. The big blind folded and the button called with $75 or $80 behind. The turn was the 10Heart Suit, I bet $100, and he called with A-10. After seeing my hand, he frustratedly got up and started mumbling under his breath about how bad his luck was.

I was struck by this, since that’s exactly how I left the game my previous session this week. I was busted in a big pot, annoyed, and I let my frustrations out in much the same way, muttering all the way to the car about my bad luck. It’s hard to not let your emotions get to you when you’ve only had two winning months out of the last six, but it’s part of my job. I drew an uncomfortable parallel between my opponent in this hand and myself. Clearly he was muttering about his bad luck in a situation where he created a good chunk of that “bad luck” all on his own. The play with J-J was utterly hopeless and completely indefensible, yet that contributed to his feeling that luck was against him. Is that what I have been doing? Have I been avoiding tracking hands, something that I always like to do when things are going poorly, because I’m afraid of what I will encounter? One of my goals for this year is to track hands more and work away from the table more (it’s more specific in its wording but I’ve already brought that up in my goals article, so I don’t feel the need to rehash all of that). Why am I avoiding that? Is it truly because I don’t feel like I have enough time or is it because I know that some of the plays I’ve been making aren’t that great as well?

So, that brings me to the title of this article. “Do what I say” and the implied finish to that title is “Not as I do.” When I realized that my previous exit from the cardroom looked much like my opponent’s in the two previous hands, I also realized that I haven’t been practicing what I preach and need to get in gear on that front. My self-evaluation has been desperately lacking so far this year and there’s no excuse for it to not get better. Here’s to doing what I say, always. ♠

Gavin Griffin was the first poker player to capture a World Series of Poker, European Poker Tour and World Poker Tour title and has amassed nearly $5 million in lifetime tournament winnings. Griffin is sponsored by HeroPoker.com. You can follow him on Twitter @NHGG