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Last Night I Played My A-Game

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Photo Copyright Andy Beecroft courtesy of geograph.org.uk
Last night I played some full ring NLHE for my cash game challenge.

I had the best feeling ever playing that session and for the first time I recognized I was playing well. I knew I was playing my A-Game. There was no doubt about it.

There isn't a time that I can remember feeling as comfortable playing poker as I did last night.

I've been putting in a lot of time trying to work on my cash game by analyzing my Holdem Manager database and watching a lot of videos on BlueFirePoker.

Up until this point I've been pretty happy with my play and my results but I've always had some doubts. Last night was comforting to realize that I do have an A-Game and it's pretty good!

So how much did I win? I'll get to that but some more details about the session first.

How Did I Know I Played My A-Game?

First my general mood was very good. I was calm and completely focused on the tables I had open.

My note taking was very good last night and I was able to color code most of the players that I ran across within a few orbits. I was aware of every player on all my tables and had a good idea how they played and adjusted my play accordingly when necessary.

My hand reading was very good. Many times I felt like I could just see my opponents cards. I did make some mistakes but for the most part I was spot on and was rarely in a position that I didn't know where I was.

I didn't let my emotions get in the way and I made some big laydowns when it was pretty clear I was beat. I also made some great river calls. I just knew they had to be bluffing the way the hand played out.

My pre-flop hand selection was better and I was picking good spots to 3-bet or sometimes 4-bet bluff.

My bet sizing was much improved both pre and post flop. For the most part, when I wanted an opponent to fold I could bet just the right amount and get them to fold. When I wanted them to call I bet just enough where they could find a call. When I wanted them to shove I was able to time and size my bets in a way that would get them to shove.

Like I said, I wasn't perfect but this was by far the best I've felt I've ever played cash games online.

I felt very confident in my abilities but not so confident that I was blindly throwing chips in the pot thinking that I could never lose. I was thinking through my opponents ranges, estimating my equity and making good decisions. I would review big or difficult hands in the Holdem Manager replayer right after they occurred as well as run the hand in PokerStove against the range of hands I thought he had, compare it to his stats and see how close I was in estimating his range and then make adjustments for future hands.

I was in charge of the tables I sat at. Nobody was dictating my action. This really showed in my nonshowdown winnings graph. It was a fairly steady rise and I was earning around 10 big blinds per 100 hands (5 PTBB/100) in non-showdown winnings.


I wasn't just running hot. My all-in EV graph looked great as well. Just steadily climbing minus a couple of missteps. When the time came to get all the money in the middle I was making many more right decisions than wrong ones. In fact I think I only went all in behind twice, one of those I did have the right odds to call though. In 1,000 hands I was up over 2 buy-ins in All-in EV. In other words, 20 bb/100 or 10 PTBB/100.

Most sessions are less than 2 hours because I tend to lose focus or patience after that. This time that wasn't a problem and I was able to play much longer.

So How Much Did I Win?

I didn't win a dime. In fact, my winnings were only positive for two short periods during the whole session and even then not by much.

The session started off on a bad note when I made the right read on an opponent holding TPTK and I had 2 pair and got him to put all his money in on the turn drawing to 3 outs. He of course hits. This happened a couple of times.

I don't want to turn this into a bad beat story but everything beat you can imagine happened. I'd flop the nut straight on a rainbow board and get it all in with one or two players. The board pairs and I lose to a full house, or a backdoored flush. I'd flop a set, get it all in and they turn or river a bigger set. Many times when I did hit an unbeatable hand nobody had anything they would bet/call and they weren't inclined to bluff.

I was only down around a buy-in and it didn't phase me too much. I knew I was playing well and sometimes luck won't be on your side.

My frustration started to interfere around the 4th time I had to lay down an overpaid because the nit doesn't play anything but a set this way. I've been up and down the past few days in a break even stretch running below EV and I felt it just wasn't fair.

At this point I wasn't playing my A-Game anymore. I dropped another buy-in playing poorly and decided it was time to quit. My All-in EV was still positive. FU Luck!

Overall I'm still very happy with the way I played and the length I was able to stay focused. There's still a lot I'm working to improve and hopefully last night's A-Game becomes my B-Game of the future but I can already feel a lot of the pieces coming together in my cash game.

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