Short Handed Play, My New Book, and The Business of Poker

by Lou on May 27, 2005

Yesterday I went over to Agua Caliente Casino for the first time in a long time. In between all the time consumed in filming “Vegas Virgins,” and other projects I have going on, the business of poker has cut deeply into my poker playing, at least as far as playing in brick and mortar casinos goes. I’ve been playing online quite a lot, particularly at the six-handed tables on Royal Vegas Poker.

Prior to the past six to eight months I had very little shorthanded experience. Most of it was accidental, gained late at night in traditional casinos when games were in the process of dying and the energy level of the players still in their seats was waning. But a lot of very aggressive – well, hyper aggressive is probably a better adjective – six handed play has really fine tuned that aspect of my game, though I had no way to assess it until yesterday.

When I got to the casino, the biggest game was $8-$16, which had no available seats, so I sat in a $4-$8 game, then went over to a $6-$12 Omaha/8 game that was starting and sat there for about an hour without winning a pot until they started a $15-$30 game. We started off the game seven-handed, but instead of filling up, it began to die. Soon we were five-handed and after a series of bad beats a good player in the game busted out and decided to go to the movies. I was tempted to go with him because I wanted to see the new Star Wars flick, and this game looked like it was circling the drain, but I decided to stay and see how well I was able to play in a shorthanded game where I could actually read my opponents physical mannerisms, which is something you can’t do online.

I wound up busting the game. And not through any great hands of my own, either. Instead, I just always knew where each of my opponents stood. One was a loose player, who tended to call far too deeply into hands and to be aggressive when he really shouldn’t have been. The other was predictable. He played in a very straightforward manner. The last player at the table was tricky and deceptive, but extremely social. And when he talked about what he was going to do, “I’ll just have to bet this hand, it’s that good” he always had what he was purporting to have, which made him easy to avoid when he was strong and easier to value bet when he had a marginal holding.

The predictable player lost a series of confrontations and got up and left. We played three-handed for 45 minutes longer and busted the too-loose player. He bought in again for another rack of chips but it didn’t last more than another half hour. He got involved in a couple of kill-pots (with only three players pots were being killed more often than not) and his rack was soon depleted and when he got up to go the game died. We even asked if he wanted to remove the kill from the game because with so many hads being killed, it was more like a $30-$60 game than $15-$30. I made the suggestion because I wanted to keep the game going and he was short stacked, but he was the one who vetoed removing the kill, and so was busted more quickly than he would have been otherwise.

While I was there I had a chance to pick up the new issue of Bluff Magazine at the casino. It’s the June issue, and marks my debut in that publication, so I didn’t miss a beat because the last issue of Card Player was the first one without my column. I’ll be in the next issue of Fifth Street Magazine too, so I’m still easily found, albeit at different locations.

For those of you who have inquired about my new book, here’s the latest update: My coauthor, Sheree Bykofsky, and I have gotten the first draft written, and are now going thorugh the book and reorganizing it to make it more readable. Then we’ll polish up the language, grammer, and syntax, and add materiaql where necessaryl. Then it’s off to the publisher. Sheree is my literary agent (she’s the literary agent for any number of poker authors, having represented Phil Hellmuth, the late Andy Glazer, Henry Stephenson, and others) as well as a terrific poker player in her own right. She’s the author of 17 books, including “The Idiot’s Guide To Getting Publihsed,” which is the bible for aspiring authors. Our new book will be titled, “Secrets the Pros Won’t Tell You About Winning Hold’em Poker,” and I’ll keep everyone apprised about our progress right here on this blog.

So the beat goes on, as does the business of poker. The games go on too, both online and in traditional casinos, and the lessons learned in one venue often prove helpful in others.

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