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How it feels to play poker blind

April 25, 2008

The other thing that I haven’t yet commented on is how it feels to try to play blind.

~

I finally watched some of the poker movie “Rounders” last week. I didn’t bother to watch it all as the movie itself was not particularly interesting. At one point Matt Damon’s character walks into a game amongst his law professor and friends and just by watching the players he reads what all the players hold relative to the board. One might find this unbelievable if one didn’t watch some high stakes real poker games on television where players are able to read the other pros and will call hands accurately. Now, this is edited for television and these people play each other a lot, but these are pros, trained to not give off tells and trained to mix up their game.

I don’t expect that one can develop this ability for on-line poker, but I hope to improve my abilities with this exercise. And maybe what’s more important than what my opponents hold is how they feel about what they hold. Since if it comes down to showdown I can’t beat anything except by a fluke, I have to read whether or not I can push my opponent(s) off the pot, regardless of whether they hold high card, a draw, middle pair, or top pair. This is based on

  1. their bets/calls/checks,
  2. the board,
  3. my reads,
  4. their statistics,
  5. my use and interpretation of all of the above

And it’s 5) that I’m in particular trying to develop. I really don’t know that my hand reading is improving, but my ability to read my opponents’ likelihood of folding the hand is improving.

~

Some characteristics that come from my inability to go to showdown are:

  • I fold to all raises except sometimes preflop raises where I may get them to fold the flop.
  • Call flop bets only if I think that I can take the pot away on the turn. This will make my postflop aggression extremely high since I rarely call.

~

Finally, about how it feels. First off, it does indeed feel blind. Something’s missing when I look at the table. If I were only watching the table and not playing it would be fine, but since I have to act, there are brief flashes of panic trying to decide on a course of action without all the information that I normally have.

The best description is that I feel like someone who has forgotten how to swim, thrown into water, floating, but not knowing how to get anywhere. I used to know how to get around, but now I’m not sure how to do it. I could just keep floating (folding), but eventually I’m going to have to take some action.

The idea with this is to sharpen the other indicators, the other senses. I 3-tabled ring last night and there was one situation where I stabbed at a pot in the BB because it was a type of pot that had a high card and no draws, and another hand that I didn’t stab at pot because of the draws that might keep people in. Another time I had TT in the SB, called a late position raise from a TAG and the BB called as well. Flop came T62 rainbow, so there’s no point betting out because of the dry flop so I checked. These are little spots where I think playing blind has helped me see things easier and more quickly.

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