Winning small pots, loosing big ones

Fahrenheit451

Fahrenheit451

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My problem is not about poker - but it shows up when playing poker.
My winning graph looks like a ladder with many tiny steps going up for long time and then one big fall down and again tiny steps up.

I'm playing NL micro cash games in Stars mostly with with timid passive players.
When in my 'normal mind' I understand that these players (almost) never bluff and if they bet big, then they have something good.
But when I have good starting hand and / or good flop plus they call every of my growing CBets, then my mind switches to some crazy mode and starts to make sentences like "he can't possibly have that straight because why would he call with 59o". And of course he has exactly that 59o (cause he's CS) and I loose some 100bb.
After the hand is lost, my mind switches back to normal and I see that 59o in his hand was so obvious ...
Then I promise to myself that never again I will be so stupid, but I cannot control this.
This stupid aggressive mode is similar to one that you experience when some thugs try to beat you up in empty street, you just kick and hit as hard as you can.
I cannot imagine what to do to learn to maintain clear thinking in big pot situations. I feel like a robot without a free will at these moments.

TL;DR
What to do to combat stress in big pots ?
 
E

eetenor

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My problem is not about poker - but it shows up when playing poker.
My winning graph looks like a ladder with many tiny steps going up for long time and then one big fall down and again tiny steps up.

I'm playing NL micro cash games in Stars mostly with with timid passive players.
When in my 'normal mind' I understand that these players (almost) never bluff and if they bet big, then they have something good.
But when I have good starting hand and / or good flop plus they call every of my growing CBets, then my mind switches to some crazy mode and starts to make sentences like "he can't possibly have that straight because why would he call with 59o". And of course he has exactly that 59o (cause he's CS) and I loose some 100bb.
After the hand is lost, my mind switches back to normal and I see that 59o in his hand was so obvious ...
Then I promise to myself that never again I will be so stupid, but I cannot control this.
This stupid aggressive mode is similar to one that you experience when some thugs try to beat you up in empty street, you just kick and hit as hard as you can.
I cannot imagine what to do to learn to maintain clear thinking in big pot situations. I feel like a robot without a free will at these moments.

TL;DR
What to do to combat stress in big pots ?


Thank you for posting.

You are going on tilt!

The work you may wish to do is to understand when you are headed towards the tilt and stop yourself before you tilt. When you are tilting it it is very difficult to recover and expensive as you found out.

Jared Tendler has 2 excellent books "The Mental Game of Poker" Vol1-2 They are worth 10x every dollar in saved poker earnings.

Hope this helps
:):)
 
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fundiver199

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You already kind of pinpointed the key issue, which is, that a lot of players in microstakes cash games tend to always have it, when they want to play for stacks. So basically the solution is to learn to only stack off with extremely strong hands. Which to some extend can also just be GTO poker. With 100BB stacks and small open raises like 2,5BB, we are actually not supposed to be all in very often, and stacking off to wide is probably the most common and expensive mistake, beginners make.

Unfortunately its one thing to know this in theory but quite another to implement it in practice. In the heat of the moment our emotions tend to kick in, if for instance we get raised on the river, when we thought, we had the best hand, and were betting it for value. I dont have the perfect solution, but start by forcing yourself to slow down and not instacall. Use the time bank to give the analytical part of your brain time to take over from "caveman brain".

And maybe for a while try to go to the other extreme by making it a rule, that unless you can find a worse hand, your opponent is raising for value, then you need to fold. This might in theory make you exploitable, but if you are currently leaking by paying off to much in these big pots, then your results is almost certainly going to improve, and you will also find it much easier to manage tilt, because your variance will go down.

You can also try to memorise and use the Baluga theorem, which state, that if you are heads-up and face a raise on the turn, then you should reevaluate the strength of your hand, if you are holding one pair. Or the closely related statement from "Crushing The Microstakes", which says, that "a raise on the turn is usually the nuts, a raise on the river is always the nuts". This sentense refer to a situation, where we raised preflop and bet every single street postflop, and after playing passively our opponent suddenly wakes up with a raise on the late streets.

Another option is to move to tournaments and especially SnGs. In these formats stacks tend to be shorter, so there are far less situations, where its a big mistake to stack off a strong hand like top pair good kicker, and there are less complicated turn and river spots. Especially if you have an issue with folding big hands, the more mechanical nature of SnGs might suit you better, but you will need to learn to deal with other factors like ICM.
 
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Hermus

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Expand your thinking from thinking of specific hands to thinking of specific ranges. Losing hands while making all the right decisions is very common in poker. I can't know from the context but only very rarely does a calling range only contain one hand. Villain showing up with the winner does happen, but if you're betting with a hand that's beating villain's range you're going to come out ahead in the long run.

Another common problem in a lot of different game environments, including poker, is late-game situations being practised less because they occur less frequently (examples from my own life include chess, starcraft and poker). You seem confident in your pre-flop and flop strategy, but unsure on the later streets with a bigger pot. Focus most of your study time analysing those spots.

Lastly, detach yourself from the money. It helps to play within your bankroll, or if you're a losing player at meaningless stakes relative to your income. Other than that, the only thing that matters is the size of the bet related to the size of the pot. Most sites have a setting to display all chips in terms of big blinds which helps some players with decision making.
 
Fahrenheit451

Fahrenheit451

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Thank you all !

All advices are very good, but mostly doable only if I'll be able to conquer my reptile mind.
With all my laziness I won't be able to avoid studying Tendlers books.
 
Vallet

Vallet

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I also face this problem as well as you. Losing a big pot is much easier. I stopped calling huge bets on preflop even with good cards. 3-bet or 4-bet - ok, but no more. Set the bet size buttons in the lobby. Place bets of 20, 30, 40, 50% of the pot, but no more if you feel dangerous. You got the nuts, but the villain never drops the draw, then push all in and press the cash out. Let them pay for wanting to catch their outs. Consider the ratio of the pot to your stack.
Always remember that a pair is just a pair, your hand needs to improve to win a big pot.
 
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Vallet

Vallet

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I just came across such a hand in a micro cache game. Here is another reason for the loss of big pots. A tight player lost his entire stack in a couple of hands. I made a fold with a top pair and a top kicker, because I knew that someone had a flush draw. And a flush draw never folds.
For example. https://www.cardschat.com/replayer/824Vch1uO
 
L

LosJay

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I'm also facing the same problems. It helps for me to get a lot more action preflop. 3-betting Good hands preflop saved me more money than just calling the 3 BB. Because I guess most people don't think in long terms: they get lucky once, after calling and think they always win with 72o (and unfortunately do very often). But that's a very common problem in micro stakes.

So my tip is, not to get tilted from this. From a statistical perspective, the right decisions mostly win the money in a long term, even if you lost a few times. But we all know this isn't guaranteed, so keep up playing :)
 
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fundiver199

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I just came across such a hand in a micro cache game. Here is another reason for the loss of big pots. A tight player lost his entire stack in a couple of hands. I made a fold with a top pair and a top kicker, because I knew that someone had a flush draw. And a flush draw never folds.
For example. https://www.cardschat.com/replayer/824Vch1uO

I like your fold. Even though TPTK sounds like a very good hand, on this particular board and against 4 opponents, 3 of whom could still put in a raise, its very marginal. If someone dont have you beat already, they very likely will, when you get to the river. Its also a good illustration of, how to not play our hand as MP. By limping preflop he allowed 4 other players into the hand, and this is just asking for trouble. If he makes a standard open, then 73s probably goes away, and this "cooler" does not happen. Its also really bad by him to raise the river. The board got even worse for him, since the flushdraw completed, so he should just have called and saved himself the last 14 bigs.
 
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Recreationalplayer

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Happened with me as well. Initially I used to play passively and did lot of bluff catching against polarized ranges. Many a times I used to call 2 streets and fold on river. And playing small pots with good hands trying to trap the opponents. Disastrous strategy.
 
Vallet

Vallet

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If he makes a standard open, then 73s probably goes away, and this "cooler" does not happen. Its also really bad by him to raise the river. The board got even worse for him, since the flushdraw completed, so he should just have called and saved himself the last 14 bigs.
A villain with 73s rarely folds on the preflop. This is an aggressive draw villain. Therefore, 3 or 4bets here would hardly help hero with 88. If I were in the place of a hero against such a player, most likely I would put all in on the turn. The pot is already big and makes up half of our stack. The villain will not stop acting aggressively, he can overplay with pocket pairs or put pressure on us with a draw. Even if he has a straight, then we have a 20% chance of winning. We have an advantage in other cases. If the villain is ready to go all in on the turn with a flash draw, then we can use the all in cash-out function and win 80% of the pot. Although such players rarely fold. But we can also force him to fold and make him angry in the future. Because he was building up this pot, and we forced him to give up.
 
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