The term "grinding ball" is one that my friends and I use when referring to putting in a lot of hours at the poker table. It might have been subconsciously born from the actual act of spending hours rubbing their ball sack on uncomfortable poker room chairs, but hey, what do I know? I have a biscuit (that's a Honey Boo Boo reference. I love you if you got that).
ANYWAY, enough balls talk. I've been putting in major hours playing poker these past few weeks. In the past year, actually since Black Friday, I've been lazy. I would put in sporadic sessions here in Vegas when I wasn't traveling, but the long periods of time between playing was really detrimental. I think that the ability to focus at a table for long periods of time is a skill that needs to be honed, exercised, and up kept. So, after EPT Barcelona, WPT Paris, WPT Malta and four weeks in Europe, I was SOOO ready to get back to the felt.
I decided to make it a priority along with work and working out (I'm training for another fitness competition). So, here's what I did: First, I fixed my sleep schedule. I started going to bed between midnight to 1 a.m. and waking up at 8 a.m. Once that was under control, I starting playing in the mornings. I would wake up, eat breakfast, work for an hour or two and head to Aria. I'd play as long as I could (which wasn't that long at first). Then, I'd go work more or work out, depending on what I needed to get done. At night, is when I do almost all of work (writing, strategy podcasts, articles, interviews etc). [Sidenote: Working from home at my own desk when I'm not traveling is one of the best parts of jobs. So lucky] After that, if there's time and I'm up for it, I'll go put in another poker session, but NEVER play past 1 a.m. Having a set sleep schedule makes the rest of my life easier and more efficient. I cannot stress enough the importance of this. I have learned that it is much better to give up some game EV for life EV. Take care of your mind and body and I promise, it will pay dividends more valuable than whatever you might make in that one session you decided through your sleeping time.
Like, I said, I have put in tons of hours, for me that is. Sixty hours so far this month to be exact in 20 sessions. This has been incredibly difficult because I'm also pushing my body to the max with my training, but it's been so rewarding because I'm seeing results. My game is making huge improvements, I'm making less and less mental mistakes, and trusting my instinct. That said, I know I have a ways to go. I tweeted a couple times during my sessions and I noticed that whenever I do, I'm always asked what I play, where, and what advice I can give them. It dawned on my that many of my Strategy with Kristy Podcast listeners are people just like me. They want to crush live, low-to-mid stakes. I thought about what has helped me the most, and really, it's been my friends!
I decided to begin an ongoing, multi-part series about live grinding (balls if you will). When I tweeted a request for questions to pose for live pros, I couldn't believe how many responses I got. I'm so excited for this because 1) this is obv what you guys want and 2) this is what I know! On top of that, I have the best sources ever for interviews. I know who the best and biggest winners are and luckily for me, they are my friends and willing to be interviewed.
Here is the first installment:
At the end of the month, I'll post my results as well. For now, if you have any questions or comments, send them to firstname.lastname@example.org
P.S. I came across the reel for Johnny Chan's new show, Full House. I play with a lot of the grinders featured on the show here in Vegas. Maybe that's why I feel awkward after watching this, but it could be a fun show. What do you guys think?
For those of you guys who listen to the Strategy with Kristy podcast, I thought I'd post the outline Reid Young made for the hands we talked about. Hopefully this makes it easier for you guys to follow along! And btw, thanks to Reid for making this the easiest strategy interview ever!
Hand 1 - Post-flop Squeeze
-UTG raise, cut off calls, button (hero) calls with , blinds fold
-UTG is a loose multi-tabling pro who continuation bets too often, cut off is an appropriately loose regular, given UTG's range, and both view hero as a solid winning player in the game
-UTG continuation bets, cutoff calls, hero raises and both players fold their hands.
-Discuss both UTG and cutoff's range and why it's important both hand some hands they're automatically folding (16 combinations of non-paired holdings in Hold'em hands and all that fun stuff)
Hand 2 - Topic Calling Big Hands Pre-flop (Reid answers a question on TwoPlusTwo
-Middle position player raises, hero calls on the cutoff with QQ, all other players fold
-Flop: 732 rainbow
-Villain continuation bets and we call
-Turn: 5c (brings the second club on board)
-Villain bets and Hero raises ???
-We are not particularly happy about the prospect of getting all in pre-flop against the PFR (it isn't as profitable as flatting in this instance in the long- and short-term sense of the concept)
-We expect to be squeezed often by the remaining players and QQ does great against their range
-We have been barrelled extremely often post flop and want some ammunition for picking off bluffs and value bets from worse hands
-We have been seen raising the flop often and so we want to get tricky while our hand is under-represented, anticipating lots of actions from bluffs and from worse hands
-We want to protect our range (this is really the previous ideas combined, except for when we're talking about a pre-flop re-raising range, which now appears to be quite tight for value)
-Our turn raise represents very little or no air, only hands like turning 66 into a bluff which isn't that valuable when compared to calling with 66 as we can assume villain has a wide range for betting turn
-When we consider why we called pre-flop and how strong our turn raise appears, this becomes a very clear call.
Hand 3 - Sneaky Floating
-Hero raises on the button with A4o
-SB and BB call (description of both)
-Flop T33 rainbow
-SB leads and BB waits a few seconds and raises, an awkward amount of time for the BB to act
-Button (Reid) calls
-SB instantly folds
-turn off suit T
-BB check, button check
-river 7, BB check, button check
-A4 > K6
-SB's lead represents very little and we know he knows that. It's basically an invitation to battle. Thankfully, we have ace high.
-BB thwarts our plan to throw down and does the raising himself! A play that represents very little for value, given how little sense SB's bet makes and how few 3x hands BB should play give the pre-flop action
-Because we realize that SB may also have picked up on BB's somewhat transparent play, raising is out for us for the same reasons: if we have a real hand, we would want to induce more action. Now it may be the case that to induce more action in this instance that we should actually raise the BB's bet and go from there. Because we want to represent strength, we choose to call and represent a wider range of Tx+ type hands.
-SB instantly folds: owned.
-Turn Ten. Great... there goes stacking someone with ace high. Time to check down the hand. Note, we can also represent the same range of hands quite well back checking back the turn, given how polarized BB's flop raising range appears to be. Betting twice may fold out a 3x hand but BB may also simply not fold a full house (Zeebo rule) or might be getting tricky with a Tx figuring that we'll bet a three twice and our floats twice in addition to his inability to get value from many worse hands by betting.
-BB checks, as expected and because we may still have the hands we are representing on the flop with our call. It's very unlikely BB would play a medium pair like 66 in the way he did and so ace high figures to be the best hand and betting is very unlikely to fold out a better hand, since all better hands would be full houses.
We check and beat K6.