Sometimes in poker you have to take that one step backwards in order to move those 2 feet forwards. There’s no need to panic and fret about the results or the what-ifs, you just have to take everything as a learning experience and continue to grow from it. July was exactly that. Another learning experience. A reminder that I still have a long way to go, a reminder that you can never stop learning this game.
So as you can tell July did not go according to plan, not only did we not reach a World Cup final, but I actually lost money for the first time since January. So what went wrong? Have I suddenly become even shitter at poker than I was before? No. Of course not. What happened, I believe, was I was trying to improve as a player. With that came situations I have never found myself in before, and a newfound arsenal that I wasn’t, and am still not, sure how to use effectively.
I am of course talking about the triple barrel bluff.
I never ever used to do it. Ever. It was not only seen as spewy but actually quite unnecessary, if poker thinking from 2012 to be believed. It was seen as something that most people at the microstakes simple didn’t do. And because players at the microstakes ‘never fold’ then what’s the point is triple barrel bluffing? When a player bets 3 streets then it’s nearly always for value. Now if you’re an even somewhat competent player then you will see the downfalls for such a strategy. If you never triple barrel bluff, then when you do bet 3 streets then it’s always for value and therefore you opponent can overfold the river knowing that you never have any air in your range at all.
But as you move up the limits, and moving up is what I intend to do, then you need to become good at balancing your ranges. If you have a certain amount of value hands that you would intend to bet 3 streets with, then to be balanced you would also have a certain amount of bluffs as well. This will make you a lot tougher to read, and ultimately beat, in the long run.
But you can’t just go betting anything as a bluff for 3 streets, that’s just spewy. You need to choose the rights combos, the right blockers and, even more importantly, the right opponent.
This is where my downfall has ultimately come from this month, I have no doubt chosen the wrong combos, the wrong blockers and the wrong opponents. This isn’t to say that every time I have triple barrelled it hasn’t worked, quite the opposite. It actually doesn’t even mean that the times I tripled barrell and got called I was actually doing anything wrong in the first place, it could have just been that I walked straight into the top of someones range. Who really knows.
But what I felt like I was doing was triple barrelling too often, not reading the board texture correct, not selecting my opponents wisely and using my new found ammunition when it simply did not need to be used.
And as always I have come out of this a better player. I have not only refocused my energy into dealing with downswings better, but I am starting to see more clearly when and where a triple barrel bluff may, and should, be used. I still have many more mistakes to make and many more knee jerk reactions to deal with. But opponents will be wise to remember that I’ll just as likely be holding a busted straight draw than the stone cold nuts when I fire that third barrell on a scary river card.
A point to remember if you’re reading this and are thinking to yourself ‘but I love triple barrel bluffing so I must be doing something right’. That may be true, but for every argument is the counter argument. Are you doing it too widely? Are you choosing the right opponents? Are you even thinking about the hands you block or hands that you want to block?
To me it is highly fascinating stuff but very dangerous. Deciding to put your full 100bb stack into the pot without a good reason can cause that 100bb stack to become multiple 100bb stacks very quickly, especially if you haven’t got the right frame of mind to deal with the losses that could, and ultimately will, come.
So overall I feel good. I have forward momentum, even if this halts my progress ever so slightly. I know it’s only a matter of time before I rise up in stakes to $25nl again, and where I will start to be earning enough money to support myself in those lovely cheap countries abroad. And speaking of abroad, India is looming ever closer. My time in Norwich is coming to an end, and I quite honestly can’t wait to leave. This isn’t to say that I can’t wait to leave Norwich, but to leave my house and the pressures that come with staying with a parent for too long. Having my own place and not having to deal with the negative impacts that come from my Dad is going to be a massive weight of my shoulders. We’ve had a decent run, but 3 years is a long time to live with anyone, let alone my Dad.
But first things first. Boomtown festival awaits!
Keep it +EV people!