Saturday, November 01, 2008

What I learned from Manny Ramirez

I don't talk about my regular job too much because this blog is about poker. But, for those that haven't realized I'm a sports writer and spent much of my time covering different teams. I mostly cover college sports during the season and in the offseason, I do plenty of Phillies work.

This postseason, I was there everyday. It's how I ended up at the Commerce in California and how I didn't get to play cards while I was in Milwaukee. However, there was something that I kept hearing about great players that stuck with me. No matter which great player the common theme was "He's isn't afraid to fail."

Mostly I heard this said about Manny Ramirez. Joe Torre harped on this idea that Ramirez plays the game as though he knows he will succeed. He executes the way he is supposed to because even he the right result doesn't happen, at least he executed. Basically, he isn't afraid to fail.

I kept thinking about this. Mostly, I kept thinking about it applied to poker.

I'm a decent player, not great. I know there are plenty of places of my game that need work. One thing I always envied from other players was their aggressive nature.

I'm great when I have the nuts. I have no problem putting all my money in the middle then, but when I have a mediocre hand (let's not even talk about bluffing), I'm afraid to lose my money. This isn't always the case. I have made moves that I am proud of, but they don't come as often as I would like.

Last night, I played $1-$2 at the Showboat, which was dead because Caesar's bad beat jackpot is up to $211k apparently. I kept telling myself to think of Manny Ramirez, which sucks because as a Yankee fan, I really dislike the guy.

But there I was in a position to either not risk my chips because I was afraid or to make my moves. I finally chose to make my moves. I raised with A-Qd in late position to $10. It's rare that I raise with AQ at all because I don't like the hand. Losing money isn't fun so I just decided to always play it weakly.

I get three callers. The flop comes with two diamonds and all rags. Seat 1 leads into me for $25. I decided to just call because at some point I am going to pop this guy. On the turn he bets $30. Now, this is a shady bet, but one thing about my game is that I can read people. I am not talking about how he scratches his ear or looks away. There are other little things that add up and somehow I can sense where this guy stands. The board is nine-high and he had one of two hand son the flop: a set or medium pair.

On the turn, I decided he didn't have a set. While I should have popped the guy here on the turn. I just called again. On the river (no diamond), he makes it $30. After about three seconds and slowly counting my chips (I see him squirming), I make it $75.

He ended up calling after two minutes and says, "You have aces, right?"

Well, no. He had pocket Jacks.

I wasn't even mad about the hand. Two things that probably could have won me the hand was a raise on the turn or maybe making it $100 on the river. However, I was pleased with taking a shot there. I didn't think about losing my money to him. I was looking to work on my game.

I still ended up winning on the night, so I can't complain. I doubled up through a guy a few hands later. I moved all-in after he re-raised, my re-raise. I had pocket Queens and figured out through his "story telling" that he didn't have aces or kings. He had A-K and didn't catch.

It was a good night. Now, with a week off from work because I worked the last month, I am going to try and get in more poker.

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