If you - like me - feel that you're a fairly accomplished poker player, who knows his/her own game very well, but also recognizes his/her own limitations, I think you'll be able to recognize one of the following sentiments, after you've played a session:
- Damn, that was just one beat after the other.
- Wow, variance really bitch-slapped me today.
- I guess I'm happy he called me with Q9 offsuit, but still hard to believe.
- Phew, need a break after that. One more suckout and I would've started to tilt.
...or something along those lines! :-) The point here is that you're the sort of player who recognizes how ridiculously small the edges that we chase sometimes are - thusly also resulting in extreme swings. You've come to accept this fact and still choose to play poker, because you're certain that in the long run you'll come out on top.
That's all good. But HOW SURE are you that it's all variance after a session? Most of us don't have time (or the willpower) to go through hand histories and dissect every single time we defended from the blinds with 87 of spades. I don't and yet I do it sometimes - just to make sure that it's them - not me, whose to blame.
So, I just played out 9 sitngos on FullTilt at a total buy-in of $49.50 and cashed for a total of $36. As I write this, I haven't looked at what went wrong, so I might have to fess up to some spewyness here - I hereby promise to do so, if that's the case. Won't leave anything out.
1st STT (18-person): Finished 13th. Final hand.
7-handed, I'm in the BB with KcQd (stack 1620). Blinds 20/40. No SB in this hand. UTG (1650) limps, UTG+1 (910) limps. Folds to me. I check.
FLOP: 3s Qc 3d
I check, UTG bets 120, UTG+1 calls and I raise to 385. UTG calls, UTG+1 folds.
The pot is a little more than 1000 and I bet all-in for 1195. He snap-calls with 99.
Oh well. Against these types of opponents ($5 buyin) I would play this hand exactly the same way. Chalk one up for variance here.
2nd STT (18-person). Finished 5th. Final hand.
5-handed (obviously). My stack is 4470 and blinds are 200/400, going up to 250/500 in less than a minute. I'm in the SB with QcJc. Folds to me and I shove on the BB (stack 7680) who calls me with AsTs. His hand holds up.
Again, this is pretty standard. I'm not folding this hand, so of course I shove. Minraising or 2.5xing accomplishes nothing.
I will say though that prior to this hand I did 'suck out' once, but it was all standard as well. With blinds 150/300 I was in the big blind with Ts6d and the shortest stack at the table moved in for 830 total. Fold to me, I call (getting nearly 2.5:1) and beat AK. Shrug?
3rd STT (18-person). Finished 4th. Final hand.
Blinds 200/400 and I hold 4c6c in the BB with stack of 4455. Chipleader (cirka 12K) is first to act and limps. Folds to me. I check.
FLOP: 6d Ad 3s
I check, he bets 400 and after some deliberation I move allin. He snaps me off with AT.
Obviously not my finest moment. My only defence is that he had done the limp-bet thing once before against me (also A-high flop) and I'd let him have it then. Still - call and evaluate on turn should've been my move. Folding isn't horrible either, I think.
4th STT (27-person). Finished 23rd. Final hand.
7-handed and I hold 6h6d UTG+1 (stack 1040). Blinds 15/30. UTG folds, I raise 3x, CO (1350) calls and the BB (1500) calls.
FLOP: 4h 5s Qd
The BB leads 200 (pot 285) and I should've thought twice about this. Weak players lead flops all the time with marginal holdings, but they give it away with their bet sizing. Some will just min-bet (i.e. 30 at a pot of 3o0) and others will fire one-third of the pot. Those situations are so easy. Just raise the crap out of 'em, no matter what you're holding and they go away 95% of the time. The subtle difference here is the 2/3 pot bet. At this level - it means he has it and I shouldn't be moving in with 66. He calls with KQ and I don't suck out. Poor play.
5th STT (18-person). Finished 9th. Final hand.
This tourney had exhibited RIDICULOUSLY tight play, to the extent that the final table had just gathered and blinds were at 200/400. That's 7.5BB average stack (!) for those of you who don't know the structure. I had just been keeping afloat, stealing as much as I could, but never really getting any big hands.
In this case I've got 3490 chips to start the hand with and pick up 55 in the CO. When it folds to me, I shove and the button happens to wake up with QQ.
Variance 3 / Poor Play 2
6th STT (27-person). Finished 18th. Final hand.
I've got 1730 in my stack. Blinds are 40/80 and 9-handed. UTG I raise AhQc to 200. UTG+1 calls, as does the BB.
FLOP: 2c 4h Ts
2 hands before this I had raised AJ and when the flop came KQ4 with a flush-draw (that I didn't have) I had check-folded, so I figured I should get more respect this time. I lead 390 at the pot which was 640 total. UTG+1 calls very quickly and BB folds. In my opinion, small/medium pairs that haven't connected are now a HUGE part of his range - just from experience. So....
when the TURN is: Kc
I move in for 1140 (about 80% pot). He snaps me off with AK.
*sigh* I don't regret this play one bit, as I think it has a high success rate - the KING being a great card for me (from his perception, normally). He just happened to play AK really oddly in this spot. This is variance to me, but if you disagree - voice your opinion and I am happy to discuss.
Variance 4 / Poor Play 2
7th STT (18-person). Finished 2nd. Final hand.
Ok, so heads-up play at the end of a sitngo can be pretty swingy, due to the low stack/blinds ratio and this was certainly the case here. My stack: 10540, his stack: 16460. Blinds 500/1K
He limps from the button and I check Qh9s from the BB.
FLOP: Ts 7s 6d
I check, he checks.
I bet 1K, he calls.
I bet 2K, he raises to 4K. I guess you could make a case for just calling, but if I do and lose, I'm practically dead anyway. I move in and he calls with TT for the boat. Nh sir. At these blinds, variance again in my book.
Variance 5 / Poor Play 2
8th STT (18-person) Finished 9th. Final hand.
Blinds are 120/240. My stack: 2350. I hold AcJh in the BB. UTG, 8handed (stack 3915) minraises to 480. Folds to the CO (stack 10K) who calls. Folds to me, I reraise allin. UTG deliberates briefly and calls. CO folds. UTG shows AT.
FLOP: 8d 3s Td
Lights out pour moi. Normally, my reraise shouldn't buy me much fold equity if you do the math, but based on the level of play that is standard in these tourneys it does surprisingly often, which is why I confidently shipped it in with AJ there. Also, the player in UTG had been making some horrendous plays, so I was quite confident that he was raising a wide range.
Variance 6 / Poor Play 2
9th STT (18-person) Finished 18th. Final hand
Stack 1455, blinds 15/30. I hold 5s6s on the button. UTG+1 opens to 120, HJ calls, I call and BB calls.
FLOP: 7h 6d 3d
BB checks, UTG+1 checks, HJ checks and I bet 325. Only BB calls.
BB bets 1010 and is allin. I call, which is kinda spewy - I know, but his line didn't make sense to me and at this level he could just as easily have 44 as AQ. He happened to have A6 (hmm?) and I was out pretty quickly.
There you have it people. So, definitely some things that could've/should've/would've, but also a few others over which I had more control and should have done better with.