This year marks my first experience going to the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas. I thought going to a WSOP Circuit Event (such as the one in Lake Tahoe at Harveys or at Harrahs Rincon) would help me be better prepared for what to expect and what I learned is nothing could be farther from the truth.
Since I already have my main event seat taken care of, I thought I would try my hand at some of the Single Table Satellites and 2nd Chance Events as I had done in Lake Tahoe in early June.
While it took me several tries in Lake Tahoe to actually win a Single Table Satellite, and believing that experience would give me an edge in the WSOP Single Table Satellites and 2nd chance events, I instead learned is that nothing except being there can prepare you for a room filled with several thousands of people playing in tournaments of various levels.
The most important lesson I learned is that playing tight aggressive alone, is not going to win very often in events where your starting chip counts are so low. I regularly ended up in hands where I had the best possible starting hand, (at a minimum top pair with top kicker) only to have all my chips in the pot and lose on the river. You will rarely hear me complain of a bad beat as in the end the best hand always wins, but the irony is that you need to win more than your share of races and enjoy some luck in your favor. More important than all that is that you need to keep from having bad luck as well.
I spent several days analyzing the hands played by different professional players in a couple of No Limit Events as well as the outcome of the play. I have concluded your intuition of where you stand in a hand can often have more value than the strength of your cards, especially when it is tied into your perceived table image.
One common thing I have seen throughout the last week, is that the only thing that can crush your intuition of the value of your hand is to misread the perceived value of your opponents hand. Misreading can be both in the positive and negative respects.
On two different occasions I actually had four of a kind. Pocket Queens and two more on the flop on the first occasion, where I raised 4 times the big blind and had a few callers. Also I had just moved to the table and was the big blind, so it was probably expected based on my chip stack that I would defend my big blind.
On the second occasion, I had pocket sevens and two more on the flop so I made a standard raise and everybody folded. Upon reflection, I know that I should have checked, leaving the betting to someone else or it being checked around to get another card, hoping the next round would give others a betting hand.
These examples go back to my statement of perceived hand values, I knew my hand was the best hand, yet I had not considered the hand values of others at that point in the hand which ultimately cost me money as the hand was over. Why was it my first nature to bet, when I knew my hand was not likely to be beaten?