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Blackout - Mental and Strategic Discussion on a Messed up Hand

JeJoJeJo Posts: 56Member
edited January 2014 in NLHE Strategy Discussion

I think I have to post the whole hand to make more understandable what I mean by "Blackout":

Villain: Is a very aggressive regular. He plays 30% to 40% of his hands preflop, I think half of them he raises and the other half he limps. He can be very aggressive postflop and tends to spew/bluff away money when he is tilting. He also tends to potbet/overbet his made hands, although not always as he knows sometimes when his opponent is weak and when not. But I also saw him making huge All Ins with SDV hands, although I don't know if he knew what he was doing.
I think he sees me as a solid TAG and casino regular.
In this session I already 3betted him once and he just called with Kings but he played this hand out with someone else.

Blinds 2$/4$. I was 950$ deep and he covered me.

Preflop: he raises 20 in MP, I 3bet 60 on the BU with Q Q . He calls

Flop(125): A K Q
check, I bet 60, he raises 240, I call.

Turn(605): T
he bets out 240 again, I call

River(1205): 2
He puts me All In for about 400 more.

I expected him to call very widely preflop. He is a candidate whom I would 3bet as loose as with KJ, maybe KT+.

When he raised me on the flop I assumed he could have AK, AA, KK, JTs. I didn't know if he would raise this board with a draw as this board doesn't look like much FE.

I thought that the turn card was a very bad one because now if he really raised Diamonds he got his flush. But the bet was relatively small (what also made it suspicious to me), so I called and hoped for my 12 outs to come.

On the river came my Blackout.
I tanked for a very long time. And literally talked myself into a call where I'm never good.
I don't know anymore what I was thinking in that moment, but I remember me thinking that he was capable of bluffing SDV hands like AK or something.

My Questions:
1. Did you ever had similar Blackouts?
2. What do you think might be a psycholigical reason for such a Blackout?
3. Do you agree with me that I should have bumped it up on the flop to ~640 against this player type?
4. What is your line on the turn ...
a) ... as played
b) ... if you had raised the flop to 640, he called and the T came?

I already would like to give you my thoughts on question 2:
I normally play 2$/2$-500 (Just 150 hours experience on 2/4 and 5/5 as opposed to ~2000 hours of 2/2 and similar) Cap and usually I'm a pretty tight player and I would never even consider a call in this situation, even against the most maniacal opponents, I think.
That is why I think this must be a mental/tilt problem.
On the other hand this hand went on a day just after a few hours of playing. I was winning, confident and top concentrated, so this can't be tilt in the stricter sense.
It might be more confusion in a big pot, against an aggressive player, on unfamiliar stakes with a deficit in:

- Handreading/Handanalysis
- Recalling informations in strange situations
- Having a structured thinking process

Can you think of more reasons and how you would cope with them, especially if you had/have similar issues?


  • ThehammahThehammah Posts: 7,085Subscriber
    I would have raised the flop with the intention of getting it in.. Not to protect my hand but mainly because of these two reasons:

    1) I dont want a scare card to come that may kill my action. Villain has raised and with this the classic theorem of they are never folding

    2) If he is on a draw am I really going to fold? I am not sure we are deep enough so given this I should go all in and do my best to charge him for his draws and top pair hands.. etc..

    If we were deeper I could click it back on the flop and see what he does on the turn. but even if you raise to 640 you will only have less than $300 left. You boat outs are still giving you enough equity if he has a straight.. so you cant fold.. better to just raised call off or shove if you think he will call you..

    On the turn you have to call. again you would know if his bet means weakness or strength.. I have seen both. villain bets tiny with the nuts or small with say top pair..

    on the river unless he is the type to just completely spew bluff I guess you can find a fold. but I wouldnt be in this spot because my raise on the flop I would have been all in already..

    Now you might have lost this hand.. but what you need to think about in the future is how do I make the max value against the most common villain. And that is to raise the flop. When you 3 bet pre and get check raised on the flop get the money in! Could villain have Kks or AAs ? sure but not very likely since he didnt 4 bet pre.. Could he have JT? sure but again not very likely in a 3 bet pot.. or at least not as likely..

    So the most likely scenario is this guy has Ax two pair AK pair and a straight draw.. flush draw with a pair or flush draw with a straight draw (though less likely).. When you put your hand against this range you are a big favorite. His best scenario is one of the least likely and you have all the other hands crushed..

    Villain has CHECKED RAISED YOU! Dont let a scare card come that can kill your action against a normal predictable player. When they show this much strength they dont fold..

  • t_roy Posts: 84Subscriber
    Flop is a 3 bet 100% of the time. Sizing is player dependent, but I doubt this guy is really folding much at this point.

    If we're deeper and get led into on the turn we know we're beat unless villain is seriously overplaying something. Obviously stack sized and his bet sizing may force us to call for our boat outs.
  • Sean777 Posts: 356Subscriber
    There are many causes of tilt, but only one effect that we care about as it relates to poker playing: it makes us play bad.

    If you get lost in a hand and make an awful call like this, in that moment, you are on tilt. It does not matter how confident or great you were feeling before or after.

    And the reasons for tilting are endless, but the solution to them is not to remove the external reasons, because they will always be there or something else will. Someone who is prone to tilt is always going to have an excuse or a reason to play poorly.

    You don't need much hand reading to know you're beat here 99.99% of the time. You have to train your mind to be able to calm itself and live in the moment, free from distraction or mental noise. In this moment, you are facing an all-in bet, and you clearly do not have the best hand. Folding is the proper play.

    The problem is you can't train yourself to do that at the poker table. If you try and do it only when you're in extremely stressful situations, you won't be able to reign in your thoughts. You have to practice it all the time, in your daily life, and only then will you be able to think clearly in these spots.
  • ThehammahThehammah Posts: 7,085Subscriber

    This is great advice.. Another thing to consider too is the more confident you are the less tilt you will feel because you wont be second guessing your decision. I for one have had a well documented tilt issue from this. The more confident I have become I just dont tilt anymore.. I dont because I am confident my decisions are correct and that makes me non results oriented.

    This work also needs to be done outside of play. I took a significant amount of time off from poker a few months back and that allowed all the information I had received over the previous 6 mos to a year soak in. During that time all I did was read these forums.. and think about how I would play the hands.. that was invaluable for me.

    so now if I think I could have played a hand better I am much better equipped to process the information and play even better the next session.

  • floppedawheel Posts: 1,063Subscriber
    'blackout' happens because of insufficient knowledge, lack of experience, fatigue, other random mental factors and a tensing up that happens due to the time pressure of making a decision in a hand. this analogy might not work for everybody, but it's like the SAT. if you've been a decent student and worked hard enough, you'll know enough vocab and math to do decent on it -- the time pressure won't bother you much. but you don't wanna show up to take it at 8 am after smoking weed all night. and you don't wanna take it right after finding out a close relative died. and you don't wanna take two SAT's in a row if it's the second one that's scored. a lot of those are controllable, but the most important ones -- language skills and knowing how to do math -- only come with time, work and experience.
  • DrGambol Posts: 724Subscriber
    If he is this loose/spazzy, then I would firstly 3 bet a little larger (maybe $80), unless you think this will drastically change his calling frequency. Secondly, against a sticky/spazzy player, I'd bet 75% pot or more. Half pot on this drawy of a board is just not enough. If he's going to peel once with A2s, JJ, TT, KT or KJ, make sure you get more money in now. And as mentioned by everyone else, I'd 3 bet the flop. He's probably never c/r and folding, so I'd just try to raise and get it in on the flop or turn.

    Typically, blackout for me happens when I'm tired from playing too long (10 hours or more into a session), I'm playing late when I woke up early (woke up at 7am, worked til 3pm, then play til midnight), or when I'm insanely bored (people playing very slow, little action, and the TV or my iPhone is more interesting than the game). When you get into a big pot, your adrenaline starts kicking in again and you start to gain focus back, but often blackout will come in scenarios just like this where you get runner-runner perfect for your opponent and they only have 1/3 pot left and jam on you.

    My ways of combating this aren't perfect, but I think I've definitely improved from when I first started playing live. Firstly, lengthen my lunch break. At my casino, we get an hour for meal before they kick you off the table. Typically, I get fast service at their restaurant and can eat in 20 minutes and be back. Instead of trying to scarf your food down and hurry back, take your time, get on your phone, check the internet out, and take a good 10-15 minute break. Sometimes, I will go play 5-25 cent video poker for 15 minutes (and play very slowly so you don't cost yourself too much money). I think you need at least a half hour to get a good enough mental break so you can come back focused.

    Secondly, while playing, if I just get so unfocused that I'm catching myself nearly dozing off, I will take out my phone and mentally tell myself "okay, you have 10 minutes on this phone then you have to come back focused and pay attention". A big leak people have is constantly being on your phone, but if you limit yourself to 10 minutes, check twitter, check ESPN, text a friend, and then come back and not touch your phone for the next hour or two, then it is fine.

    I also like taking lots of bathroom breaks. There's times when you could sit and hold it for another hour, but there's nothing wrong with getting up every hour or two, taking a restroom break, take a lap around the floor games, watch some degens put $100 on black, check out a few cocktail waitresses, see an old lady celebrate a 45 cent win on some slots, and come back focused after 5 minutes.

    Obviously, if your leak is staying too late, playing when tired, or something similar, then either play less hours, take more breaks, or when the game is so good that you need to stay, make sure you have a coffee or redbull.

    My last tip I'll give you has been priceless for me. Simply pay attention to the action and narrow down everybody's ranges. This is so important to your winrate and can also be a fun way to entertain yourself. If you are playing regulars, take notes on them. If you're playing a rec player that won't ever come back, try to pick up on what he's donk betting or whether or not he leads or c/c top pair in a limped pot. After a while, you will pick up enormously important reads that will allow you to crush the games. I could go on a much longer rant to explain why this is so important, but this will help cure most of your blackouts. If you aren't focused because you got J3o, Q5o, 42s, 95o, A4o, and 74o the previous 6 hands before you got your QQ and got put in a tough spot, it'd be a lot easier if you were paying attention on the other hands and developing reads.

  • JeJoJeJo Posts: 56Member
    Thank you for your opinions.
    I see how important it is to raise the flop here.
    Like I wrote in my OP: He is someone whom I would 3bet for value wider. I meant by it that he is someone who raises a lot and 4bets rather seldom and calls a lot to 3bets.
    It adds JTs to his flop range but also other KXs and maybe some JXs or even TXs to his range what makes it even more of a must-raise on the flop for me.
    The end of the story was that he ended up having J8s what makes it for me personnaly a bit of a crazy value bet on the river, but as I called almost the bottom set there it was a really tremendous value bet.

    I would fully agree with Sean.
    But I didn't want to say that I don't think that confusion doesn't mean tilt. I actually think that this kind of confusion is a form of tilt summoned maybe by fear mixed up with the deficits which I described in the OP. I would also still assume that the eliminating of the deficits in handreading etc. are going to be definitly advantageous for solving this tilt problem.

    About breaks:
    I assume that like many other players I often find excuses to not make a break. Most of the time I feel like this is not +EV becuase my concentration won't get better after a break or because I think that I feel relatively fit. But probably you are right and perhaps everyone should schedule some breaks to just get some distance from playing and to eat in peace and then to think about the players and the possible strategies you could apply to them.
    What I also like to do during my breaks is to try to recall every single player at the table and all the informations about them. If you cannot recall some of them you know what you are doing wrong at the table (what happens sometimes to me, especially with tight players).

    To come back to the hand:
    It was one of my days on which I was very very motivated. I tried to focus on every single hand and like I said I was very confident, maybe too confident like Hamma suggested. And it was pretty early in the session, after 3 hours or so.
    That's why I thought there must be a psychological reasons like fear, confusion or maybe to impress the table with a genius call :D

    But floppedawheel summed it up perfectly in my opinion. If something isn't learned perfectly it leads sooner or later to fails in emotional situations like this...
  • Sean777 Posts: 356Subscriber
    Practicing hand reading has nothing to do with tilting. You can study the betting strategy of poker until your eyes bleed, but if you're bright enough to beat the game, then honestly you won't find it all that challenging in most situations.

    On the other hand, when you tilt, it affects your hand reading abilities as you're not playing your A-game.

    In the case you posted, it's not even hand-reading, it's stubbornness and entitlement. Even a donk knows trips is no good on that board facing heat. You feel entitled to the pot because you flopped a monster, and you don't want to let it go. Everyone has been there. I've made shittier calls than that for more money.

    But if you're looking for solutions inside of poker you'll be disappointed. You have to train yourself, EVERY DAY, all the time, to be able to still your mind and focus on the moment.

    The only issue is the raging emotions inside your own mind that rear their ugly head when you least expect it. Realizing that is the first step to correcting it.
  • floppedawheel Posts: 1,063Subscriber
    Sean777 said:
    Practicing hand reading has nothing to do with tilting.  

    i think they're related only in that there's usually a building-up of tilt. the more shitty things happen -- two outers on river, your flopped monster sees a six-way fold on the flop to a small bet, and poorly played hands due to poor hand-reading -- the more likely you are to tilt. the better you play, the fewer bad things happen, so the less likely you are to tilt. all the psychological stuff is important. playing well-rested is important. but your work off the table on hand-reading is important, too, since you'll be making fewer mistakes that otherwise might be one more step toward tilt.
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