Wednesday, March 19, 2008

A Journey Into The Mind Of A Donk - Part #1 - Slowplaying

There appears to be a theme emerging with the current crop of posts here at Plan3t Gong. Almost without noticing my entries here have shifted focus away from the more 'theoretical / mathematical' aspects of strategy and towards a more psychological perspective.

Of course, my mission here is to be the 'Online Poker Blog That Likes To Make You Think' and by understanding the thought processes of the average mid to low limit donk* we should be able to profit together from those tables... feedback welcome, if readers prefer the ICM numbers (gulp!) then I'll do a few more posts on the subject instead!

* Use the term 'donk' as a vauge insult, someone who is bad at poker (!)... what I'd like to say before we tear the poor donks apart is that these players are often intelligent, competant and perfectly good individuals... it is only their poker skills we are questioning!

Ok - almost done with the intro part - just one more thing to mention: Next week is Plan3t Gong 'Part #2 Week" (!) before my blog gets over-run with orphaned 'part #1's' I plan a big sort-out, hopefully will have my 'best of Plan3t Gong' page / link ready by then as well.... if you have not already done so then bookmark me today!

Journey Into The Mind Of A Donk - Part #1 - Slowplaying

Bad poker players bluff too much (and in completely the wrong circumstances) and they also slowplay too much, in fact so much that the default play when holding a big hand (aces / kings pre flop or a set or better after it) is to check or bet very small....

What I wanted to do is step back and have a think about the thought process behind this behaviour. To ask why do inexperienced poker players slowplay any decent hand as a default. I am not saying that slowplaying does not have a role to play (in fact it is essential, if for no other reason than to balance your play)...

Here are some suggestions as to what might be happening in the non-poker-savvy grey matter of a slowplaying donk:

1) Smartness / Ego: The need to appear smart at the table could be part of it... to spring a trap on opponents and (implicitly) say 'ha! caught you - dummass!' or whatever. While there are certainly players who think this way (they usually make themselves known in the chat box) I do not personally think this is the majority, maybe 20% of persistant slowplayers come in this category?

2) Fear: Not fear of losing the hand, we are talking about monsters after all. This is fear of waiting all night for a huge hand and then not getting paid off. This kind of slowplayer is the very worst... they will not be looking beyond their own hand and will check in last position against 4 opponents in a limped pot on a draw-heavy board... and then chat for hours about how this particular poker site is rigged when the free card they give inevitably crushes them. I feel the 'bet small' 'check-raise small' re-raise small, type of player also falls into this category... they want to build a pot but are terrified of losing their opponents!

3) Because It Is Correct: Here is where I believe that the majority of consistent slowplayers sit. They know that poker is a game of deception (or at least cloudy information) and take the idea too far... the same player will bluff off all of their chips on the river with a busted flush draw (we have all see this one right?). The strong hand check-call routine can work of course, but if someone always does this then their bets are with draws / or medium strength or lower hands, a player who can not see how easily exploitable their patterns are is destined to lose their money very quickly!

Anyway, this is my look into the 'mind of a donk', be great to have some more views on the subject... if we could pool our collective experience to better understand these horrible poker players then all of our profits will increase!

GL at those slowplayer-filled Tables, Mark

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