Other than a 24 hour trip to LA that ended last night (which was a hit n run of a different variety) my life has been pretty much stress free the past week. I've gone back to treating poker almost like a hobby, and the degree to which I'm enjoying myself can't be understated. Specifically the last three times I've gone to play I've planned to only stay for a few hours tops and to get up whenever I felt like it. This has resulted in me executing 3 brilliant hit 'n runs for almost 4 figures a piece, getting home by 3pm, and bullshitting with most of my friends even more than usual.
Normally I share the professional poker player's disdain for people who hit 'n run, at least on the surface. You see it all the time; some guy goes on a sick rush immediately after he sits down, and within 45 minutes he has his chips in 5 racks and is headed for the cage and everyone else at the table feels like they just got robbed. It's hard not to be pissed off when a guy is taking $2000 off the table, half of which it feels like he took specifically from your stack. At times like this, however, a cool-headed approach is best. Hitting and running doesn't work, at least mathematically. In fact, it's the opposite of what you should do. When you're winning, as opposed to losing, things are going well, and on average this means you should stay. Maybe your opponents are weaker than usual. Maybe you're playing your best poker. Or maybe just the fact that you're winning has made your table image such that you're having as easy time of it, stealing pots and winning hands uncontested because people are afraid to play back at you. No matter what, it's obviously a better idea to extend a winning session than to do what most people do, which is to play long hours in an attempt to get even after they start off losing.
But everything in life, even poker, is not black and white. There are serious psychological advantages to hitting and running. Pete summarized it best today in an email, after I checked out of the 20/40 game only 2 hours after un-racking my chips and said "I think I've been doing it wrong" this whole time:
Yeah, I think the ability to hit & run does wonders for your mental state. Like, I frequently quit after having won a medium-big pot.
So you basically leave either up a rack, or you got buried 3 racks but won 1.5 back and you're happy being stuck only $750.
Once in a while you get crushed for 4 racks and have to go home, but in general I think your average "go home happy" percentage is higher.
He's exactly right. Employing a "soft" hit 'n run strategy does wonders for your mental state because you leave the casino happy a much higher percentage of the time, which is sort of like never going to bed angry, which we all know is a huge key to successful relationships. Basically Pete's strategy is to have a window of time, not an exact point, when he's going to leave, which gives him the ability to use this soft hit 'n run strategy. I talked about this concept in my What I've Learned post last August, but had kind of forgotten that I'd learned it (which is a common problem for me).
Anyway, today was a beautiful hit 'n run. I had been playing for almost two hours and was starting to toy with going home (another theory I have heard is that the instant you consider quitting your session is over....this is a good one), but decided to take one more big blind. I opened the CO with QJo and the lone (maniacal) big blind called. The flop was:
And he bet/3-bet me. This is a very strange line indeed, especially for a guy who likes to c/r big one pair hands and wait til the turn with true monsters. The turn didn't help:
So I now beat even less and have even fewer "outs" (both my cards are red). I call.
I call again and he hems and haws then throws his cards into the muck. Yahoo.
The very next hand I open AKo, get four callers, and lose only one player per street until the river on a:
board. That is to say 3 of them called the flop, 2 the turn, and 1 the river. I roll my hand and he does the standard "tap the table and shake your head sorta up and down but also sorta side to side as if you're saying yes and no at the same time thing" and pitches his cards forward face down. All of a sudden my small win is a rack and a half. Time to hit, run, and fight another day. I could definitely get used to this.