Monday, November 12, 2018

Shipping the Foley Invitational

I am honestly not sure what I am going to write in this post? I shipped a relatively well known local MTT over the weekend and I dont have the notes nor a crystal clear picture of important events burned into my memory. So Instead of starting with hands, I think I'll retroactively try and record my mindset (albeit from a good place).

I have emerged from my recent studying of poker with some different focal points:

1. There are situations where you play against the FIELD and others where you play against the Villains. In some ways, playing against the field is similar to GTO style. I have done some GTO study and experimented with using it as a strategy.

2. I have been working on my post flop frequencies because many tournaments start deep now, and the skills necessary at 100+BB deep are similar to playing cash games.

3. Just because I have weaknesses to work on, I cant forget that I have unique strengths that I need to leverage and need to avoid over-compensating for my weaknesses.

The night before the Invitational, I was playing the League MTT and I was getting dick-slapped by the deck. I had AQ 4 times, all lost. None of my pairs held. The one time I flopped hard, I lost the hand. I had no big starting hands and many, many second best river hands. I made 2 really bad mistakes. I made a CALL out of frustration in a situation where the villain never bluffs, and I then made a fold in a situation that clearly called for a crying call (and I would have won the hand). These mistakes were a result of tilt, where you are running bad so you make decisions based on the fact that you are running bad. That is never good poker. I declared to the table, "I am going to run like a god tomorrow. Variance demands it." or something like that. I meant it.

After the Invitational started, I was faced with my first decision set:
1. I know many of these players. I like to play early levels against the FIELD, but I cant just forget what I know about each player. Should I stick to GTO early?
2. Am I going to TRY or try to AVOID playing big pots early?
3. How am I going to maintain mindset and strategy and avoid getting into my own head like last night?

I made these decisions decisively and early:
1. I am going to play against the FIELD early, playing like its an online MTT. This means small ball combined with speculative hands from position, running fewer bluffs, and ultimately avoiding big semi-bluffs.

2. Based on #1, it didnt look like I would try and just double-up and go "feast or famine". I would try to avoid playing a big pot DEFENDING against a big draw also. I was not going to get all in with TPTK vs. a flush draw if I could avoid it. Instead, giving up some equity to reduce variance (i.e. seeing the turn card before trying to push out draws).

3. Instead of listening to music, I listened to a audio book. This one is counter-intuitive, but it worked like I imagine aderall works for people. By being forced to listen non-passively to something but still being able to watch the hands unfold in front of me, I could remain more detached from the outcomes while maintaining concentration.

I chipped up from my starting stack of $30k to about $60k. I did make a calculated shove once, as I was very, very sure I had the best hand against a big draw with just the river card left to come. When villain folded, I raked a big pot while avoiding any potential disaster.

I started at table 7 (of 9). When our table broke, I figured it was time to give up the "early levels" strategy and start the middle levels strategy. I am still playing against the field, but in these middle levels, stack size and bet size tell you so much more about villain ranges, that I will sometimes defer to those indicators over more common hand reads. I tend to read even more into bet sizes for Players who are cash game heavy. And that served me well for a good number of these hands, although I can recall very few eventful or memorable decisions.

With about 4 tables left, the worst curse that can befall a player set in. I could not get any hands worth playing. I would muddle through and make due, but for the most part it was an exercise in avoiding frustration, self-doubt, and the feeling that the end was slipping away. With 3 tables left, I realized I had yet to see either KK or AA even once today, nor had I flopped a particularly giant hand as of yet. I used my audiobook as a crutch, giving me a distraction to avoid slipping into a "I have to make something happen" mode. Eventually though, that would come. Not Yet. But it got worse before it got better. When we went to 2 tables, I was somehow still alive, but was now all the way down to starting stack size of $30k at what may have been level 600/1200/100. Not quite life support, but with the average stack being closer to $100K, it looked bleak. I was able to just steal and stay alive to the next break. With 14 players left, I was in the bottom 3 with nothing distinguishing the desperate bottom 3 apart.

I walked around the room and saw the invitational plague. I had not remembered until that moment, that there was a plague with the names of the winners on it. I didnt read them. I walked back to the table and looked at the empty chairs and recalled all the times I was playing online and having a terrible run, yet managed to eek it out for a min cash. I thought if I could steal to survive and maybe win one race, I could maybe finish In The Money, 9th. Perhaps I could convince everyone to pay 10th place $300 and increase my chances? I had yet to get my money in behind even once, and I knew that I could no longer think like that. I needed to find some good (marginal) shove spots, hit them hard, and hope.

The first was about to happen. Blind vs. Blind I shove A3o. With about 14 BB and blind vs. blind this really wasnt even a decision, just an act. The BB had KK. The flop didnt have an Ace, and I stood up and said "Good game" when then blank turn card came. The river brought shock and silence. Ace. I was alive.

I recall this happening a second time, only it was my AJ vs. an under pair. With the pair was holding on the turn, I stood up and said "good game" and the Ace came again on the river. It wasnt as huge as a come from behind as the first one, but it was the difference between playing and driving home.

Still 13 or so left and after some folding, I was about half of average now at somewhere around the $50-60k range. Player opens or shoves (I dont recall), another shoves and in the BB I look down at two black Aces. "I finally got them." I said as I tabled the Aces to an crestfallen opponent. I doubled up and then some. With 11 left, I felt like I could easily squeak into the money now.

Somehow, someway, I had survived until my variance train finally left the station. And apparently, it still had a full head of steam...

I made the final table with no other eventful hands? Not sure. At the final table, there were a lot of chips in play. I decided to play it like a SnG and tighten down until I could see who was going to do what and who wanted to go broke. I dont even remember getting from 9 to 6, almost an observer in my mind's eye. Occasionally, I recall some hands, but then I lose the thought to the ether. I am sure there were more important hands, come from behind situations and the like. I do recall calling down 3 streets against the cash game player with TP only to be shown the flopped set. I regretted being unable to make the river lay-down, but at the same time, I felt like it wasnt a particularly bad play overall. The last thing I wanted was the cash players to think they could run over me.

With 6 left, a shorter stack is going to OPEN instead of shoving, letting me see a flop from the BB with 22. I flop a set, turn quads, and then he shoves into me. I flipped over the cards so fast, there was a slight "thud" on the table. Now there were 5 left, and the stacks were deep. I would get another AA at a good time. But what really worked in my favor was time. We had been playing for 12 hours and the players used to playing big cash games were tired and maybe even bored. That and they were frustrated with the player now left of the dealer who was super sticky when he hit a flop. The cash players are used to their pressure plays getting more folds, I presumed. The giant stacks of the cash game players started to dwindle. Then one lost a big hand and I felt like he was not going to try and patiently build it back up. He was going to take variance. So when the opponent on my right opened, and I had AJ, I decided to flat in the hopes I might induce a mistake. He shoved, opener folded, and I called with AJ. He has A2 and said he didnt expect me to be that strong. (Weird what you recall.)

Eventually, I'll get heads up with player on my right with a nearly 2-1 chip lead. I almost won with A8 vs. KJ, but he hit and play continued. I recalled in that moment that I had won a big pot as a dog in a hand with him before the money, so I had this one coming to be sure. Fast forward to the break and we are equal in chips.

After the break, I started to lose ground quickly. I was getting chipped away at, and I was struggling to find a defense. Then the variance train blew its whistle and decided to complete my journey. I hit the board hard in the next 5 big hands we played and I took it down when a turn card gave my opponent TP with a gut shot, but gave me the nuts. 14 hours and 5 minutes and all I could say at the end was "good game". It was. Everyone played really well and I had my fair share of luck at the end to take down the prize.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Post for the sake of post

I changes leagues this year. Both leagues now have a main event first prize. One league is 45 players (I finished top 10) and the other is a new league to me with 27 or so players. The smaller league started in August, and I finished 6th. Not as good as it sounds as I was card dead for an entire MTT but hit a 1 outer for a Straight Flush halfway through the night. Still, good to have the score.

I like the larger field of 5 tables as I always feel like in a 3 table there are never enough chips in play to survive the middle levels without taking on risky spots.

Overall, I have been doing much more range analysis (but NOT construction) and GTO study. I am interested in both, but consider them both more flawed than many other players. I think the optimal strategy is to disguise exploitative play as GTO, and that is what I am aiming for...

I have also been "experimenting" with scenarios where building a pot artificially adds fold equity. I am trying hard to not narrow ranges on either side too quickly either. I used to do this a TON (try to narrow villain ranges) and it often just narrowed MY ranges. Now I think much more about how much money I want in the pot at showdown against the ranges as I see them. Complicated stuff.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Event#37 part 2

1350+ entries... Day 2

I got up early for day 2, a bit nervous. But more nervous when I saw my table draw. Most had cashed in WSOP events and Aaron Massey on my direct right with a crap-ton of chips. Lucky for me, we were both card dead... There are now 9 to the money and he raises from the cutoff to 2.4x BB. I am the button and have AKs... The two blinds on my left are very active, especially the small blind. So this is a 100% raise, but how much? I have about 30BB.

I thought about it for about 30 seconds+ and decided to overplay the hand. I didnt want to play on the bubble against a holding like TT or 77 and have to navigate those waters. Even with position, I expect him to put in a 3BB c-bet. So I shove expecting a snap fold... Instead he starts talking.
"How many get paid?" he asks.
"200", I reply.
"And you just shoved into me knowing that?"
"Yes, I did."
"Wow. I really dont want to fold this, best had I've seen."

He folds KQs face up, so I say "I think my hand is face up here" and show AKs.

"I overplayed it.", I say.
and he says, "No, no. That was fine."

Well, ok then... The bubble breaks and so does the table... Probably just as well I did what I did... Fast forward to tomorrow and Massey will be at the FINAL TABLE.

And I thought the previous table was hard.

I sit down to Mike Sexton, Ryan Lapante, a European pro, and a couple of guys with lots of chips. Ryan is talkative and so the table is on the social side.

Eventually, I get lucky and double up when my AK > QQ.

Then I make not 1 but 2 big mistakes...

Guys sits down with about $20k. He seems like a super rec. He doesnt play a hand then finally shoves his $20k over an open raise. I wake up with JJ on the button, so both blinds and original opener still to act. I think WAY TO LONG and fold. BAD BAD FOLD. Even though I have $45k, I just should NOT be folding here. I talked myself into putting him on a narrow range. He will bust out a rotation later and when I ask him, he says it was AK. He just was card dead and my range for him was far to narrow. I have to give him 66+ and some ATs, so very bad me. Lesson learned. If it was 10BB I snap call. 20 BB just caused me to overthink it.

Still, bad fold me. Really bad.

Then mistake 2, which is MUCH bigger. EP opener (same guy who doubled me up now has 20BB and I have 40BB.) opens for 2.5x and I flat on the button with 9h8h. BB comes along. Flop is 8c6s2s. He c-bets and I raise... Oh Lordy, there are not enough chips in play (SPR) for me to raise here without getting all the money in. IF he has any pair, he isnt folding. Turns out he didnt need to even think about it. He had KK! ARGH. TERRIBLE. He even says, "JJ?" and is shocked (and looks at me like I am a donk) when I show the TP. I did get a 7 for at least a sweat.

After playing so well for so long, I maneuver myself down to 20BB on unforced errors.

The last hand, despite busting me, I was pretty proud of...

EP opens, 3 callers... I squeeze-shove QTs!!! It was great. I can only get called by Ryan based on position and stack sizes. He calls with 66!
I said, "I just could not pass up the dead money."
"I thought you might squeeze pretty light here."

So the pot is actually $50k! (which would put me back to stack prior to 98 disaster, all is forgotten.) But the board runs out dry and 66 scoops the pot. (Ryan will go on to finish 15th).

I was frustrated with myself, but know I can hang with these guys in these large MTTs. This is my second cash in 4 events, so feeling maybe a bit overconfident? But why not, I am getting pretty good and the coaching has helped.

I think playing live more will alleviate some of the bad play... Put in many, many online hours prior to the WSOP. I would have snap called with JJ online...

NOW I recalled another hand day 1 where I folded QJo in the SB and would have flopped OESD And turned the nuts. I would have been up against a set (button opened 44) and 2 pair (the BB pro who was 3-betting me) where they got all the money in. I was thinking though how I would have played the hand and I think I would have made a huge (similar) mistake there. If I check the flop and Button bets and I check-raise, he shoves it down my throat because he flopped a set (especially if 2 pair calls my check-raise too). I check behind and I make the nuts.

What is the wisdom on this situation? All things equal, when the Button raises and you decide to flat QJo and the flop is 49T, do you check call or check raise? when and why?

A really, really good Vegas trip - Event#37 part 1

I've traveled to Vegas many a time, but I dont recall a time where while I was coming back, I really, really wanted to stay...

I flew in Father's Day and instead of playing poker, went to Hoffbrau house and then went to see Absinthe. Money well spend.

Was up fresh and early for the Event #37. I was calm and collected and had a plan. I played fairly loose the first two levels, especially from position. I ran my $7500 stack up to $10k, but then could not get 88 off TT65 board. I checked the river knowing he was calling down and was back at $8k...

From there being 10 handed and card dead really had my frustrated. Then table breaks and I move to a table that desperately needed a shot clock. As level 7 started, I had $6600 left...

Then, I started getting some hands. Since we were already into Antes, in level 8 I 3-bet almost my entire range. In a LIVE MTT, in day 1, especially when players start to get past the donk levels (middle levels online), 3-bets are the best way to pick up chips without a ton of conflict. So many times I got folds and others would see a flop and fold. (Fit or fold is no way to go through life son.) Once I was at $25k, I felt I could start to really play.

I worked the $25k to $50k mostly with pressure and knowing my range was ahead. Ok, that and this guy on my right (not US based, but that is all I know), paid off my two monsters. I really dont know what he was thinking. The first time I bombed the river for $6k and I was sure I bet too much and he called and was frustrated when I showed top set. Then after paying that off, later on I 3 bet him with QQ pre (so I have a hand, right?) and then turned a set. Again, I made a big river bet and got paid. He was more angry this time, muttering "Of Course". Perhaps he thought he was ahead of QQ? Maybe 2 pair? The board paired on the river, so maybe trips?

To end the day, I went card dead the last two entire levels and finished day 1 with a whimper. The poker stars pro on my left started 3 betting my every open sensing my frustration. He would even open UTG (my BB). After he broke two other players I figured out his strategy. It was a doozy. He would single out players he thought over-folded and 3-bet to ISO his ENTIRE range. He would show up with 75s or 53s after a 3-bet pre. I finally had a strategy against him, but the day came to a close. I bagged just $34k.

It was just 37 to the money coming back to 500/1000, so seems like an easy cash day 2 with 34 BB and at the bubble?

...Day two in next post...

Friday, June 15, 2018

Event #37 is almost here

ok, fine. So I only get to go to Vegas for 4 days and play in 1 event. I am a rec. Not much I can do about it now... I've put in some solid study time in the past few months, shipping the $25 6 max knockout MTT twice, and really have a good feel for ranges.

Regardless of all of that, I haven't cashed in an online MTT large field in like a month. I've been playing the early levels well, but in the middle levels, I am not sure what is happening. Last night, I am not sure I could have avoided losing 20 BB when I kept 99 from folding pre by flatting, only to have him double through me on a Q9x flop. Even though at one point I have 1/3 of a STARTING stack, I still battled on for quite a while, even getting to 22BB again, only to have it fall apart on me at about the 25% mark.

Going to spend Father's Day in Vegas, NOT playing poker, then play Monday morning through the end. If I really flame out on Monday, I'll play the Venetian $500 on Tues.

My pre-flop game remains really good, my flop game is solid if not overly so, my TURN play can be better, and my river decisions, although solid, could be backed up with more range evidence when I bet or call. But I am still right far more than I am wrong. So I've been trying to concentrate on better TURN play as my target for improvement. "Based on the information available to me, am I making the max EV choice?" Despite being a game of incomplete information, there is a ton of information to process by the turn. Stack size drive behavior, as do flop texture and action, plus sometime Villain is playing his hand and sometime he is playing your range. Identifying which I think is sometimes BETTER than being balanced in an MTT?

Balance of ranges is all the rage, but it assumes your goal is not not be exploited. But then of course, you cant be exploitative. So being GTO early in an MTT seems worthless? In the middle stages, I think the jury is still out. After all, am I playing against a player or could I just play against the field (and its tenancies)? As the field narrows, or your Q gets >1.5, then it seems GTO has far more value.

Friday, May 25, 2018

Musing (and rambling) about GTO trends

Just like everyone else in the poker world, I am absorbing two big trends. The Button Ante and GTO play.

On the Button Ante: I think this is a LIVE ONLY necessity, to insure more hands per level. If that is the results of this, the extra nuances are well worth it. Do I play differently because of it? I think I am more willing to attach weak BBB defender in middle levels of an MTT.

Now on to GTO. I have been working with range building and identification of for a few months now. I do like how these exercises in thinking tell us in any given situation how to maximize equity realization ASSUMING ALL THINGS ARE CONSTANT. If there are not constants, which there are few here, this is a theoretical application based on the idea that we can get a close but reasonable assessment of villain ranges.

That is a mouthful. Look, I get the idea and how great it sounds and the work you can do away from the table to understand it. But I think it actually opens up a Pandora's Box of possibilities for MORE exploitative play, not less. (i.e. put me in the Christian Soto camp on this one:) The more players doing GTO, the most I want to move against the grain. Just like in football, if you play the best "bend dont break" defense in the league and you stick to it, a good QB will chew you alive.

I even experimented with this the other day (mixed success), where I would play cards outside the normal ranges in situations. I polarized myself, but the GTO player doesnt know this (I am not advertising it either). So when I show up with 2 pair when I "cant have 2 pair here", I can stack someone for 100 BBs. Wow, think about that. GTO is OFTEN applied when deep stacked. Which I get, its a far better way to operate when deep. But this idea that its not exploitable? or is adverse to exploitation I think is Bunk.

I still have lots of work to do in mapping out situations and lines that are going to achieve what I want to achieve, but I am not afraid to go searching...

The entire GTO construct has helped me be a better hand reader also. And inversely is teaching me the value that in certain situations, its important to Keep MY range wide...

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Again, Laydown?

10/20 NL - Holdem - 9 players $25 MTT


CO: 747 BB (VPIP: 50.00, PFR: 0.00, 3Bet Preflop: -, Hands: 4)
Hero (BTN): 742 BB
SB: 575.75 BB (VPIP: 50.00, PFR: 25.00, 3Bet Preflop: 0.00, Hands: 4)
BB: 757.5 BB (VPIP: 75.00, PFR: 0.00, 3Bet Preflop: 0.00, Hands: 4)
UTG: 923.75 BB (VPIP: 25.00, PFR: 25.00, 3Bet Preflop: 50.00, Hands: 4)
UTG+1: 757 BB (VPIP: 25.00, PFR: 0.00, 3Bet Preflop: 0.00, Hands: 4)
MP: 750 BB (VPIP: 0.00, PFR: 0.00, 3Bet Preflop: 0.00, Hands: 4)
MP+1: 750 BB
MP+2: 747.5 BB (VPIP: 25.00, PFR: 0.00, 3Bet Preflop: 0.00, Hands: 4)

SB posts SB 0.5 BB, BB posts BB 1 BB

Pre Flop: (pot: 1.5 BB) Hero has Ts As
fold, UTG+1 calls 1 BB, fold, MP+1 calls 1 BB, MP+2 calls 1 BB, fold, Hero calls 1 BB, SB raises to 8.25 BB, fold, UTG+1 calls 7.25 BB, MP+1 calls 7.25 BB, fold, Hero calls 7.25 BB

Didn't really want to play a hand here, but two suited... and then odds when the BB puts in the thinning bet.

Flop : (35 BB, 4 players) 3d Th Ac
SB bets 42.5 BB, fold, fold, Hero raises to 100 BB, SB calls 57.5 BB

Great flop. I was not too worried about a set. Not sure why, but based on action and feel, I thought I was best already. When another player OBV and its a rainbow board I raise for value... and I am doing the math in my head to make sure I can get all the money in!

Turn : (235 BB, 2 players) 4c
SB checks, Hero bets 99.05 BB, SB calls 99.05 BB

Turn is a blank, but does create backdoor flush. What did he call my raise with? I figure him for AK. Yes, I know he has a RANGER here, but how wide? Unless he literally is floating a check-raise and then lead? I doubt that? He raised pre-flop and led the Ace hard for x1.2 pot...

No way I am checking here and I want to just bet enough to make sure I have a clean shove on river and that AK doesnt fold.

River : (433.1 BB, 2 players) Kc
SB bets 300 BB, fold

River is the worst card in the deck.

Call or Fold? (I used about 1/2 my extended time bank)

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Laydown?

This hand had been haunting me...

I have $11k which is below the avg of $12k.
$125/$250/$25 level

Seat 21: Big Blind (13,480 in chips)
Seat 219: UTG (9,650 in chips)
Seat 170: UTG+1 (3,363 in chips)
Seat 70: UTG+2 (31,794 in chips)
Seat 175: UTG+3 (7,815 in chips)
Seat 247: UTG+4 (27,100 in chips)
Seat 187: UTG+5 (9,000 in chips)
Seat 25: Dealer [ME] (10,896 in chips)
Seat 154: Small Blind (6,480 in chips)

Dealer [ME] : Card dealt to a spot [Qs Jc]

UTG : Folds
UTG+1 : Folds
UTG+2 : Folds
UTG+3 : Call 250
UTG+4 : Call 250
UTG+5 : Call 250
Dealer [ME] : Call 250
Small Blind : Call 125
Big Blind : Checks
*** FLOP *** [Qd Th Js]
Small Blind : Checks
Big Blind : Checks
UTG+3 : Checks
UTG+4 : Checks
UTG+5 : Checks

I thought for about this for a short while. I want to lead here as I dont expect to be against AK, but there are many Kx and 9x hands I get value from.

Dealer [ME] : Bets 1725
Small Blind : Folds
Big Blind : Call 1725
UTG+3 : Folds
UTG+4 : Folds
UTG+5 : Folds

*** TURN *** [Qd Th Js] [7c]
Big Blind : Checks

We are heads up now and the 7c changes nothing. I still am expecting Kx (KQ most likely?) or A9 here.

Dealer [ME] : Bets 3687
Big Blind : Call 3687


*** RIVER *** [Qd Th Js 7c] [9s]
Big Blind : All-in 7793

Dealer [ME] : ???????

Thursday, January 04, 2018

Two discussion Hands

First Hand:
MTT 150/300/25 level. Cutoff ($22k) limps for $300 (I see this alot when players build an above average stack they try to see flops and either hit hard or fold)
SB ($11k) Raises to $1300. (I find the amount interesting...)
I am in the BB with JJ and $12k. With 40BB, this hand starts off more like a cash hand... But I have 3 options here and 2 of them suck hard. Folding JJ to a SB raise over a limp is not worth considering. And Calling seems out of the question, as you will automatically get the cutoff calling and closing the betting.

And yes, I have considered two traps. 1. That the limp was with a monster AA hand to entice. Way to early for that and I dont just see that much in early ante levels. 2. That the SB has a big hand, thus the larger raise. I am not buying that either... If he has AA or KK, you kinda want action from a BB or a limper... Raising maybe $999-$1100 seems better. So why $1300. I do worry about QQ though...

I re-raise to $3200. I really like this sizing, but wouldn't mind some opinions. I am expecting the limper to fold and the SB to tell me how big his hand is with a response. I purposely didnt make it a min raise like $2700. If he folds, fine. If he calls, that is already a mistake and I have position. If he reraises, then I can dwell on QQ being a real possible holding...

But just to confuse matters, the CO FLATS. This is horrible! Even if he has a monster, he may end up playing it 3 way for stacks. So we can safely eliminate all hands better than JJ. He also creates nearly an 11BB overlay now...

SB Shoves for $11k. Conceivably I could fold here...Until the CO flats. Now its a $9k call to win $15k. There are only 3 hands we are not getting correct odds on, and we eliminated 2 of them. So he would have to have no other hands in his range (even adding AK to his range makes this a call) to fold.

I shove. The CO predictably fold. The SB flops over AKs and we are please with our thinking... but lose the hand. I am not going to be results oriented, but can you really make a case for folding when the SB shoves?

Second Hand:
83 players left, payouts start at 81... We have QQ in the BB with 15BB. Folds to the button who is 40BB deep and puts in a 2.8x raise. Would you do ANYTHING other than shove here?

If you fold, you are a nit to be sure. We dont play for the min-cash, do we?
If you CALL, are you going to check-fold to any flop with an A or K.
If you raise, are you going to raise and put in 1/2 your stack?



Monday, November 06, 2017

and now the cronicle of bad

When you dont bring your A game attention for whatever reason, you get results like this...

Hand 1 : LEVEL I of MTT. Flop two pair, and turn a boat. Villain bets out turn making $5k in pot with $5k behind. I shove. Not even with a delay, but like a child grabbing a piece of candy. Online, standard. Live 3 table MTT??? I fold him out too much. I should have bet $2k or $2500 river in tighter online scenario. (overall, a minor mistake)

Hand 2 : Call a LP raise with A2 in the BB. Flop is KTx. He c-bets, I call. Turn is an Ace and he checks. I bet and he check-raises. Action. Well, considering its like level 3, this should not be taken lightly. I bet $1k (effective stacks $11k) and he check raises to $3500. A BIG check-raise to boot. Seems like a somewhat standard release. But for some inexplicable reason, I call. which also puts me on the hook with the river is another Ace. Now I think I am good and when he checks I make a FATAL mistake and bet. WTF? what pays me there other than 2 pair? He calls with a straight and he only called instead of shoving because I earlier showed down the hand above.

Ultimately I play a mean short stack, but was eliminated when my AQs was run down by JTo on the river. UGH. Still I like how I played that exit hand, so no lamenting that.

How can I after all this time, make such a bad play as in Hand 2? His check raise commits half my stack with a pair, and somehow I think he may be bluffing? wow is that bad. I am flagellating myself.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

I am running well and here’s why

I finished first in my monthly league (5 table MTT) and final tabled 3 MTTs online in the last 10 or so entries for huge month. But Why? I could say I am running good, but that is a cheat. No one really runs good or bad over time. Conclusion? I must be playing better!

In the early stages, I am playing more from late position only. I am not going to open AQo UTG, because what am I going to gain when 500 bb deep in level 1? I believe this does not unbalance me too much as I can remain wide as I want in the Hijack or Cutoff. (more on this later though)

Middle stages, especially live, I am three betting middling pairs along with big hands. Its so hard to play 77 even on a K52 board when your opponent starts barreling. Smaller pairs may benefit from playing against narrow ranges w/ fold equity. This conflicts with some training that was getting and articles I was reading about flatting with middle pairs and trying to outplay your opponent post-flop, so I still have to reconcile that.

Late stages, I am opening up my 3 betting range to include what most people consider a good BALANCED 3-bet range overall. I do NOT try hard to balance this earlier for a few reasons:

1. I am setting up a 3-bet% tendency to be low so I can exploit that later, especially online. (I want my 3-bets later on to look strong, so I can 3-bet lighter.)

2. Online where stacks are deeper, I don’t need fold equity pre-flop with these middle pairs in early stages. I can get away from an awkward situation post flop. So instead I can pull bigger hands down into these less aggressive groups early for balance.

3. 3-Betting rarely tends to ISO the villain in early stages.

4. When I do make a strong hand, I can take a generic line like Bet-check-Bet and often get paid for 2 streets.

As an MTT player, I am playing strong hands for fold equity over enticement. I know its sorta “Lee Childs school of poker”, but by shoving or re-raising big hand pre-flop, you get lots of fold equity. You may be losing a bit of value (depending on the table), but you reduce volatility significantly. (Which I feel is under-rated in MTTs.)

Finally, In latter stages, I am very stack size aware now. Yesterday, I very comfortable 3-bet an early open with 87s because he had 20 bb (I had 30bb) and we were getting closer to the final stages. I put him in an awkward spot with the 3-bet and he tanked and folded.

I am also narrating my thoughts in my head (or sometimes out loud) which I realize is starting to gel into “having a plan” for the hand. Including when to FOLD, which was something I recently identified as a new leak that I didn’t have before. I want to be sticky, but I was getting to showdown too light too often. I am thinking about blockers more too.

I spent some time looking at check-raise ranges as of late. If you are going to check-raise strong draws, you also need to check-raise sets and top-2, instead of trapping. This in my opinion is the most import situation to balance ranges, to cover semi-bluffs.

I’d like to say this all my success is contained in the above wisdom, but the reality is that even in the $30k last night, so many players were playing "cash" ranges in the latter stages. I understand the interest in GTO and “standard plays” and ranges and all that jargon, but when you lose 15 bigs on A5o when you could get away so easy, I don’t call that “standard”. I saw many players that didn't understand their situation vs the larger table dynamic when they were under 20bb. I see spots were its +EV calling a UTG shove of 10-15 bigs late, because they are shoving to pick up chips before they post a BB. Exploitable when you look for it.

Monday, June 19, 2017

back to Vegas, but first...

In the weeks before my annual $1500 event, I decided to play a few $10-$15 MTTs online. I did NOT focus on all the intricate rules and hand reading and instead concentrated on what *I* do well. Knowing when to play a big pot. That is really what I focused on as my mantra and let the other stuff take a back seat. I cashed 5/5 with 2 final tables. Gez. Ok, perhaps the poker gods are trying to send me a message. "The cards are not what they seem."

There is quiet power in going against the grain. Everyone is now playing small ball, careful hand reading, GTO aspiration poker. And the messages are, dont play big pots when you dont know where you are at, call alot more than you think you should because... math, and play against your opponents theoretical range while narrowing it down each street. and I played that way for quite some time... struggling to learn things that others can do so much better. The exercise was worthwhile as I see thinks I might not have seen otherwise. But there still is the philosophy that says, maximize what you are good at and chuck the rest. There are even extreme examples like Tim Ferriss who suggests finding the most lucrative shortcuts in life and exploit them for all their worth. And now its time for my take on all that jazz.

"I like big pots and I can not lie..."

Now I am taking a different angle until the end game. I am going to inflate pots when I think I am ahead. I am going to check-raise my stack and dare villains to call. and I am going to polarize my range to make villains either have to guess or find a better spot.

Here is what I will focus on...
Maximize the RIO on hands where you are likely ahead. Use stack size, position and action to help determine ranges pre-flop. Narrow down post flop ESPECIALLY on FLOP.
Think about your backdoors, position, stack size and your BLOCKERS (and player type).
Make a shit-ton of value bets. Big ones. Big value bets. Forget slow-playing or trying to get to showdown. polarize your range.

Sounds like suicide, right? But in my recent observations, this maximizes your chance to go deep. and when you flame out, you flame out hard. but better to burn out, then fade away (cue guitar)...

More seriously and analytically, it seems like there are a ton of cases where getting the fold has value vs. maximizing value vs a range. Yet I also know that isnt true. It SEEMS that way, but it isnt. But it is about accumulating chips. and that is where this becomes a dance instead of a math exercise.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Long time no post

I just didnt have anything new to say... but after reading about Google's AI defeating a GO champion, I started thinking about MTT strategy and my upcoming $1500 WSOP event. Last year, I finished deep which was helped significantly when I doubled up when the board paired, vaulting my AA above flopped 2 pair and setting me up nicely. In the end, I lost back to back flips, which is the kiss of death in an MTT.

It is somewhat common? wisdom that playing for anything but first is a waste of time. Combine that thought with my recent league run where I nearly finished last, but in the final month finished 5th. Why is it when you have nothing to lose you go deep? Well, for one its not always that way, you just remember those. But the air of truth is that when you play with abandon, you don't miss opportunities to maximize your return. Even if that means getting all your money in on 2 pair... or even a big draw. If you are not OUT, you are accumulating chips. Slowing down only when overwhelmingly building up a stack that allows you to stick to picking on small stacks.

This is my strategy going into this years event. I am not going to try and play perfect poker, but like the AI, I am going to try and maximize my deep run scenarios.

Friday, September 09, 2016

League nights, back to the grind

Season 2016-2017 of the WSOP poker leagues start this weekend, and I hope I am ready. It's all about ranges now...

Thursday, July 07, 2016

Event 56 racap - day 2 of 2

I start day two after doing my homework. I didn't have a good table draw anymore. I was going to break relatively quickly, and had 7 regs at the table, including a short stacked (15BB) Main Event 2015 final table player.

The bubble really popped so fast, I didnt even play a significant hand.

Next is a hand where I wish I had more notes. I open in the CO with J9s. The SB (Who was Nathan Tuthill). I completely wiff the Kxx flop, but I can rep the King easily here and I c-bet. He calls. The turn is an blank and it goes check-check. The river is an Ace and here is where I think I can take advantage of my REC image. There is an old saying, "When a Rec bombs the river, he has it". So I decide to play that cars, but I think I bet 60% pot to look less bluffy. Nathan, tanks for about 90 seconds while I just sit still. In the end, he surprises me with a hero call and I muck. If my table draw was better, I could have feasted off the image here for hours. In hindsight, I think the Ace was a POOR bluffing card as a King may just check behind...

Next hand I get 33 and I just chuck it. I have $64k and I am trying to decide what my current ranges should be... Table break.

New table, short stack shoves from the button. I have A6o in the BB and I pause, but call. He has some random two cards and I hold. Back up to $70k

A shorter stack opens and I have 88. I have created some bad spots recently by 3 betting 88, but in this case, I think his shorter stack size really boxed him in. The 3-bet works and I pick up some chippies.

I am not defending my BB well because the LP players have deep stacks.

Someone from MP (deep stack, opening many hands, spewy river calls) min opens (his standard open) and I 3 bet AJ from position. Now he MIN 4 bets? I know that there are guys out there that do this all the time, but I was thinking, "why"? His range is still wide in my eyes, so I call. Flop is Ten high and I have a backdoor flush to go with two overs. I am ready to peel and he him bets the pot. I KNOW the math demands a call here. I KNOW this. But I fold. He was playing this hand differently than he played the others I had seen and I made a bad fold. A small mistake to avoid a perhaps larger one. NOT A good play at all. But I did it. (he later did this to someone else, then bet 2x pot on river.)

MP raises and I defend my BB with AJs. The flop is KJx and I call his c-bet. Turn brings me a flush draw and it goes check-check. River is a total blank, but he checks. I think he has air, but check behind. I dont recall what he had, but my middle pair is good.

In the next hand I had KK. I think I might have been the UtG. I took it down pre-flop with a 3-bet is all my notes say. I recall I opened for 2.5x because I didnt want to limp.

Spewy-LAG player opens and I call very loose with 69s from button just to see a flop in position. BB wakes up with a hand and shoves. LAG calls. Flop is A69. D'oh. Oh well. Had BB not shoved, would have brutalized SLAG.

I have about 40BB at the end of L13.

To start L14, I induce a 3 bet by flatting my AK. A 4-bet squeeze comes and I get to shove and pick up $30k in chips without seeing a flop.

I defend my BB with a raggy ace. Flop is 224. He c-bets and I check raise. He calls. What can I put him on now? Turn is an ACE. It goes check-check. River is a blank and I make a decent sized river bet. He calls and mucks, very upset. Maybe he had like JJ? He was a decent player, although played a very cash game style. I saw him in the final 100 field...

Mentally, at the end of L14, I didnt feel right. I play a decent hand and finish the level at $140k, but really needed the break. I take stock of my position. From this point on, there is little difference between 100th place and 20th place. I need to pick up chips if I am going to avoid a min cash. I mentally prepare myself to not play tight for survival.

I open K9s from Hijack and get two callers. A K flops and I c-bet and both players call. Alarms are ringing and I shut it down.

I make a mental note that I am slightly below average stack for the first time in the tournament.

Japanese? Guy who doesnt speak English? has played just two hands in Day 2. The second time he doubled up with AA. He has about $60k and he shoves UTG. It folds to me in the BB and I have AKo. In other circumstances I could find a fold here, but since I put him on QQ-TT and AK/AQ, I decide that I need to call. He shows two red 6s. the runout sucks and I lose 60% of my stack.

My remaining $47k bleeds down to about $37k until I get KK in the SB. Cutoff opens for $9k. This is an easy shove and he will call. He tables QQ. A queen on the flop send me packing 91st.

If the Kings hold, I would still be below avg at $90k, but would have 30 BB, enough to keep making a run. And so it goes... I was not happy to go out. I was not celebrating my run. I was frustrated and what-not despite knowing that I ran well enough up to that point to not complain.

and now I record all this for some sort of weird posterity.