Monday, December 31, 2007
I play defensive poker. There, I said it. In a world of aggression, I play defense. I am no longer ashamed. (Was I ever?)
In the cash world, hard aggression makes soft money pay a brutal price. Although I am not soft money, my strategy often makes me a marginal cash game winner. Its in the tournament world where this strategy really shines. And here is why.
Its all about how you look at a pot. It's about the 3 D's: Dancing, deference, and decimation.
When you begin a hand, its dancing. The dance is simple in NLHE. One of 3 states exist:
1. Stacks are normal and levels are normal. We dance based on position and opportunity... and so does everyone else. 78 suited sounds great, but when you land a draw against AJ who hits a Top Pair, then what? And what does he do? Pots are usually smaller than the so called implied odds. Your hope here, is that you find yourself "Dancing with a donkey". One of you is going to overplay this hand and either win a small pot or risk a big one.
2. Your stack is short. You are a big club, swinging wildly in the dark. Think your hand might hold? Think that no one wants to risk 25%-33% of there stack to prove you wrong? Move in. Simple.
3. Your stack is large. Don't fall into the trap of getting the big stack by getting wreckless and lucky and then be unable to slow down, thinking yourself invincible. The larger the field, the more donks who accumulate chips, just to ship them back to players who actually know how to read a flop later in the tournament.
Simple stuff. NLHE is a simple game at heart. I think that's why everyone got caught up in the bandwagon. Its just not that hard to become competent.
The second D.
Next is deception for most people, but not me. I am about deference. Is this a hand I need to escape from before I commit too many chips? and when do I escape? Do I EVER decide to call a 3/4 pot bet with a gut shot? not me. Just not my way. I am ready to defer if I am behind. Plain and simple. Once I a while I need to be deceptive just to avoid being a predic-a-bot, but that is about it. Does folding when behind cost me a lot of money? Surprising, no. I would in a cash game, but rarely in a tournament.
Finally, its decimation. Are you ahead? If so, weight the amount of chips you would expect this hand to win. Then, go for that many chips. This has also hurt me many times, as I fail to expect a bad call and thus dont jam a pot. I instead expect the other player has a threshold of pain attached to a hand. This is not the case as much as I expect. It costs me money, BUT, it makes me more consistent. And that is worth alot to me.
So there it is. A year's worth of work summed up into a strategem. Just one problem with this... It causes a painful dichotomy. I cash, but never win it all. Am I content with that?
No. I have experimented alot this month and noticed some new patterns and thought of some new ideas. I think its time to start thinking serious on level 3.
Based on what he has put me on, and based on what I put him on, can I manipulate the situation so that in the rare instances that I am behind and stick around, am I in a position to scare the other player? I have much work to do in 2008.
Thursday, December 27, 2007
It seems strange and foreign to me just the same, that I am going to follow suit. Some of the walls I typically keep erected to create a barrier, which I insist will protect my professional career and image from being associated with anything negative that can come back to work against me in some unlikely scenario, are crumbling.
I have been in executive IT management for 13 years now. I was laid off 5 years ago, 6 months after 9-11. I went on to rebuild my career to new heights and success. I thought 2007 would be my most successful year ever. Then my company was sold. 9 months later, just before Christmas, I was laid off. Again. I am in a much better position this time, having been through this before. I had money saved for such an emergency, I had more contacts than 5 years ago, and had another successful management stint, even bigger than the last, under my belt.
But this time, I expect change. A Change in location seems probable and this means leaving this cold and economically miserable state for unfamiliar territory, uprooting my family in the hopes of an improved standard of living. It's strange and eerie, knowing this in advance. I watched my final NFL home game with a mixture of fervor and thoughtfulness, trying to memorize the sounds, the smells and the sights of the stadium and its denizens. We even splurged on beer and peanuts, ignoring our budget to seal the maximum amounts of memory of this last game in our brains.
I meet with my friends and do the usual fun activities, but in the back of my mind is the nagging feeling that I'll shortly be saying goodbye. Then feeling stupid because the assertion is premature.
I am 'counting my blessings' as they say. But strangely, although I have so much time, I am playing no more poker than I did when I was working.
I noticed a BIG leak in my game last night. Something in retrospect I am not sure I would have noticed under different circumstances. And its an unusual leak, not the typical mistake in how you play a hand type leak. When I am ahead, I rarely make wreckless bets after the turn card. If I am playing deep stack and I make 2 pair on the turn and I think I am ahead, I will still bet 3/4 of the pot or pot. But I never "go for the stack", figuring the other player will fold if I do. I am afraid of letting the prey escape. Funny that I should see that now...
Saturday, December 22, 2007
Psychotherapy, Psychotherapy, Psychotherapy
that's what they want to give meeeeeeee
After my return from the WPBT, I have played awful poker. I have been pushing lame draws, seeing flops out of position, and been generally impatient. If there is one attribute that a NLHE tournament requires, its patience. As a matter of opinion, I think that if the field is 100 or less, patience is more important than even post-flop play. I went out in level 1 of the BBT2 freeroll and knew I was "out of sync".
In the last month, I was laid off from my job. I should be more upset, but quite frankly I did not like our new corporate overlords. My company was acquired and I went from top dog to dog house in 3 months. So when they pushed me out the door 5 months early, I scarcely shed a tear. But despite the fact that I have a year's savings in the bank, I don't like the idea of being out of work. I am very good at what I do. Extremely good (better than I am at poker for sure). But I still need to find a company that appreciates and needs IT leadership. Not an easy task. and not a quick task. This situation colors my world at the moment. Not so much because of the search itself, but rather the distinct possibility of a family move. I like in a highly undesirable city as it is, so a logical person would say this could only be a move up. They're right. But, it is still a big deal. Moving away to another city where you know no one, regardless of the improvement, is a subject of much stress.
So, I've been a tad psycho lately. Not literally, mind you, but figuratively. I have not been myself. When I need to center myself in life, I do menial labor. Clean the house, chores, etc. When I need to center myself in poker, I play a $20 SnG. When I cash (which I almost always do), I regain my composure.
Now its 4 days on thinking of nothing but family functions, holiday celebrations, and fun. I can go back to worrying on Wed. And before I play poker next week, expect to see me playing a $20 SnG...
Monday, December 17, 2007
I am folding too much...
There are 10 left. I briefly well BELOW average and took the blinds to get just above avg. We are 5 handed, and Maudie is two to my left. On both sides are players who also have about $25k which is avg only. Blinds are 500/1000/250 and I want to accumulate chips in this bubble period (pays only 5 places).
Maudie raises UtG to 3500. Now, for some reason I cant fathom, I know what here range is with that bet and I put her on A9-AJ. Folds around to my in the SB and I have A9s. Now, I dont think this is a great hand by any stretch of the imagination, butI believe that at the bubble, the big stack would never call off 50% of their chips with AJ. So, I push all-in, knowing there is no way she can call. She is too solid of a player for that.
But she does... with the AJ. I am floored. (and I am out!). It was either an incredible read or a bad call with great timing. Maybe both. I have got to hand it to Maudie here. I had only shown down KK, AK, and 77 at this table. If I am in her shoes, and I raise UtG with AJ and someone pushes for $21k (not a short stack!) and I can fold for $3.5k and REMAIN the big stack in the tournament OR I can call, expecitng to race for half my stack, I am folding. And easy fold.
Yet did she somehow know I was capable of this? Did *I* even know I was capable of this?
If this was not the last shot at a BBT2 seat, where only first mattered... or maybe we were closer to the bubble? Hard to say.
Someone comment here and tell me I was insane to attempt this. I would never have tried this in riverchasers, but this was the Big Game! Am I trying to be too tricky?
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
I have only my longshot riverchasers and the BIG game on sunday left... and no $69 tokens left. Better get to work...
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
My draw for starting table was challenging to say the least. BG to my left, Fuel on my direct right. The Fuel lay-downs first…
If there is one thing I am known for in NL, its being an escape artist. I always seem to know when I am behind. It’s a strange skill, and often gets me into trouble in larger tournament fields as I am reluctant to gamble. If I have A8 and I know the other player has a pair 99-KK, I will almost always fold, even if I have ¼ of my stack in there.
In this case, I had missed a few flops and this time flopped a flush draw. I had position on Fuel, but he bet out and I called. The turn did not bring my flush, but added an OESD. But Fuel correctly put me on the draw and pushed all in. Although I had him covered, losing this pot if I called would all but eliminate me. Not only that, I figured out that he had figured out that I was drawing, so it wasn’t a bluff (I don’t think it was at least). Reluctantly, I folded.
Then I FINALLY flop top pair. I have AQ, but the board if AKJ and there are 2 other players (Fuel and tworags). I bet out, two rags raises and Fuel re-raises all-in. I am done with the hand. It was set over set and Fuel was crippled.
It’s the First break, I have a measly 2300 in chips (of a starting 6000). The end is near.
I waited patiently but really had no chips to maneuver. I had to pick up a big hand. It was folded around to maigrey on the button and she raises half my piddly stack. I wake up with KK and when I push, she is force to call. I double up to about 4400.
Despite my previous luck, maigrey continues to attack my blinds from the button. I notice that if it’s folded around, she is raising with what I suspect is close to ATC. Now, I make a VERY tight fold with A6s just to make sure I am right. I KNOW my blinds look weak now and I am prepared. A couple of rotations later, she moves all in for about 1200 and I insta-call with A8s. I luck out as she flips over A3 and I am now just short of starting stack size at 5900.
I win a couple of hands, lose 1 and I am around 9k. I had an interesting question from BG. “So, do you watch how each of us plays online and build a catalog of it in your brain?” “Yeah”, I reply. “Although I never really played with you. But I also catalog how you play live and take that back with me also.” I wasn’t really thinking about BG when I said it though, I was thinking of Jordan. Having watched him play live, I have a much better appreciation for what he does online.
It’s the Second break and I am going to have to move all-in next hand. I will be the UtG player with 9k and the blinds are 1k-2k. There is no way I can lose 3k in blinds now. But just as I return from break, Falstaff gets moved and now I AM the Big Blind. Change100 moves all in on my BB and I fold it, despite expecting to have to call. Next hand, I move all-in with my SB, everyone folds, and it’s close to a wash. But I still desperately need chips.
Time passes. This is the dream part of the night. I start to make a small run, but honestly can’t remember a single hand. I think I may have busted someone during this time, maybe not. I think I both won a big hand and lost a big hand to Jordan. I picked up some other chips, but I can’t recall any details.
Suddenly it’s getting time for me to leave for my red-eye plane back to Detroit. I had Lions/Cowboys Tickets and thus had booked the 10pm flight back, expecting to be done by now!
After some time, Jen finally says she can’t wait any longer. She leaves for the airport wishing me luck. Oh, and by the way. In the coolest and classiest move of the night, Grubby throws me a comp room card in case I have to miss my plane and get stuck in Vegas. Now how cool is that?! Very. The WPBT is a special group of people and don’t you all forget it! Appreciate it while we got it!
I do miss my plane, but I manage to swing a later departure (1am) by paying $210 in change fees and increased fares. But I bought myself 3 hours. AS I AM ON THE PHONE FINALIZING THIS, I get dealt AQs under the gun. Because I can’t concentrate on a hand like this from here and on the phone, I simply pitch it. Two players get all in and I would not have won the hand. Nice break. I am Houdini in the Dream-Coat.
21 left, I run to each table to see stack sizes because talk begins of paying 20 places. Since there is no agreement, I end up moving all-in. Maybe here is where I busted change100? Not sure, but I did make it to 20 left.
With 2 tables left, I begin to steal while avoiding conflict. My numerous “Mondays at the Hoy” has trained me well for this stage. Again, time passes in my dream-coat and I remember no particular hand. Just a feeling of dodging and waving like a running back going off-tackle, looking for the hole…
Somewhere, at the other table, I hear an Asian Jew shakes someone’s hand and depart. I bust a short stack Biggestron who had lost a lot of chips already in the hand where I folded AQ Utg.
Suddenly, Table collapse! I am 1 of 3 short stacks at the final table. Instant Tragedy and Pokercats are the other 2. Otis’ stack is enormous. But I made the FREAKING FINAL TABLE when I had 2300 in chips! Blinders came by to congratulate me on getting there, as did a couple of others including Weak Player. That was cool.
We take a short break. I put the dream-coat back on.
I am looking for a place to get chips. I have to take a race. I think I did. I won if I did.
6 left, I have done what I do best to this point, avoiding elimination. Now I look for my spots.
I have a very particular, exact and successful strategy for this stage of the game. With 6 left, assuming I am not short on chips, I am looking to avoid big pots. I am waiting for players to make mistakes. I don’t care if I am in the hand or not, but often a player will get all-in with marginal or race hands here. I want to wait until a couple of players go out and then make my run to the top. NO CONNECTORS at this point.
NO deals for the Rooster. We try to make a deal with 6 left, but Rooster would have none of it. I suck out on Grubby and then he sucks out on Caldwell. Eventually, after some time, Grubby goes out 5th.
5 left and Time to execute strategy #2. After taking a big hand off Rooster and Rooster bluffing off a big stack to pokercats, I am the big stack. It’s time to watch the pieces fall into place. Just like I planned. Just sit back and let it happen…
But they don’t. I am aware of the dream-coat now, only its one of those twilight feelings like when you wake up during surgery. I watch as Rooster (twice), Pokercats (twice), Otis (twice) and Caldwell all got their stacks all-in while covered and won a race to live on. This is not the result I was looking for. My dream-coat peels away and I wake up. I feel a need to push the issue (after all, I have a plane to catch). I lose a big chunk of my stack when I decide to fold A8. It’s folded around to the SB. Blinds are 5k/10k. I open raise Rooster’s BB to 60k. He comes over the top all-in. I know he has a pair. I am guessing it’s better than 88. So, if I call, I am a dog. Despite the pot size, odds, and a flight, I fold.
I eventually finish 5th anyway when I run my 55 into pokercats 77. I am very late for my plane and I stand up very quickly, rattle off a goodbye to anyone who would listen, and run VERY quickly to the director to get paid. (My apollgies to everyone!) I run to the check out table. First the card, then the ID, then paid in chips to exchange, then money. RUN!
The race to the airport starts at a LONG cab line. I run to the front of the line and declare, “I have to catch a flight and I just finished a tournament, can I jump the line?”
The security guard says, “what time”?
“1 am”, I say.
“No way you'll makeit”, he replies.
“I have to try!”
They let me jump in a cab and I tip a $10. The cab driver races to the airport. I throw him a $20 and grab my bags. It’s 12:07am. The terminal check-in is empty. “Hello!”, I yell hoping for some help. After a few minutes, a NW rep appears and explains that I am out of luck. It’s here that I will spare you my begging and pleading for anything so I can at least try to make the gate. In the end I must have looked pathetic enough. I had a stand-by ticket for 7am. I could go to the gate and try to get on my flight. I RAN.
And I ran, I ran all night and day… I practically dove through security. I am standing in line for the tram, drenched in sweat. When it stops, I then make a run to the gate. They had JUST begun boarding, checked my in and begged for a glass of water and thenI walked on the plane. I collapsed in my seat shortly thereafter. I think I slept. If not, then I don’t know what.
All that, so I could watch the Lions miss a short field goal and ruin the perfect upset. But I had a great time with my fake poker friends, took 5th in a tournament field of really good players, and lived to tell the tale. I only wish I had won a waffles commemorative coaster.
Monday, December 10, 2007
A short digression. You can no longer beat the rake in San Jose! They went to a three blind structure at both Bay and the Garden. The 1-2NL at the Garden is 1 on the button, 2 in the SB and 3 in the BB. THREE? It’s 1-2! Then, of the $6 in blinds, the rake is ALWAYS $5. So, if you raise it up and everyone folds, you win a dollar. I played for 3 hours, won a ton of hands, and left up $2. Forget it.
When I arrived in Las Vegas, I decided I would keep a low profile. I am not a gambler anyway, so after having a simple lunch I went back to my room to await the arrival of Mrs. Columbo. When she arrived, I hooked up my personal laptop, and sold every single piece of stock I had in my previous company. I felt only slightly better.
We walked to the IP for the exercise and before meeting up with everyone at the Geisha Bar, stopped at Trader Vics. I am a big tikiphile and wanted to see the new place. I was unimpressed as my basement is more authentic. But I did enjoy a signature drink or two. Then, off to the IP for the meet-up. I think I enjoyed this meet-up more than any other in the past. I knew some faces, and finally got to meet some of the other bloggers with whom I play with every week. I had never met GCox in person, and we talked about our similar re-raise style. I meant Buddy and Tragedy, the radio duo from the Mookie tournaments. I even got reacquainted with some faces I had forgotten, like Astin. I drank beers and watched bloggers play Pai-Gow until I could stay up no longer. We stumbled back to the Monte Carlo.
Friday was a great day. We slept in, had a nice burger lunch, and just sort of killed time that afternoon. Biggestron was playing over at the Venetian, so we decided to wander over. Said hello to the fellow bloggers and then played some NL (about an hour). Afterwards, Biggestron, Penerii, Double Dave, Mrs. Columbo and myself headed over to Hoffbrau House for dinner. I love this German beer hall. I had a great meal and 2 liters of beer. Now I was ready for mixed games at MGM!
When we arrived there were already 2 full tables of 2-6 mixed firmly entrenched with bloggers. I went to the floor manager and said if they started a third, we would keep it full. And the MGM complied. What a great card room. It’s just plain fun donking off money in Crazy Pineapple or Razz. But after the 1 seat gets up and leaves, who sits down on my right but Dutch Boyd. He played at the table with us for about an hour and engaged in conversation (he is an ex-blogger). I watched intently whenever he was in a razz hand and picked up some interesting patterns. For Example, if he did not brick on fourth, he would bet fourth, and see what players went away. He did this even if he did not have the best hand showing. On fifth, he almost always bet if he had bet fourth. He ended up losing a big hand to Garth when he correctly deduced he was ahead on 5th and kept betting and raising. Garth picked up the mircale perfect hole card on seventh and took down the biggest razz hand of the night.
Saturday was the big day. We slept it, had lunch to make sure we did not repeat past mistakes that involved tournaments (open bars and empty stomachs), and headed off to the Venetian 2 hours early....
End part 1: Next, THE TOURNAMENT! (and how this post got its name)
Tuesday, December 04, 2007
There were 4 turning points. The first was when my TP kings ran into pocket aces and sucked out to keep me in the tourney. Noted.
The second was when there were 9 left (pays eight), I folded not one but two premium hands to standard 3xBB raises, just because they were not top 10 hands. And I folded QQ to a Ace flop when he made a bet. No fight at all. I played for the money first, then for the win. This is my MO.
The third was when I went from 8th to second simply by not comitting myself to a hand.
The fourth was entering heads-up with 29k in chips vs. 130k in chips. My strategy was to claw my way to about 40k and then double up to even the match. This took me about 30 minutes and out of frustration he pushed 44 into my AA.
And with those 4 scenarios, I am heads-up with equal stacks for all the marbles...
For about 45 minutes we danced back and forth. We both knew it was going to be a big hand that made the difference...
The escalation started when I picked up AhQh. He bet it, I raised it and he re-raised it. I really thought he could have JJ here based on his previous play with 44. But worse, I look down and I have 20k invested, which is now 25% of my stack. Based on what he pushed with to date, I have to put him on a big hand. Yet, I just cant get away and when the money goes in, I look to see KK. All that work, just to shove AQ sooooted into KK and lose the match when the Ace does not fall.
So, you could say I was lucky to be there at all.
You could look at the mega-comeback from a 3-1 chip deficit...
But you could also look at folding big hands on the bubble and getting my money in after an hour with AQs.
At least I can look at my track record and take something away that is positive... right?
Sunday, December 02, 2007
This is a big deal for me, as I stated a LONG time ago that I would never pay full price for a WSOP entry. Why? Here is my logic: If I am not good enough to win a seat or satellite, then I am not good enough to play in the event.
Next week is the WPBT Blogger gathering, and attendence is HIGH! 120 people at least. Awesome. I will continue my tradition of dinner on Friday at the Hoffbrau house (across from Hard Rock). Anyone else interested?!
I am flying home late Sat after the tourney though, to make it back for the Lions / Cowboys game. After watching the Lions today, however, 6-10 looks possible.
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
I got my money in good, made very few "stabs", and only danced (raced) twice.
It wasn't until we were down to 10, that I really started to worry about the meta-game.
55 holding up against two overs took me from 8th to 4th, but then AK not winning vs. a pair was my final hand. If things go differently, and I punch one more hole on my dance card, and maybe I finish 1-2.
Big shouts to DADI who took it down, coming to the final table with a majority of chips and building up to a monster by the time he had to defend heads-up. Nice run.
I know Hoy writes many, many comments on steal and re-steal, but this field was only 10 tables. I did not even consider that until there were 10 left. And then, I had not a single great opportunity. I passed on a couple of marginal ones, and that was the improvement/adjustment I made after the BIG GAME where I lost on an ATs resteal attempt (previous post), that in retrospect is hard to justify.
Nevertheless, I am please I cashed in the HOY! and finally got some BBT2 points.
Monday, November 19, 2007
FOLDED around to the BUTTON who makes it $2100 to go (standard would be about 4xBB or $2k at this point). SB folds.
I have ATs in the BB. I am going for the resteal here, and if I am wrong, I atleast want AJ/AQ to FOLD here. I decide that if I come over the top, he can only correctly call with about 4 hands. AA,KK,QQ or AK. (Of course there are actually about twice that, but I dont want him to know this.) Based on all this, I have to bet either $5k (leaving an escape route), or all-in as anything larger commits me to the pot.
I opt for all-in. He has KK and I dont get lucky.
So, stupid or bad luck?
Friday, November 16, 2007
Last night I did something I have not done in a loooong time. I punched my keyboard. I had a true Hellmuthian rant in the privacy of my own home.
Let me set the stage. There are 2 images you have at any given time. Your reputational image (which could be based on knowledge of you, or just how you have played until recently) and your current table image, which is usually based on the last hour of play. If you are observant of your own play, you can set up plays. (Phil does this all the time, but it also causes alot of his rants.)
In the Mookie, I had been winning pots, but they were small since I was making almost POT sized bets on TP to protect my hands. Then, those small profits were eaten up seeing missed flops. 30 minutes in, I have added a mear 10% to my stack, despite having a decent run of cards. So, I settle down and start to plot.
I flop a TP vs. XXX. He had pre-flop raised and I had just called from OOP (out of position). I bet POT and he folds. A few rotations later, I limp with an Ace (table for folding) again OOP and flop the Ace. I check and let him bet almost pot and come over the top. He folds. My image with him is very aggressive and he has to suspect I am pulling something here.
I get heads up with XXX a THIRD time and I know I am in his head. I intend to limp from EP with 88, KNOWING that the pot will get re-raised and I will call. I am doing this on purpose to maximize the players seeing the flop (since the table is tight). But XXX raises to almost 3xBB from EP, and I end up just calling. The table folds.
The flop is 89Q (rainbow).
Now, I know that XXX is not raising from EP with JT, so at worst I am up against AJ, AT or AK here. Hopefully AQ. Either way, I am a BIG favorite now... But since there were no other players in the hand, I need to try and get his stack in there.
He bets out about 1/2 the pot, and I raise it 1.5x his bet. I picked this number to look like a over-the-top re-steal play. If I am right about how he is observing my play, he will think I am pushing him around.
IT WORKS! He pushes all-in and I call to see the AT. He figured he had a solid over (wrong) and a gut-shot (needs a Jack).
When the turn comes a Jack, I lose it. I set this play up for 30 minutes, execute perfectly, and now have a short stack to show for it.
But here is where I need to chastize myself. Despite still having 2/3 of my stacking stack size left, I tilt badly. I eventually get AQ and despite a raise to 3x followed by a raise to 3x of that before it gets to me (a sure sign to fold), I push. I get called by KK and dont hit my 5-1 Ace.
That was a bad play and I only have myself to blame.
ADDENDUM: XXX went on to WIN the MTT. ouch.
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
Now this is tournament thinking. I heard this quote on an old-time radio show on satellite radio this morning.
When I am in a tournament where the field has a wide range of talent, in the middle rounds I try and figure out not who to go after, but who to steer clear of. And I use this type of thinking. If I am going to play a pot with a very big stack or a vrey good player, I want to make sure I have 1 of 2 MAJOR advantages, Position or a Big Hand.
I am not going to war with the worst of it against someone who can break me. i.e., I am not looking to bluff off my chips to a big stack or a player who is having a good run of cards.
You might be asking yourself, "why does columbo constantly bring up ideas that are not directly related to poker." Good question.
"To be innovative, you need to learn from the best, even if that means outside the field of the subject matter."
We are looking to absorb and utilize successful behavioral patterns, not just play cards! That's where the cliche of self-improvement came from, "to be successful, surround yourself with successful people". Many people interpreted this as meaning the network was invaluable. It is. But there is more to it than that. Its the constant observation of the patterns of successful people.
Watch, absorb, learn.
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
I thought it was going south early, when my first move resulted was popping two limpers and BOTH of them coming over the top. Easy fold. They show AA and QQ. I had J5o. But this was the exception as things went my way from that point on.
I only look at my cards before folding or pushing all-in post flop. (I make the decision first, then peek just to make sure). One time, I decide to pop it and peek at a SET!. I felt really good going into the Hoy, as I took down first in the blind SNG.
Turns out this is a great warm-up. For an hour I never got my money in behind. Not once. But I do NOT like the turbo format, which creates a need to gamble more. ESPECIALLY when the antes start before the first break! It just does not play to my strengths. It forces much more aggressive play post-flop early.
In my case, I raise and get head up. I flop middle pair and because the other player is thinking steal, he calls with nothing more than a King high. But my middle pair is a 9, and he hits a T (he had KT) on the turn to make his very debatable call a kncok out blow. If I had Paul Phillips mystical "rose colored glasses that could read hole cards", this hand still would have knocked me out and I would have assumed the KT would fold post flop with no pair and no draw.
I go out at the first break in the hoy, despite playing perfect to that point.
Hoy put me at 20-1 to win one of these things, which was a boost to my ego. But I have yet to live up to the billing.
Monday, November 12, 2007
Speaking of which, I had my ugliest heads-up loss ever last night when I had 10k in chips vs. 4k and chips and went on to LOSE. Including in that results, of course, is one good suckout by the opponent. After that, the cards just went his way and I made a second best hand twice. Ugly.
I want to play more Stud 8/B but have not had the time. When I watch this game in the card room, I see one of two situations. A bunch of people playing S8B and money getting pushed around the table, or B, a S8B game where there are clearly players who dont play well and the others are picking them off. Remind you of hold'em 3 years ago?
Wednesday, November 07, 2007
Despite the old adage that you have to win with AK and you have to beat AK, I could do neither this weekend. On 8 occasions I had AK and won a single hand with it. The worst occurance made the difference, as I was heads up for all the money and got AQ all-in vs. my AK for the title. Oops? I finished second, but still gathered significant points towards my $1500 event standings.
Yesterday, I played at the Garden Palace here in San Jose. New table, 7 handed. There were TWO sets in the first 12 hands. Huge hands were winning the pots and with the new 3-2-1 blind structure it was ridiculous. I guess I will have to drive over to Bay 101.
Down to my last quarter stack, utg raises to 3xBB and I push with 88 and get a third caller. Lucky I was short stacked and could do this, otherwise I would have missed my opportunity for a set on the river. I bled that back down to about $20, added about $70 and then doubled up to end up about even. I decide to play my last hand of the night before leaving... Utg, AcKd
I raise to $10, three callers.
Flop is K74 ALL Clubs. I check.
I am not checking to be tricky, not to check-raise. I an checking because I think its a GOOD MOVE HERE. Look: What is a bet going to tell me? I think its just going to give chasers odds, or help a flopped flush win more. I want to know who will MOVE at the pot and if I bet here, I may ruin that.
Second to act bets 30!, Third to act moves all-in to $40. I think I am next and start to call. The dealer points out its not my action. That 4th to act player now RE-raises another $100 ($140 to go). (I have about $160 in front of me now).
I go briefly into the tank. The two idiots on my left probably have either a King or a low flush. This guy? well, I have the Ace of clubs,so I have to assume a set. Now, assuming that there is a chance that the hope-a-trons on my left DONT have flushes and that I am right about the set, do you call with TPTK and the flush redraw?!
How often is THAT hand a dog?!??! Par for the night for me. Eventually I lay it down. Big raiser had a set of 4s, other two idiots have squat, and two red cards finish the board, making me look like a genius. But was I?!
Tuesday, November 06, 2007
You have just gotten dealt TT three times in a row. Raised once, limped once, stop N go once. And you win all 3 hands.
One rotation later, you have TT again. You call a MP raiser with them. You are heads-up now. Flop is Q96. Now, he is first to act, and bets out 3/4 of the pot. because the blinds are getting up there and we are in the second level of antes, every pot is worth contesting. It seems obvious that you must raise after he bets out. But here is the dilema.
If you raise, the pot is almost big enough that you cant fold. I make the re-raise and he moves in. There are only 2 or 3 hands I think beat me here. (I dismiss AA, KK for now.) AQ, KQ and QJ (he bets QJ because of the draw, but still reasonable holding for a steal try).
I dont see how, in a tournament that is front loaded to first place, how you fold here and fall way below average in chips, in a 6 handed game.
Thursday, November 01, 2007
Tonight, I started like that. I hit a King with a KT hand and someone re-raised me all-in. I folded. It took me an HOUR to rebuild and eventually get back to average by catching someone overplaying KJ.
As if by some weird script, the player that got me to lay down KT early makes a raise. I am in the BB and make a less than 3xBB call with K4o. I hit TP. I check, he bets pot, I come over the top and after a pause the money goes in. He turns over almost exactly what I expected (a big pair UNDER Kings), in this case TT. I got him! well, except for the two outer.
and so it goes. Mercifully, I don't have to play online again until Monday. But I will play live twice this weekend. And maybe some 1-2 at the casino next Thursday after riverchasers. If I am not incredibly angry like I am now.
Oh, and here is some advice to make the world a better place. If someone every says to you "well, no other customer has every complained about that", then punch them in the face. If there is one thing that sets me off lately, its being compared to the faceless masses.
Thankfully, I booked my hotel for the donkfest that is WPBT in December. My intention is to bring a swagger and a completely unjustified big ego to the tournament. Just to prove that I can. so there. Oh, yeah. I am going to drink alot too. Did you hear? Trader Vics is OPEN!
Enough rambling. Man the sting of that beat is hard to shake...
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
Whenever I lose to the imaginary post-n-fold player, I know I must be either playing too many hands or had a bad beat. It was not a bad beat.
I was getting run over, but it wasnt because of poor play so much as I was beat each and everytime and I just could not take it anymore. I try to play the early levels by grinding up small pots. Well, the pots became large and my holdings shrunk each time.
Sometimes there is a need to play short stack earlier than you would like. When that happens, you cant ever just give up in disgust. And that is what I did. Shame on me. Ugh.
Monday, October 29, 2007
I spend this weekend reading Harrington Vol 3(the workbook quizzes) and spotted this article at 2+2 which summed up my week very nicely.
For those of you who don't enjoy long hand for hand posts, here is the payoff paragraph:
If I could play this final table again, I would be much more aggressive, especially from the small blind. During the final table, I folded my SB without a raise in front of me 3 times, and raised when it was folded to me there only twice. I rarely defended my blinds, even 3 and four handed. I wish I had paid less attention to my cards and more attention to making moves from late position when it was folded to me. I should have tried to be more of a bully when I had the chip lead, and tried some different moves such as re-steals.
Indeed, that was a summary of my play last week. But what ALSO struck me from my own ruminations, was that because of the larger than normal fields, I was shifting TOO LATE to phase 3 play. Many of you already know the 3 phases: Donk, TAG and FINAL. In the donk stage we play anything worth seeing a flop with from position. In the MIDDLE stages, we play tight-aggressive using our post-flop skills to outplay our opponents. In the FINAL stage, we STEAL, RE-STEAL, PUSH and BULLY (if applicable). I usually do this at the final table with a field of 45. But with a field of 110, its more of a blinds based formula. I could no longer afford to wait until we reached the points, I needed to start my advanced play at about 3 tables.
If you read my posts from last week, I obviously did not attempt any re-steals with 24 players left.
"In order to live, you must be willing to die." - Amir Vahedi
Friday, October 26, 2007
Thursday, October 25, 2007
At this point, I am in the top ten and playing well enough to make Hoyazo proud of his prediction. At the first break, I am over 8k in chips!!
About 30 minutes later...
Seat 1: Kajagugu (2,455)
Seat 2: morrdt (10,891)
Seat 3: GScottW (4,765)
Seat 4: presidentdave (6,180)
Seat 5: columbo (9,965)
Seat 6: TheCloserX5 (3,460)
Seat 7: jjok (5,625)
Seat 8: chitwood (4,350)
Seat 9: peacecorn (9,555)
columbo posts the small blind of 120
TheCloserX5 posts the big blind of 240
The button is in seat #4
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to columbo [As Ad]
presidentdave raises to 1,200
columbo has 15 seconds left to act
columbo: why so much?
columbo has requested TIME
columbo raises to 4,065
OMG, I am a sly fox...
presidentdave has 15 seconds left to act
presidentdave has requested TIME
presidentdave raises to 6,155, and is all in
columbo calls 2,090
presidentdave shows [Qh Ah]
columbo shows [As Ad]
*** FLOP *** [5h 2c Qd]
*** TURN *** [5h 2c Qd] [6h]
*** RIVER *** [5h 2c Qd 6h] [Th]
presidentdave shows a flush, Ace high
columbo shows a pair of Aces
presidentdave wins the pot (12,775) with a flush, Ace high
*** SUMMARY ***
Total pot 12,775
Kajagugu: that blows
Kajagugu: but nothing new
Kajagugu: and kudos on the speech
All that great play to that point, just to have enough chips to survive that.
I immediately tilt with 88 and get a push from the blind. I call to see TT but flop a set. I am gifted back to exactly average. But at 150/300/25, I had better pick up some hands.
bleed, bleed... 45 left now... still tilt-y, but trying to detach from it...
limp from LP, button all-in for 2900 ( I have 6500), I have 44. I go into the tank for a LONG time and fold. A4 and 22. Oh, and the Ace hit. But had I been able to SEE their cards, I would have called. Thus, I made a bad read. But lived...
slightly under avg now...
But the button raises to 2k and I have AQ in the SB. I push big time and get the folds. Back to average and 13th of 38th at break 2. M will be 8 in the next level.
Our ability to maneuver is running out of time.
drop my 3rd hammer to steal the blinds...
Seat 8: iam23skidoo (20,769)
columbo posts the small blind of 300
TheCloserX5 posts the big blind of 600
The button is in seat #4
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to columbo [7s 7c]
iam23skidoo raises to 2,400
columbo has 15 seconds left to act
I in REALLY thinking about folding here... So hard to play out of position and this is a difficult hand to push with...
columbo calls 2,100
*** FLOP *** [Js 7d 9h]
columbo bets 1,600
ok, this is just brilliant. It looks like a wimpy-weak bet or a blocking bet. There is no way I wont get raised here.
iam23skidoo raises to 3,200
columbo raises to 7,905, and is all in
iam23skidoo has 15 seconds left to act
Back to my rightful place. I am 6th now.
I pass on my normal steal opportunities with 9Ts in MP. I am conserving my chips. But at 300/600/75, I will have to play a hand a rotation or bleed.
This time I call a short stack all in with 44 and he shows J9. He hits everything including a kitchen sink... Back to Average, 27 left. 400/800/100 now at a full table. But even so, I fold 33 from EP.
24 left, we just made the BBT2 points. Payouts start at 18... below avg due to folding and antes. Push is my policy when Q<1... especially FTA (first to act)
yet, no cards to play. Bleeding... lots of pressure from all sides... chipleader is directly on my right...
500/1000/125, here coms the push monkey level... and my BB...
63o, big stackk all-in again to me. I cant play back! the terrible run continues like a polluted stream, 63, 52, 5T, Q4, pick a hand! gonna hafta! I wish I had that 9Ts or 33 now!
A9s but UtG. Have to push... called by AKs (what else?). IGHN 22nd. no money.
This was emotionally draining. I put myself in a position to make a run TWICE and could not capitalize on it. The end-game of these larger fields is perplexing me...
Should I push with K4o UtG to avoid the 1k blind?
Earlier in the tournament, during my run-up, this happened just before the break. It REALLY bothered me...
Seat 2: morrdt (6,055)
Seat 3: GScottW (3,010)
Seat 4: XxMagiciaNxX (2,543)
Seat 5: columbo (8,345)
Seat 6: garthmeister (2,445)
Seat 7: sellthekids (2,935)
Seat 8: chitwood (4,525)
Seat 9: peacecorn (5,340)
GScottW posts the small blind of 50
XxMagiciaNxX posts the big blind of 100
The button is in seat #2
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to columbo [2c 3c]
morrdt raises to 350
XxMagiciaNxX raises to 2,543, and is all in
morrdt calls 2,193
XxMagiciaNxX shows [Qc Th]
morrdt shows [Ts Kd]
*** FLOP *** [Ks Qs Kc]
*** TURN *** [Ks Qs Kc] [6s]
*** RIVER *** [Ks Qs Kc 6s] [8h]
XxMagiciaNxX shows two pair, Kings and Queens
morrdt shows three of a kind, Kings
morrdt wins the pot (5,136) with three of a kind, Kings
XxMagiciaNxX stands up
Why did this bother me? Looked like a "chip dump". Bothered me for 30 minutes and I wasnt even in the hand! Who RE-Raises with QT, all-in no less, when they still have a stack? And when you get put all-in and you have KT, do you call like this?
I know its all coincidence, but at the time it plagued me. I eventually let it go, but here is why I wrote about it: Can you see how ENGAGED I was? That is concentration and second senses operating. I am developing an instinct for things to look for. That is encouraging! I never would have caught this pattern even 6 months ago.
Did not help my finish though.
50 left, I am just about average.
Then, I catch AQ with an AK, I bluff Waffles off a hand with HAMMER, I catch KQ with my AQ and I played a pocket pair of queens vs. someone who just over played AJ and suddenly...
36 left, I am FIRST in chips, and have a 10k lead over 3rd place.
24 left, I am about 3rd or 2nd in chips.
Between 24 and 18 (payouts begin at 18), I went totally card dead. And when I did try to make a play, mdeium stacks who I expected to play tight would just push. It was a painful run of not even being able to defend blinds with 43, T2, etc vs. 4xBB pre-flops. I also got into trouble with a hammer hand.
I had about 8 hammers, played 7 of them, and won 4 of them (3 pre-flop).
We reach the money and I am now AVERAGE with like 22k. UGH. But it gets worse. The blinds are now 1k/2k with antes. So a majority of the players have an M of less than 10.
I lose (release) a hand and fold my blinds and now I have 16k.
Its folded around to me on the button and I have Ac3c. The blinds are now 1.5k/3k. So what is the point of raising to 9k (3xBB) and being pot committed anyways? So, I push (knowing that whenever I do this, the BB wakes up with AK). This time, the SB goes into the tank and finally calls with QQ. IGHN 15th.
I did cash though, gathered points, and even took third in the Dookie RAZZ without memorizing a single folded card (and really barely paying attention at all). Razz is fun, but you need to practice it. You can't just "play" razz.
so, I have points. Big deal. The TOC is the goal, and anything short of a victory in an given event is going to be dissapointing.
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
If we are to believe the posts in the community for the last couple of days, its simple. I play too many hands. This might be true. It certainly has been my achillies heal when I reach the final 3 of a table. But as a matter of rote?
Hmmm, I spend some time thinking through my hands recently, and as I see where I lost the most chips, it was betting the flop or the turn with nothing, and having to fold to someone playing back at me, or betting on the river. Its not that I PLAY too many hands, but that I CONTINUE to play the hand.
At least that is my theory going into #3 tonight in the Mookie.
Sunday, October 21, 2007
With 8 left, I come in with 4567 for a raise, trying to isolate an EP limper from early-mid position. I get 2 callers. The flop is 778. I bet pot. The MP player comes over the top for pot and the LP players gets all in. WTF? But after stopping to think, this was east to figure out. I have top set and I am against an A2 for low and the flush draw (two clubs on the board) for high. I am currently the best hand and I have 1/3 of my chips in there already. I figure I am stuck calling. In retrospect, I think I would incorrectly fold here many times... The turn and river came to high spade cards and I scooped the pot. I was finally an average stack size at about 40k,
With 6 left, I have 2355 and get in cheap from the BB. But when the flop comes down A38 I am thinking I might be able to just take this one. I raise it POT, or 9k and this is a 1/4 of my stack. The opponent in the middle position (the MP from the above hand), re-raises pot. I got big problems now. I have the SECOND nut low and a measly 55 for high. Its unlikely my high hand will improve. I spend a long minute thinking about this. I look over and my opponent's pulse is so high, I can see it in his neck. I RARELY make reads on phyisical reactions, but since I thought I needed to fold anyway, that clinched it.
After that, I got brutally cold decked. So much more painful in O8B than in hold-em. Everytime I would come in for a raise, I would get a couple of callers and the flop would hit them like it was everyone's birthday but mine. I lost 4 hands this way, and eventually went out as the bubble boy in 5th.
Thursday, October 18, 2007
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
It started early, when my pocket Jacks flopped QUADS in level II. It was hard extracting chips from KOD on this one, but I manage to get about 1/3 of my stack in there by the river and got a call.
There I am at the end of level 2 with 3700 chips (you start with 3k). Usually, I have played 3 hammers by now...
Instead, I played QT in the SB vs. the BB. The flop is Q93. Since he only had 2200 or so, I decide he may actually have Q with a WEAKER kicker. When the money goes in, I am right... and wrong. He had Q3 and flopped two pair. I should have let it go, but now I am short-stacked at 870 chips.
Then I went on a heater. 3 or 4 pockets pairs, all played VERY aggressively got me up to just shy of 3k.
But here is where it got interesting. I flopped a set vs. a flush draw... and when the money went in, the flush draw did not get there. I have now doubled up!
I am sitting at around 5.5k and it happens again. Its easier to punish the flush draw this time since I have a bigger stack. The money all goes in and the flush DOES NOT HIT!
Wait a second. I dodged TWO flush draws?! TWO in a ROW?
Its at this point I make a really huge decision. EP make it 4xBB to go. AlCantHang, sensing what I read as a willingness to "race or win the EP money" pushes all in. It comes around to me with QQ. Now I would normally ALWAYS fold here. ALWAYS. But lately, I have identified this as a LEAK in my game. I would fold to two all-ins even when getting the right odds. So this time, I had to think. I click the "TIME" button and start to work it out. If I am right and Al has a dominated hand like JJ, I might be able to push EP out of the pot by pushing all-in and showing that much strength. He should fold any Ace-rag or medium pair. He probably calls with AK, but maybe not? My hand might look even bigger than QQ to him. I am getting a pure 2-1 here and if I am 40% to win... I remember a line I read from "Rizen" at PokerStars, "I will take a chance in some spots if I think winning the hand will put me in a position to win the tournament." I take the leap of faith and push.
Now, the EP player thinks for a few seconds and I figure I am gold. Then he calls with KK. He was wondering (correctly) if I had AA. I was disappointed that he had KK, but ironically elated that I read the hand correctly. I think he WOULD have folded any hand there except KK or AA. And Al flipped over an underpair like TT or JJ. It did not dawn on me at that moment, but the KK had to dodge double the normal outs, and Al and I each had a 20% chance to win the pot over the KK. And wouldn't you know that all those bad runs in the last month came back to me and the poker gods bestowed upon me the Mississippi Queen (Queen on the river). I win a Huge pot, put myself in a position to win it all, and had 25% of the chips in play with only 2 tables left.
My short stack play was good, my cards decent, and by the time I made the final I had managed to do something that is harder than winning a big stack, and that is keeping a big stack. I did not go loose-aggressive, but rather still picked what hands I wanted to tagle in. I observed MANY TIMES that the behavior that GETS you the big stack turns around and DONKS off the big stack. So, I nurtured it.
With 4 players left, I noticed (not at first, but as we played on), that the players tightened up for the cash. I used this time to be sneaky and steal smaller pots, using my big stack as an implied threat. Eventually, someone went out and it wasn't me. The final battle couldn't be better. It was Bayne, Gary GCOX and myself. and I had position on my nemesis Bayne. I was looking forward to the challenge now...
I lost a big hand to Bayne and kicked myself for not remembering the notes I had on him. I made a call when I knew he was strong. Stupid. But I clawed and stole my way back. But my karma ran out and Gary COLD DECKED US BOTH. I came SO close to knocking him out and taking a commanding lead, when he hit his 2 outer on the river. Then, he hit another longshot to knock out Bayne. Heads up, he would outkick me on every hand. We are HEADS-UP mind you, and its QT vs. Q9, A8 vs. AQ, etc. He just kept getting the dominating hand. Fuel mocked my aggression with A8 head up, but as a 3-1 chip dog, can you fold A8 as the money escalates pre-flop? Maybe. But in the moment, I could not...
And there is is. Before the Hoy started, I actually said to myself, "You are going to win the Hoy tonight". Not exactly accurate, but I'll take it.
On the personal front, I have been ill as of late. I have badly swollen glands and ear and sinus pressure. Its been with me for over a month now. Its like a ear infection, or a flu but without other tell-tale symptoms. No fever, and blood tests show nothing more than I eat too much meat. Doctors can't figure out what is wrong... Sort of has me on edge. I only bring it up as I wonder if that affects my play? It certainly affects my mental and physical states.
Monday, October 15, 2007
Tournaments participating :
Tournament: Mondays at the Hoy
When: Every Monday. 10pm ET
Game: NLHE Deepstack
Tournament: The Mookie
When: Every Wednesday. 10pm ET
Game: NLHE Deepstack
Tournament: Riverchasers Online Poker Tour
When: Every Thursday. 21:00 ET
Game: NLHE Deepstack
Tournament: The Big Game (monthly)
10/21/2007 @ 9:30pm
$69 + $6
I will make sure the GOOGLE calendar (link on upper right) is up to date!
Sunday, October 14, 2007
No real big decisions, no amazing plays. I did make a continuation bet with AK once and got popped. I thought about the re-steal, but since pre-flop stealing was going so well, I let it go.
When ever I hit a flop hard, I got usually just the minimal value out of it. Set on a flush board, set with no callers, etc. My opponents just never had anything. I made one big move, when with the Ac, I represented a flush on a 3 club flop by using a check-raise. Not really the stuff you show on tv, eh?
Best hand all night, JJ (twice) and TT(3 times). Only a couple of AK hands in there somewhere. But I had a good run of usable hands, AJ, KJ, 55, etc.
In these big freerolls, I like to hang around average, trying to get one of those amazing hands where someone pushes you their stack with the second best hand. Never happened. And without that, you just cant win these big field events. When I went out, for example, the chip leader had $250k and the average was $80k. (I had around 80k, lost two hands in a row taking me to 50k and going out on the 99 race).
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
But upon reflection, I wish to illustrate examples using my favorite hand to hate, TT. (yes, I know most people say JJ. If it helps, use that hand).
There are 3 phases to a tournament. The deep stack, shallow blinds stage is stage 1. (NOTE: Not all tournaments have this stage!) In this stage, you are taking flops from late position and the blinds, or with a pair, in the hopes of hitting a flop hard. Others play these hands to win small pots at tight tables by getting hands that missed flopping big to just fold. To me, its easy to play TT here. You play it like a baby pair. If you raise and win the blinds, who cares really? If you isolate, would you risk big chips on most flops? doubtful. Just see a flop like you would with 55.
Stage 2 is the middle stages, or accumulation stages. You are looking to get money in with the best hand. TT is a terrible hand to play now. Hate it. But in these middle stages, aggression accumulates chips. You need to be willing to find that leverage point where someone cant call you with their holding unless you are BADLY beat. Its the art of the dance. Jab, Jab, dodge, Jab, repeat. And when someone gets their money in, they are behing you. You can not go out on TT vs. JJ here. You just cant. If you do, its probably your fault. But at the same time, your goal is to get JJ to fold. So reading the flop and your opponent are paramount.
Stage 3 is the final tables stages, where players tighten up their game and TT can be played aggressively. If you run TT from LP into JJ, that sucks and its going to cost you a mint, expecially on a 9 high flop. So hard to escape here.
Now, I want to digrgess into a little Jamie Gold. When Moneymaker won the WSOP, he changed it forever. It brought the concept of "the bigger the field, the more aggressive you must be to win" to light, and it has proven out. Many of the bad players run into each other and every time one of them doubles up. By the end, one of the bad players has a mountain of chips. And that's the aggressive players. The aggressive players are trying to get at those chips, while avoiding the very good players. Often times their egos, based on their past won hands, prevent them from avoiding each other.
Jamie once again changed how a player can look at a big field. He is not aggressive in the sense he tries to push players off of hands on the flop or turn. No, he is more like a turret, always swinging around looking for a better position to aim from. He will often call a flop bet and even a turn bet as a known dog, just to see if he can line a player in the crosshairs on the river. You saw him hit a lot of hands in the WSOP, which made him look lucky. But on High Stakes Poker, you have seen him run some of the most amazing bluffs using this "turret" style.
Instead of trying to "bet to get information", he is using your control of the pot size to determine his informaation. He doesnt need to "buy information" as much. And his calls give away no further information in this style. When an aggressive players just calls, he gives away much more.
How would Jamie probably play TT in the middle stages? I suspect in most cases, he is calling any flop bet and any turn bet. Then either making a large pressure bet on the river, or simply making a 3rd call. He might even make the river call KNOWING he is beat, just so everyone understands, he is going to call you down.
Now when you are in a pot with him and you are thinking about bluffing... you have to think twice. and MANY aggressivce players bluff ALOT. So he has an advantage in the big field.
And that advantage, like all other advantages, is enjoyed as long as its in the minority. If everyone started trying it, it would fail.
Now, to tie it all back to ME. I am getting too wreckless in stage 2. I am busting out of trournaments getting AT in Vs. AK and TT vs. JJ. There is just not excuse for it. I have to control my behavior every hand. Every hand. I must be in full thought mode every hand. Not "hoping" I am ahead and made a brilliant read. If you dont fold a winning hand at all during stage 2, you are probably being wreckless. I cant even recall the last time I folded a winning hand in stage 2.
Sunday, October 07, 2007
Pocket Aces in level 1, flopped QUAD ACES. And I got the other guy to bet all 3 streets. I never showed after I popped him on the river.
I am playing very well and have moved my 5k to about 12k. Then, with AA, the flop if J99 and catch a guy overplaying TPTK. He moves all in and I call and double... OOOOFFF. Two outer. I am CRIPPLED.
I spend the next HOUR grinding out little steals and small pots. I manage to get up to about 8.5k and it folds around to the Button, who makes it 2500 to go. The SB folds and I look at AQ. I have not been defending my blinds enough tonight, and the button can do this with many hands behind AQ. I move all in. After a short delay, the button says "I have to call" and turns over KK. An ace on the flop and the button goes balistic about being sucked out on and what I bad play I made and that I "know he only plays premium cards". But I dont see how I am supposed to be scared of a button raise with AQ in the BB. So now I am back right?
We push chips around the final table, but the blinds are high and we dont see alot of flops. But this hand, the cut off min-raises, the button calls and I call from the BB with J9s. The flop is J92 and I am finally going to return to the chip leader position. The cut off moves all in! The button CALLS. So, I stop the action and ask for the chips to be pulled in and the side pot made, because I want the Button to call when I move in. I want her to know she is committed. So, I move all in and she calls. The cut-off had a top pair (KJ), the button had J2 two pair, and I had top two with Jacks and 9s. The King comes on the river (again, the 3 outer) and again I lose a big hand. But I am not broke, because of the side pot.
Next I get my AQ in against AK and win?! So, I have chips again, but the blinds are high. There are 8 left and I need to be aggressive to win. I am playing to win, not to cash. I still need chips, despite being just above avg.
Now, I make a FATAL mistake. I telegraph my hand. The Utg raises to 3x and I look down at TT in the BB. I call time and its obvious I am making a decision to call or raise. I call, the flop comes 9 high and I move all in. Because he puts me on a middle pair, he calls with JJ. That tell cost me alot of money and hopefully taught me a lesson.
I then raised in EP with 33 (dangerour) and only the button calls. The flop was 662. I move all in and he calls with QQ. Ugh, decked in the face. I am out 8th. When there were 9 left, I had an above average stack size for a brief time. That was tough to take.
What a roller-coaster ride.
Wednesday, October 03, 2007
First, I am playing excellent poker in the Hoy, when a 5 outer knocks me out instead of putting me in second.
Then, I play a $50 4 table MTT in Eugene OR (Oregon has VERY interesting poker laws) and these players were not great. They played way too many hands and called far too loosely. A beginner at the table, would get paid off every time she hit a flop. Every time. Me? In 2.5 hours, I had ATo and 33. That was it. finally with 12 left I saw 99 and shoved. got 2 callers with A9 and then AT called the A9. Gez. It held up and I made the final table, but quickly went out when my best ATs hand ran into both AQ and AK 8 handed. OMG.
"Make some plays" you say? Other than hitting middle pair in level 1, I did not hit a single flop all night. I know many people SAY that and are exaggerating. I am not. I missed 8 levels of flops. Not so much as a draw or bottom pair. I had never seen anything like it.
So, time to burn a effigy of a wicker man or something, or I will just have to start hitting myself in the head.
So apparently, in Oregon, you can form a poker-club. So a couple of hole in the strip-mall clubs opened around the OU campus. They charge a monthly (or daily) membership fee, and are allowed to run tournaments and 1-2 NL. $4/day membership, $4/hr for the seat at the table. Or in my case, $5 tournament fee with daily fee included, $45 into the prize pool. 34 players, first was $700. I was 8th I think for zed. But when I travel to Oregon, I can play cards, so its not all bad.
I have registered to play in the PokerStars World Blogger Championship of Online Poker!
This Online Poker Tournament is a No Limit Texas Holdem event exclusive to Bloggers.
Registration code: 5684019
Saturday, September 29, 2007
Like in poker, we experiment with numerous styles and often adapt a style that matches the performer/player we wish to most be like. Emulation. But eventually that sheds like a skin as we become our own persona. That may be occurring for me at this very moment.
I always tried to emulate the Columbo persona. The outward mannerisms of a bumbling stooge, while being keenly observant and able to see the significant in the seeming insignificant. I don't do chip tricks at the table, I don't try to explain or justify what someone might view as a donkey move. I simply let them assume I have no idea what I am doing. It can be amazing effective in a card room.
But is it who I am? As the skin starts to shed, I no longer see that character in that form. I don't exemplify that style anymore. Lately, I have been more willing to go broke, to bubble or to take a chance, than to tight my way towards the end and try to get lucky. I talk more at the table, even going as far to talk through my opponents hands out loud. and I understand the stages and sizes or tournaments and their impact on my play more than ever before.
In the past, on the bubble (literally 1 from the money) I would be unwilling to call an all-in with TT from a tight player. And the guy on my left even said as much. It was obvious he has been at the other table most of tonight. "Not anymore" I told him. And when I raised pre-flop with 66 and another player came over the top, I called. He had KJ and it turns out he did not notice I had bet. Assuming I was the BB, he pushed from the button with 2 face cards. Not a bad play, but against an UtG limper 2 from the money, I don't think we would have done it (and neither did he) if he understood I had put in 40% of my chips already. He flopped a K and I turned the set. And later, 1 from the money, when a shorter stack moved all in, and I KNEW he would have a big ace or a big pair here, I call with TT hoping the see A9, but expecting AJ. He had A9. I knew it was proper to call here, but in the past, it would have been very difficult for me.
So what does all this rambling mean? What am I doing now?
Its not so different. I am still making decisions based on understanding the situation instead of trying to get weak players to be into my solid hands. But now I am not trying to "craft" a persona. I am more true to myself. I am trying to create situations where I understand where I am at in the hand. I wont fold on every missed flop anymore and I wont try to trap every time I hit the flop. I am much more situational and steady. Establishing a solid "baseline" image, understanding what each of my actions project, and the establishing what I can when I need to.
Sometimes I want to play "harder". I have a guy on my left who I know is taking down flops when he misses everything by being very TAG. And I try to get into situations with him where I know I have an edge. But when I can't, I can't and I don't try to force the scenario. Its like in football, take what the defense will give you.
I am also not afraid of betting. I like to play small-ball as much as possible, but when you get afraid to lose chips, sometimes you bet to infrequently. I have been breaking out of the habit lately, understanding the value of betting for value pre-flop and other such mathematical edges.
As I am trying to make the leap to the next level, I make note of some things:
- I am keenly observant of "situations" and try to read that much more than "players". This comes from online play and from trying to emulate Columbo for so long.
- Many players play common situations incorrectly, and you can exploit this far more than you can "getting a read" on their hand by staring at them or looking for tells.
- I don't try every hand to put my opponent on a hand and then exploit what I think he is holding. I need to do this MORE. I figure that there is about 1 time per table that you will need to win a hand by getting a player to fold a good holding when you are way behind. But you should be TRYING to practice this every hand, whether your in the hand or not.
- I need to continue to improve my post flop and turn play.
- I still find myself in the middle stages of a large MTT not "keeping up with average". This still bothers me as its hard to accumulate chips at a full table without seeing flops and risking chips. I think I play too tight in these stages and I give up on hands too soon.
I am also continuing to study the mixed games as this improves overall play.I applaud what biggestron is trying to do with his new virtual goal bankroll and I am contemplating a similar strategy. And I want to get to Vegas a day in early in December if it means I can play in a HORSE tournament down at Binions. (I bubble last trip)
Last night, 18 people came out to the tiki lounge for NLHE and I took down 1st. Sure, I played good early. Very good in fact. But it was the willingness to make a stand and not fold the 66 and TT hands on the bubble, and those hands holding up, that made all the difference between 5th and first.
Don't be afraid to make the correct move because you are unwilling to put your tournament at risk. That is what I learned in the last 3 weeks, and I am practicing what I preach. (Also note this caused me to bubble out the 3 tournaments prior to last night, so its not all roses.)
Thursday, September 27, 2007
Flop is 79J ALL HEARTS. I make a pot size bet of 130 and he raises to like 550. I know my set is vulnerable, but does he have 1 heart or two? I call here because its early and I have this chips to call here.
Turn is a beautiful 9. I have the love boat. I check, as this is the best way to represent a draw who did not like that card. He bets about 500 and I have to think about calling or raising. Which will get his chips into the pot? What does he have?
As I think about it, he must have an overpair with a heart. I figure it may even be AA. If I am correct, I need to raise here to get his chips in. Ok, how much. If I raise the minimum to 1000, then I have 800 behind and he has half his chips left if he folds. I estimate he cant fold aces and if I bet this amount, he is likely to push. If I push, he might just escape. I raise the minimum and he pushes on cue.
Click the link below to see the exciting conclusion...
Monday, September 24, 2007
At the first break. Only interesting hand to this point is an AK. Utg limps and I am Utg+1. I raise it up and it folds around the Utg who moves all-in. The old limp re-raise with AA. But for some reason that I cant explain, I don’t put him on AA/KK So I call and see his QQ.
I win the race with an Ace on the flop. I played a few other hands, but none make it to the turn. At the break, my Q is just under 1. My M is about 19-20 at the next level.
First hand after the break
Gave about 550 back bluffing with KQ on a ragged flop, heads up, with a player checking. After I made the continuation bet, he check-raised me all-in and I insta folded.
5365 in chips now, avg 3300
Lots of folding… Lots more folding…
4800 and avg now.
Then, I raise pre-flop Utg to 2.5xBB with KQ and the big stack calls. He is drawing and accidentally hits a pair on the river.
The very next hand, I flop TP and have to fold to an all-in who obviously had a middle pair like 88 which just became an over-pair.
On the ropes at 3300 (avg 5400)
Its all going in…
Picked up the blinds and the limper chips…
Not good enough… its slipping away…
This doesn’t work out for me… he re-raises all in from the back… its almost over.
Antes started, no time to waste.
I folded this? But I need to get lucky!
About 20-25 from the money. I change my focus from winning to cashing…
3395 at second break. 146th of 191, pays 180. 11 left to the money. Chips at point 181 = 1500. So I am twice the bubble boy.
Are you freaking kidding me?
I am bubble-boy... FREAK!
Thursday, September 20, 2007
So, 1/3 of my chips left and I flop TPTK and convince a OESD to call my all-in. Hits it on the river. IGHN. QED.
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
so without further adeu, "A Sit N Go in 20 meaningful hands"
Sit N Go. EARLY hand, 1 player out already in level 1.
I took most of clock here, figuring I had 4 tens, 3 aces, 3 kings and the remaining 8 or so hearts. In the end, I just could not fold to a Q or Jack here. And one out for a straight flush (cool). I figure I am a favorite if he does not have a set. And only a slight dog if he does (if at all).
I make the call and see KcJc.
Turn 7c (ugh)
And I double up early. Why did it take me so long to call? Because I have some innate desire not to play big pots in level 1. Even when I am the favorite. Sad really. But I got past it here. Note: if I did not have the flush draw and just the straight draw to the Ten and the probable clean overs for 10 outs twice or 40%, I would have folded in level 1 of a SnG.
Nice flop. Limped in. Flopped a straight. Won a small pot here when I at least got him to call a raise here of double his bet. He checked the turn, I bet $190 trying for a call, but he folds.
I raised after this shot… he folded. I think he calls with a nine, don’t you?
Down to 7 handed… then 6… I have not yet made the adjustment to smaller table, biding my time. I get dealt two red aces, and get no callers for my 4xBB bet.
Here I decide to put him all in. He calls… My raise discouraged the BB from being in there with us.
Tens hold! Ok! Now were cooking.
More dangerous than it seems at first. When they all check, I bet 100. The BB calls. What does he have? Q?
I make a marginal call when he bets 300 on the turn…
He makes a large river bet of $1500 and I decide to call. If I had more time to I should have raised for value here. That was a possible mistake. But I hate betting into a river where the river card would have made the OESD draw complete like it would here with 89.
Note that he was betting with bottom pair and an over. I bet this guy does not make the money. Why would he try that into me? Tight image? Or bad play on his part?
No action. Did I bet too soon?
Even though I bluff to steal a small pot in order to show, I decide not to show it afterwards. I decide to keep my tight image intact. I am the chip leader, no need to rush…
In the BB no less! I wonder if I can entice…
>No need! He shoved on A3o. That was easy… 4 left…
I raise with any Ace now… I get a walk in the BB. They are weary of the big stack.
I fold some hands just to fold them.. Marginal ones like Kx even.
I concentrate on maybe knocking out a player.
I call. He has AQ. Ugh.
The table is getting bolder now…
Will he call 500?! He raises! I throw up in my mouth and make a crying call to see the Ace of hearts. But I need to make this call here.
Big bet to get the pot and run… I raise pre-flop so he can put me on a Q too.
Eeking my way back to the forefront.
Walked the hammer?! Oh no!
Call or raise? A few weeks ago, I might have just called here. What was wrong with me?!
RAISE to 900!
They all fold.
99 gets no action on the very next hand. Even though I thought I had a recent image as a bully.
Another played knocked out. Now we are in the money. Raise with AJo but get no action. So I raise with 97o. That works too. I have about a 40% chip advantage over the other 2 and suddenly they get their money all –in. One ace-x out kicks the other and sends him packing.
Now its Good news/bad news
Good news: we are Heads up
Bad news: I am behind 5.5k to 7.6k (not such bad news. whenever I enter the final 2 and he hasn't got a better than 2-1 chip advantage, I am fine.)
Hands 17a and 17b: the river giveth...
I put together a good story on this hand to take it here. I played it like I was making value bets with a 7, then make a more aggressive bet on the turn.
But then, "the river taketh away" as I lost it right back to a rivered flush.
He calls a bigish bet on the turn and then bets 1200 on the river?! (siren goes off)
I actually fold this now. I had to based on his track record. Really.
In retrospect, this is probably the best hand I played. (and I lost)
Columbo777: raises 200 to 400
s234sd: calls 200
Pot is 800
*** FLOP *** [5d Ts 7h]
Columbo777: bets 400 (1/2 the pot)
s234sd: calls 400
Pot is 1600
*** TURN *** [5d Ts 7h] [6d]
Columbo777: bets 800 (1/2 the pot again)
s234sd: calls 800
pot is 3200
*** RIVER *** [5d Ts 7h 6d] [Qs]
s234sd: bets 1200
Columbo777: folds (no crying call this time)
I fold here because he was only betting on the later streets with made hands the entire game. 6 made the OESD, but AT or KT would also be a decent holding here (and QT is even plausible).
But its that lead bet on the river that seemed more of a value bet afraid of me checking, than a value bet. Too much to be a blocking bet…
Turns out he had Q9 for Top Pair… Heh!
Now I am the chip leader…
Now the pressure comes to him…
I start raising every single hand.
Until its over…
Overall a decent run of cards. I wonder about that