Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Zen and ABC

Had you watched me play in the Hoy last night, and not seen my laptop, you would have thought I was reading the newspaper. I relaxed in my seat, turned the pages as I perused the messages of the day. Once in a while, something would grab my attention and I would spend a few moments concentrating on the tiny words.

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

steal/re-steal or just plain donkish

After the second break in the big game. Play is tigher than in other BBT events. I ahve $10k which is exactly average. Half the field remains (3 full tables). Blinds are $250/$500 with antes. So, the BB is 5% of my stack. It is usually after the second break that the steals being...

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

This Hellmuth moment...

Brought to you by, "Suck-out". "Suck-out", the hair tonic for card players.

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

Sherlock Holmes

"He is a very dangerous man. Unless we get catch him at a considerable disatvantage, we could very well be seriously harmed." -Sherlock Holmes

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

pre-game warmups

In preparation for the Hoy last night, I fired up a very low buy-in 1 table SNG and played my cards blind. I do this to practice situations and reactions. I just use a sticky to cover my hole cards.

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

SNG progress

I recently moved up to the $20 1 table SNG. I find the competition competent at best. So far, I finished 2 out of 4 in the money. On one where I did not, I clearly made a strategic error. With 6 left, I call a raise pre-flop from the only stack bigger than mine and I flop TP and get into trouble. But I can clean up that mistake, which is very rare for me. I felt down right silly. The other flame-out was unremarkable, just losing a big pot early and being on the defensive until losing a race.

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

The incredulous AK and the art of the check.

1 for 8?! how does that strike you?

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.

An explanation:

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

A connundrum

your playing 6 handed max NL. You have successfully gotten to a level where only 25% of the players (about 19) are left. You are average in chips stack, which puts you about 9th. Stealing is becoming rediculously common.

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

oh, fluxuation, how I loathe thee

I have not played well this week. Not horrible mind you, but I play a SLAG style that just has been getting me into trouble this week. I open up pre-flop and play more post flop hands. Monday, I made a ton of second best hands, culminating in a flame out of extra-ordinary magnitude. Then in the Mookie, despite doubling through a real chip-thrower early and moving right into the top 3, I was unable to hit any flops for a while. That is the thing with SLAG, you have to hit some flops. Me, I was betting when it came to me, but too often had to eat-it when someone re-raised. That and I lost a 1/4 of my stack on 2 hammers. I should just folded.

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...