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?