Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Peter Gunn

I love old mystery shows, and I love the classic noir serials like Peter Gunn. The attempts of the writers and producers to include a mood, not just a look, with a show. (Peter Gunn is where Blake Edwards toned his writing skills for what would be a great run of movies.) But what the hell does that have to do with cards?

If you wish, you can now listen to Staccato's Theme by Elmer Bernstein as you read this. I know I am.

Well, Peter would stoically progress through the mystery until he finally hit that breaking point. That point where he figures it out and stops looking, and starts finishing. That magical point can be the heart of a movie moment, just ask M. Night Shyamalan about the Sixth Sense. And that can be the point of disaster. Just ask M. Night Shyamalan about, well, anything else. You see, it’s hard to hit that moment at the right time with the right move. It’s the fundamental difference between cash games and tournaments.

And just as an aside, the timing and the number of these breaking points swings based on the size of the tournament. 18 people, usually just 1. 45 people, maybe two. 90 people, typically 2 but maybe 3. Big field tournament? Well, who can say? But its not dozens. Sometimes it can be as small as 3. You have to be ready.

And when they happen, you have to win them. Its not enough for the other guy to fold. That is a normal moment of a classic western showdown like where Blondie stares down Tuco. ( That doesn’t create the break through moment. It delays it. There has to be conflict and resolution. Without this climactic moment, you garner neither momentum nor enough chips to be threatening.

Last two days, I played in two pretty tough tournaments. Both about 90 players. One for a WSOP $1500 seat (Blogger tournament) and once for just the prestige (WWdN) Tuesday night. I finished 13th and 4th. In both, I had to win one hand from behind. A big one. And its that momentum to propels you. Sure I won 4-5 times that many while ahead, but I was on the suck-out end of one each tournament to keep the chips coming. In the WWdN I finally went down 4th when my KT lost to QT. Bad beat? Hardly. The blinds were forcing us to play these hands like they were gold. And I was really only a… hey… I had him dominated. **ck. . Ok, anyway, I got my money in ahead. What else can you do?

When you are in a tournament, the trick is to never get into a situation where your pre-flop bet is non-threatening. One of the best ways to avoid this is to build up chips. This gives you flexibility and options. You are looking for those breakthrough moments. There is no use in avoiding them. Another nod to the Matt Matros article (, you can’t avoid marginal advantage pushes in a big field tournament. You need your breakthrough moments.

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