Monday, November 17, 2008

40k on Stars

Went deep into a field of 1600 last night and finished 85th or so. It was surreal as I think I played about 4 hands all night.

Before the first break, on a starting stack size still, I see a flop from the BB vs. 3 opponents. The flop is 962 and I have 96. I check and the original UTG limper moves all-in. I call expecting to crack aces but instead crack eights. who moves in with 88 on a board 962 against THREE opponents?

an hour later, still below average I TRIPLE up when I decide to go with AK all-in. I had bet from EP, shorty moves in and SB CALLS. I shove and SB calls again with 77. The original shove was JTs. I make the best pair of the three of us.

Then, about 50 after the bubble, I raise from EP with QQ and get a button caller. I flop a set, c-bet and I am called. The turn brings a second heart but little else. I bet out with top set again, but I under-bet the pot. He calls. The river is the Qh finishing a back door flush, but making my quads. I under-bet the pot again for value, but its 25% of his stack. After about 30 seconds, he calls! I am now 18th place with 185 left.

I fold and steal my way for a while and then with 85 left I still have about 40k in chips. I get KK in the BB and a MP stack with about $29k shoves. I obviously call from the BB, expecting AA,QQ or AK. I am hoping for AK or QQ. I am surprised by ATo. Not nearly as surprised as I am by the flop if KQJ, making both our hands and sending me home. My short stack of $10k was ridiculous vs. the blinds of 1k/2k and I just shoved on the next hand with Kx and had 2 callers, both ahead of me.

If I win that hand, I am in the top 10 in chips with 85 left poised to make a run. I played so few hands, that at one point after the second break, I was post and folding for 15 minutes because I forgot I was playing! Now that is a long stretch of poor cards.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

deep thoughts

I was reading a hand description by PearlJammer and found a particularly well played hand. Because this hand was in a book of hands, it would be easy to dismiss as just another example. But on my second read, I really caught myself thinking about this.

You in the the middle levels of a MTT, and the blinds are 150/300/25 and you have 7.5k (he has let say 8k)

So if you wish to play a hand here, and come in for a raise, you are going to commit about 10% of your chips (raising 2.5x to 750). Assuming you get heads-up, you are in the gray zone post flop. You are not short enough to justify just moving in, and you are not deep enough to be too elaborate. Let's say you have 9Ts from MP and you get one caller. The flop is K83 with two of your suit, giving you a draw. Normally, you would simply c-bet and let the other player decide if you really had the King or not. He is going to fold a good portion of the time, but he may also float you. If he has the King, he may even raise you.

Now, if you are shorter on chips here, you would simply move in with your draw, maximizing the chance of his fold. If you are DEEP here, that is a horrible play as you are getting your money in behind. So you are probably going to c-bet and see what information you get back. But in the gray zone, you have to be very conscious of the pressure point (remember the great doubleas posts?). If you c-bet, the pressure points is going to be his. You are going to c-bet about 800, and with 20% of your chips in there, his coming over the top will force you to abandon your draw (assuming you are playing mathematically correct). BUT, if you check with the play to check raise when he bets, you are manipulating the hand so that YOU get the pressure point and are able to force him to lay down all but the best hands here. and if he does call off his chips, you have outs to win the hand.

This is such an excellent example of the situational nature of poker, where your read of a player only needs to be to determine if he'll bet if you check.

I found this to be an amazing display of why PearlJammer is a top online player.

Friday, November 14, 2008

A quick one, while he's away

I have had nothing but quick exits this week, running TP or better into set and the like in the first hour. With chip utility the way it is, I am not sure this is a bad thing. I was still able to lay down JJ to what eventually was revealed to be KK, but getting away from TP post flop in the early "shallow chip stack" levels may not be practical.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


Is this a good place or a bad place for a check raise?
Full Tilt Poker Game #8942372455: Carbides league #2 (67535854), Table 2 - 15/30 - No Limit Hold'em - 21:07:50 ET - 2008/11/12
Seat 1: Don8tion Plz (3,840)
Seat 2: Wirdpear (2,865)
Seat 3: whitstick (3,660)
Seat 4: columbo (2,955)
Seat 6: Durand Dirty (2,130)
Seat 7: for funzies (2,835)
Seat 9: TheTurnBurglar (2,715)
whitstick posts the small blind of 15
columbo posts the big blind of 30
The button is in seat #2
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to columbo [7s Ts]
whitstick: too money
Durand Dirty has 15 seconds left to act
Durand Dirty folds
for funzies calls 30
TheTurnBurglar folds
Don8tion Plz calls 30
Wirdpear calls 30
whitstick calls 15
columbo checks
*** FLOP *** [As 7d Qs]
whitstick checks
columbo bets 150
for funzies calls 150
Don8tion Plz folds
Wirdpear folds
whitstick folds

Turn is the 6d
columbo has 15 seconds left to act
columbo checks
for funzies bets 270

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

WSOP coverage

Ok, I'll admit it. I have avoided all news on the WSOP for the last 2 days so I can watch it tonight. I just like TV coverage and I am one of the few who liked the idea of the ESPN gamble to delay coverage in order to increase ratings. After all, look what TV did for the dying niche sport of Nascar...

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

A short tournament tale

3 table bo-donkey MTT NL. Made a big call early to chip up. Lost 2 out of 2 races. Got out flopped on the bubble.

That is the entire tournament summary. No wonder we sometimes lose focus at the table.

Monday, November 03, 2008

It's League Night Charlie Brown

I lost my copy of this Halloween special this year, so I carved pumpkins without it on in the background. But later, as I folded hand after hand after hand, all I could think about was "I got a rock". For the first 2 hours I did little bug fold lousy hand with an occasional bluff utilizing my tight image. I would play say J8o like it was TT and if the flop was lousy, bet and take a small pot down. This kept me alive as I played 3 legitimate hands in those 2 hours.

I built up to about 15k (we start at 10k) and then took on an all-in from a short stack of 5k and got unlucky. When we break the first table (down to 2), I have just a starting stack size. This would really continue with me stealing blinds to stay alive. This was difficult as it seemed that almost every hand someone came in for a raise. The crucial hand was no different, as the cutoff raised 3-4xBB and in the Blind I look down at AQ. As I learned, since a raise commits me to the end and its pre-flop, I need to raise all-in and put maximum fold pressure on my opponent. Not to be as he had KK and snap-called. An Ace on the turn doubled me up to 20k and put my opponent on the short stack. I continued to be card dead and he goes on a tear and we both move to the final table.

I played strategic poker for the first 4 eliminations, but I may have waited too long to change gears. After playing a significant number of rotations at the bubble, I was ground down to the shortest stack. The player on my right was stealing my blinds more aggressively and it was really hurting me. He has me covered and if it was folded to him on the button or SB, he would think for a few seconds and move all-in. I would fold my 6 high hands.

Then, suddenly, he opens UTG for a raise. Very unlike him and I stew over JJ for about 2 minutes before folding it. That is a tight fold! But I gained an accidental advantage. He thought I was trying to fold to the money. This was a misread on his part, but combined with the fact that he stole my blinds 4 times, it was an easy assumption to make.

The next rotation, again it folds to him in the SB and he says "all-in" expecting me to have to fold most hands. Instead I say "I can't let you roll over me all night. I call." He shows J4s and I table my A3. Although he flops a flush draw, it doesn't get there and I double up and he now is the short-stack. He grunbles the rest of his table life about how unlucky he is. But I just dont see it that way. One of the things I like about this league is that despite finishing second last year (the top two had a big lead over 3rd) and cashing in the 24k this month and studying the game, very few players give me any respect at the table. (the guy who came in first is the exception.) The player on my right has some history as I have eliminated him twice before when I cracked his Kings with some marginal call so that may play into it, but even at the final table someone gave him props for being such a good player. Me, I am just bumbling Lt. Columbo.

Heads up at the end, the chips leader had $180k in chips and I have just shy of $40k. 4.5-1 chip deficit. I never blinked at the challenge. We played a couple of rounds normally and suddenly I woke up. I recalled all I have learned recently about chip utility and action and applied the lessons the heads-up play. I knew that I could not play small pots of post-flop with this big of a margin. The very next hand I start moving in every hand where I have what I expect to be 2 live cards. If he folds, I get $5k. If he calls without a pair, I am only 60-40 which are BETTER ODDS than the 4.5-1 I have in chips. Eventually he calls my 97o with 2 Broadway cards and a 9 doubles me up. Now, despite going to 90k, I think that maybe my opponent doesn't realize how more dangerous 90k is what now is his $140k. I move all-in instantly again (as though I was not even thinking about it) with KJs. He calls with AT and I resign myself to the cards. I hit a King AND a Jack and he realizes how bad it is when he pays if off and is left with just 45k. I continue to move in every hand, which was easy since I got KJ the next two hands also. And just like that, I finish first. Sure, I had to eeek out a big pot with only a 40% chance, but I feel like it was a really smart strategy to give myself a chance, and my opponent was willing to play giant pots instead of waiting for a hand to crush me with. Although, these 2 scenarios are eerily similar, in both cases I had the shorter stack which dictated the best action to take.

Overall, AA once (won the blinds), KK zero times, QQ once, JJ once (folded), AK a couple of times. This is the thing about 3 table MTT. You can survive much longer when you are card dead.