Tuesday, June 30, 2009

So f'n close

Full Tilt $32k today and with 100 left, my table has Karina Jett, Mike McDonald, and TwoBlackAces. I am short-ish, but still have some non-shove play.

The BB in this hand has been set up by a prior play. I came in light on a button raise and he shoved on me. I made a fold. This time, its folded to me on the button again and I am ready to go...

Full Tilt Poker Game #13124409555: $34,000 Guarantee (97195837), Table 69 - 1000/2000 Ante 250 - No Limit Hold'em - 17:46:37 ET - 2009/06/30
Seat 1: Jon2322 (92,859)
Seat 2: Karina Jett (85,000), is sitting out
Seat 3: pampil (46,622)
Seat 4: aggi3guy (56,146)
Seat 5: Mike McDonald (30,277)
Seat 6: columbo (27,170)
Seat 7: lol_me_is_good (51,618)
Seat 8: regrind (27,613)
Seat 9: twoblackaces (86,165)
antes 250
lol_me_is_good posts the small blind of 1,000
regrind posts the big blind of 2,000
The button is in seat #6
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to columbo [9d 9h]

twoblackaces folds
Jon2322 folds
Karina Jett folds
pampil folds
aggi3guy folds
Mike McDonald folds
columbo raises to 5,000
lol_me_is_good folds
regrind calls 3,000
*** FLOP *** [7c 2d Kc]
regrind bets 22,363, and is all in
columbo has 15 seconds left to act
columbo has requested TIME

I spend 30 seconds of my time bank here, coming to the conclusion he simply changed it up and ran a Stop N Go on me here.

I call, expecting to see either TP or AIR.

columbo calls 21,920, and is all in
regrind shows [9c Ad]
columbo shows [9d 9h]

YES! only have to sweat the Ace!

Uncalled bet of 443 returned to regrind
*** TURN *** [7c 2d Kc] [Ts]
*** RIVER *** [7c 2d Kc Ts] [Ac]
regrind shows a pair of Aces
columbo shows a pair of Nines
regrind wins the pot (57,090) with a pair of Aces
*** SUMMARY ***
Total pot 57,090 | Rake 0
Board: [7c 2d Kc Ts Ac]
Seat 1: Jon2322 folded before the Flop
Seat 2: Karina Jett folded before the Flop
Seat 3: pampil folded before the Flop
Seat 4: aggi3guy folded before the Flop
Seat 5: Mike McDonald folded before the Flop
Seat 6: columbo (button) showed [9d 9h] and lost with a pair of Nines
Seat 7: lol_me_is_good (small blind) folded before the Flop
Seat 8: regrind (big blind) showed [9c Ad] and won (57,090) with a pair of Aces
Seat 9: twoblackaces folded before the Flop

This is an automated message sent from Full Tilt Poker.

Full Tilt Poker Tournament #97195837 $34,000 Guarantee NL Hold'em
Buy-In: $24.00 + $2.00
1515 players
Total Prize Pool: $36360.00
Start Date: June 30 2:00 PM ET

Dear columbo,
You finished the tournament in 88th place.
There has been $54.54 added to your account.

F#@K!!! Nothing left but a beat story and $50 lousy bucks.
(Mike McDonald went out before I could finish this post at 74.)

KK revisited

Its interesting to ask the question this way:

You are approaching the final stretches of a MTT and its 6 to the money. You have KK and there are 2 all-ins in front of you. If you move all-in, you either finish 1st or 12th (pays 6). If you fold, you finish 6th just in the money.

What's more important? Cashing or playing to win?
Last night I played to CASH. Why? Not sure. But when I play SnG's, I play much tighter than any other situation. In cash game or large field MTT, I shove here.

So why do I fold in a SnG? I was thinking at the time that the goal in an SnG is the cash. Is that correct or wrong?

Monday, June 29, 2009

My first ever fold of KK

A 5 table SnG, with 13 players left. I am 3rd in chips, pays 6 places.

Full Tilt Poker Game #13109472706: $24 + $2 Sit & Go (97244116), Table 5 - 150/300 - No Limit Hold'em - 21:53:40 ET - 2009/06/29
Seat 1: Mlindsay (3,920)
Seat 2: Jim Leach (1,515)
Seat 3: columbo (7,510)
Seat 6: Tam Raven (4,665)
Seat 7: Chef Patty (5,790)
Seat 8: breauxdle (2,610)
Seat 9: Vestvik7 (1,630)
Jim Leach posts the small blind of 150
columbo posts the big blind of 300
The button is in seat #1
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to columbo [Ks Kh]
Tam Raven raises to 4,665, and is all in
Chef Patty has 15 seconds left to act
Chef Patty has requested TIME
Chef Patty raises to 5,790, and is all in
breauxdle folds
Vestvik7 folds
Mlindsay folds
Jim Leach folds
columbo has 15 seconds left to act
columbo has requested TIME
columbo folds [KsKh]
Chef Patty shows [Jd Jh]
Tam Raven shows [9c 9h]
Uncalled bet of 1,125 returned to Chef Patty
*** FLOP *** [4s 8d 7d]
*** TURN *** [4s 8d 7d] [Js]
*** RIVER *** [4s 8d 7d Js] [3h]
Chef Patty shows three of a kind, Jacks
Tam Raven shows a pair of Nines
Chef Patty wins the pot (9,780) with three of a kind, Jacks

I figured one of the 2 may have Aces, I am not folding Aces here. Its debatable that I should fold KK, but based on stack sizes, I did not read either player as this desperate!!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

SnG madness?

A recent bracelet winner (congrats again) tipped me off that the 5 table $24+$2 SnGs on Full Tilt have gotten turned very soft again.

I decided to see for myself on Sunday...

Despite my KK losing to an AK shove (see any WSOP post), I managed to cash.

Charmin-ny soft.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

PokerTek tables

An addendum to my trip report is a mention of the dealer-less tables at Excalibur. After seeing dealer-less blackjack tables (2) at Caesar's, it reminded me to go try the PokerTek tables. My experience definitely tilted to one side.

First, I had to apply for a card, which meant having my ID scanned and imaged. Well, not thrilled, but my player cards have a ton of stored info, so how can I complain? Still, I suspect my license was imaged and stored, and I am not for that.

Next I had to load chips onto my card. This was akin to a credit card transaction, complete will dated/silly receipt signing ceremony. Finally, its off to the table.

The blinds have been set at $.50/$1, I supposed because of the either the niche they can fill or the backlash that would occur by collecting more rake based on more hands. I suspect it was because the room is unpopular. (click for proof)

Now to the actual play. Ummm. What? Oh, sorry I dozed off. My table had 7 players. 3 were having a side conversation about poker rooms and you could tell none of them were any better than occasional recreation players. They overwhelming loved PokerTek because they "got in so many more hands per hour". Which brought a smile to my face as their "playing" constituted picking up the card, touching the corner of their cards, touching the FOLD button, and then touching the CONFIRM button. There was even a young grinder at the table, up $80 dollars which I can only assume took him 80 hours to accumulate.

The entire experience consisted of watching players stare DOWN at the screen, clicking screens with the corner of their cards, and watching animated cards. It took the poker experience and reduced it to a mechanic task much like gardening, mockingly celebrating the extra 15 hands per hour. I could not even sit out the hour, preferring instead to shop with the wife. Are you hearing this? Shopping for gifts for the in-laws was BETTER than PokerTek. Talk about an indictment.

It even seemed to reduce the other players to surreal automatons, faceless bald-spots, clicking robots with bad AI.

On an even more personal note, I like thinking of the deck as a static determination of fate that I dont get online. Why would I want to sacrifice that live? Why would I just not stay home and play online at a BETTER interface?

There is some hope, however, in that the heads-up tables fill a niche and deal a game that could not otherwise be played live. Oh, but there are no heads-up tables, so too bad so sad for you.

Thankfully the entire "experiment" is coming to a close. Bring back the Aces-cracked Wheel!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

WSOP 2009 Trip Report (event 39)

As is my tradition, I twittered all my tournament updates live (ltcolumbo) and save the write-ups for the blog. It was an eventful trip, full of lessons and anecdotes.

I arrived Wednesday, a day earlier than usual for a Saturday event. I wanted to play with my recent mentor, Lee Childs (acumenpoker) and he had to leave for a wedding on Thursday, so I headed out a day early with Mrs. Columbo in tow. My buddy Glenn had come in a day earlier, taking a 3 day detour traveling home from a sales trip in Seattle. We had a late lunch and met Lee over at the Rio.

He suggested we play some SnGs and we all 3 bought into a $100 Satellite. Lee went out early. This was great in that he got to sweat me for a few hands. You start with only 1000 in chips in this one. First big man for me was where it was raised from EP and then a 550 all-in from MP. I had TT in the blind and folded. Lee says he would have snap-called there because of the structure, but I thought the table play was poor enough so far that waiting had benefits. The EP showed a weak ace from early position vs. what I think was KQ. The Ace high held, and indeed TT would have won the day. Exactly 1 rotation later, the exact same thing happened. The same guy makes an EP raise and I have TT in the blind again. This time I calculate the max value. I had a ton of information to go on and decide that I folded that last TT for just this reason. I expect that he will make a c-bet if I call, maybe fold if I move in, but probably call. I decide to call and then re-raise his c-bet all-in. I call the $200 and the flop is Q55. He makes the c-bet of $300 and I move in for $800. He had AQ. Oops. Nice plan, if it would have worked.
Score: Lee 1, Columbo naught.

So Lee and I head off to grab another SnG, this time a $300. (We left my buddy still in the $100 SnG, and he would end up chopping first.) This table had much better play and you started with $1500 instead of $1k, similar to the online structures. Although there were plenty of good hands, I recall very few remarkable ones. Lee went out early again, and after watching us get down to five and me almost breaking the 1 seat (but he had me covered so he has a few chips left), he had to get packing. The “seat 1” was a guy who sort of looked the part. A bit over-weight, longer hair than corporate, an earring and the sort of liaise-affair demeanor to the whole thing. From the point of 5 left and down, the seat 1 doubled up four times leaving us heads up with the same chips stacks. We chopped the $3k. Score 1 for Columbo. I then realized, they paid it out in T-chips, which I would have to sell at some later date, since I pre-paid for event 39.

Glenn and I then had a nice time at the Cuban cigar bar in the forum shops with a mojito, a drink regaining its well deserved popularity.

Thursday I went down to play the Caesar’s $330 deep stack at noon. Great structure, 200 players. I felt this was a much more manageable size than the 500 players at Venetian and a whole lot cheaper too, as Venetian was running a $1k today. I played very well.

Had to get away from a couple of hands, and even made a credible bluff and my opponent laid down a better hand. But with over half the field out and running well, things took a turn for the worst. I am a BIG believer that players, especially cash players, put too much credence in hand decisions ‘in the moment’ and not enough about ‘context’. Hellmuth sometimes accidently discloses this same strategy during tirades on bad beats. (Although he takes credit for setting up players). The idea is that everything that happens at the table, good or bad, changes your image at the table. And if I play a hand poorly or weakly, I don’t have to berate myself. I simple need to USE that to my future advantage. It’s the tournament meta-game that few players utilize. In this case, a new kid at the table, sits down and watches me raise pre-flop, then check fold after the flop. A weak play to say the least, but the flop could not have been worse and I saw no reason to contest at that point. So it comes around to me again and I raise pre-flop and the same kid calls from the BB. I can see it on his face; he wants to take advantage of me and is calling light. He has any-two-cards. The flop comes down and I hit two pair. I make the c-bet and he check-calls. I know what comes next. Give him the chance to try and take the hand away. The turn comes and I weak-lead. Heh, I am sure he is coming over the top, his body language and bad acting betraying him. The board looks relatively safe, with only a gut-shot really there. He pushes into me and I snap-called. He suddenly looks very embarrassed and turns over his QT. I show him my two pair and he starts counting out the pay-off. He didn’t even know he had outs. He had a double-buster draw, but played it as a stone bluff. When the J hit the river and he won, he only knew it because everyone at the table let out an “ohhhh”. Instead of being positioned to finish my run, I was out just at dinner and none too happy. But what could I do? I read the kid perfectly and I read the situation perfectly. He had zero idea of where he was at. And if I could see his hand, I would do it again, so I can hardly count that as a mistake.

My buddy went out 15 minutes later, so we went to the Mandalay Bay Rum Jungle for Brazilian dinner at the dinner break.

Friday, I played some 1-3 cash just to practice situations and reads. I did not win a whole lot, but I did pocket a buy-in of profit. Had another cigar and drinks at the Rhumbar at mirage, then off to my favorite Friday night location, the Hoffbrau House. We stayed late, as it’s hard to drag me out of there. Ein Prosit.

Saturday, it was breakfast at the RIO (corned beef hash) and off to event 39. The structure is very kind in the first four levels and maybe this worked against me a little when I hit a big had in Level 1. Very first rotation and I raise with 55 and get an OOP caller (one of the blinds). I flop a set. The board is AK5. He checks, I bet like 200 into the pot of 300, he calls. The turn is some blank and he checks. Now I bet 600 into the pot of like 700 and he calls. The river is a blank and he checks. He can’t like his hand very much and with out a re-raise pre-flop or on the turn, he does not have AK. He must have like AQ/AJ and is worried I have AK? There is now a good 1900 in the pot, but if I bet, I can’t see him calling. Yet, I have to bet here with the best hand. I know a more reckless player would bet like 1200 here and pray the guy made a donk call. But I just could not place him as being that stupid in level 1. So I make a value bet of 600 and he calls to see the bad news. I did not get to see his cards. He avoided me the rest of his time at the table. Maybe AT?

Despite being up 1500 early, some bad flops and some speculating dragged me back down to the starting 4500 by the end of level 1. Towards the end of level 2, this most amazing hand comes. “What wicked webs we weave”… Limp from total donk in MP. Raise from LP from uber-tight, conservative older man who looks the part of a watch-maker in the movies. I call from the button with 88. Flop is the beautiful K78 with two clubs. Donk checks, LP watchmaker bets out. I think he has AK here, c-betting, but certainly has a good hand. I could raise here, but against two opponents in the 50/100 level, I wish to play more conservatively and keep the pot small against the massive draws so I call. The donk calls and I figure him now for the clubs. The turn is a K!

A short digression here. I focused very hard mentally on Friday at the cash tables on not getting excited over hands. By the end of the night, you could deal me AA and I couldn’t care less. I played every-hand with a blank face, and this carried over to Saturday. Even when the K hit, my heart stayed steady and my expression blank. No one at the table had a clue.

Donk checks, as he is waiting for his 3rd club. Our watchmaker bets out like 800. I look like I am thinking about my hand, but I am calculating how to break two people on the river. If I raise here, the flush draw (who is drawing dead) will reluctantly fold and I will get called by trip Kings and sweat the case king and the board pairing the seven. (And perhaps an ace or two.) I figure he has 8 outs at the most. If I instead call here, club draw calls drawing-dead and if the river is a club, they BOTH go broke. I have no doubt that the trip Kings can not fold either way and that the money goes in. I make the smooth call and sure enough, club donk calls. The river is an iceburg 7 (non-club). Donk checks intending to fold and Kings make a huge bet. He just back-doored the higher boat and I forced to fold the Titanic. I was so frustrated, I had to just fold the next 3 hands knowing I would not be able to play them properly. The spider eaten by the trapped bug.

I managed to chip up and grind through level 2 and so many players are luckier than me. Three times someone floated my c-bet (out of position!) with a naked ace. All three times the Ace came on the turn. Unbelievable. Seriously, all three times.

At the level 2 break, I overheard not one but two bad beat stories of QUADS over QUADS. Yikes. Maybe I am not so much unlucky as I am just plain luck absent.

Its level 3 and I casually re-raise with KK and all the money goes in. KK vs. KK. Chop. Really?

I actually play an A2 hand when it’s folded to my button and the BB calls. Flop is T83 and he checks, I c-bet, he calls. Turn is a 2 and when he checks, I move in to shut down his hand. He must have 2 overs or a weak draw. He mucks T9 face up and I act incredulous that he made that great lay-down. “I was sure you had an over-pair”, he said. Score one for the tight image. I made sure to tell him again how impressive that lay-down was. He ate it up. (He was so sure I had JJ, he never even asked at the break.)

At the end of level 4, I raised with AQ from MP. The card rack at the other end of the table, and older guy who has only been playing only a year and won the Venetian deep stack earlier in the week, calls. He is a strong TAG player, and his c-bets are frequently the size of the pot. The flop comes AQx and I let him bet every street, getting all my money in on the river. He tables A5. From that point on, he folded every hand where I raised first to act. This helped me more than once, as he assured the guy next to him (a very weird half-Scandinavian kid) that he had made a good laydown against me since I don’t bluff.

At the break I am at 7800, which is average. Mrs. Columbo bought me a new vegas hat and delivered it at the break, so I took off the Lions hat and switched to the “vegas hat”.

Level 5 sucks. It starts when I play TsTc from EP and the flop comes down 973 all hearts. I check, new-donk bets out, button moves all-in. new-Donk looks ready to call when I fold my now marginal over-pair. Button has AK BLACK for a total bluff, new-donk caller has 77 with the 7 of hearts. WTF? Two non hearts come and again TT would have won had I been a shove monkey with any over-pair. I still say that calling there with TT would have been horrible.

Here is something else. When a player sits at the table and he wants to talk to the dealer or to players, he usually sucks. He’s an ABC player at best and the money means little to him, so he chats it up. It’s just a matter of ticks before they go broke with Top Pair. So many players I watched. Sit, Chat, Rail. And the cash game players who have zero patience for anyone else’s decision and then go into the tank for 20 minutes on a big call where they have no clue as to where they are at. They are like time bombs, waiting to explode and spew chips in multiple directions. Watching these guys stack off to other players at the table and all I can do is watch and hope to get into a similar situation.

Meanwhile, for the next level and a half, I will see no pairs, no playable starting hands, and no suited connectors. It starts when I fold KQ in the BB to a raise and a re-raise. No defending there Over 90 minutes of hands with a 4 in them. At the very end of level 8, I finally get to play a hand with KK. Everyone folds, but since it was a re-raise, I picked up some chips. I used my image and Gus Hansen’s rule that everyone hates playing at the end of a level to make 3 steals. I am 8200 at the break, the board has 9600 as average. We go to dinner.

When I return, the board has some bad news. The average is actually more like 14k and there are 873 left. The levels are 200/400/50, so with 8200, my M is poor (8). At this point I have had 4 hammers, KK twice, and pretty much just the TT hands. The guy who sat down two to my right is another BSD (big swinging dick) from Florida. Likes to push people out of pots, play big hands, but not a big post-flop player. He loses a big hand and tilts. He starts moving all in on my BB hands (we both have about 10-11k now) and I say very matter-of-factly, “I like this. Makes my decisions simple”. He mutters sometime about “making it clear-cut” and I politely smile. Again, meta-game context. He did this about 3 times (1 time I even tossed KTo). The fourth time I had QQ. Surprisingly, he had AJ. Even more surprising, he was very optimistic that his Ace would hit. When it did not, I left him with only 1k in chips. I needed that, and I had spent almost 1600 setting it up over 4 rotations.

At the break, I am 20k, with the average at 22k. Not terrible. 550 left. We go to 9 handed at the tables and I note that despite now having counted SIX hammers today, I have not had AA a single time. KK twice, QQ twice, AK twice, TT twice, KQ 3 times.

In level 7, some douche who plays online as “creative”-something-or-other is anything but. He simple moves all-in with Ax. The first time, a decent player (guy who was the level 1 payoff of my set) raises from EP and he (creative) calls. The button now raises with his AJ. The 44 calls all-in resigned to his fate. They both put him on a small pair. How do I know? Douche moves all in and puts AJ on a challenge here. AJ says he knows first guy has a small pair but doesn’t understand how this guy can move in here without AK. He finally folds and sees he was ahead when AT sooted is tabled. Ace hits the flop and AT doubles up. Less than a rotation later, the AJ guy moves all in with QQ and again, douche snap calls with AK and out draws him and sends him home.

Now in level 8, we get to new players, both on my right. The first guy in the 10 seat looks the part with his sunglasses and Italian looking hat and 5 o’clock shadow. The guy directly to my right sits down with a huge stack. Must be 70k. He looks the west coast Asian gambler part, but I have no evidence yet, just wild guesses. But let’s be frank here, poker players dress the part. A guy who is tight, does not cultivate these images.

I get my first evidence we I raised from EP and the “seat 10” guy had no experience with my image, nor did he care. As soon as the flop came, he fired out and I knew this was going to be a big pot if I called. I decided not to float with my Ace.

I spend some time thinking about day 2. I’ll need over 30k in chips to be competitive and I’ll have to start playing back at these new players. I’ll have to maybe even put in some post-flop re-steal efforts. I decide that with less than half a level until tomorrow, I’ll put off that strategy for now. I have about 18k and can’t worry about anything but getting my money in good if I get the chance.

Not a couple of hands later, “Seat 10” raises to 2200 UTG. Blinds are 500/1000/100. The big stack in the seat 1 flat calls and I suddenly understand what just happened to my table. I now have two big stacks who have little to no regard for position or pot size. They are going to play every pot and shut out the rest of the table. My only saving grace is that I can move in on a big hand and if they fold, I pick up 5k. If not, I’ll have a hand to double up with. Two folds to me and just like I hoped for, I look down at JJ. Since I did a Phil Ivey on this one and calculated everything before looking at my cards, I had no further thoughts to process. My read was first guy came in light and second guy was just going to flat every pot he could with his monster stack. I move in for something around 16-18k. As I get ready to celebrate, douche moves all-in. At first I figure I am crushed, but then I figure there is a good chance I am up against AK here for a race. So now I hope my read on the first two was correct. They both put on a big show, but I see right through it. I had it pegged. There cards hit the muck and I am thrilled to have 4500 in dead money in the pot, especially when “creative” tables another AKo. I show my Jacks and all I can do is watch my new stack of 36k go to zero when the flop is AKx.

Some players just run well. I saw 1, then after level 7 two at my table that hit every flop hard. Yet, I finished about 400th, just short of the money. I got away from marginal situations and bad beats, had decent reads, and played a solid meta-game. I had set myself up to make a day 2 run and was only a race away, my only race of the entire day, which I couldn’t win. You can’t win a WSOP event without winning a race. That’s just the way it is with 2800 players.

I was very dejected. I remember saying hello to F-train and CK and Al Can’t Hang and LJ during various levels, but the writers area was empty at the end of the day, so I left, feeling like Lane Meyers. -“A man beaten. The once great champ, now a study in moppishness.”

Sunday I played some cash just to remind myself I don’t totally suck. I did not lose a single hand or make a single mistake. When I was up a buy-in, I left and we had dinner at the sidewalk café at the Paris. That sucked. But it was going to no matter what, right?

Now for my $$$ Total disclosure.
SnG profit: $1100, Cash Profit: $400, MTT profit: -$1800.

Lessons learned? Dashiell Hammett describes it in one of his “Continental Operative” stories. “Few men get killed. Most of them who meet sudden ends get themselves killed. I have experience at dodging that. I try to take the survivors for a ride.” That’s how I play. I am not looking to hit giant draws after the money goes in, or to just shove and hope. I am waiting for my opportunity to win without getting killed. I count on getting through the one or two marginal clashes in one piece. This was just not the day.

It took some big round-house punches to knock me out. I could have gone broke multiple times in multiple places, but I didn’t. And I was “lucky” in that I never had to get away from a losing set-over-set, the hardest thing in hold ém. Although happy with my performance, I would not be totally honest if I didn’t say that I am brutally disappointed. Maybe now I won’t scoff when players yell “One Time!”

-Yeah, I still will.

Congrats to Ray Foley, a local player here in Detroit that took down the event!

And just to prove I still have my sense of humor...

Monday, June 22, 2009

Highly debated hand - results

Man, did I take a BEATING on this one!!! You guys really, really think I played this not bad but pathetically. Maybe so. Here was my (albeit highly debatable) thoughts on the streets.

It was $50 to call and I look at 86o. I felt the guy came in weak, but I am not going to get hasty. I should just fold. I call.

Flop is Q86 as we said. He bets and I min-raise to "test" for the Queen. Although this worked, the min-raise gets little love and most players hate it. Lee Childs nudged me after the hand and called it out. Although he is more a proponent of standard bet sizes.

So love it or hate it, I didnt think at the time that more pressure gets the queen to fold and it did tell me what I wanted to know spending the minimum to do it. I think everyone out there but Daniel Negreanu hated it. In working back through it, I have to agree that blowing him off the hand was best. I was forgetting this was a SnG and that he might not be a gambling donkey like so many others I ran into this weekend. There is no doubt that at least the bet should have been POT and then...

The turn card is a terrible card and now he checks. Here is where I hated my play. When he checks, I really already let the draws get there OR I didn't. I can either trust my read that he has a Queen and blow him off the hand, or CHECK behind him instead of making a dark bet of 300. When he calls the turn bet, I gain nothing. It was wasted money.

So to complete the thought above... There is no doubt that I bet pot on the flop and if he calls that big of a bet, I shut down and check behind on that crappy turn card.

The river is now an easy check. The only smart thing I did. And I let someone get there because I played very cautiously (weak) in the early going.

Funny part is, I went on to chop first. Needless to say, I played the other hands MUCH better.

Thanks for all the comments, I really appreciate them. Especially the caustic ones. I had it coming here.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Highly debated hand

$300 SnG with 8left in level 2. $1500 in chips to start. I have 1550.

Limper only so I junk button call with 8s6c.

Flop is Q86 with 2 diamonds.

He bets $150 (pot). I test for Queen with min-raise. He calls.
(I believe he has a queen now.)

Turn is Td putting third diamond out. Pot is 900. He checks and I bet $300 not too afraid of 3rd diamond,but cautious.
He calls.

River is 9d. We both check. Neither has diamond but he wins hand with 1card straight.

Again, this is a SnG.

Did this get played good or bad?

Monday, June 15, 2009

Last post before Vegas

As tradition, I move to twitter when it comes to updating vegas tournaments and results. Last night I played 3 MTT for some last minute practice and cashed in one. The hand I went out in was interesting though.

95 players left and we are in the money. At this point, the payout is a measly 2x buy-in. Now I raise on a semi-steal with JTs and a blind re-raises all-in and I am SURE its AK. I have a Q of .5 and only the top 9 receive good payouts. (i.e. I have 11k and he has 10k, avg is 20k.) I think the level was 500/1000/125, so my M is about 5.

Knowing all this information, are you willing to call the AK shove?

I was so against going another round and blinding off 2500 of my chips, that I decided that I could not fold despite being 30% here. Have not decided if it was lame or not.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

The WSOP approaches

I leave in a week and I have a schedule all worked out now.

Wednesday night, play cards with Lee Childs (of acumen poker) and pick up any last minute tips and get into the right mindset.

Thursday noon - Caesar's deep-stack tourney (with a friend from Chicago playing also).

Saturday - Event 39

Monday - Return

I have for the 50th billionth time, I have adjusted my strategy going into a tournament. Everyone has probably heard the most basic strategy ever (still professed by Phil Gordon).

1. What is my opponent likely holding?
2. Do I think I am ahead (bet) or behind (dont bet).

Here is my strategy going into the next 2 weeks.

1. What range am I narrowing in on for my opponent? (can I get action from a hand that is behind?)
2. Based on pot size, what is the current "pressure point" bet?
3. What "betting lines" are we in the midst of?
4(implied). What is my best course of action?

At times I feel like Spicolli explaining how he can fix a car because his Dad has this "ultimate set of tools". Playing this game as long as I have now, I really have the tools I need. And that short above list is deceptively simple, yet VERY powerful. (Want to prove it? Write it down and hold it while watching an episode of High Stakes Poker.)

Adding this checklist to the other tools in the bag (too long to list), I feel I have what I need. It's a matter of execution.

TOC wrap-up

Congrats to the winners. 44 runners, paid 4 places. I finished in the middle of the pack. Even worse, I died a slow death. I never did get "a bit lucky". I watched some unknown shlub run his TPTK into ck's AA when they had 5k behind. ARKM? My BIGGEST pot of the first two hours was 1000 chips when a couple of players overplayed pairs on a straight board and I put in a big raise with second nuts. That was IT. Nada. Even when I attempted moves, I got pwned 3 out of 3 times). Adding insult to injury, I avoided races and bad situations all day, even folding 88 to a ck re-raise (she rarely comes in light) and finally had to win my first race against 55 and came up empty (0 for 1). This is not a set of winning stats.

I am disappointed that I could not capitalize on this great opportunity 2 years in a row. (Last year I was 21st and went out early in TOC, this year I was 16th and went out mid-way in the TOC.)

And finally, a BIG shout-out to Full Tilt and AlCantHang which not only sponsored this series, but continues to understand better than most how to cultivate brand loyalty. Running a BBT series is a thankless job at times, and Al took one for the team this year. Remember to buy him a shot of SO-CO in December.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

My lower RIO in poker

Middle stages and M is between 9 and 20. AK or AQ in EP or MP.

Miss flop? Expect that either c-bet will get raised or check will get punished.
Hit the flop? Expect folds when you bet.

Odds of hitting flop are 3-1, pay off on hit = 2 to 1.

Your milage may vary, but the scenario is far too common to me as of late.
Position. Don't leave home without it.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Still not getting the results I want

5 table MTTs, still bubbling or worse... Want to WIN TOC, 10th wont due much.

In non-poker news, I upgraded my Lions tickets today. From 5 yard line row 21 to 15 yard line row 16. Let's hope they win a game now.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Advanced Betting Lines

I am seeing more clearly some of the betting lines we face on a daily basis. Naming them seems to help me with my pattern recognition, so I am including monikers with the lines.

The "Chan" Line (moniker from Daniel N.) - OOP opponent check-calls flop and leads on turn. This is a sign of strength, but gives little else away. I usually want a read on the opponent or some sort of hand to continue.

The "Ali" Line - An Opponent on your immediate left that calls your Pre-flop raise and then raises your c-bet no matter what. (named after the rope-a-dope). I am seeing ALOT more of this one.

The "Shark" line - I have seen another interesting one where the big stack limps from EP. The idea is that when someone reraises, when it folds to him he can decide to call if it results in heads-up play. He then either leads out or check-raises the flop.

I also notice that when some players are "raising for information", that they often do this with middle pair or TPWK. But they are creating a bigger pot which is harder to get to showdown. I am not sure I agree with this. All you can do is shutdown on the turn. Or are you going to fire a big barrel next?

And on that topic, I am re-evaluating the best c-bet size. MANY pros tell you to never vary your bet-sizes, so you sort of have to pick a size each level. I have RAISED mine to 75% in the early levels, where players like to chase draws, but have lowered it to 50% in middle rounds where players like to prey on c-bets. Any comments here?

Not much value in mentioning the "floater". Its so common now, that its hardly advanced. but what's with idiots floating and then not raising the turn when checked to? When I see that, I mark it down as PFW (post flop weak). If you have position, shouldn't you use it?

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Final Thoughts on TOC

I think Hoyazo nailed it when he said that I can play too tight in the early to middle stages. Its funny, but in the early stages is debatable. I usually drop 10-15% of my stack in level 1 and spend the rest of the early levels chipping back to start stack size (or SSS). Its those dang-tarnish middle rounds that kill me.

And what has killed me the most in BBT4 vs. say the 32k?

1. Bloggers attack c-bets much harder than your typical field. This makes it more difficult to play ABC poker in a blogger event. (this includes the re-steal on the c-bet, not just the floats and turn take-aways)

2. (excuse me as I attempt to quantify this) I have struggled with "chipping up" without risking losing large pots. As I reviewed my stats from this year, I was going out too early in too many tournaments. Yet, when I adjusted to stop that, I started literally running out of chips in the middle rounds. NOTE TO EVERYONE OUT THERE: If I figure this part of MTTs out, there will be no stopping me. So if you know why I am struggling here and you help me, there is serious karma in it for you.

I could ramble on and on about this topic, and its plagued me for nearly a year now. As a matter of fact, its the reason I originally sought out a mentor. That has resulted in some increased strategy and decision making for me, but has not really squashed the original issue.

I do know one thing though, and I think my nose has been rubbed in it enough for it to take. Simply using Q to determine if I should be crazy loose or not is just plain stupid. I have had better results dropping the Q concept completely from my MTT play.

Now its a matter of playing long rounds 9 handed as well as I play them 6 or 7 handed. Why its so different for me, I am not sure. But man I have to figure out how to win hands with marginal holdings in the middle rounds.

As promised yesterday, here was the big game hand that really hurt me... Note that I TIMED OUT DESPITE CALLING TIME. I think I make this call if I had the time.
At the time, I put ScottMc on either a river'd set of 7s, or AIR.

Full Tilt Poker Game #12550357817: Blogger Big Game (81289279), Table 6 - 120/240 Ante 25 - No Limit Hold'em - 23:18:10 ET - 2009/05/31
Seat 3: BuddyDank (10,385)
Seat 4: bdidde (11,960)
Seat 5: ScottMc (2,650)
Seat 6: columbo (5,785)
Seat 7: iaatg6296 (3,290)
Seat 8: rozzz5 (5,155)
Seat 9: cemfredmd (2,370)
BuddyDank antes 25
bdidde antes 25
ScottMc antes 25
columbo antes 25
iaatg6296 antes 25
rozzz5 antes 25
cemfredmd antes 25
ScottMc posts the small blind of 120
columbo posts the big blind of 240
The button is in seat #4
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to columbo [8d 7s]
iaatg6296 folds
rozzz5 folds
cemfredmd folds
BuddyDank folds
bdidde folds
ScottMc calls 120
columbo checks
*** FLOP *** [8c 6d 9c]
ScottMc checks
columbo bets 240
ScottMc calls 240
*** TURN *** [8c 6d 9c] [4d]
ScottMc checks
columbo bets 720
ScottMc calls 720
*** RIVER *** [8c 6d 9c 4d] [7h]
ScottMc has 15 seconds left to act
ScottMc bets 1,425, and is all in
columbo has 15 seconds left to act
columbo has requested TIME
columbo: wow (I am working it out in the old insane-in-the-membrane)
columbo has timed out (ARGH)

ScottMc shows [xx xx] (guess)

There is no way the 7 completes his hand unless he either river'd a set or made a worse 2 pair with 67. I think the odds (based on betting story, not math) might be as follows:

He made a river'd set : 3 to 1
He made two pair : 12 to 1
He has a broken draw with a pair of 7s : 3 to 1
He has a broken flush draw with Ac7c : 2 to 1

Now, as you know over the last 2 weeks, I have collided with more than my fair share of SETS. Oh my yes. A set has sent me packing more than any other hand. So, you can see why I stopped to think LONGER than I usually do. And THAT, more than anything else, cost me this hand.

Monday, June 01, 2009

and now our feature attraction

The BBT4 is finally over. I managed 11th in the brit tourney in the afternoon (1 lousy point?), followed by a middle of the pack finish in the big finale.

I have so many thoughts on my status, where to start?

Ok, the small-ball obsession is concluding. I have added it to my bag-o-tricks, but I find it difficult to play this way online where stacks are 20BB. I can use it early, and when deeper, but can not think of it as a way of life. I like it to control my FLOP play though and then on the Turn deciding what my best options are (showdown/no-showdown).

Second, I cant stand the FT timeouts. My bank is 15 seconds and yet I get 1 minute on a disconnect? GEZ. I had a hand last night that if I had the time to think through, might have been different. (I'll add that to the end of this post).

BDR was fun last night, with Chad becoming funnier as the beer kicked in. I appreciate the fact that the gang put me (your humble narrator) in the non-donk TOC category. Chad made a comment that I am disguising my hands well. That was good to know. Apparently he also made the FT 100k final table at the same time last night. Astounding.

Finally, a brutal recap of my weaknesses as we approach the TOC / WSOP.

1. When I go card dead in the middle rounds, I bleed too many chips. Even when I try to make plays, I only seem to make it worse. I need to catch some hands during the middle rounds. Even after working on this for a year, I still have only a smattering of answers.

2. My playing style seems to work best with 6/7 players at a table. This may happen multiple times at the 5 table TOC, but rarely at the WSOP.

3. I don't give players credit for hitting sets enough. If you read this blog over the last 3 months, you can still hear my screams. Yet, last night I let a user bluff a river'd set and I folded a winning hand.

4. I often start a tournament by losing 10% of my chips. WTF? Is it really that easy to small ball off your chips that fast seeing a few flops? No, its the FLOAT that eats the chips. Got to watch this early.

5. I don't re-steal very often. Okay, never. I am not a big fan of this play and yet, I know you need it at times. That leaves me in a quandary on this one. (See #1)

I think I will take a couple of days off so I can relax with some XBOX-360 (Burnout & "Saint's Row Bitches!") and then get back to it.

I also want to play a big$ Razz tournament, but that may have to wait.