Monday, November 06, 2017

and now the cronicle of bad

When you dont bring your A game attention for whatever reason, you get results like this...

Hand 1 : LEVEL I of MTT. Flop two pair, and turn a boat. Villain bets out turn making $5k in pot with $5k behind. I shove. Not even with a delay, but like a child grabbing a piece of candy. Online, standard. Live 3 table MTT??? I fold him out too much. I should have bet $2k or $2500 river in tighter online scenario. (overall, a minor mistake)

Hand 2 : Call a LP raise with A2 in the BB. Flop is KTx. He c-bets, I call. Turn is an Ace and he checks. I bet and he check-raises. Action. Well, considering its like level 3, this should not be taken lightly. I bet $1k (effective stacks $11k) and he check raises to $3500. A BIG check-raise to boot. Seems like a somewhat standard release. But for some inexplicable reason, I call. which also puts me on the hook with the river is another Ace. Now I think I am good and when he checks I make a FATAL mistake and bet. WTF? what pays me there other than 2 pair? He calls with a straight and he only called instead of shoving because I earlier showed down the hand above.

Ultimately I play a mean short stack, but was eliminated when my AQs was run down by JTo on the river. UGH. Still I like how I played that exit hand, so no lamenting that.

How can I after all this time, make such a bad play as in Hand 2? His check raise commits half my stack with a pair, and somehow I think he may be bluffing? wow is that bad. I am flagellating myself.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

I am running well and here’s why

I finished first in my monthly league (5 table MTT) and final tabled 3 MTTs online in the last 10 or so entries for huge month. But Why? I could say I am running good, but that is a cheat. No one really runs good or bad over time. Conclusion? I must be playing better!

In the early stages, I am playing more from late position only. I am not going to open AQo UTG, because what am I going to gain when 500 bb deep in level 1? I believe this does not unbalance me too much as I can remain wide as I want in the Hijack or Cutoff. (more on this later though)

Middle stages, especially live, I am three betting middling pairs along with big hands. Its so hard to play 77 even on a K52 board when your opponent starts barreling. Smaller pairs may benefit from playing against narrow ranges w/ fold equity. This conflicts with some training that was getting and articles I was reading about flatting with middle pairs and trying to outplay your opponent post-flop, so I still have to reconcile that.

Late stages, I am opening up my 3 betting range to include what most people consider a good BALANCED 3-bet range overall. I do NOT try hard to balance this earlier for a few reasons:

1. I am setting up a 3-bet% tendency to be low so I can exploit that later, especially online. (I want my 3-bets later on to look strong, so I can 3-bet lighter.)

2. Online where stacks are deeper, I don’t need fold equity pre-flop with these middle pairs in early stages. I can get away from an awkward situation post flop. So instead I can pull bigger hands down into these less aggressive groups early for balance.

3. 3-Betting rarely tends to ISO the villain in early stages.

4. When I do make a strong hand, I can take a generic line like Bet-check-Bet and often get paid for 2 streets.

As an MTT player, I am playing strong hands for fold equity over enticement. I know its sorta “Lee Childs school of poker”, but by shoving or re-raising big hand pre-flop, you get lots of fold equity. You may be losing a bit of value (depending on the table), but you reduce volatility significantly. (Which I feel is under-rated in MTTs.)

Finally, In latter stages, I am very stack size aware now. Yesterday, I very comfortable 3-bet an early open with 87s because he had 20 bb (I had 30bb) and we were getting closer to the final stages. I put him in an awkward spot with the 3-bet and he tanked and folded.

I am also narrating my thoughts in my head (or sometimes out loud) which I realize is starting to gel into “having a plan” for the hand. Including when to FOLD, which was something I recently identified as a new leak that I didn’t have before. I want to be sticky, but I was getting to showdown too light too often. I am thinking about blockers more too.

I spent some time looking at check-raise ranges as of late. If you are going to check-raise strong draws, you also need to check-raise sets and top-2, instead of trapping. This in my opinion is the most import situation to balance ranges, to cover semi-bluffs.

I’d like to say this all my success is contained in the above wisdom, but the reality is that even in the $30k last night, so many players were playing "cash" ranges in the latter stages. I understand the interest in GTO and “standard plays” and ranges and all that jargon, but when you lose 15 bigs on A5o when you could get away so easy, I don’t call that “standard”. I saw many players that didn't understand their situation vs the larger table dynamic when they were under 20bb. I see spots were its +EV calling a UTG shove of 10-15 bigs late, because they are shoving to pick up chips before they post a BB. Exploitable when you look for it.

Monday, June 19, 2017

back to Vegas, but first...

In the weeks before my annual $1500 event, I decided to play a few $10-$15 MTTs online. I did NOT focus on all the intricate rules and hand reading and instead concentrated on what *I* do well. Knowing when to play a big pot. That is really what I focused on as my mantra and let the other stuff take a back seat. I cashed 5/5 with 2 final tables. Gez. Ok, perhaps the poker gods are trying to send me a message. "The cards are not what they seem."

There is quiet power in going against the grain. Everyone is now playing small ball, careful hand reading, GTO aspiration poker. And the messages are, dont play big pots when you dont know where you are at, call alot more than you think you should because... math, and play against your opponents theoretical range while narrowing it down each street. and I played that way for quite some time... struggling to learn things that others can do so much better. The exercise was worthwhile as I see thinks I might not have seen otherwise. But there still is the philosophy that says, maximize what you are good at and chuck the rest. There are even extreme examples like Tim Ferriss who suggests finding the most lucrative shortcuts in life and exploit them for all their worth. And now its time for my take on all that jazz.

"I like big pots and I can not lie..."

Now I am taking a different angle until the end game. I am going to inflate pots when I think I am ahead. I am going to check-raise my stack and dare villains to call. and I am going to polarize my range to make villains either have to guess or find a better spot.

Here is what I will focus on...
Maximize the RIO on hands where you are likely ahead. Use stack size, position and action to help determine ranges pre-flop. Narrow down post flop ESPECIALLY on FLOP.
Think about your backdoors, position, stack size and your BLOCKERS (and player type).
Make a shit-ton of value bets. Big ones. Big value bets. Forget slow-playing or trying to get to showdown. polarize your range.

Sounds like suicide, right? But in my recent observations, this maximizes your chance to go deep. and when you flame out, you flame out hard. but better to burn out, then fade away (cue guitar)...

More seriously and analytically, it seems like there are a ton of cases where getting the fold has value vs. maximizing value vs a range. Yet I also know that isnt true. It SEEMS that way, but it isnt. But it is about accumulating chips. and that is where this becomes a dance instead of a math exercise.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Long time no post

I just didnt have anything new to say... but after reading about Google's AI defeating a GO champion, I started thinking about MTT strategy and my upcoming $1500 WSOP event. Last year, I finished deep which was helped significantly when I doubled up when the board paired, vaulting my AA above flopped 2 pair and setting me up nicely. In the end, I lost back to back flips, which is the kiss of death in an MTT.

It is somewhat common? wisdom that playing for anything but first is a waste of time. Combine that thought with my recent league run where I nearly finished last, but in the final month finished 5th. Why is it when you have nothing to lose you go deep? Well, for one its not always that way, you just remember those. But the air of truth is that when you play with abandon, you don't miss opportunities to maximize your return. Even if that means getting all your money in on 2 pair... or even a big draw. If you are not OUT, you are accumulating chips. Slowing down only when overwhelmingly building up a stack that allows you to stick to picking on small stacks.

This is my strategy going into this years event. I am not going to try and play perfect poker, but like the AI, I am going to try and maximize my deep run scenarios.