I'm Your DADI
Wow. I can't believe I'm here saying this again, but I took down the DADI VI blogger tournament last night. Thanks as always to Jordan and Trip for setting this thing up, and to Gary as well who was the honorary MC. A good time was had by all, as always with these large blogger get-togethers. Another aspect I enjoyed was some of the prop bets that Jordan and Trip made with each other heading into the event, one of which included Jordan honoring me as part of his threesome to go against TripJax's threesome for who had the best combined score. I'm glad to have been able to help a fellow New York blogger represent in a prop bet with some guy from central North Carolina. Now, my biggest challenge will be to figure out what the heck to spend my 1000 VPPs points on as my bounty for winning the event. Anybody out there know if that can get me anything good on its own?
Anyways, here was my starting table for the DADI VI, in pot-limit holdem:
Interestingly, I've always done well in pot-limit, mainly because for me it is only a very slight change from the way I usually play no-limit holdem anyways. I say that because, unlike Harrington who recommends a "continuation bet" of around half the size of the pot, I tend to bet around the size of the pot, and sometimes more, with most of my bets once the flop is out. Thus, I'm usually playing something that pretty closely approximates pot-limit holdem whenever I play online, whether the others at my table have realized it or not. So it's not a very big stretch for me. Yes it's a little harder to steal preflop since you can't push too hard due to the small pot at the beginning of the hand, and yes it does take away some of the all-in moves that you would otherwise see preflop or on the flop, but in the end it's just not a very different game from what I'm already used to playing, and I find that does tend to give me an advantage over other players who maybe are playing pot-limit for the first time.
So, rather than go through the big hands that led me to the DADI final table like I usually do, today I'm going to do it a little different. I was thinking this morning about how I was able to take this tournament down today, and I think I've narrowed it down to three key things. So, I'm going to discuss those three things, and show examples from as the tournament wore on for each one to better explain what I was thinking and why I did what I did.
1. Push when I believe am ahead. As I've discussed a million times on the blog, when you're playing poker, especially online poker, and double especially on pokerstars, it does not pay to slow play over the long term. You can do it once in a while to keep people honest if they otherwise know you and know your game well enough to need to be kept honest, but once in a while is the maximum, and it should only ever be done against people who know your game, or else you're just throwing chips away online. Period. So, the first major strategic point for me last night, when I felt I was ahead, was to make people pay to stay in with me. This sounds simple and basic, and on some levels it is, but consistently pushing, through an entire multi-table tournament, when you think you're ahead, knowing that your, say, top pair low kicker could be behind in actuality, does take a fair amount of discipline, at least for me. It is especially hard when I am facing a lead bet from my opponent when I still think I am ahead, but that happened for me several times during the DADI; raising someone up with your top pair weak kicker is a whole level above just check-and-calling their bets. Last night this strategy was working for me, again and again, and the suckouts against me managed to remain at a minimum.
For example, in this hand, about 40 minutes into the DADI tournament, I found myself in a two-way pot with tournament host Jordan, where I held an overpair (10s) to a paired board with two low cards and two of a suit. I figured I had to be ahead here, even though we had limped in together, so Jordan could technically be holding anything right now. But I figured I was ahead, so I made a move:
When Jordan responded by reraising me allin, I had to call it. Jordan had limped so I couldn't put him on much with that, but I knew he could have been slowplaying a premium overpair preflop and I would be severely dominated, or he could have easily held a Four for trip 4s in this unraised pot preflop. Nonetheless, the odds told me that I was ahead, so I made the call. He flipped:
and my Tens held up to win the hand, to get me a nice chip stack fairly early in the tournament, and to eliminate Jordan (sorry bud!). But it was pushing, as opposed to slow playing, check-calling, or any of the other options out there, that enabled me to take this pot down.
Similarly, here, about 90 minutes into the tournament, when I was allowed to draw at a flush on the flop cheaply, and I then made my flush on the turn, I didn't mess around. I wasn't going to slow play and let this guy make a higher flush on the river, or a boat, etc., at least not without making him pay a dear price to do it. So I hoy-raised when my heads-up opponent made a half-pot flop bet that represented a third of his remaining chips:
He called, and eventually flipped this for the losing hand (I still don't really understand how or why he made this call. I attribute it to the hoy, which always tends to frustrate and confuse opponents into making poor decisions):
Here is me later in the second hour all-in reraising PresidentDaveLee when I had to figure my flopped top two pairs were in the lead, netting me another hand win without even having to show my cards:
Lastly, here I am facing yet another preflop raise in front of me, at a time when there were just 11 people left in the tournament, two away from the final table. I had the Hilton whores, and figured I had to push since I likely had the best hand at the time:
The final board ended up looking like this, significantly increasing my chip lead and knocking out the last two players to send us right to the final table:
And the interesting thing to me is, look what would have happened if I had slow played those effing Hilton biatches. The King and the middle pair of 8s come on the flop. Now, depending on who is in and how they bet it, I might end up folding the Queens to a possible top pair and/or trips on the flop. I can't say it enough -- slowplaying online is just begging someone to take your chips. And they will take your chips eventually if you slow play enough, believe you me.
2. Trust my poker instincts. The second major strategy I used in the DADI tournament is one that I have also written extensively about on the blog, including in my New Year's Resolutions post from January 1 of this year. If I thought someone was bluffing me, or on a draw, I pushed back at them to make it unattractive for them to continue with the hand, almost regardless of the cards I held in my hand. This lead me to make several reraise bluffs as I enjoy doing (especially to bloggers who I can screenshot about later). I did this several times in the tournament, ranging from the beginning of the tournament all the way to the end, and yesterday the spidey senses tingled true almost every time. I'll show you.
Early in the tournament last night (first 15 minutes or so), I was faced with a near-death experience. I was down to just 1000 chips left, and Fishy McDonk, who had already bet big when a scary Ace had come on the turn, led out for 500 chips, half of my remaining stack. I carefully reviewed the betting in the hand, from preflop on. We had both limped in from the blinds, so I had no reason to believe Donk actually held an Ace in his hand, which I would have expected him to have raised with given that this was folded around to him in the SB and since I have noted him several times as a known blind stealer. Then, when I had bet the pot on the flop with my top-pair-shittiest-kicker, Donk's hesitation just smelled like a flush draw to me. I don't know why exactly, but I was fairly sure that he did not play the hand like he would have if he actually held a higher Queen or an overpair. Now, although that didn't exactly mean he wasn't holding an Ace in his hand, I've played with Donk enough to know that I don't think he would have stayed in at that point with just an Ace and no pair, unless there was a King to go with it, or of course the flush draw. So, when Donk bet half of my stack on the river after I had called his bet on the turn when the scare card Ace fell, my instincts told me that Donk's failure to move in everything to put me allin right there was confirmation that he did not in fact hold an Ace. And since I didn't think he held a Queen either as I discussed earlier, I did the only thing I could, with the paltry chip stack I had left:
Fishy spent the better part of 90 seconds thinking, which just confirmed for me most of all that he did not, in fact, have me beat. Eventually:
He folded to a 550 chip bet from me into a 2470 chip pot. So you know he knew he was behind there. And I took down a large pot early on in the tournament, jumping me up into 3rd place at the time (37 of the 38 DADI entrants were still alive at this point), because I was willing to be aggressive at a time when an overpair (and the most often-played overpair -- Aces) was possible, but my gut just told me Donk didn't have what he was representing.
Here is another great example of me trusting my instincts last night, to the point of outright bluff-raising an opponent who had already raised preflop as it was. This occured near the end of the first hour of the tournament:
You can see, the the Suckout Artiste had led very weakly into me on the turn, after leading at the flop in a bluffy way and seeing me call it. My instincts read this for fear (not a slow play), as I saw a guy who had made a bluff-stab at the flop, got called, was pissed, but couldn't bring himself to do the uberweak move of checking the flop, so instead just small-bet the flop, wanting the hand to just be over with. So, since that was the image my spidey sense perceived when Artiste bet this turn to me, I raised him. Never mind that I held nothing in my hand other than an inside straight draw -- don't think for a second I was playing that ISD here. I was playing Artiste's cards, not my own. And the result of my bluff raise:
Another big pot for me. No showdown.
And here is my proudest hand of the tournament, other than the end result itself:
This one was real simple. I had the Hammer. Jhartness, who had been stealing like a mofo all night long, had just raised 3x from one in front of the button, his standard steal-raise from his standard steal-raise position. I thought he had jack shit. So I raised him up an amount that he was either going to fold to, in which case I win a nice pot, or he was going to reraise me allin given his chip stack, in which case I would know I was way behind, but could show off in front of the other bloggers with my faith in the greatest hand in all of holdem. The result:
Another fold, and another nice pot to me. The best part is, Jhartness later explained in the chat that my large Hammer raise had forced him to fold his Hammer as well! Gotta love that. As someone else commented in the chat, it's enough to make you wish we were playing on UB (worst site ever), just for the muck-and-show feature they offer.
3. Get lucky when I need to. It's an almost universal truth of MTTs that you're gonna have to get lucky at some point. Probably several times. It doesn't necessarily just mean that you spike a 2-outer on the river when you're behind and allin against the chip leader, but just that you hit some cards when you need them at just enough times and in just enough situations to allow you to survive and get yourself back into positive odds situations. In the DADI VI, that was me. All the last few guys in the DADI tournament sucked out a few times to get to that point. I certainly was one of those, and I also hit some good cards at the final table to help bring me the victory. That's poker baby, and it's especially pokerstars poker.
So we went into the DADI final table with me well out in front:
I played very solid poker at the final table, with, as per usual, most of my winning hands occurring on bluffs and steals. I won't be showing all the good bluffs and steals I made, because frankly those are boring and don't really involve much strategy or thought process at all. It's especially boring because I don't recall more than once or twice really hitting a flop well in any situation at the final table, and I certainly did not got dealt a lot of premium cards (though I did get pocket Aces once, which I never showed). But I was aggressive, bullied my way into enough pots to maintain my lead most of the way down to heads-up, and definitely got some luck along the way to keep me where I was at.
Here I am, winning with JJ against Bone Daddy's AA. I always feel a little twinge of guilt when I beat someone's Aces, in particular in a dominated situation, but not that much really, so that's all I'll say about eliminating BD in 8th place here on the river:
Btw, here is me at the second break, in the midst of the final table, with my stack dwarfing even second place left in the tournament at that point:
Here is Presdlee again, hitting a nasty turn card to eliminate non-blogger but nice guy slb in 6th place, meaning that the rest of us had made the cash in the DADI VI:
About 10 hands later, here is Dlee again, this time eliminating Miami Don in 5th place, and taking my chip lead away for the first time at the final table (temporarily, I was telling myself at the time):
I got that chip lead back exactly 12 hands later, when I spiked a Jack on the turn to beat Mookie with a 3-outer pull:
Now I'm not any happier than you all are about the length of Mook's hair at this point. But that's not my problem, I didn't make him start this quest, and it's not my job to let his favorites win at the final table of major blogger events. So, Mook, my apologies to your follices, but they'll have to keep working overtime for the time being. Thank pokerstars, don't thank me.
So, down to 3 remaining, with Dlee and myself each holding large stacks, while DNasty was about a 4- or 5-to-1 chip dog to each of Dlee and myself. I continued to fight and steal my way to maintain my chip lead, and then 13 hands into 3-way play, another gross river suckout went down:
Sickening. DNasty goes out in third, and I am heads-up with PrezDLee for all the marbles. Well, actually not for all the marbles, but for about 60 more marbles than second place would get, and the glory of winning another blogger tournament on the line. We've both had some nice suckouts, both earlier in the tournament as well as at this final table, to get where we're at here (recall earlier when Dlee folded to a reraise from me on the flop and left himself with under 800 chips more than halfway into the tournament already), and we started off almost exactly even-stacked for our heads-up showdown:
As usual for the last two players, I bluffed and semi-bluffed almost randomly, moving at the pot just about every time I had an above-average heads-up hand or whenever Dlee showed any weakness. A couple of times he reraised me out of a pot, and a couple of times I reraised him out (this one was particularly nice), but for the most part we just went back and forth, bluffing each other and pushing each other off of pots, relying on position more than anything else, until we both had a hand we thought was worthy of moving in on.
The first allin clash was one where I felt compelled to call allin even though I knew full well I could likely be behind, as I held an Ace but with the worst possible kicker. The flop didn't help me either:
But then by the time the river was out, I was able to get back up from praying position and sit back at the computer:
Not exactly a huge suckout for me, but that's me tying when I'm around a 2 to 1 favorite to lose, so I enjoyed that immensely. Well deserved by me as far as I'm concerned. Anyways, finally, after about 35 hands of heads up, I managed to get allin again against Dlee, but this time with the slight lead as I had suspected when I made the allin call:
I was disgusted to see this flop:
And while I pondered whose pet I would be killing tonight after another gross suckout, this happened on the turn and river (and thanks to Fuel55 for the predictions in the chat):
And just like that I was the DADI VI champion. Much like happened last week with my party 40k win, the suck-resuck had to come out in full force at the final table to bring me the victory, but I'll take it, in particular this one where I had the lead as it was when all the chips went into the middle. Congratulations to everyone who played well, and thanks again to Trip and Jordan for doing the legwork to get these tournaments going.
I look forward to taking my $141 profit from winning DADI VI and paying my way into the WWdN tonight at 8:30pm ET so I that can publicly donkify myself yet again in this, the mother of all weekly blogger tournaments.