Thursday, July 13, 2006

Slowly Turning a Corner

Well folks, I might, just might be slowly turning a corner here. For the fourth consecutive Mookie / WWdN blogger tournament (notice that the MATH event is conspicuously missing from this list), I played excellent poker, made great reads, laid down some great bluffs, raised and reraised with some hammers, and made a great run to at or near the final table of a blogger nlh tournament.

On Wednesday night I finished 4th in the latest Mookie tournament, for a handy dandy cash of $57 and change. I'll take it. I believe that is my fourth Mookie final table, although that is not as impressive as some others who have final tabled the event multiple times because I've been playing this tournament since the beginning, and thus 4 final tables is not such a huge accomplishment overall. What is more significant for me, however, is that I played awesome poker last night, outlasting more than 90% of the field in the always-tough Mookie tournament. In this case, I took down a huge pot at the final table, where my TT held up against cc's pocket 8s and Guin's pocket 5s to give me a huge chip lead with 7 players remaining:

Unfortunately, down to four players, and with me still solidly in the lead, I decided to go for an allin reraise with the Hammer. Normally this is a move I advocate making religiously, especially at big mtt final tables. However, the Hammer reraise is far, far less advisable when it is thoughtlessly executed against a solid Mookie who had raised it up from early position. I've seen our boy and esteemed host bluff with quite a bit of trash in blogger events, but not from a decent sized stack and not from early position. Nonetheless, the reraise allin was my big idea late in the final table last night:

I should have taken who the raiser was and what position he was in into account before making such a strong move with the Hammer in this case, but instead I let being dealt my favorite hand get me a little out of control, and I paid the price when Mookie called (he had to, given the cards he held). My problem late at the final table, other than getting a little too cute with the Hammer there, is that I kept running into big hands in shorthanded situations:

a problem which hit me again to eliminate me in 4th place overall:

But I'll take the 4th place. Like I said, 10th place in the WWdN out of 55 players, and then 4th out of 57 in the Mookie, hopefully that is a sign of better things to come for me. My mtt game is still utter garbage, confirmed again yesterday with my latest donk out of the ftp 20k tournament. Without exaggeration, I have failed to so much as double my chips from the starting stack size at any time in any large mtt over the past 3 weeks. Think about that. That's where my big tournament game is at. Seems I am doing much better once again in the blogger events, after a truly terrible two-weeks-or-so run, but at this point I really need to identify whatever gap there is in my mutli-table tournament game and fast.

In other news, it appears I also may have turned a bit of a corner with fellow blogger Felicia, who left a nice comment to my last post, and even posted an apology on her site. That was very decent of her, and really unexpected by me. For what it's worth, I've never actually been looking for any kind of apology from her, just a little understanding I think. Deep down, I think Felicia and I are very similar in at least one key way -- we both tend to speak our minds when we have an opinion on something. That's what I love about this blog, and I think it's something that you readers enjoy as well, and the same can be said for Felicia's many readers I'm sure. So when I see someone make a bad play, I am apt to blog about it. When someone says something about me that I find insulting and that I don't even think is true, I'm apt to blog about that too. It's never been anything personal for me, and in fact as I've said again and again, I actually really enjoy Felicia's blog and read it daily when I can. And to be honest, I liked playing HORSE at the table with her in Vegas last weekend. In my view, there are not many players out there who can capably play all five of holdem, omaha hilo, razz, stud, and stud hilo. Felicia is clearly one of them, and I think that is really cool. And as an aside, I would like to officially apologize to Felicia, and Glenn, and Alan Penner (another great guy I hung out with in Vegas who I totally forgot to mention in my earlier recap post), Veneno, Donkey Puncher and anyone else I may have forgotten who sat at my HORSE table last weekend, because as Felicia mentioned Glenn had mentioned during the night, once the bloggers really started arriving, I was taking longer than I should have to play some of my hands as I was up meeting and chatting with people I had never laid eyes on before. Maybe I should have left the game for a bit. But I can't change it now, so I can only apologize, admit it wasn't my best move, and take it from there. So there you go. And, it seems Felicia really does feel like I've taken her bad beats comment out of context, and I'm comfortable with her having that opinion. The fact is that, when Felicia made that infamous post several months back, I happened to be mired in what was still the worst run of bad beats I have ever encountered in my poker career. When I've lost 12 or 13 straight mtt's on bad beats at the river, and then someone whose blog I love to read comes out and says that most bad beats are really just attributable to bad play (many of them are btw), I guess it just really hit a chord with me and set me off. Ever since then I can't get that post out of my mind. Reading Felicia's thoughts about it, maybe I have used the comment outside of the exact context in which she meant it. That's cool. I understand Felicia most of the time and I think and hope that she and I are on the same wavelength about things now. Anyways I don't hold grudges, and I wouldn't have one to hold against Felicia anyways. I love the blog, I'll keep reading it and hopefully learning from what she has to say about poker, and maybe someday I can even be one of those people who can give something back to her, in a way that it seems some of her closer blogger friends have failed to do.

One other new "corner" I've been turning lately is that -- get ready for this -- I've actually been playing some stud hi-lo cash games. That's right, you read me right. Stud hi lo. Cash games. $1-$2 limit mostly. Basically, out in Vegas, playing the HORSE event, I was reminded of just how much I love to play hilo, and frankly how good I am at it. Keep in mind, 20 years ago when I was at Bally's and the Taj in AC playing poker with my dad, holdem wasn't nearly the rage it is nowadays. I don't even recall if they had a single table of holdem available on your average night. There, the games were stud, and stud hilo at various blind levels. So stud hilo is the game that I was trained on, in the casinos, even long before I was of legal age to gamble. I've definitely played it more than any other poker variation other than holdem, and I would say that my skill level at hilo is probably as good as my level at no-limit holdem, in that at any table I usually tend to feel like I am good enough to stick with the best players there if I get any modicum of good cardage to play with. So anyways, I really enjoyed the stud and hilo components of HORSE out in Vegas, and since I returned home, I've found myself hitting the cash tables every night this week for at least a quick jaunt into the hilo cash world. And, so far so good, as I've posted 2 out of 3 winning sessions.

Here are some choice screenshots for your viewing pleasure of me at the hilo tables:

First, there is me raising it up on the river against a guy who was playing as if he was going low the whole way. I hadn't been pushing too hard given the way his board was opening up, as it appeared that my nut straight on 5th street was just going to be chopping the pot. But, as I attempted to check it down, my opponent decided to bet here on the river, knowing full well that I likely had a straight for high, something I did not think he could beat (the flush was very unlikely since I had seen several clubs in other players' hands already, something not discernible by the screenshot above). So, I looked at his pair on the board from 6th street, where he had checked it to me btw, and figured this guy probably doesn't know what he's doing, and very well might not have made his low at all. Since I didn't think he could beat me for high, so there was next to nothing for me to lose in a pot that was almost certain to be chopped here, I reraised in this shot above. I figured maybe he had his 2 pairs or trips, was going to lose the high hand to my straight, but perhaps also missed his low. He called my raise, and then this when I showed my cards:

A nice scoop for me. And if there's one thing I learned from Super System's hilo chapters, it is that this game is, above all else, all about the scoop baybee.

Here's another hand where I was able to make a lot of coin, this time thanks to putting one opponent in the middle of myself and another happy raiser with a made low hand on 5th street. Between scooping pots, and putting players in the middle, that is probably where about 80% of my hilo profits come from. Here, I had top two pairs through 5th street, and was all but sure that I was ahead on the high side. Here is what the action looked like on 5th street:

Notice, the first player in the bottom right of the screen bet, with what I read to be a 4-card low (if it was a high hand using the Jack, then I was probably in even better shape given my top two pairs). Then the player in the bottom left raised, with what was I'm sure a made low. Now, I could have just called this raise, being cautious in case a secret high hand was out there or someone was rolled up, etc., but that's not my style, and it's not winning hilo play. Instead, as you can see I reraised here, effectively putting the first bettor in the middle, who was now faced with calling two bets, in a situation where I was about 98% sure I was the only player going high already in the hand. Then, smartly, Dan in the bottom left capped it, getting another $6 into a pot where I was already sure half would be coming to me. We ended up all three of us capping it on 5th street there:

on my way to taking down the high half of what turned out to be a very nice-sized pot. Putting people into the middle, raising when you're the only player with a low or high hand out of 3 remaining opponents, this is how you play good stud games.

OK that's all for now, I want to get this post up before too much of the afternoon passes by. Hopefully the stud stuff isn't too uninteresting for you all who are accustomed to me writing mostly about holdem, the no-limit variety.


Blogger Ignatious said...

heya hoya, just wanted to drop a note and say it was great meeting you. hopefully next time we can have some quality bar time. :)

1:45 AM  
Blogger mookie99 said...

Very impressive last night. Huge comeback from a mere 340 chips.

2:20 AM  
Blogger Iakaris aka I.A.K. said...

great run yesterday brotha. as I self-detonated I could almost hear you screaming at my hilariously poor choices of hands to take to war.

one of these days I'll work it out.

FWIW, I really like the way you and Felicia worked things out.

4:13 AM  
Blogger Joaquin "The Rooster" Ochoa said...

I have to review these hands at another time, mate. But I will make sure and email you when I get the is my email joaquinochoaathotmaildotcom

6:09 AM  
Blogger slb159 said...

You played a s00ted hammer...for shame, for shame.
Nice work Hoy...always a pleasure watching you in action.
Best of luck (skill).

9:09 AM  
Blogger L'artiste said...

Nice comeback. You had just been crippled when I left so it's good to see you made it all the way to the final table.

9:36 AM  
Blogger Felicia :) said...

Thanks for the nice post. I never did get an e-mail from you, if you sent one.

5:31 AM  

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