Monday, November 06, 2006

The Girls Made Me Do It, and Another FTOPS Satellite

OK so I have to plead innocence here. I had every intention of playing in Miami Don's Blogger Big Game on this past Sunday evening, even as late as Sunday at around 8pm ET when I left a quiet house with two sleeping Hammer Girls to head for the gym for my usual pre-poker cardio. But even as I walked up the hall to my apartment at around 9:15pm ET, just 15 minutes before the scheduled start of the Big Game, I knew something was amiss. Turns out that high-pitched, almost wailing sound I had been hearing in the background since opening the door to my apartment building downstairs was not in fact some steam escaping from the heating system, but rather my youngest daughter going to town in her crib after waking up just 5 minutes earlier. The Hammer Wife was on it, but in the end this quickly became a two-person job after the inevitable wakeup of my older daugher whose bed is a mere 10 feet (and one thin sheet hung from the ceiling) away from the screamer's crib. Not good. Maybe an hour later, the Hammer Wife and I finally retire to the poker room bedroom and all is quiet again (never fear, this would last only another two hours or so before the next "incident"), although I have completely missed the first hour of the Big Game. When I first checked in, Wes had just gone out in I think 10th place, and with the top 3 spots paying out of 23 players in the game, there was quite a mishmash of poker talent glommed into the final table, including our host himself, Guin, Smokkee, CMitch, Iakaris, Blinders, blogger tourney regular xkm, and a guy whose name I maybe barely recognize but don't really know the first thing about, named sprstoner (sounds like one of his or her friends maybe?). What I do know is, by the time the smoke had cleared on the latest Blogger Big Game, Don busted from his own tournament just two spots from the money in 5th place, and Iak was bubble boy in 4th, leaving Guin, Smokkee and the new guy sprstoner to take down the top 3 spots, win the cash and leave their mark on this historic new blogger series. Nice work guys, as always, and hopefully the Hammer Girls will be cool with me playing two Sundays from now unlike last night.

OK before I forget, tonight is Mondays at the Hoy night again!



Come one and come all to the latest and greatest Mondays at the Hoy event, where for $20 you can try your mettle against a field of very solid and experienced holdem players, in a battle for what is typically over a $200 first prize. We've had a blast running around 25 or 30 of these things now every Monday night at 10pm ET on pokerstars, so join in tonight, tell your friends and get them to join in, and let's also try to keep the recent trend going with at least one new player in tonight's tournament. Last week it was wrybagel and JJLundy joining the MATH tournament for the first time, and hopefully tonight we can come up with some more fresh blood new players to help extend the reach of the tournament created with the readers of this blog squarely in mind. So if you're a new player, new to reading poker blogs, or have been kicking around the idea of checking out one of these blogger tournaments you're always reading about, tonight is your night. No need to have a blog, no need to even know what a blog is. If you feel like playing in a private tournament, here it is, password is "hammer" as always. No purchase necessary. See you there!

So I've also been a little under the weather this weekend, mostly a mild cold and fairly painful sore throat, but nothing too serious. But it is serious enough that I didn't even mind missing my usual foray into (and early exit from) the 20k guaranteed tournament on fulltilt last night, as I've had some trouble staying up late due to general tiredness and just feeling overall worn out after not a ton of sleep and this bug I've been fighting. Nonetheless, after donking around to about a break-even performance overall at some 3-6 razz and a $.50/1 PLO Cap Limit table on fulltilt, I jumped in to the latest FTOPS satellite tournament, this one a 10-player attempt for a seat in FTOPS Event #6, pot-limit holdem. With 10 players and a $26 token buyin, just one player would win the FTOPS seat from this satellite, and as the final table began just a few minutes after the tournament started, I was already in 8th of 9 players remaining.

I got myself back into contention early on in the satellite with this hand, where I flopped trips while I still for the life of me cannot figure why on earth my opponent would have called my allin bet on the flop given what he ended up holding:



I guess this is just what that player failed to last more than another 15 or 20 minutes into what eventually proved to be a 2-hour-plus affair. So anyways, that hand -- my only flopped trips of the night, btw -- managed to get me back into at least having a relevant chip stack, something which was even worthy of the chip leaders at the time to consider and be aware of. Then about 15 minutes later I was faced with the opportunity of playing against two short stacks for all their chips with a deceptively good but not-too-good hand:



After much agonizing, I decided I had to stay in this pot. Both of these guys were short stacked, one actually very short and the other just big enough to not be a true micro stack, but really not up to a level where I would give him credit for the same strength hand as someone else who pushed in as a raise preflop with a big pile of chips in back. But I did not want to just call, and maybe give someone with a 22 or 33 in his or her hand a chance to overcall as well and then have me be behind heading into the flop. I reasoned these first two raisers were short enough for me to believe I could be ahead of both right now -- the first super shorty could have just about anything, and the second could easily be on a hand like AT or AJ or even something like QJs that I'll see a lot of players push in with from that relative stack size, so I did what I believe was the right move and pushed it allin myself as well, to keep out other players from messing with my vibe on this hand. My ploy worked, no one else entered, and I was happy to see this in my opponents' hands:



and even happier when it held up to eliminate two players at once from the final table, the only time I have seen that happen in any of the FTOPS sats I've been running over the past week or so. When I eliminated another player a few hands later when he pushed allin preflop as an extreme shorty up against my KJo, I just had a vibe that I was good here and it turns out I nailed that read:



The best part about this hand to me was that this guy rildafish1 over on the left side of my screen there had been going on and on in the chat with inane and idiotic commentary througout the entire first part of the satellite, so when I eventually bet him out of this hand against the super shorty with this bet on the turn card here:



you can see his commentary immediately after the hand here as to my decision not to just check it down with this short stack and my KJo, as well as my witty retort, in the chat box here:



This guy immediately became my mark for the rest of the tournament, and even though he lucked out twice with redickulous suckouts to stick around for a while longer, eventually he ran his short stack and two unsooted low cards into my pocket 10s preflop, and he was gone:



So as you can see, I managed to eliminate 4 of the other 7 players at the final table before we got down to heads up between myself and FluffI up on the top of my screen there, but yet I still entered heads-up play as a significant chip dog (almost 2-to-1 deficit) since #2 had managed to take basically all of rildafish's chips on the hand right before I caught him with my Tens for the rest of his stack.

Despite my chip deficit to begin heads-up play, however, it quickly became apparent to me just what FluffI was up to in his attempt to win the satellite seat (I don't think either of us gave a damn about the $24 cash prize awarded to the second place finisher in this event). Basically, FluffI is just about the biggest calling station I've ever known, and I very quickly discerned that he was about as weak a heads-up player as they come. He didn't raise preflop headsup with any hands but his biggest monsters (he raised maybe only once ever 25 hands or so heads-up, and when he did he would show me hands like 99, 77, AK, etc.). So first, I started taking advtange of this tendency on my opponent's part by simply folding every time he raised preflop, since I knew that meant he had a big hand, and otherwise I just flat called with my lesser hands, or raised with my good ones and some lesser ones as well just to keep him honest. Pretty quickly, however, I figured out an even better, even more profitable way to exploit my opponent's weak heads-up play -- I just started raising his preflop limps with any two cards, raising by the size of the pot to encourage him to fold. And fold he did. Repeatedly. Winning not only the blinds and antes but my opponent's completion of the BB bet on many, many hands early on in heads-up play is the only thing that kept me from being drowned by the complete lack of cards I got at any point during the final table.

So, for example, this worthless hand and worthless flop:



turned into a nice profit for me here:



and similarly, this hand:



turned into this almost mirror image after the flop hit the board:



FluffI just telegraphed the relative strength or weakness of his hand very regularly by his actions before and on the flop. So I bet or raised every time he showed weakness and was right almost every time, and I generally folded on those few occasions where my opponent actually bet at me with strength, which it was pretty clear were the only times he actually liked what he was holding and how it coordinated with the cards on the board.

As this was all going on, my opponent quickly started acting out another terrible tournament holdem habit, which was consistently betting out on every street -- often with nothing in his hand -- and just continuing to bet, regardless of my calling him, until either the showdown or my betting would scare him off what always seemed to be mediocre type of hands whenever he was betting flop, turn and river at me. So, I was able to use this tendency against my opponent as well, as I would basically know he had not a strong hand when he would small-bet me the flop and again on the turn, such that if I made something good by the river, or in many cases even when I didn't, I could bet him off the then large pot with a bigass bet of my own.

So, for example, in this hand where I had nothing but Ace-high and even a low kicker, I bet out strongly at him on the river:



and he folded without much hesitation (because he held nothing good, I'm sure):



And here, you can see my opponent betting the flop:



the turn:



and the river:



without holding jack shit at all, and with me winning with my powerhouse 3rd pair 5s and a 3 kicker. This guy was just clearly not comfortable in a final table context, and did not know when to push, and more imporantly, when to stop pushing.

At some point along the way JJ weighed in in the chatbox to say hello and wish me luck. I don't know exactly how long JJ was there, but FluffI and I ended up playing heads-up for around a full hour before the deal was finally settled, and to me it really seemed to drag on. As is usually the case with me in heads-up play, I was winning close to 80% of the hands between FluffI and I, but every now and again FluffI would hit a lucky river card or a huge flop and take a bunch of my chips back that I had won from him over the past several rounds of hard work. There were 4 lead changes each way during heads-up play, and I like to think that part of how I was able to get this guy basically on tilt and just totally confused was by showing him lots of gems like these:





You just know that a guy who knows he's not pressing at all preflop with his hands was really annoyed playing against me last night, but it was a perfect example of adapting my strategy to fit a particular opponent' play. If he's going to just minbet at me on every street, every time I fail to bet on the flop, then sure every time I have a strong hand on the flop, I was going to check and let him do the betting for me. And since he continually showed me his willingness to smallbet me on every street and then fold to a large and complete bluff from me on the river, why not slowplay a bit. Those of you who have seen me play know how anathema to my normal strategy this checking thing is, but when a guy makes it clear that he will constantly tell me how strong or weak his hand is by his betting patterns, I am more than willing to change it up to adjust in a way that is designed to beat down on a player using this strategy. And beat down on him I did.

Eventually, after I took the chip lead back from him for probably the fourth time, my opponent clearly got a bit frisky. For one thing, my buddy jeciimd informed me from the rail that FluffI had just taken the lead at the final table of the FTOPS Razz satellite he was in, so I know he got a bit complacement with his play in my sat (and god how I hope to run into him at my table at the FTOPS razz event, but that's for another story). Apparently, FluffI's new strategy once he lost the chip lead for the 4th time was simply to raise preflop every single hand, regardless of what he was holding. This required me to adjust my strategy once again, but it was not hard to figure out. When a guy who has raised preflop in all of 3 or 4 hands over an hour of heads-up play, suddenly kicks the 300-chip blinds to 900 on 4 consecutive hands, it's not hard to pick up the change. So here, I called his preflop raises with some marginal type of hands (K9s, QTo, etc.) that I might otherwise have folded to a raise, because FluffI made it quite clear that his raises actually meant nothing in this context, so the same K9s and QTo type of hands that are better than the average heads-up hand were still better than his average hand as well since his raises were just automatically being done on every single hand.

This all came to a head when I called another of his auto-raises preflop with my 76o, and the flop came J87 with two diamonds. He bet out the pot at me, and whereas normally of course this is a fairly easy fold in most heads-up situations, against this guy and his autobets with nothing, I put my read on him and went ahead and made my move:



When my opponent called almost immediately, I figured I must be behind. Then he flipped his cards and I saw this:



giving me basically a 2-to-1 chance at a huge chip lead as he had insta-called with just one overcard and a nut flush draw. Bad play, and it's a situation that I had folded on probably three separate occasions during this tournament, where FluffI bet big and I had a flush draw or an oesd. But I wisely elected to fold those hands, whereas FluffI could not let go of it here. And the end result:



Trips for me, Ace-high for him, and the rout was on with me now a dominating 15-1 chip leader. Of course there had to be the obligatory super-annoying dominated suckout on the next hand where we got allin on this flop:



leading into this turn card:



Disgusting. But eventually, we got it allin again two hands later with my single best hand of the entire hour-long heads-up session:



and even though I was behind once again on another sick turn card suckout, the river this time provided me this resuck to the nut flush:



and I had taken it down.





And here I am, registered for FTOPS Event #6 on Thursday, November 16 at 9pm ET:



It's the same night as the next DADI tournament, and the last DADI tournament that I won was what? Pot-limit holdem, that's right. So that's got to be a good omen. And the FTOPS PLH tournament also happens to be my birthday, so I figure that can only mean good things for me. So as of now I am registered for the $200 buyin, 200k guaranteed PLH tournament on the night of the 16th, as well as the $200 buyin, 75k guaranteed razz tournament on Friday the 17th, which will be my first two FTOPS events ever since I missed the entire series this past summer while away on vacation. I'm still trying to win my way into the 6-max nlh FTOPS event earlier in the week as well, but so far I am 0 for 3 in those satellites as I attempt to play my way into as many of these big guarantee tournaments for as little of an investment as possible. Given that I never, ever even consider playing on the weekend days, the number of times a year that I get to play in large guarantees like this is basically nil, so I am really looking forward to the FTOPS and am psyched that I've already managed to win my way into two of the events in very economical fashion.

See you tonight at Mondays at the Hoy!!

10 Comments:

Blogger slb159 said...

Gl in the FTOPS's.

Nice work.

3:06 AM  
Blogger lucko said...

Congrats and kick some a$$ in the FTOPS!

And sprstoner is my buddy. He started his blog about 2 months ago and I invited him into the big game. I expect him to be fixture at that final table and force everyone to bring their A game every week.

3:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

giving me basically a 2-to-1 chance at a huge chip lead as he had insta-called with just one overcard and a nut flush draw.

Um ... that'd be:

giving me basically a 53:47 chance at a huge chip lead as he had insta-called with just one overcard and a nut flush draw.

Well done though!

3:56 AM  
Blogger smokkee said...

i guess i need to get to work on some FTOPS sats. i'm really only interested in the main event tho.

nice job Hoy.

4:48 AM  
Blogger Iakaris aka I.A.K. said...

Nice work, bro. Still no joy, though a couple of take the money and runs in the 75s. Hope to see you in one of these things (prolly the Razz, right?).

6:28 AM  
Blogger Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo said...

Love that Michael Albert guy. He's right of course, my bad. Point is, I rool!

7:03 AM  
Blogger iamhoff said...

Nicely done, Hoy. Good to see that things haven't gone to crap for you while I've been MIA. GL on the FTOPS. Hopefully I'll be back out there soon...I have a couple of gigs that I'm looking at this week that seem promising. Keep it up amigo.

10:24 AM  
Blogger KrazyBangs said...

hoy,

Nice work on the FTOPS and good luck!

What program do you use to catch all the screen shots so quick?

Krazybangs(at)gmail(dot)com

11:21 AM  
Blogger cc said...

More screen shots please.

9:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm a little behind on my reading, but congrats nonetheless! Another great post!

12:39 AM  

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