Tuesday, February 13, 2007

More FTOPS Talk

Tonight is where it all really begins.

See, last Friday was just the appetizer for me with FTOPS Event #1. Starting tonight, I will be playing the FTOPS in 5 of the next 6 nights, with the only exception being on Saturday for Jennifer Harman's HA event, which is a game I would phucking love to play in (especially since it's a $300 buyin) but will not as I do not play on weekend afternoons. As I've discussed here thoroughly, I will be breaking that rule for Sunday afternoon's Main Event, but after winning that concession easily from Hammer Wife (thanks to my glorious brother in law l.e.s.ter000), I won't be trying to push it any further than that for Saturday's combination holdem-omaha high event. Nonetheless, tonight starts my real run in the FTOPS, as I am choosing to kinda disregard last Friday as it was temporally separated from the rest of my events, now 5 in the next 6 nights.

First let me just close the book on my performance in FTOPS #1. Excellent commentary from everyone on my hand that I busted on with yesterday's post, which I knew would generate some good commentary because I feel like I misplayed it so I knew you guys would too. Let me just say this about my play and in reaction to the comments -- and if you want some more detailed discussion about the hand, I highly recommend you read through the comments, where a lot of you and myself weighed in with some more meaty discussion points. But here are my general thoughts about the hand and the comments I received:

First, many of the commenters (more than I would have ever thought) said I should have reraised preflop with my 7s against a guy I figured to be stealing with a decent stealing hand, but nothing great. I think that would be a fine play. I did believe I was ahead with my 7s, and in fact I was, but I also believed I was no better than a 60% favorite as I was fairly sure Eric Froehlich had at least one high card if not two. And, I really thought it was probably slightly more than 50% likely that he had two overs to my shitty 7s (which he in fact did), in which case yes I was the favorite but only by about 1%. Basically a race situation. So, again, I think reraising there with the 7s was clearly a perfectly fine play. But I also think that smooth calling with the 7s is a fine play, and nothing I read in the comments yesterday has convinced me otherwise. One more time, I'm not saying raising with the 7s was wrong -- I could easily see making that play on occasion and there is a certain logic to it so it would be a totally fine and makeable play in my book. But so is the smooth call.

In reality I don't think there was much of a chance of making Eric fold his QT after having raised it up preflop -- not with the amount I would be likely to reraise anyways (probably 3x his raise). I think Lucko said he would have reraised much more than just 3x in this situation preflop. Personally, I can't believe that would be a profitable move overall to make with a hand as blah as pocket 7s, since even a 3x reraise would represent basically 1/6 of my total stack at the time very early in the tournament, and I'd be putting in all those chips against a guy who already raised it up preflop. But, if you want me to reraise, I agree that a big reraise is the only way to go, because anytime I'm taking a flop with a hand like pocket 7s, you know it isn't going to play well once the flop hits the board since there are likely to be at least 1 or 2 overcards (or in this case, three overcards). Since I'm not one to put even a sixth of my stack into the pot before the flop early in a major mtt with a hand that does not play well once the flop is seen, I like the smooth call here instead of the raise. But as I've said, to me either play there is fine.

Now let me address briefly one other comment I saw on a couple of occasions yesterday that really threw me for a loop. More than one commenter surprised me by saying that they put Eric on QJ when he made his instant allin reraise of my checkraise on the flop. I have to be honest there: this concerns me. Of course it is possible that he has QJ. No doubt about that, it's possible. But, as I discussed a bit in the comments yesterday, I am not a guy who constantly fears the nuts, and I am a guy who constantly likes to play the odds. First of all, someone pointed out yesterday that QJ is a stealing hand, so basically I should have been fearing that there. Now, technically you are correct, QJ is in fact a perfect stealing hand in Eric's situation, in that I have little doubt that if he had had QJ there, he would have made the 3x preflop open-raise from the button. But, and this is a very big "but", there are tons of other hands that are also perfect stealing hands in that situation. Any Ace -- that means A2 through AK, I think he would have also raised there. I think mostly any King he would have raised there too. I think any Queen from Q8 through QJ is also on the list. J9 and JT are also probably on the list. Any other connectors above 43 are probably also on that list. Probably any two suited cards above a 4 are also on the list. I felt sure he was stealing, but realistically speaking, I had the guy on any one of probably 50 possible hands there, of which QJ is just one of them.

Given that, if you think I am supposed to fear that this guy has the nut straight with exactly QJ when he insta-reraised me allin, then we are just on different wavelengths. More generally, I don't think one can really excel at no-limit holdem if one is constantly fearing the nuts like that. Now, as I mentioned in the comments yesterday, there is no doubt that sometimes people flop the nuts against me. And, in many of those cases, there is also no doubt that my go-with-the-odds approach leads me not to put them on the nuts when they do in fact have it. I'm thinking back to my meltdown with pokerstars when the idiot called off a third of his stack in the first orbit of the 150k guaranteed tournament with 76s, and then 589 flopped and I got it allin with my pocket Aces. So, maybe it's even true that I fail to recognize when I've run into the nuts more often than the tighty-type of players who commented that I should fear the nuts on this flop. But, and this I solemnly guarantee you, I also make money on far more hands than you tighty types when you fold to aggression because you fear the nuts, but I call, or even reraise, with hands that the odds dictate I am ahead of.

For example, imagine this situation which I'm sure has happened countless times to all of you who play nlh regularly: You are in the cutoff with AK. You open-raise it 4x from the cutoff preflop with your AK, and the button calls. The two blinds fold, so you see a heads-up flop of A23. You bet out the size of the pot, and the button raises you 3x. What are you doing now?

If you answered "fold", then you're a tight postflop player. And you know what? In those rare times when your opponent is playing A2, A3, 22, 33 or 45, you're going to feel like a genius by getting out when you did. But in all the other cases (which has got to amount to probably well over 95% of the time), when the guy just has AQ, or A9, or 77, etc., then I am going to make a lot of money on the hand because I'm going to reraise him right here, and then try to milk even more money from him on later streets as well. So yes, you're going to feel great when you fold and save yourself some good money when the guy has flopped a set of 3s, say, and to be honest I'm probably going to lose quite a bit of money on that hand with my AK if he plays his flopped set just right, but in general I solemnly guarantee you that I will not just make more money but will make far more money playing this my way overall than playing it your way. You will lose less in the 2% of situations when you have actually run into flopped nuts, but you will also make less (or make nothing) in the 98% of situations where you're actually ahead.

Now this is just an example that I made up sitting here late at night, but I hope it illustrates my point with yesterday's hand. The insta-allin raise from Eric on that flop could be indicative of QJ, no doubt. But it could also be indicative of probably still a good 20 or 25 other hands (just look at what he actually did hold there, by way of example). Even taking into account the allin reraise in addition to his preflop steal attempt, I'm thinking he could have any two overcards with 2 clubs, any AJ, probably any JJ, QQ, KK or AA, any AT, any 88, 99 or TT, any 76, and probably even any pair-plus-oesd or pair-plus-flush draw hand like I had. That is over 20 hands right there that I think would fit his moves here (remember, he actually made the move with QTo, so don't go thinking that I'm overstating his possible hand range here. If anything I wouldn't even necessarily include QT in the range of hands I'd put him on, which is why I think his play wasn't very good at all and was clearly the mark of someone who didn't mind a bit going broke on that hand). So, given that I'm looking at a good 25 hands or so he could have to justify all of his actions so far in the hand, there is just no way I am putting him on exactly QJ here. Yes, when he actually does have QJ, I am going to lose more money than you tighties out there, no doubt. But that is roughly 4% of the time even in this situation, if I'm putting him on 25 possible hand holdings here. So 4% of the time I will lose to flopped nuts. But he other 96% of the time -- think about that number, 96% -- he doesn't have QJ. Putting him on QJ here is just not the way I play no-limit holdem, and I am quite positive that putting him on the nuts in this situation is, in general, not the most profitable way to play nlh tournaments. Again, look at what he actually had to make this move. Top pair tens and a Queen kicker. How can I possibly be putting the guy on QJ here? The odds are just overwhelmingly against that outcome, and I don't play the game by going against the overwhelming odds like that.

OK enough about that. Again let me just say that I completely agree with the commenters that I overplayed this hand on the flop. Personally, I think my checkraise was not a terrible play. Not the best play, with a little time to think it over and analyze the hand, but not a terrible play either. I don't think leading out on the uber-scary 89T, two-suited flop with my pocket 7s was a good play, so I'm glad I didn't do that here (and if I had, the insta-allin raise was clearly coming from Eric anyways, so that was good on my part), just because the flop was so scary, and had a flush draw on it too boot. I have most definitely not made money over time leading out with 4th pair and an ass end oesd into a straightening, flushing, 3 high card board like this. Where I definitely think I mis-played this hand is after his allin reraise. As mostly everyone said in the comments and I definitely agree, I should have folded there. I know full well why I called -- having (correctly) put him on a steal preflop, and having (correctly) read him for not a very strong hand with his instant allin reraise on the flop, and having basically priced myself in to calling with what I thought was 10 outs, I know why I made the call. But I also know where I fucked up here.

Lucko said it best in the comments yesterday IMO, as far as what I messed up with this hand. First, I did not adequately prepare for the possibility of the allin reraise when I made my checkraise move on the flop. By checkraising, I truly did price myself in to calling if he moved me allin. Since as discussed above I can't realistically put him on exactly QJ (a roughly 4% likelihood in my mind given the action up to and including his allin reraise), I was looking at what appeared to be 10 outs, a 40% shot against a pair (which is all he had), and I was getting about 2.2 to 1 to call. I should have folded here, but with those odds, my flop checkraise basically priced me in to call off the rest of my chips. Bad play. In retrospect, I think I would have just called his 2/3 potbet on the flop and taken another card off before making my decision. Then, assuming he led out for a decent sized bet when the second 9 fell on the turn (which I'm sure he would have with his top pair that he obviously loved so much), I like to think I would have folded my then nearly worthless pocket 7s, and lived to fight another day with still 2400 or so chips.

Secondly, even once I had checkraised on the flop there, I should have been man enough to fold what was almost surely behind at that point in the hand. I had to figure he had at least third pair, at least a Jack, something that gave him a better hand than I. I don't see how I can put him on a Queen specifically (the card that nullified 4 of my perceived 10 outs) -- if anything I would have been more likely to put him on a Jack than a Queen, which seemed fairly unlikely given the action there. So yes, I can convince myself that I was getting the right odds to make the call there, but who really wants to call off their last 1800+ chips in the first half hour of a major nlh tournament, on nothing but a draw? Even if I did have 10 outs. A real player there would have folded to the allin reraise, and taken my 1800 chips and again lived to fight another day. Who knows, on the very next hand I might have picked up pocket Aces against someone else's pocket Kings, and before I knew it I could have had 3700 chips and been at my high for the tournament. That right there is bad tournament poker by me, plain and simple. In a cash game if I want to play the odds and take my 10-out draw with 2 cards to come and getting over 2-to-1 from the pot, then so be it. But in a tournament -- especially a major, large buyin event like this -- where I can't go back into my pocket for more chips if I don't hit my draw, this was a bad play.

'Nuff said. Bad play by me. And thanks again to everyone for the comments. Hopefully this post has clarified for some of you how I feel about fearing the nuts and about playing draws early in large nlh tournaments.

Now moving back to the future, so tonight is the 6-max nlh FTOPS event at 9pm ET, something I've been looking forward to for some time. As you know I've been playing tons of 6-max tournaments lately, as I've been trying to satellite into, and then playing in, the nightly 30k guaranteed 6-max event at 11pm ET on full tilt, quite a bit over the past couple of months. In fact, I've got a 2/3 completed strategy post that will be showing up here one day soon (probably after the FTOPS is done, given that that's what I've been focusing on mainly of late) just for these 6-max turbo satellites. As you may recall, 6-max nlh was the one tournament that I was playing very well in in the FTOPS from last November until I got recockulously sucked out on to get knocked out not too deep into the event, in a beat that still stings me three full months after the fact. The fact is, 6-max nlh has quickly become one of my favorite games to play, because there is so much action and so many situations where I get to use my reads on people to make a move. In the end, to me 6-max is a very easy game to double up on, but it's also just as easy to get eliminated, so I look forward to being on my toes tonight. And I'm going to say it right here for everyone to see -- while of course I can't guarantee that I won't lose early, I hereby swear that I will not call off my chips in a big pot where I do not expect to be the favorite, at least not early on in the event when the blinds are still fairly low relative to the chip stacks. There were already nearly 600 signups for this event as of this morning when I left for the office, so based on past experience with this year's FTOPS, I am going to assume that this one is gonna get pretty big by the time the starting bell rings at 9pm ET.

Oh btw congratulations to our three cashers from yesterday's Mondays at the Hoy tournament, which I was unable to play in due to my kickass Valentine's Day dinner plans with Hammer Wife. Winning the event and the $180 first prize was Manik79, with 2nd place and $108 going to wigginx and third place and its $72 booby prize to l.e.s.ter000, with Wiggin and lester I believe coming up with their first-ever Hoy cashes in yesterday's Hoy-less event. So this makes the updated 2007 Hoy moneyleaderboard look as follows:

1. Hoyazo $400
2. Fuel55 $350
3. VinNay $310
4. Manik79 $252
5. Chad $120
5. Zeem $120
7. Ganton516 $114
8. Wigginx $108
9. NewinNov $90
10. Columbo $80
10. PhinCity $80
10. jeciimd $80
13. l.e.s.ter000 $72
14. Julius Goat $60

Who's that still on top up there?

Anyways, feel free to come by and rail me in tonight's FTOPS tournament if you like, as I will definitely be there and ready to play my "A" game. And, in an explicit decision to make these FTOPS events seem more like "just another night" as opposed to my approach last November where I think I might have built these things up a bit too much such that it actually affected my play, I am also planning to play in the weekly WWdN tonight at 8:30pm ET on pokerstars (password as always is "monkey), and I'm also expecting to play my regular satellites into the nightly 30k 6-max tournament on full tilt, which will run at 8:15 and 8:45pm ET as well. So tonight should be a fun night of poker, and one which hopefully will end up with a much better result than my first FTOPS finish last Friday. Thanks again to everyone for the comments yesterday, and wish me luck tonight in FTOPS Event #5!

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Blogger Schaubs said...

Good Luck!! Time to cash in!

1:03 AM  
Blogger Raveen said...

gl tonight man I might buy in tonight for the event but since I"m on two hours of sleep I dont know Im in the right mood to play in a long tourney. But I got into the main event finally last night so I'll def see you there on sunday night. Either way I'll def come by to rail for a bit gl tonight take it home....

1:55 AM  
Blogger lucko said...

I am surprised you are playing the $200r. What are your plans for the first hour in that one?

4:02 AM  
Blogger Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo said...

Good question Lucko. I'll probably write more about this on Thursday morning here, but I satellited in, so my plans are to get lucky and doubledonk up early on. Then, play it tight from there. But you're right, I got in on the cheap and I really don't expect to rebuy. Maybe if I get a nice cash in one of the events tonight or tomorrow we can discuss a rebuy on Thursday. Otherwise it's push and pray time. That will suck no doubt.

4:15 AM  
Blogger Christopher said...

Good luck in the FTOPS, Hoy.

8:10 AM  
Blogger Christopher said...

Also, it's funny to point out that the FTOPS link you provided from Nov 06 has QJ flopping the nuts on you!

8:13 AM  
Blogger Blinders said...

With his range according to you as "I'm thinking he could have any two overcards with 2 clubs, any AJ, probably any JJ, QQ, KK or AA, any AT, any 88, 99 or TT, any 76, and probably even any pair-plus-oesd or pair-plus-flush draw hand like I had".

I totally buy this range here with the C-Bet on the flop. So you are:

Close to coinflipping against:
AA, KK, AJ, AT, two overs with the flush draw, or pair with flush draw.

Way behind:
QQ, JJ, TT, 99, 88, 76

Dead to:

Tied with:

That covers all the hands in the range that you listed. You are not ahead of any of them. Someone is going to find a 53% one from that list, but that is not my point. I don't think that you can raise the amount that you did on the flop and expect him to fold anything in that range. So you are building a pot in a hand that according to the range you are easially behind in. Early in a tourney I think you need to fold there, or if you just call, play it for the implied odds of the 6 or possibly see if he goes weak on the turn, but most importantly keep the pot small. Tough one hoy. I did like the call preflop though if that helps.

9:15 AM  
Blogger Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo said...

Very well said, Blinders. Bad play by me on the flop.

But you're right, the preflop call was the better play than the raise. These donkeys can't help but take into account what the guy actually held since they know. At the time, I still say the limp was the more prudent play for early in a big tournament like this.

12:29 PM  
Blogger KajaPoker said...

You obviously don't fear the nuts, Hoy. But even in your example with the A23 flop you didn't list the actual nuts - AA. Is that something the button doesn't slow play? I probably lose all my chips in this hand no matter what the button has because there's no way to lay down AK on that flop, but you always have to fear the nuts. You do it all the time in your Omaha analysis, so why don't you think that way in Hold'em?

10:32 PM  
Blogger Christopher said...

Bad luck, hoy. I wonder if you'd be kind enough to write one of your strategy posts regarding blinds stealing, as this is an area where I feel my game is exceptionally weak.

3:29 PM  

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