Tuesday, April 24, 2007

MATH Recap, and Taking Notes on Players

We had another impressive turnout for Mondays at the Hoy last night, with 52 runners taking on the MATH, tying the previous record from two weeks ago as the dumbest and donkiest best and brightest of the poker blogging world came out for the battle of the $26 buyins on full tilt. This would also be the latest in the series of Battle of the Blogger Tournaments events, which has really helped to create some buzz about the blogger tournaments in a way that doesn't seem to me to have been present for a little bit, so that's all good as well.

First, my performance. I abandoned my ubertight approach that got me my best BBT finish yet in last Thursday's Riverchasers tournament, and it showed. My stack was all over the place, mostly down, but I think it got as high as around 4000 chips about a third of the way through the 52-person field. But then a spate of second-best hands -- and I didn't stick around to verify that they were second-best, mind you -- caused me to fold to preflop reraises after I had put in standard raises with hands like 77 and AJ from middle position. This got my stack back down to around 2300 chips as we crossed the 30-players-left plateau. Eventually I found AQs, the best starting hand I'd seen in some time, and open-raised the 200 big blind up to 600 from early position. Miami Don overraised me allin for 4300 or so, I put him on a lower pair which I clearly had pot odds to call with only 1700 left behind. Folding here, even though I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that I was behind (unlike some people, Don won't allin-reraise preflop with AJ, KQ, etc....), would leave me in second-to-last place of the remaining players in the tournament, and I didn't like the sound of that, plus I clearly had the pot odds to make the call against any hand other than QQ, KK, AA or AK. I call for the rest of my chips, knowing I need to hit something, and Don shows AKs. Owch. IGH in 29th place just short of the BBT points. To me, this is a case where I made a bad play, but given the circumstances, it's one of the rare plays that I think was the "right" one even though it was me calling allin when I knew I was behind. Hard to put the man on exactly one of those four hands, although surely in retrospect I wish I had. Well done to Don for getting me to commit there, and that's one more BBT event with no points to speak of for me. I'm a blonkament donkey, what can I say. The tournament rolled on with several other players who were playing well, with me watching silently from the sidelines while I killed the $200 nlh 6-max cash tables once again.

Not sure how this guy went from 4th place to out in 26th place over the span of 10 minutes just after I went out, but I'm sure there's a good story there.

The Hoy payout spots (top 6 finishers) this week went to a group of almost all new names for the 2007 Hoy leaderboard as more and more players continue to flex their muscles and show their mettle in this, arguably the toughest field of bloggers in any of the regular weekly private tournaments. In the end, only IslandBum1 in 6th place made a repeat appearance on the 2007 Hoy moneyboard, with the complete lst of cashers in this week's MATH tournament including:

IslandBum1 in 6th place for $74.88
Recess Rampage in 5th place for $99.84
DDionysus in 4th place for $137.28
Astin in 3rd place for 187.20
Blinders in 2nd place for 274.56
scots_chris in 1st place for 474.24, in his first ever MATH tournament (wow!)



OK so here is the updated 2007 Hoy money leaderboard as of this week's tournament:

1. Hoyazo $580
2. scots_chris $474.24
3. Fuel55 $458
4. Iggy $447
5. Bayne_s $410
6. Chad $379
7. IslandBum1 $357
8. Zeem $330
9. Miami Don $312
9. cmitch $312
9. oossuuu754 $312
12. VinNay $310
13. Wigginx $288
14. ScottMc $282
14. Pirate Wes $282
16. Blinders $275
17. Manik79 $252
18. Byron $234
19. Omega_man_99 $210
20. Columbo $204
21. NewinNov $190
22. Astin $187
23. Waffles $180
24. bartonfa $180
25. Tripjax $176
26. Santa Clauss $170
27. Iakaris $162
27. Smokkee $162
29. l.e.s.ter000 $147
30. DDionysus $137
31. lightning36 $137
32. InstantTragedy $129
33. Ganton516 $114
34. RecessRampage $100
35. Scurvydog $94
36. Shag0103 $84
37. PhinCity $80
37. jeciimd $80
39. dbirider $71
40. Easycure $67
41. Julius Goat $60

So here as we near the end of April, now 41 different players have cashed at least once in the weekly Mondays at the Hoy tournament. Big movers on the moneyboard this week include five first-timers as I mentioned above, plus IslandBum1 inching up to #7 on the 2007 leaderboard despite only playing in 3 or 4 MATH tournaments to my knowledge, and of course scots_chris, who took the day off from work in Australia to play in his first-ever Hoy this week, busting onto the chart at #2 overall, eclipsing longtime runner-up Fuel55 and easily getting into position for a run at the top spot next week. But you know what that means, right? That's right, I'm still in first, I'm still in first. I only keep doing this because I know it can't last. In the smaller format for the MATH before the BBT came along, let's face it -- I was dominatory. I could not and would not have been stopped. But you add in all you donkeys out there week in and week out, and a sound player like me stands almost no chance. So to me I'm like Tony Soprano after Junior shot him last year -- every day is a gift where I'm still at the top of the leaderboard in this thing. And I'm going to get all my gloating in while I still can. So you hear that, donkeys? I may have no chance of ever cashing in the MATH ever again. But I'm still your effing leader, and don't you forget it. King of the MATH, signing off.

But seriously, before I go today some actual substantive poker content. Last week, Windbreak247 asked me to do a post about taking notes on players. Now, as you can probably imagine, this is an area where I consider myself to have a significant competitive advantage over most other online players out there, and I can't exactly give away all of my little secrets here just like that. But in the spirit of using this blog for what I have always intended it -- thought-provoking analysis, and maybe even a little bit of helping others if anyone ever actually got helped by anything they've read here -- I figured today I would give it a shot to describe my general theory of note-taking, and the kinds of things I'm looking for when I take notes on players at the virtual tables.

First and foremost, I use the note-taking feature as much as humanly possible. I view it as sort of like poker tracker for tournaments. Only better, because I can make note of exactly what I want to know, and not be bothered with a bunch of indecipherable numbers that I won't ever use. I've often said this, but I'll just say it again here for good measure -- if you play online with any regularity, and you do not take notes on other players, then you are significantly disadvantaging yourself. If you think I'm wrong and don't have an open mind to changing your non-note-taking ways, then you're a donkey. These are facts. Yes, I mean you, and and even you who I also noticed do not take notes. How could you not take notes on people? It takes five fucking seconds to make a note, and that very note can be the thing that causes you to make the big call to make the final table of some tournament two weeks (or two months, or two years) from now. I use my notes all the time -- not so much in the blonkaments, as I play with you guys enough already to basically know how you all play, and plus how much use is just writing down "fonkey" for everyone really to me anyways? -- but in my other mtts. In particular as I tend to play many of the same tournaments again and again -- the 30k, the mtt satellites to the 30k, the FTOPS and related satellites, the bracelet races and related satellites, the winner's choice and related satellites, and the weekly HORSE tournament and related satellites. Although it's not at all like I'm playing at tables where I know everyone else's play intimately every time I sit down to an mtt, I do almost always have notes on two or three other players at my table, and if I sit there for an hour, I'll probably have notes on all of them. All this is a long way of saying, I consider note-taking to be one of my most important obligations at the table -- whether I'm in a given hand or not -- and I am constantly noting anything I see that fits my criteria for keeping note of.

So what kinds of things do I take note of? Well let me tell you my general phillosophy first on what to note and what not to bother noting. Generally speaking, I want to make notes about characteristics I actually observe that have both of the following qualities: they have to be repeatable, and they have to be useful. Typically these two qualities go pretty much hand-in-hand, but my overall point is, there is no benefit to me of noting, for example, that a guy called an allin with the nut boat and lost to quads. #1 that information is not very repeatable, in that how likely is it that I will be at a table with this guy and be in a hand with him where I've got quads and I suspect he's on a boat. And #2, this information is not very useful either. I mean, who isn't going to call at the river with the nut boat? So in my head, I'm getting very little information that I can do anything with when I observe this nut boat call at the river, so I won't bother making a note of it. Why waste my time noting something that will do me no good to know in the future?

Similarly, if player X is facing a raise preflop, he re-raises, and then he gets re-reraised allin, and then player X goes on to call that re-reraise before the flop and flips up pocket Kings, only to lose to pocket Aces, I'm not noting him. Again, #1 this is such a rare occurrence that it's highly unlikely I will ever see this again at the same table as this player, even if I play with him most nights. And more than that, basically everyone we know is going to call any number of raises with pocket Kings preflop (I know, I know, this guy and this guy excluded), so again what am I really getting out of making note of this here? That this guy plays pocket Kings exactly like I and everyone else in the world minus two people would play them? So, I'm always thinking while I'm at the table when I see a move, is that likely to be repeated at some point in the future, and will I be able to make use out of knowing that tendency in this particular player's game.

So, now you have my general strategy on taking notes. Let me give you a few examples of things I have been known to note about other players, just to give you a flavor of the kinds of things I do find to be useful and repeatable. While I'm not going to list every single type of thing I make note of -- that would be giving away too much information even for me -- I am going to pay particular attention to particular aspects I have noted that have actually won me pots in the past.

1. Blind stealers. I play a lot of mtts, as you all know. Both in blonkaments and otherwise, many people tend to steal the blinds from the same positions, with more or less the same size raises (relative to the size of the big blind). I have built up a tremendous database of notes on players who, say, tend to steal the blinds from the cutoff with 3.5x open-raises. To me this is a useful thing to note. It is repeatable, in that I am constantly in situations where I see them put in a raise in late position and might wonder if they are actually strong or not. And, this can be tremendously useful to me as well, in that if I look down to find a hand like KQo, for example, in the small blind, and it is folded around to the cutoff who raises 3.5x. If I click and see a note that this player steals from the cutoff with a 3.5x raise, then I am much more likely to see a flop here, or even better, to resteal with another large raise. No doubt, once in a while I get burned when this guy actually finds a hand in the cutoff, but that's just the cost of doing business as a restealy kind of guy, and I was going to get burned there whether I had this note or not. So blind stealers, to me, is a great example of something I take note of with some regularity and which has proven very useful to me over time in my mtts.

2. Slow players. If a guy slow-plays me, I will often just make a quick note that he slow-played, which street it was on, and how exactly he did the slow-play (i.e., did he check on the flop and again on the turn, did he check-call on the flop and then lead at the turn, or did he checkraise me right on the flop, etc.). This is not always completely useful information, but I always like to have as much information as possible when making decisions on individual hands, and if it ever comes up again it is useful to know that player X likes to slowplay by checkraising a set on the flop, etc.

3. Can't get away from big pairs. This is one of my favorite, most repeatable and most exploitable note-taking opportunities. Guys who cannot get away from big pairs. When someone raises preflop with what turns out to be Aces, the flop comes KQJ and they end up calling an allin reraise only to lose to two pairs or trips, I make note of it. I want to know every guy who can't lay down a big pair in nlh, because those are the most beatable donks around.

4. Weak limpers. This is another general kind of note I like to make about people who are always looking to see cheap flops. If I have KQ on the button, and one of these guys limps in from early-middle position, I like to see a note like this, so I know I can put in a substantial reraise and likely take down the pot right there. Some people (you know who you are) can't fold to any preflop raise once they've voluntarily committed to the pot, but the guys who will constantly limp in light and then fold to reraises, I want to know about that as I can make repeated use of this information to my advantage in tournaments and cash game play.

These are just a small sample of the kinds of repeatable and useful information I tend to take notes on while I'm at the virtual tables. I do so equally in my cash game play, with many of the same categories being applicable for note-taking in cash games as well as in tournaments. I try to boil things down to only the qualities that I know will arise again and again, and that I know I can do something useful with when they do arise again in the future, and I take copius, detailed notes on those things as often as I can. And I'm always taking notes, whether I'm in a hand with someone, not in the hand anymore, or even sometimes when I'm just railbirding other players and not involved in the table at all. If I see something noteworthy, I write it down. It's not like live play where you can attach a face with a particular quality of play if you have that kind of memory. When it's just a bunch of nondescript icons and avatars, you really need to make note of who you see and how they play if you expect to be able to take advtange of their tendencies in more specific ways than anything pokertracker or related software can tell you.

Hopefully this is helpful to some of you out there, or at least interesting to the rest of you. And Windbreak247, hopefully this answers your question in a way that is useful to you in the future. All I ask is that you don't use any notes against me, because that just wouldn't be right since I provided all this information in the first place.

WWdN tonight at 8:30pm ET on pokerstars. Password is "monkey" as always. I don't know that I'll play in this given how frustrating the blonkaments have been for me of late, but we'll see.

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15 Comments:

Blogger oossuuu754 said...

Hoy nice turnout again, glad to say that I got to pay the $5 bounty on waffles to otisdart. If any body wants to know how scots_chris came out of nowhere read about the hand that him and I played that crippled me over at the cowboy poker

9:00 PM  
Blogger NumbBono said...

Hoy, I'm continually impressed with the quality of material you're putting on here. With every post, it seems that there's something to learn and remember, regardless of how good of a player someone may think they are.

9:30 PM  
Blogger Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo said...

Nice of you to say, Numb. From someone who doesn't comment here often I really do appreciate the kind words.

9:34 PM  
Blogger StB said...

Funny, I have those notes listed for you. :)

10:21 PM  
Blogger Alan said...

Hoy, I'm RecessRampage. My blog address is pokertachi.blogspot.com. Thanks!

10:22 PM  
Blogger cmitch said...

Nice turnout.

Can I see your notes on me? :)

10:30 PM  
Blogger Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo said...

Alan, I updated your link. Thanks for the comment.

And CMitch, it's funny, at one point someone suggested that I reveal my notes on specific bloggers, maybe as a bounty for knocking me out of the Hoy or something. But in the end I just can't do that. Most of the comments I keep would come off as derogatory in some way (not as they're intended, most of the time anyways), in that I don't generally make comments that so-and-so played a hand just right. It's usually the times I see things that I think are exploitable.

And for what it's worth cmitch, I don't have any notes of real significance on you as I recall, since we really haven't played too much together. I think I have one or two quick tidbits but nothing earth-shattering.

10:50 PM  
Blogger smokkee said...

notes on cmitch: "sneaky mofo"

12:36 AM  
Blogger jjok said...

notes on jjok: retard

1:50 AM  
Blogger Drizztdj said...

Notes on Drizztdj: Still waiting for two more cards to get dealt

2:04 AM  
Blogger Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo said...

Notes on hoyazo: Play crappy overcards against him. He'll tilt and it's funny as shiat.

2:33 AM  
Blogger WindBreak247 said...

...god Drizz cracks me up. How do I follow that with my uber-ghey comment?

Well...like this...

You're the man, Hoy. I cannot tell you how much I appreciate and how cool I think it is that you took an interest in this request and posted on it.

In general I had the right idea on my note taking (repeatable and useful), but the quick list of things to look for will help me really get going in trying to take notes on as many players at the table that I can, and not just 1 or 2 that make a glaring play, be it good or bad. Its things like that that will get me going, and hopefully before long note taking will become second nature to me.

My only note on you, Hoy, will be "Free publicity if you beat him w/AJ."

2:33 AM  
Blogger slb159 said...

You play certain tourneys/cash game (stakes) repeatedly for notes to be extremely helpful since you see the same players more often than I do.

I don't play often enough for it to be as beneficial to me, since my table/tourney selection varies so much, but I'll certainly consider it.

I don't own any poker software and I've never taken a single note on anyone at any poker site I play (therefore, donkey). I go a lot on feel and since I won four blogger tourneys now, I "feel" I know most of the player's play and realize I can be successful.

But people play differently at different times, so one or two notes can certainly be the difference between a win and a loss.

Nice post

7:17 AM  
Blogger Scots_Chris said...

Thanks for the linkage, Hoy. I'm planning on makin something of myself as a poker player after winning the MATH. I wouldn't worry about your top spot though, as you rightly noted I skipped work to play the Hoy (I was actually pretty ill with a cold virus at the time, passed onto me by my little one, Evelyn) so it'll be a very rare thing to see me online at 1pm unless I can wrangle working at home once in a while (which isn't IMPOSSIBLE as I have very decent employers in a small company).

Anyway, the note-taking post as always is very useful to a novice such as myself (still only been playing poker ~9 months) and I'm learning all the time, and will continue to learn from solid successful players such as yourself. Hope you get a handle on your tilting potential better though, that's a problem I've had too so I fully understand.

Great game yesterday though. I've only played one casino cash game and it was the most fun I'd had with poker (outside of the crazy drunken homegames, that is), until the MATH. Brilliant table talk and quality play except from donks like myself. ;)

4:28 PM  
Blogger Eric a.k.a. Bone Daddy said...

"how much use is just writing down "fonkey" for everyone"

classic line.

7:59 PM  

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