Tuesday, May 01, 2007

MATH Recap, and Cash vs. Tournament Play

Not sure why I did not post this yesterday, but for those of you who live under a rock or something, this weekend our esteemed colleague Lucko won his WSOP Main Event seat in one of those $650 qualifier satellites on pokerstars, where 574 entrants created WSOP prize packages for the top 32 finishers. Go over and read an awesome writeup from Lucko about his incredible win, and for adding yet another blogger to the growing list of bloggers who will be playing in the 2007 WSOP. We've had a few notable cashers in WSOP events, but still no final tabler that I know of, right? Awesome work, Lucko!!

OK, so on to today's regularly scheduled post. The fourth MATH tournament of the BBT circuit, and the last one of the first month of the challenge, saw 49 runners chipping in $24 apiece (plus $2 apiece that will come 100% directly back to us in the BBT freeroll Tournament of Champions in a couple of months), for a total $1176 prize pool. Way to go once again to all you out there for showing up for some good times, donkey poker, big prizes for the top finishers, and a chance at the really big prizes offered to the BBT's best at the end of the challenge. My night was actually better than most of my recent blonkaments, as I managed to stay above the starting 3000-chip stack basically from the first hand and through to the middle of the second hour of the tournament. Eventually, with my stack down to around 2300 at a time when the average stack was probably around 5000, I made the laughably amateurish open allin push from the small blind with ATC, just to make sure that brdweb would fold his big blind and give me some much needed chips (one blind steal at this point would increase my stack by around 15%). At the time I was in roughly 25th place with 30 players left, with just the top 24 making the BBT points bubble. Of course now I realize that this kind of silly overbet only gets called by a hand that beats me, especially given that I was totally weak like 64o or something. brdweb calls instantly, and not only do I know I'm down around 2 to 1 by two overcards, but then brdweb realy rubs it in by flipping up pocket Aces. Hmmmm. Two seconds later and I'm done, out I think in 29th place or something. In the end, sad to say, it's one of my better blonkament performances of the last few months, and my bustout was truly one of the worst plays I've ever made in a blogger event. It happens. I was focusing hard on the Monday 1k tournament all through the Hoy, so that may have played a small part, I don't know.

It's funny, because last night in the 1K Monday tourney, which btw had 220 runners for a 220k prize pool, way bigger than I've seen this thing over the past several weeks, I also played well for a couple of hours, very tight, no good cards except for one AA hand where I chipped up pretty solidly in the first 30 minutes or so. Otherwise, by the middle of the third hour in this thing, I am down to 49th place out of 59 remaining players because as the blinds have moved up I haven't seen one playable hand, and not even one stealable hand because there were always preflop raises already in ahead of me. It sucked. I end up pushing my short stack allin preflop with KQs from middle position. Just the small blind calls my allin, and what's he flip up? Pocket Aces. And IGH in 59th place overall out of 220 (top 27 cashed in the event). So that was my run in the first Monday 1k of my career, and hopefully not the last. I did great against one of the very toughest mtt fields out there, busting in 59th place out of 220 runners in a tournament where I could never get anything going due to positional issues and poor starting cards. I'm pleased. Always hurts to lose in a big tournament like this, but I played pretty well given the circumstances I think. But I did push allin preflop on a short stack in both the MATH and the Monday 1k and ran into pocket Aces behind me in both situations. That hurts.

Anyways, back to the MATH. As the Hammer Girls have been up for parts of the last few nights since they're sick, I was more tired than usual and as such I only made it awake to when the final table happened. This consisted basically of waiting out Waffles until he busted on the ft bubble in 10th place, adding some more valuable BBT points to his now 3rd place standing in the challenge. When I checked in this morning I was very pleased to see the final Hoy leaderboard from Monday night's event.

Now, why would this particular leaderboard please me, you may be wondering? Two reasons, I guess.

First, I'm a big fan of the Goat. Julius Goat is a fairly new blogger, and in fact he is actually the most recent addition to the blogroll on the left there, as most of you know I choose to be very selective about what I include on the roll as I like to keep that limited to only high quality product for you to link to. But I am always adding new blogs that I find myself reading more than infrequently. Usually I bury them in the middle of the blogroll since I don't want proximity to the top or bottom to mean anything to anyone (although I do admit to the best of the best being at the very top of the roll, mostly because they're the first people I thought of that I knew had to be on there), but I've added a number of you over the past few months as there always seems to be a new crop of bloggers looking to pick up the reins from those who have let their blogs fizzle out or become stale. Anyways, Julius Goat is the last blog added to my roll, and there are good reasons for that. Not only is Goat a dam good poker player, having hit the final table in the last Riverchasers event for example with a big chip lead over all the remaining players before taking the MATH down this week, but he is a dam fine writer. And I'm not just saying that. The Goat is funny and the Goat is clever, and his writing will be enjoyable for anyone who likes what I'm doing over here day in and day out. Now so far my biggest complaint about Goat's blog is that the guy doesn't update quite enough for me, but when he posts, the shit is good. Goat does his weekly take on Lost which anybody who's a fan of the show will love to laugh at and shake their heads in agreement, and he's even started reviewing his good tournament performances in 12 hands or less, depicting those hands on his blog for everyone to kinda be there next to him as he runs deep into the BBT points race. I find myself thinking of Goat as the 2007 version of an unknown blogger named Iakaris, that brand new blogger guy whose writing you really love to read, who is clever as balls, and who posts just enough to leave you wanting more. If you haven't checked out Goat's blog yet, go pop by now and take a read. He is my kind of blogger no doubt.

Ok so that's reason #1 why I am happy about last night's results. That's the kind, generous and gracious side of Hoy, the one I want you guys to see. But then there's the other side. The greedy, ultra-competitive pompous ass side. And when I went to bed with 9 players left in the MATH last night, all that dark side of me could see was that, at the time of the final table beginning, Columbo, who is running the WPBT tournaments this year, had a huge chip lead over everyone else at the table. Something about that struck my dark side as bad, though I couldn't put my finger on what. But then I ran and checked the 2007 Math moneyboard and quickly realized the problem. Columbo was the only guy at the final table last night who could displace me atop the 2007 board with a win on Monday night. And he had a huge chip lead. No wonder my sinister side wasn't happy. So imagine my relief this morning when I log in to see that Goat somehow managed to overcome that huge chip lead and leave Columbo as just one of the big movers and shakers of the week on the moneyboard, without touching the coveted top spot for one more (and only one more) week.

Here are your cashers in this week's Mondays at the Hoy tournament:

6th place: $70.56 Alceste, the New York blogger who's not really a poker blogger, making his first MATH cash of the year (and, I think, his first cash here ever).

5th place: $94.08 Gracie, fresh off of winning 1% of brdweb's WSOP action in this past Sunday's Blogger Bracelet Race and relieving me of my stack early on in the event, her second straight blonkament top-6 finish, and also her first Hoy cash of the year.

4th place: $129.36 Pushmonkey72 (link updated)

3rd: $176.40 23skidoo, just back in Atlanta from a trip to nyc where I was unable to get together thanks to work obligations, but where he played in an underground club with Jordan and won the entire tournament, I think even his second win at this club in two lifetime trips there (way to go Ski!).

2nd: $258.72 Columbo, now making his third cash in the MATH in 2007, and really making a run at the Hoy moneywinner of the year race.

And in first place, winning his first MATH tournament ever and finally getting his name off the very bottom of the Hoy 2007 moneyboard, to the tune of a $446.88 cash, is Julius Goat.

Congratulations to everyone who cashed and who played well, and we'll see you next week at Mondays at the Hoy.

And oh yeah, there is the little matter of the freshly-updated 2007 MATH moneyboard, inculding the results from this week's tournaments (rounded to the nearest dollar as always):

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

1. Hoyazo $580
2. Julius Goat $507
3. scots_chris $474
4. Columbo $463
5. Fuel55 $458
6. Iggy $447
7. Bayne_s $410
8. Chad $379
9. IslandBum1 $357
10. Zeem $330
11. Miami Don $312
11. cmitch $312
11 oossuuu754 $312
14. VinNay $310
15. Wigginx $288
16. ScottMc $282
16. Pirate Wes $282
18. Blinders $275
19. Manik79 $252
20. Byron $234
21. Omega_man_99 $210
22. NewinNov $190
23. Astin $187
24. Waffles $180
24. bartonfa $180
26. 23Skidoo $176
26. Tripjax $176
28. Santa Clauss $170
29. Iakaris $162
29. Smokkee $162
31. l.e.s.ter000 $147
32. DDionysus $137
32. lightning36 $137
34. Pushmonkey72 $129
34. InstantTragedy $129
36. Ganton516 $114
37. RecessRampage $100
38. Gracie $94
38. Scurvydog $94
40. Shag0103 $84
41. PhinCity $80
41. jeciimd $80
43. Alceste $71
43. dbirider $71
45. Easycure $67

So what a week for the MATH moneyboard -- we've got two new faces in the top 5 on the list. Columbo's 2nd place finish this week combines with his two previous 2007 cashes to lift him into 4th place overall, behind only myself, last week's winner scots_chris, and this week's winner, Julius Goat. Goat's big win this week combined with his paltry $60 cash previous to this one to propel him up to lone position in 2nd place on the current board. And who's that still in first? My glasses are foggy sonny, I can't read the screen, could you read it to me out loud please? Ha ha that's right. My Era of Futility persists with another no-points, no-cash in the MATH, and yet my Reign of Terror continues as well for one more week, now into May as I have owned -- no, make that pwned -- the competition in the Hoy through the first third of the year in 2007. And you just know somebody's gonna pass me next week, so why not let that person be you? If you've cashed anywhere else on the board so far this year, then a win in next Monday night's MATH should vault you right up to where you want to be. Cuz you know I won't be cashing that shit. Congrats again to this week's MATH payout receivers and to everyone who has made an appearance on the 2007 leaderboard to date.

I thought I would end today with mentioning a few key differences that I have seen between the way I actually play certain hands in cash games vs. in tournaments. For my part, I play a ton of 6-max no-limit holdem. The nightly 30k on full tilt is 6-max, and I play at least one satellite into that event almost every single night I play. And lately I've been playing a lot of 6-max cash at the $200 level as well, several thousands of hands worth at this point, so I've gotten quite a bit of experience at both the cash and tournament level. Enough for me to begin to compare how I think the game is best played at each particular form of poker.

The biggest general difference I see between cash and tournament play is that I find that, in cash (at least at the 1-2 level), it pays to be much more straightforward, generally speaking, that it does in a tournament. With actual cash on the line, the damage to me just seems so much more significant, more real, when I allow someone to catch a miracle card and crack my pair of Aces at the cash table than it is in a tournament. So I have found it more important to bet your strong hands and not to try to lay traps at the cash tables than at the large tournaments. In tournaments, I have long believed and continue to believe that the biggest way to excel in large-format mtts is to trap, and to avoid getting trapped. Trapping others for all their chips, when they cannot just go back to their pockets for more, is the way that I have built up my stack in most cases in most of the deep mtt runs I've ever had. That, and avoiding being trapped. So I find large mtt play is about trapping, while in my view, low-limit cash play is more about betting for value when you've got something, pushing the small edges, and aggressively going after pots when you believe you are best. I would bet my life that trappiness increases again in importance as one climbs the limits in the cash games, where the skill levels of your opponents are clearly rising along with your own, but at the low limits I find straightforward play to be the best policy.

In light of this "more aggressive" theme in cash vs. tournament play for me, when I put in any preflop raise at 6-max cash, invariably that raise is the size of the pot. In tournaments, on the other hand, I usually don't quite raise the size of the pot in standard raise situations. In tournaments I am generally closer to 3x the size of the big blind, depending on my position, but almost never quite as high as the size of the pot once the antes grow large enough. So for example, my standard open-raise from middle position at a 200 nl 6-max cash table is $7, which is a pot-raise of the $1 and $2 blinds in the current pot, whereas in a tournament, I would be raising this to $6, or 3 times the big blind. So my preflop raises are generally a tad larger in relative terms in cash games than what I would normally be raising in tournaments.

There are some other differences in my own personal play in cash games vs. tournaments that also relate to the gravity that I tend to take actual cash losses with as compared to $T losses in my usual $20 buyin or so tournaments. For example, in a 6-max tournament, I might open-raise from EP with KQ early in the tourney. If someone reraises me, I know I'm folding 90% of the time and I'm only losing a typically insignificant amount of $T that is not likely to prevent me from winning the tournament. But in a 6-max cash game, where every raise means $7 out of my stack at your typical 1-2 table, I am very reluctant to ever raise from early position without an Ace or a pair in my hand. It's one thing to lose T$50 out of my starting stack of 1500 chips in the Mookie. It's a whole other thing to lose $7 out of my $150 stack because I raised utg with KQ or QJs, something I would be somewhat likely to do in tournament play.

Going along with the Aces theme for a minute, I am also less likely to play a weak Ace from utg or utg+1 in a cash game than in a tournament. Any Ace in 6-max is a good opening hand from any position, but of course playing a hand like A2 or A3 for a raise utg is going to get you in a lot more tough positions than open-raising this hand from the button. In 6-max tournamet play, I will open with almost any Ace from almost any position, and again if I get reraised then I know I'm laying it down without much effect on my overall position in the tournament. But at the 6-max cash tables, I don't like to raise utg or utg+1 with A2, A3 and even on up to A5 or A6. Again, whenever someone reraises me here, I basically have to lay it down because I'm not going up against a higher Ace for a big pot when there is my actual cash on the line. So I'll always still play my A9s and ATs from early position at the cash tables, but my starting hand standards are tighter somewhat, much as they are with respect to non-Ace starting hands as described in the previous paragraph, for overcard-type of hands in the cash games than they are in the same 6-max format tournaments.

Despite all of the above differences which are all variations on the theme of playing a big tighter preflop with high cards in cash games, my starting hand requirements are paradoxically looser at the cash tables with certain other hands that have the ability to either hit big or let me out cheap, or when it comes to almost any cards with potential if it appears that a big pot may be developing. So, for example, I will call almost any standard preflop raise with almost any pocket pair in the cash games. Yes, even the shitty pairs like 22-66, hands that I am almost certainly laying down to a raise preflop in a tournament because they are so likely to be losers once the cards come out. But the chances of hitting my flop at the cash tables, which would mean flopping a set and a great opportunity to stack my opponent(s) for all of their actual cash money at the table, makes it worth my while to see as many flops as possible with as many pocket pairs as possible. Many better cash players than I have written about how much of their cash play revolves around set mining, and in my experience this is exactly correct, even in 6-max play at the $200 level. So in a tournament I may try to open-limp with a hand like pocket 5s in middle position, but in a cash game I want to be more aggressive with what is likely the best hand right now, so if the action has not been opened to me yet, I am likely to raise with those 5s to try to take the small pot down right then, and to provide some camouflage for my stronger hands that I also will be raising this same (pot-sized) amount. And what's more, if the action is raised before me in a tournament and I look down in middle position to find pocket 5s, I am likely folding, whereas in a cash game I am much more likely to call that $7 raise and try to hit a monstrous flop.

Similarly, once there is 3- or certainly 4-way action before the flop ahead of me in a cash game, I am likely to call with almost any two cards with any real potential at all. Would I call a $7 raise preflop with 4 players already in for $8 with a hand like 94o in a cash game? Maybe not. But maybe, I think it might depend on how I was playing at the time. But I would certainly call that same $7 cash-game raise with 4 players already in for $8 apiece if I held, say, J9o, and probably with almost any two connectors, even if not soooted. It just pays to try to hit a miracle flop and stack somebody for $200 cold. hard. cash. Again, in a tournament if a guy raises and three players call that raise and it's back to me in the small blind with 65o, I am generally folding that hand there, even with 4-way action guaranteed already to see the flop. But when it's actual cash money in play, almost any hand with any potential at all becomes playable in my eyes if it's not too expensive to see the flop and you are sure of some solid, multi-way action.

I'm sure there are lot of other differences in the play of actual hands between cash and tournament play, but these are my initial impressions after playing about 50,000 hours of 6-max tournaments, and maybe 50 hours of 6-max cash games at the $100 and $200 level. If anyone else has any additional observations, I'd love to hear them. Or of course if you think my observations are not entirely accurate, let me know that as well.

Otherwise, don't forget the Wheatie tonight at 8:30pm ET on pokerstars (password is "monkey" as always), and probably the WWdN 2nd Chance at 10:30pm ET as well tonight. I may or may not play in those tournaments, although final tabling both of them last week ought to have me more excited to play there, but either way I will definitely be on at some point this evening, probably looking at another crack or two into the FTOPS events I am not yet registered for. Remember, FTOPS Event #1 starts 10 days from now, a week from this coming Friday night, so get crackin on winning those seats!

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9 Comments:

Blogger Alceste said...

It was indeed my first cash -- (the BBT prompting me to starting playing the MATH last week). And congrats to Goat, he was absolutely running over our table for a while (until a slip against Colombo) when we were down to 2 tables.

And I kind of like the idea of being a blogger who is not a blogger with a blog that is not a blog.

10:47 PM  
Blogger Miami Don said...

Nice to see and read about your evolution into the cash world.

Straight forward play is the way to go now, as you move up you definitely need to add trapping and slowplaying into the mix.

11:56 PM  
Blogger TripJax said...

Chad final tabled the $1500 WSOP Razz event last year, going out in 9th place I believe.

And he used his DADI satellite win for the buy-in. Woot!

I've added Goat to my list of reads. Good lookin' out.

12:11 AM  
Blogger Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo said...

Oh did Chad final table the razz event? I thought it was just short of the final table, because they don't usually play razz with 9 players (since dealing out 9 full hands would require 63 cards in the deck).

12:27 AM  
Blogger Goat said...

Dude. You're too kind. I didn't know a goat could blush.

Thanks for the kind words, Hoy. I ain't worthy.

And I'm coming up on ya. Top o' the leaderboard, baby.

12:45 AM  
Blogger oossuuu754 said...

Hoy quick comment or question. I find your observations about the difference between cash play and tourney play very similar to mine. I have started playing more 6 max 1/2 and find that I play very tight in these. I have wondered if it is just because I am not as comfortable with cash vs the tourney, or is a matter of Roll. At the 1/2 level (which is this biggest I have played in so far online) I have equated my play to the way I play in the $200 plus buyin tourneys (tight aggressive) which leads me to belive I am playing beyond my Roll. Yes my roll can sustain several buyins at 1/2 as well as several buyins of $200 tournies but I dont play the tournies unless I sat into them because the variations would decimate my roll. Just wondered what your take is?

2:27 AM  
Blogger Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo said...

That's a lot to answer in a quick response, osuuuu but I will try to respond here. First off, I am totally with you in that I don't generally buy in to $200 mtts, but I happily sit at a 1-2 table and play $200 6-max nlh cash. I guess the thinking is that, even though on occasion I do get stacked in the cash games, there is a greater chance of me making and not losing money overall, and there is also plenty of opportunity for me to play a few hours, lose just a little bit of money from my initial $200 stake, and then retire for the evening. Now, any good mtt players knows that in 85% or more of these things, you will be throwing away your entire buyin. That's why I can't stomach constantly buying in to $200 tournaments, even with a roll that can technically sustain that kind of behavior for some time. You play 50 tourneys at $216 apiece, and that is $10,800 you've just spent, of which you can expect to get back 0 in say 90% of those endeavors. This leaves you only 5 of the 50 $216-buyin tournaments in which to win back your $10,800 investment, or you're toast. That is asking quite a bit, at least IMO it is. So, all things being equal, I think it makes total sense to play in a higher max-buyin cash game than the amount of buyin you would regularly play in in a tournament context.

Also, I think proper play in cash games is definitely tight aggressive. Do you not think so? If anything, I think my play for most situations is even a bit tighter in cash games than in comparable tournaments, per my post today. There is the other aspect of playing looser with hands in multiway pots and pocket pairs that can flop sets, but otherwise with most cards and in most situations, like in all other forms of poker I think tight-aggro is the best way to play. Hence I would not think that just because you're playing tight that means you're playing over your roll.

In general, go check in with guys like Lucko and Don, they should be able to help you with their perspective on these questions at least as much as I can as well.

3:33 AM  
Blogger Raveen said...

at the 1/2nl level tight aggressive is the way to go no doubt about it. In the long run that is how u will make the most amount of money. However as you move up styles must change to adapt to the changing players but what you said hoy for the most part your dead on.

4:13 AM  
Blogger Rich said...

thanks for hosting hammer family! i had a semi-drunken blast at the MATH. hoy, here is my new blog:

http://pushmonkey72.blogspot.com

best of luck wtih the 6 max cash games.

11:04 AM  

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