Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Avatar Race, and More on the Resteal

So Tuesday night was the first Avatar Race on full tilt, which again this year awards buyins to 13 of the 14 FTOPS events coming up in early- to mid-August plus an entry to a super sat for the 14th and largest buyin event. If you recall I had satellited about 5/6 of the way in by winning $240 cash on the bubble of Monday night's $75 satellite, so I put up the last 60 big ones and gave it a shot last night.

Things started off badly. Very badly. I pushed hard against a guy whom I've already noted as someone who resteals effectively against me and seems to have a good read on me generally. He's eliminated me from the big buyin full tilt mtts before, and I remember his name well. Long story short, he got me again. I had pocket Aces, the flop came something like Q66. He check-called my potbet on the flop. Then he checkraised me allin when then turn came a King. I folded my Aces to a big loss of probably close to a third of my stack. Note btw that my Aces streak is still alive and well, as it only pertained to cash games. Right now btw, it is either 31 for 31 or 32 for 32, I don't remember which, but there have been one or two more pocket rocket cash wins since my 30-win streak announcement. But this is tournament land, where I am free to lose with my Aces from time to time, and in that hand I did.

A few hands later was even worse. The flop came KK8 and I decided to represent a King and bet about 3/4 the pot, which that same opponent called after some pause. Then the turn ragged off and I checked, intending on checkraising, and my opponent responded with a bet of about half the pot. I checkraised him 3 times his bet, figuring for sure he lays down anything but a King in his hand here. He re-reraises me allin, putting my last 900 or so chips in jeopardy, so I fold meekly with my tail between my legs. My nemesis rakes the huge pot and shows me AK. Nice timing, Hoy.

But I perservered. I don't even remember the couple of big hands I had to get back in it, but I do know that I made some great plays and basically got back up over 6000 chips and went into the first break in around 36th of 110 or so remaining. In a good sign of things to come, Tuesday night's first Avatar Race of the season had a whopping 160 entrants, far more than in any other Avatar Race I can recall for the other FTOPSes, which meant that the top 10 spots would each receive what is a huge, $4500 prize package. 1 in 16. It means you have to play well, very well even, but there is also some chance for not being the best guy at the table on the night and still being able to persist to victory.

With about ten minutes left in the 2nd hour, with me in approximately 40th place of 70 players left, this big hand went down, once again against my nemesis, a guy named "tiltedpony":

Full Tilt Poker Game #2979428768: FTOPS Avatar Race (22499547), Table 17 - 80/160 - No Limit Hold'em - 22:48:08 ET - 2007/07/17

Seat 1: QT1 (4,655)

Seat 2: AJKHoosier1 (3,626)

Seat 3: vetiver (5,405), is sitting out

Seat 4: padirk165 (6,380)

Seat 5: zestfulyclean (5,415)

Seat 6: hoyazo (6,010)

Seat 7: ISPEWCHIPS (2,370)

Seat 8: tiltedpony (7,127)

Seat 9: Lord Admiral (3,710)

hoyazo posts the small blind of 80

ISPEWCHIPS posts the big blind of 160

The button is in seat #5

*** HOLE CARDS ***

Dealt to hoyazo [7c Kc]

tiltedpony calls 160

Lord Admiral folds

QT1 folds

AJKHoosier1 folds

vetiver folds

padirk165 folds

zestfulyclean folds

vetiver has returned

hoyazo calls 80 So it's folded around to me in the small blind with just the utg player limping. There is 400 in the pot, I have K7 sooted in clubs and it's just 80 more to me to call into a 3-way pot. Obviously I call.


*** FLOP *** [Jc 4c 9d] Pot is $480.

hoyazo has 15 seconds left to act

hoyazo bets 420 Here I'm thinking I have flopped the 2nd-nut flush draw plus an overcard, against one utg limper (must be careful of that!) and a big blind who just checked. Unless someone else has hit a Jack here or maybe flopped an oesd, they should fold to my aggression here. I will do the usual and bet somewhere under the size of the pot.

ISPEWCHIPS folds Good.

tiltedpony calls 420 Not necessarily bad. This guy has floated against me before, and he could have 2nd or 3rd pair or a draw, or I of course have a 35% of hitting my flush draw in the next two cards and maybe winning some real chips from this guy.

*** TURN *** [Jc 4c 9d] [6h] Pot is $1320.

hoyazo has 15 seconds left to act

hoyazo bets 1,060 Well, I bet on the flop and got called by a guy who is a known floater. The offsuit raggy turn cannot reasonably possibly have helped either of us. I just don't read this guy for being ahead of me right now. This player limp-called from utg before the flop, and although sometimes that means Aces, he has played this hand so unbelievably passively that I cannot possibly believe he would be butchering pocket Aces this badly. He's a good player. Thus, I have to put him on either a low pair, a low Ace or low suited connectors. Maybe 98 or A4 to have called on this flop. Maybe he still has a draw which clearly missed on the turn. With any of these hands I see him folding here to a properly-sized bet. With the 1060 bet I have set my opponent's pot odds right where I want them to prevent flush and straight draws from calling anywhere near their roughly 1-in-5 chances of filling, and also far more than anything other than top pair can call in the hopes of hitting his kicker.

tiltedpony calls 1,060 Oops.

*** RIVER *** [Jc 4c 9d 6h] [9c] Pot is $3440.

hoyazo has 15 seconds left to act Bingo!!! I actually hit a draw and nailed my flush on the river. It did pair the 2nd card on the flop, but that's actually a good thing for me, since I've been betting the whole way, I know this guy can't possibly put me on a made flush here. This means that he will have to think his trip 9s are good if he just made that. So what do I do to get the most chips from this guy? Well, he's called me on two streets, and I suspect he might have just made trips with the river 9, or perhaps two pairs or something like that, surely something that loses to my rivered flush. Since I think he might be strong, and he's already called progressively larger bets from me on two streets, I'm just going allin, which is actually only about 34% bigger than the current pot size anyways. If I double up I'm in the top 4 players in the tournament with 70 remaining, and the top 10 getting seats. It's go time.

hoyazo bets 4,370, and is all in

tiltedpony has 15 seconds left to act He is delaying. He obviously doesn't have anything strong. Time to try to elicit the call.

hoyazo: FOLD

hoyazo: you can do it

tiltedpony calls 4,370 Haha what an effing donkey to have fallen for that!

*** SHOW DOWN ***

hoyazo shows [7c Kc] a flush, King high Read it n weep, dickhead!

tiltedpony shows [Qc Ac] a flush, Ace high Uh...Whaa???????

tiltedpony wins the pot (12,180) with a flush, Ace high

hoyazo stands up Dazed. Did he just call 1060 into a 2380 pot with just a flush draw? And please don't quote me the two overcards. With the way I bet this hand, only a donkass counts on 6 more outs with the Aces and Queens. And I won't even point out that he still doesn't have the right odds even adding 6 overcards as outs. Did that just happen?

*** SUMMARY ***

Total pot 12,180 | Rake 0

Board: [Jc 4c 9d 6h 9c]

Seat 1: QT1 didn't bet (folded)

Seat 2: AJKHoosier1 didn't bet (folded)

Seat 3: vetiver didn't bet (folded)

Seat 4: padirk165 didn't bet (folded)

Seat 5: zestfulyclean (button) didn't bet (folded)

Seat 6: hoyazo (small blind) showed [7c Kc] and lost with a flush, King high

Seat 7: ISPEWCHIPS (big blind) folded on the Flop

Seat 8: tiltedpony showed [Qc Ac] and won (12,180) with a flush, Ace high

Seat 9: Lord Admiral didn't bet (folded)

So that's how I didn't win the Avatar Race in my first attempt.

I have the worst fucking luck ever with flushes. Let me put it this way -- for you poker tracker guys n gals out there, my lifetime stats over more than 10,000 hands now are that I have lost over $1300 with flushes overall. No that's not a typo -- I have actually managed to lose over $1300 when I have made flushes on the hand. Now, lest you starting thinking the worst about me, let me clarify a few things. I reviewed all 19 of my flushes where I've gone to showdown (I have won 11 and lost 8). In only one instance did I make the flush with just one of my hole cards, a hand which I went on to win anyways. So in 18 separate hands since I started running pokertracker, I've made two-card flushes, and I've somehow lost 8 of them! And again before you get all Sherlock Holmes and try to figure this out, let me also clarify that in not a single one of these instances did I lose to a full house (or better). Not one. So I'm not betting with just one-card 8-high flushes and losing to another high one-card flush. And I'm not at all that guy betting the flush as hard as possible when the board is paired. Nope, instead, I have taken 18 two-card flushes to showdown, and lost 8 of those 18 to higher two-card flushes. On two occasions these flushes were even backdoor flushes made on the turn and river. Still lost to a higher backdoor flush. Twice in 10,000 hands! So even though I am well positive with trips / set and obviously with full house or better, in the middle of all that is me down over 1300 bucks with made fucking two-card non-paired-board flushes. Flush over flush is the bane of my cash existence right now, and last night that spilled over into my tournament game to combine with a horrifically poor call by a longtime nemesis of mine to eliminate me from what would have been awesome position in the first Avatar Race on full tilt. F flush-over-flush. I hope flush over flush gets AIDS. Please.

OK so I wanted to talk a little bit more today about stealing and restealing, which was the topic of my post from this past Monday. I got a lot of good comments to that post, and I thought I would address some of those comments specifically, in addition to giving my own thoughts on some concepts introduced in those comments, because I do have some more to say about the topic overall. The resteal is one of my favorite moves, after all.

Schaubs left a comment to Monday's post where he wanted to know do I still apply these same general rules on restealing regardless of the size of the tournament I am in? Generally speaking, yes. I mean, in a blonkament that is only 20-70 people or so, the chip stacks never get real big, and there just isn't the long (two hours or more, somtimes) period near the end when the Ms are low basically across the board where stealing and especially restealing become so important. But once you get up into the several hundreds of players, and on to as large as any tournament I've ever played in, I'm stealing and restealing like this near the end all the time. I almost never resteal early in a tournament because the blinds and antes don't make you, but in any largeish event, by definition just because of the structure itself there's going to be a looooong time where stealing is just about all you'll be doing if you want to stay ahead of the blinds.

And yes, Schaubs, I do use a similar strategy during bubble play, although obviously you have to be more careful because you don't want to endanger your own position vis a vis the bubble. In other words, if I'm a prohibitively huge stack with 15 players left in an mtt satellite where 14 players win the seat, I am not likely to steal or resteal much. Why bother? Why take the risk with an abjectly huge stack when I can probably just sit around and wait for someone to bust and then win my seat? Generally I would only steal and certainly only resteal if I thought there was some chance I might actually need those chips for later in the tournament. Otherwise it's often not worth the risk.

Blinders, thanks for weighing in with the ubertight view. Suffice it to say, not only is restealing a +EV move if it is executed correctly, but it is the only way to have any chance of winning a large mtt. I would estimate you probably need to resteal several times in the last few hours of any big mtt if you are to win it, period. I don't think there's any other way as the blinds and antes get huge and the tables get shorthanded so those blinds are coming around faster and faster. You'd have to be Astinthe luckiest guy in the world to get enough good cards to wait without ever making moves with nothing great in that situation. And don't get me wrong, as I mentioned in my original post, you will surely donk yourself right out of a number of these mtts with less than strong hands against guys who were raising with actual good cards. No doubt you will, so to that extent in any individual tournament, of course the resteal can be a -EV move. But overall it is an absolutely key piece of any really deep mtt run, in particular online where the structures are sufficiently fast to basically ensure low Ms for most of the players through most of the last few hours of the event.

Blinders and a number of the other commenters to Monday's post also raised a few more factors that clearly do weigh on the decision of whether or not to resteal. Blinders correctly mentions things like "position of the raiser, your position, stack sizes, raisers image, your image", all of which weigh no doubt. As a poker player late in an mtt you are screwing up if you're not using every single bit of information that is available to you when making every single decision. I did not mention position of the raiser or my own position in the analysis in my original post, but of course those do go into the equation. I didn't mention them because for me they are almost always the same in the situations where I might consider a move like a resteal. In other words, you're almost never in early or middle position to do a resteal. I'm not limping into hardly any pots very late in an mtt, so the only time I would ever resteal is from late position. Similarly, restealing from an utg raiser is something I'm almost never doing late in an mtt, unless I have personally observed the guy raising utg so often that I know he must be stealing with those hands, and even then it is almost too risky of a move to get too involved in doing against an utg raiser. So, almost all the time where the resteals happen -- at least for me in the big mtts -- is when I am on the button or in one of the blinds, and when the stealing player is in the cutoff, the button, or maybe in the small blind vs. my big blind. So I might take into account the relative positions of the players involved, but in mostly every case it is basically the same for me because I try not to get myself into positions where I am restealing from an utg guy who probably has a strong hand to begin with.

The other factor Blinders mentioned are the relative images of the players involved (he mentioned stack sizes too, but I wrote a great deal about that already on Monday). But Blinders is totally correct, the raiser's image plays heavily in this decision. This is why I wrote the other day about targeting players whom I have seen open-raising quite a bit from late position already at the table. These are the guys who you know like to steal with less than premium cards in the right spots -- the guys with the stealy, loose-late images -- so these are the guys I like to do most of my resteal attempts from. Similarly, my own image clearly plays into the resteal decision as well. I didn't mention this specifically in my post because if you've ever watched me late in an mtt, you know that I raise all the time. Nobody can really get much of a read on me because I have raised, and I even reraise people enough -- with some good hands and some bad ones -- that my own image is usually basically the same by the time we are down to the final few tables in any big mtt. But it's certainly something you have to keep in mind when deciding whether or not to resteal -- i.e., if you've just been caught twice in a row trying to resteal from a late-position open-raiser and having to show shiat cards, then a third resteal attempt is not nearly as likely to be met with the fold that you so desperately want. That is basic poker psychology, but something you certainly need to think about in late-stage mtt play if you are to truly take advantage of all the available information out there.

DaSwam, whom I think is a first-time commenter on my blog, asked on Monday how much I typically bet when I steal and when I resteal. Good questions. Anyone who has played a lot with me will know that I am a very standard raise amount kind of a guy. In other words, I tend to raise around 3x with any kind of a hand, from any position, until the antes are big. Once the antes are big enough late enough into a large mtt, I will increase my standard raise amount to something more like 4x or even 5x the big blind, to make sure I am giving any kind of soooted connector or whatever poor odds to take a flop and try to bust me. So if there's already 5000 in the pot but the big blind is only 2400 (because there are $200 antes from all 7 people around the table), I'm not going to just bump it up to 3x the 2400 or 7200 to do a late-position steal attempt. If there's already 5000 in the pot, a raise to 7200 is going to give a lot of hands a lot of odds to make the call. In that spot I will want to probably close to double what's already in the pot, which is 4x the big blind or more, as a result of the big portion of the pot created by the antes.

For restealing, I tend to have a similar approach. Remember, with a true resteal, your objective is clearly to get your opponent to fold the hand he just open-raised with from late position. You don't typically want a call, or else it's not really a re-steal, but rather a regular re-raise with a strong hand that you don't mind if he calls you with. But for a resteal, my objective is generally to reraise enough so that the guy has to fold anything but his strongest hands. So, let's take my example above again here. 7-handed table, 1200-2400 blinds and a 200 ante. There's 5000 in the pot before the hand even begins, and it folds around to the button, a guy I have observed steal-raising several times already in the past half hour or so, who bumps the bet up to 10k, just more than 4 times the big blind. Say he has 100,000 chips in his stack after the 10k bet here. Here I will want to reraise him up to something like 30k or 40k. I will amost always raise at least 3 times his steal-raise, because that's the kind of bet that it's going to take to get him to lay down his Q9 or 76s that he is stealing with here. And if he wants to call me for that huge of a reraise with a hand like Q9 or 76s, then I'm going to have ample opportunity to get him out of this pot on the flop or after. But again, remember the idea is to get this guy out of the pot when you're restealing, so a 2x reraise to me is not designed to get him to fold.

I also try to look at how many chips I will have left after I put in this big resteal raise here. If the amount I have left compared to the amount already in the pot will likely pot-commit me, then so be it and then I'm just going to move allin. Similarly, if I look at my stealing opponent's stack and think that even a 3x or 4x reraise of his steal raise will not likely be enough to get him to fold what is an otherwise large stack, but I think that an allin re-reraise by me is big enough to get him to fold, I might move in there as well instead of just the normal 3x or 4x reraise. But to me the allin decisions are basically made with reference to either my stack size and/or my opponent's stack size, and not at all with reference to the cards I'm holding.

And DaSwam made one other important question/point at the end of his comment on Monday as well: it is absolutely crucial, at least for my game, that I do not betray the strength of my cards at all by the sizing of any of these steals or resteals. In other words, if I have pocket Aces in the big blind, and the button puts in an obvious 4x steal-raise, I will reraise him the exact same 3x or 4x that I would raise if I had shiat for cards but was just sure he was stealing. The bottom line fact is that, while I cannot speak for the quality of play or experience of any individual at any final table that you might happen to be playing at, in general the good, experienced, sophisticated players at any poker table will easily figure you out if your idea is to always push in when you have a super strong hand on a reraise, or just reraise 3x with the weaker holdings, or vice versa. As those of you who play with me often will know, my game is about raising, raising with a lot of preflop holdings and a lot of flops and turns, etc., so the entire focus of my game relies on my making the exact same moves with my lesser raising hands as I do with my Aces and Kings and big slicks. I suggest that other newer players follow that same approach, but I also am well aware that there are a number of winning styles of poker that people can play. If yours involves you trapping a lot with big cards, more power to you. That ain't me. I don't like letting in lesser hands with my pocket premiums and then losing to those hands. I'd rather take those pots down early with my monsters, and let the big pots take care of themselves during any mtt.

Alan asked a good question the other day as far as how do I counter a resteal. Being someone who loves the resteal in late-stage mtt play as much as I do, I loved this question. The answer is, there is no really good strategy for "countering" a resteal. The best move is usually to fold, which is why the resteal is such a great move. And if you actually happen to have a hand, this is a situation where I find the most usefulness for my read of a particular player and a particular situation. The example Alan gave was just about one of the toughest decisions you're going to run into late in an mtt -- he had AJ, open-raised from late position before the flop, and another player reraised him allin. What do you do with a hand like AJ? There's just no good answer, other than to say you dig deep, use everything you've ever seen about your opponent and his play, how many players are at the table, the relative stack sizes and if that might make it more or less likely for someone to be pushing in light here or more likely that they would have to have a big big hand to be playing back like that, etc. You just have to look at your cards and look at all those factors involved, and decide if you think your AJ is best. Generally speaking, I would be inclined to fold the JackAce, because generally speaking the JackAce is complete and utter shit against an allin reraise, even shorthanded, but it's certainly the case that most of the blonkeys don't know this fact, so who knows what I would've done in your situation. One of the real beauties of the resteal is that it puts your opponent to a lot of tough decisions like this. What if he has AJ like Alan had here? To me I am likely to fold that hand, all other things being equal. Similarly what if he has 77? Are you going to call an allin reraise with 77? All things equal, I don't want to call there where I have to figure I am likely at best a 51% favorite. Restealing can be very effective for this reason, even against players who are not actively stealing with ATC but rather are waiting only for, say, the top 50% or even less of hands to make stealy moves.

I think I mentioned this earlier already, but to answer LJ's question, I am generally not even thinking about restealing from anyone early in tournaments, only rather when the blinds and antes get sufficiently big, and the M's get sufficiently small, to warrant taking on the risk that you take every time you resteal with less than a premium hand. In general, restealing early in tournaments is a recipe for not lasting the first hour. Especially in blonkaments, you have to start off tight (not weak, just tight) and you can't be risking bluffing off half your stack with nothing at the beginning too many times, or you're gonna get burned. I've been there more times than I can count, I would know.

I liked Astin's comment to my Monday post as well, in that it raised another interesting factor that I didn't get into in my post on Monday, which is the relative bet size of your opponent. In other words, you have to pay attention to which opponents tend to make their steal-raised all 3x the big blind, or which guys tend to go bigger whenever they are raising without much of a hand. I specifically ommitted this from my earlier post because, frankly, this tell is so easily faked by any kind of a sophisticated player, so there is not much usefulness of it standing-alone in my own game, but I'd be lying if I said I never use relative bet sizing (relative to the person's other similar bets under different circumstances) to aid in steal-resteal decisions. Just be careful of jumping all over somebody with a resteal just because they only min-raised from the button into an unopened pot. Minraising can mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people, and just because someone isn't stealing with a huge raise relative to the blinds, that doesn't meant that they aren't playing a strong hand a little bit slow to try to drum up some action.

Lastly, anybody have any clue what this "DP" character was getting at in his comment on Monday? I assume maybe he is just on drugs or something, as the comment he left hardly makes English sense. Any ideas are welcome.

Ha ha.

See you tonight at 10pm ET at the Mookie. Same thing as with the MATH this past Monday (I'm talking to you, emptyman) -- anyone and everyone is welcome to join in, whether you've played in this event before or not, whether you have a blog or not, and even whether you have even played poker before or not. The Mookie buyin is $11 on full tilt, it is at 10pm ET every Wednesday night, and the password is always "vegas1". It's the largest weekly gathering of bloggers and non-bloggers in a private tournament setting, and I cannot possibly win the tournament due to a curse laid upon my ancestors about a thousand years ago, so I come to donate to the cause week-in and week-out. Tonight is your night to be there too.

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Blogger Drizztdj said...

There may be an appearance of the nurse tonight.

Fear the resteal!

12:21 AM  
Blogger Astin said...

Hoy, you know that after the two resteal posts that everyone and their mother will be giving it a try tonight. Also, they will give you no respect. They will also do this in the early stages when you aren't bullshitting, so make your money then.

Me? I'll be "stealing" and "restealing" with aces all night live.

1:05 AM  
Blogger Alan aka RecessRampage said...

Another great post. See you at the Mookie tonight!

1:24 AM  
Blogger Mike Maloney said...

See Hoy, the problem with you spending a chunk of your post complaining about your luck with flushes is really ruined by your afore mentioned 100% winning percentage with Aces. I mean, once you mention that, no one is going to feel sorry for you.

2:45 AM  
Blogger Chad C said...

You should write a book man. With all these long ass posts you could write a book in a week! If Phil Gordon can write books, why the hell can't you? A losing tournament player writes books that sell like hot cakes, its amazing!

8:07 AM  
Blogger Matt said...

I guess my comment about having brass balls was irrelevant.

Fine. I'll pose a serious question:

When restealing, do you use the timer at all to your advantage? Have you found if it's more effective to let it tick down before reraising, or do you go for a quick raise? Curious to know your thoughts on this.

9:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My comment last post was meant to be satirical. There's a lot of luck involved in big tournaments in general, specifically low buy-in live and online MTTs. That is indisputable.

About the specific topic being discussed: resteals; good stuff. The only exception may be big buy-in live events. I'm not sure they have structures that require such risky aggressive moves in the end game.

8:26 PM  
Blogger teresa said...

omg, i think thats the longest post ive ever read :)

that being said -- you too lazy to google khanwoman for a link?!


9:39 AM  

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