Tuesday, August 07, 2007

MATH Recap, Stealing the Blinds, and FTOPS

Monday night was one of those nights where I got tired early, probably largely due to my recent hot streak which has kept me awake at least fairly late into the morning each night as I have played to the bitter end of several tournaments and mtt satellites basically every night over the past week. As a result, once I busted from this week's MATH, I pretty much went right to sleep. OK ok I auto-tilted out of the small stack I had going in one other mtt at the time, and then I went to sleep. So I really don't know what happened to end the MATH this week. I missed the entire final table after I busted in I think maybe 12th place out of 27 runners on the night. I played great through most of the tournament, playing active, aggressive poker from the getgo and relying on my reads to steal pots before, on and after the flop, and using the image this created to get paid well on my good hands. The highlight of my night was busting brand new player AcesKing (sorry if that name is not exactly right, please correct me in the comments if not) from the tournament with the Hammer in a showdown, when I reraised allin on a raggy flop containing a single 2 and got called by AQ and a flush draw, somehow dodging 15 outs twice for the win. Otherwise, my recent aggression finally caught up with me short of the final table in this week's MATH, when even with a big stack I got suck pushing KQ into what turned out to be a dominating AK preflop in a blind vs. button showdown. I won't quite call it a setup for me to lose out of the blind with KQ against the button, but the way I play, it's pretty damn close. Early on in the tournament that is closer to a bad play, but with my aggression level, that is pretty close to a setup at that point in the tournament on Monday night.

Just the top three spots paid out in this week's MATH tournament, and here's how it ended. Jordan went out on the bubble in 4th place, with Mike Maloney finishing in 3rd for $129.60. Columbo took second again this week, continuing his recent MATH hot streak and winning $194.40 in the process, while recent newcomer to the MATH RaisingCayne powered to the victory and $324 cold hard cashish in just his third (I think) MATH tournament ever. Congratulations to all three cashers this week, and if anyone has any stories to share about any of the play at the final table, I am all ears because I missed it entirely.

Which brings us to the updated MATH Moneyboard for 2007, including this week's tournament:

1. Bayne_s $1175
2. Columbo $1168
3. Hoyazo $849
4. VinNay $775
5. cmitch $774
6. Iggy $745
7. NewinNov $677
8. Lucko21 $665
9. Waffles $650
10. Astin $616
11. Tripjax $561
12. RaisingCayne $522
13. Julius Goat $507
14. bartonf $492
14. mtnrider81 $492
16. PokerBrian322 $490
17. Chad $485
18. scots_chris $474
19. Fuel55 $458
20. Mike_Maloney $456
21. RecessRampage $434
22. Otis $429
23. Miami Don $402
24. jeciimd $382
24. Jordan $382
26. Blinders $379
27. Pirate Wes $372
28. lightning36 $371
29. IslandBum1 $357
30. ChapelncHill $353
31. Zeem $330
32 oossuuu754 $312
33. leftylu $295
34. Emptyman $288
34. Wigginx $288
36. ScottMc $282
37. Fishy McDonk $277
38. Irongirl $252
38. Manik79 $252
40. Wippy1313 $248
40. Byron $234
42. wwonka69 $216
43. Omega_man_99 $210
44. Pushmonkey72 $208
45. Buddydank $197
46. 23Skidoo $176
47. Santa Clauss $170
48. Iakaris $162
48. Smokkee $162
50. cemfredmd $156
50. NumbBono $156
52. lester000 $147
53. LJ $146
54. Heffmike $145
55. brdweb $143
56. DDionysus $137
57. Patchmaster $135
58. InstantTragedy $129
59. Ganton516 $114
60. Fluxer $110
61. hoops15mt $95
62. Gracie $94
62. Scurvydog $94
64. Shag0103 $84
65. crazdgamer $82
66. PhinCity $80
67. maf212 $78
68. Alceste $71
68. dbirider $71
70. Easycure $67
71. Rake Feeder $53

So once again all three of this week's cashers have previously cashed in Mondays at the Hoy this year, including Cayne rising to an impressive 12th place overall after just three weeks playing this thing. And Columbo meanwhile remained in 2nd place overall on the moneyboard, but used yet another big score this week to climb to within just $7 of BBT luckbox Bayne atop the leaderboard. There is plenty of play to come over the coming weeks and months as we are still just in summertime of 2007, so the moneyboard race should continue to heat up with all these great players hitting up the MATH every Monday night at 10pm ET on full tilt.

OK, with all the talk about stealing and restealing of late here and in lots of other blogs, I thought I would reproduce a very a propos point that I have found in the latest poker book I am reading. The book is called Winning in Tough No-Limit Games, and it is by two well-known online pros, Nick "Stoxtrader" Grudzien and Geoff "Zobags" Herzog. Not that I had ever heard of these two guys prior to reading this book, but I found a link to it on amazon and poof!, a week later I was sitting down to start my latest poker text.

To be clear, Winning in Tough Hold'em Games is written about limit holdem and not no-limit, as is the case with most of the great cash game holdem books available on the market today (Holdem Poker for Advanced Players and Winning in Small Stakes Holdem come most immediately to mind for anyone who hasn't read those two books yet, if that is even possible). But, I find that most of the text has great applicability to my cash game and even tournament play. This is especially true since I tend to focus on 6-max nlh games above the lowest 5 or so levels available for real money play at the major online sites, which are exactly the aggressive, short-handed, stealy sort of games that Grudzien and Herzog write about in their text. The book reads a whole lot like many of the other 2+2 books, which is a good thing in that the text is very on-point and presents a whole host of aggressive poker-related issues that I have not seen addressed like this anywhere else.

There must be more than 100 pages in this book dedicated just to stealing, restealing, and blinds defense. As someone who plays a lot of 6-max nlh online at the $200 and $400 level, this has high relevance to my own cash game play. As someone who likes to run deep in a lot of mtts as well, this focus on stealing and restealing is gold Jerry gold. I thought I would share here with you today these two successful players' basic strategy on playing in a steal situation, and I may include additional ideas on when to three-bet (i.e. resteal) against a stealer as well in later posts, because the book is just chock full of useful tidbits like this. Basically, the authors posit that a good target steal percentage from the cutoff is just under 30%, and from the button somewhere around 40%. That is to say, that around 28, 29% of the time the action folds to you preflop in the cutoff, or around 38, 39% of the time the action folds to you on the button, you should be raising it up. The authors claim this is based on millions of hands of actual play and tens of millions of hands of computer simulations. I'm not doing any work to disprove the numbers myself, but take them for what you will, your mileage may vary. I find the numbers to make sense as good guidelines, ones that of course will change depending on the playing tendencies of the blinds. And remember, these guidelines are actually for limit and not no-limit holdem, which certainly has some impact on these criteria, especially at the margins with those hands that are right on the edge of being steal-worthy from the cutoff or the button. But I think the insight provided here is invaluable to anyone who takes playing cash holdem seriously, at either a limit or no-limit level, at any kind of stakes above the lowest limits offered in the major online cardrooms.

More than just these general percentage guidelines, the authors of Winning in Tough Hold'em Games then take things a step further by providing the hand range that corresponds with the general target percentages specified above. Thus, they argue that, when the action folds around to you in the cutoff position, you should open-raise (in LHE) with all pocket pairs (22+), all suited Aces (A2s+), all unsuited Aces from A5 and higher (A5o+), K7s+, K9o+, Q9s+, QTo+, J8s+, T8s+, 97s+, 87s and 76s. So basically, they are recommending an open-raise from the cutoff with any pocket pair, any suited Ace, unsuited Aces A5 and higher, suited Kings K7 and higher, unsuited Kings K9 and higher, most two-paint hands suited or unsuited, and most suited connectors, one-gappers and two-gappers from the J8s range and upward.

That right there is a lot of hands to be stealing with, but that's the figure that works out to be approximately 28.5% of hands you will receive from the cutoff. Obviously some of those raises won't really be "steal" raises as they will be hands like AA or AK which are actually worth a raise in that spot or any spot before the flop, but I think it's a great idea for everyone reading this to take a look at your own play, and ask yourself, when you're playing in a tough game, are you going to open-raise from the cutoff with a hand like 97s? Q9s? How about QTo? These guys say they've run the simluations and have the poker tracker data to back it up (there is tons of poker tracker data in this book, for you PT heads out there if you're into that kind of thing). And yes, of course again this applies to limit holdem, but the bottom line is that I would argue that open-raising standards in a short-handed game at any reasonable limit plays a lot like this, and I find that raising with standards at least in this general neighborhood are +EV moves if played correctly in that context.

The suggest hand range for open-raising from the button, as you might imagine, is widened even more to accomodate a near 40% target of hands to raise with, instead of the 28.5% target from the cutoff as described above. So, if the action is folded to you on the button in a short-handed, aggressive game, the authors recommend a raise with 22+, A2s+, A3o+, K2s+, K9o+, Q5s+, Q9o+, J7s+, J9o+, T7s+, T8o+, 97s+, 98o+, 86s+, 75s+ and 65s. Summarizing again then, from the button the recommendation here is a steal-raise with any pair, any suited Ace or suited King, most suited Queens, about half the suited Jacks, Tens, Nines, Eights and Sevens, and only about the top third or so of unsuited Kings, Queens and Jacks, and about half the unsuited Tens and Nines. Together this equals 40% of the hands you will find in a random sampling, and I think the upshot is -- again, think about your own game here for a minute -- to ask yourself, do you put in a steal-raise from the button preflop when it folds to you and you are holdng a hand like Q9o? What about T7s? 98o? These guys recommend yes to all three of those hands. Raise raise raise, until you are stealing approximately 29% of the time from the cutoff and 40% of the time from the button. That is the strategy of the authors of this very interesting and informative new poker book (published April 2007, so it's really new to the market) when it comes to steal-raising from late position in tough or short-handed holdem games like the ones I play in.

There is lots of good stuff in this book that I may bring up again in the future, including a suggested steal range for when it is folded around to you in the small blind, but I think this is enough information for today. Hopefully this is interesting if not helpful for some of you out there; I know I find it a very useful outlook when it comes to my own game, again in particular since I am playing at the 6-max tables most of the time when I'm sitting down to a cash nlh game. I do not really think stealing blinds is much of a consideration in your typical full ring game online at the lower limits, so a lot of this will have limited applicability in that context, but I think its relevance increases once again when you talk about tournament play, and in particular late-stage tournament play.

Speaking of tournaments, Tuesday night is the last night before the beginning of FTOPS V on full tilt, something I am very excited about. KOD, Goat and myself are already satellited in to FTOPS Event #1 ($216 nlh) on Wednesday night, all courtesy of that juicyass 9:50pm ET $10 rebuy satellite nightly on full tilt, and I would love to play my way in to FTOPS Event #2 in HORSE as well over the next night or two, or else I will likely buy my way in directly as I definitely plan to play in the HORSE event on Thursday evening this week. In fact, my big plans for tonight will be to sit in as many of those FTOPS HORSE satellites as I can, get as many of them to fill up as possible and give myself a couple of chances to get into FTOPS #2 on the cheap. Chad, jec, FishyMcDonk, cemfredmd, Otis, Blood and anyone else who might be interested in play in this event, if you're around and online on Tuesday or Wednesday night, either hit me up in the girly chat, or just look for me registered in one or more FTOPS sng satellites for the HORSE event on Thursday, and let's make something happen and help a couple of us play our way in to that event for less than the $216 direct buyin like I'll probably end up doing. Hopefully I will see some of you tonight, and congratulations again to Cayne for taking down this week's Hoy tournament. Talk about beginner's luck!!

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13 Comments:

Blogger lucko said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

12:46 AM  
Blogger lucko said...

If you guys play any SNG sats, shoot me an e-mail.

12:46 AM  
Blogger RaisingCayne said...

Thanks for the congrats Hoy! I LIKE THE MATH!!! But before any false assumptions are made about me actually being a decent player, I have to say that I somehow received Astin's card rack last night! Seriously, I lost count of how many premium hands I was dealt. And every flop and turn I was involved in just seemed to go my way throughout the tournament. As for the Final Table, Mike_Maloney had a big lead going in and if it wasn't for some BRUTAL beats he faced, he would've had a massive lead 3seated. But, I was able to have a huge lead myself approaching the bubble, and maintained real aggressive play onto a victory! The stars aligned for me last night. (And yes, this was just my 3rd MATH, with a 1st and 2nd finish already!) See you at the Mookie on Wednesday, and good luck at the FTOPS events you'll be playing. (Those stupid satellites drained by bankroll and I gave up on playing in any myself.) ~Cayne

1:02 AM  
Blogger RaisingCayne said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

1:02 AM  
Blogger Mike Maloney said...

I don't have much to add to what Cayne said about the FT. He played well with his stack in the endgame, I took some bad beats, which I discussed on my blog if you want to read about them.

Pretty entertaining, especially once BD started getting tired and bored on the radio when the eliminations slowed down.

2:02 AM  
Blogger Chad C said...

I will play HORSEY satellites for sure. Also, I just sent invite to fantasy football league. I sent it to your yahoo email.

3:15 AM  
Blogger Wippy1313 said...

Looks like we'll be battling it out in the FFL league. Perhaps something I can actually beat you at. I posted a brief tale of my miserable freeroll performance on my blog. I am wippy1313 on yahoo...shoot me a message so I can add you to messenger. Thx.

4:06 AM  
Blogger tmanders10 said...

(aka AcesKing)

Man I hate being the highlight. I knew I should have reraised you all in. You'd been pretty aggressive on my BB. Oh well. Had fun.

5:11 AM  
Blogger columbo (at eifco dot org) said...

I think that was my AK that knocked you out when you had KQ

8:41 AM  
Blogger Adam said...

For you to say that it takes more skill to be successful in tournaments than in cash games shows your lack of knowledge about cash games, as well as your lack of knowledge in the poker world in general. It sounds like you have played low limit cash games for a total of less than 100k hands for sure, which is definitely not enough to make you even somewhat credible in your statements. You realize there are games above 5/10nl right? There is 10/20, 50/100, 200/400,300/600,ect. Try taking the top MTT players that dont play cash games regularly and put them in the biggest cash games in the world online. Then take the top online cash game players in mtt tourneys and see who has more trouble. The tourney players could lose over a 2 million in a few days, while the cash game players would at least be small winners AT THE VERY LEAST over the long run. The tourney players would go broke in long run for sure. Talk to the most successful players in the world at both and ALL of them will say that high limit cash games are WAY harder to win long run in. You are seriously sounding like a noob idiot w/ your statements in that post a little while ago.

12:13 PM  
Blogger Adam said...

By the way please respond and try to argue against what I have said, I would really appreciate it. If you would like we could actually get a good size prop bet going over this? Because you are soooo off here it is laughable.

12:16 PM  
Blogger Adam said...

Nevermind about the whole thing man, I just read through a lot of your posts for the first time and didn't realize what you were. I thought you were an online MTT Pro that played in all the biggest buyin tourneys. Definitely didn't realize you weren't a top player, so forget everything I said no point of arguing with you. GL.

12:29 PM  
Blogger CEMfromMD said...

Hoy, I would like to think that I would have played the HORSE sats anyway as I was this weekend, but I really wasnt planning to as I played really bad this weekend. After reading the end of you post, I decided to give it a shot Tuesday night with a 1 Table SnG, and wouldnt you know it, I won the damn thing. So I will be in the 9:30 ET $50 Sat for the HORSE event on Wednesday. Hope to see you and the others there!

7:39 PM  

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