Thursday, August 16, 2007

Near Miss at the Mook, Bluffing for a Living

Now last night was some fun-assed poker. I played the Mookie as usual at 10pm ET, and, as usual for me in the blonkaments and in particular the Mookie, I got basically no premium starting cards all night long. So, as usual for me in the blonkaments and in particular the Mookie, I basically bluffed my way through 3 1/2 hours of play. It was seriously the stoopidest night of consistent bluffing I have probably ever had. I think I won 85 pots preflop by the end of the tournament, where I probably actually "had a hand" maybe 5 or 6 times total, and I basically got to bust every nemesis I've ever had at one point or another on my way to hitting heads-up play against Surflexus with close to a 2-to-1 chip lead. Those nemeses are too numerous to list here of course, but I took 'em all out. It was so great that I even had other bloggers hitting me up on the girly chat with requests for whom they wanted me to knock out, and I managed to deliver on all those too (you're welcome). Although I did nothing in the first hour because I usually try to devote an hour or so to see if I might catch a hand or two in this tournament, but after that I won a couple of huge hands -- no suckouts that I can recall to that point, mind you -- and before I knew it I had the chip lead with probably 20 players remaining out of the 70 runners. Big turnout btw, impressive for the Mook since the BBT rolled on to the next town on the carnie circuit.

I would love to tell you that my luck started running out then and there and I took a few big hits, but that really never happened. I might have temporarily given up the chip lead once or twice, but basically I dominated the Mookie on Wednesday night from 20 or so remaining down to 2 remaining. And although I don't remember the specifics and am too lazy just now to check the hh's or screenshots, I definitely remember a whole mess of ugly suckouts and resucks at the final table -- final few tables even -- and I know I benefitted from at least one suckout and at least one river resuck as well. After I took out #3, I entered heads-up play as I recall with around 130k chips to Surf's 70k. I played real aggro very early but then settled in to try to trap, and Surf to his credit really showed good poker intuition as he always seems to in sensing when I was actually strong and actually weak. I did receive at least one big pocket pair during the early hu hands, and unfortunately Surf did not bite, but otherwise I never saw a hand better than KT or so through the rest of hu play, which probably only lasted 7 or 8 minutes total. I held the chip lead for all of the beginning and end of the first 7 minutes or so of hu play, and then eventually, I made what I thought was a good allin preflop reraise against heads-up-Surf's likely range when I held JTo. Surf quick-called with KQo, another bigtime good read on his part with an Aceless hand that was actually ahead going in.

It's funny actually, because Surf and I in the end were both doing the exact same thing with our action on this particular hand. Once Surf raised, I figured him for a low Ace or at least medium King or Queen, so I reraised allin with my JTo not thinking that I was actually ahead. Rather, I reraised allin to elicit a fold from a hand that was not strong enough for Surf to call an allin reraise with, and because I figured it likely that even if Surf did call, I had two middle cards as opposed to two undercards (which I actually did turn out to have). Similarly, when Surf calls my allin there preflop, I think he probably does not believe he is ahead, in that he probably puts me on a low or medium Ace or medium pair type of hand. Close to all of my entire range to make that allin move in that spot is ahead hot-and-cold of KQo, and I believe Surf knows this. But here, I think he figured that with the chips already in the pot, he now had the proper pot odds because he almost surely had two middle cards as opposed to undercards. Any Ace holding by me that is not AA, AK or AQ makes Surf just about a 40% underdog, and with the chips already in there and with him down at the time probably about 120k to 80k in chips, I recall thinking that he made the right move with his call.

Insta-calling? Maybe that was a bit much. But I like the call, and instead of being a 40% dog that Surf probably expected, we headed to showdown with me as the 40% dog. But I would make this move again, make no mistake, with two cards over a Ten and no reason to believe Surf had anything particularly strong given our play heads-up to that point. This is the way I play late-stage low-M tournaments, and I believe the only way to consistently play them successfully. More on that in a minute.

Anyways, the flop came ragged and my JT was now approximately a 25% dog against Surf's KQ overcards with two cards to come. But then the turn brought a miracle Jack, giving me top pair on the board and making me now an 87% favorite to win the hand with just the river to come, eliminate Surf and win my first ever Mookie title. Just six outs to dodge on the river, three Kings and three Queens. Anything but those six cards and I am finally a Mookie champion.

The river card?

Queen of hearts. Crushing. Suddenly I was down about 175k to 25k in chips, and for all intents and purposes it was over. Of course I can come back from that deficit, I've played enough hu matches these days to know that, but naturally on the very next hand Surf pushes with some crap like 93o or something and I call for my 25k stack with AJo. A 3 on the flop gives Surf the unlikely lead and I fail to improve, ending in second place in what is undoubtedly the closest I will ever come to winning a Mookie. Wednesday night was my night to win this thing, you can just feel it if you were there, and somehow it just didn't work out. Even though I do feel that me making a Jack on the turn is not all that lucky -- I was 40% to win this hand and will therefore win with a Ten or a Jack roughly 4 out of 10 times -- losing my first Mooke title to a 6-outer Queen on the river at that point definitely stings a bit. Oh well. As far as the closest I'll ever come to winning the Mookie, that was not a bad run overall.

And this leads me to one other point I want to make, that I've actually wanted to write about here over the past week or two but just haven't had the chance to yet. Basically, as most of you know I get a lot of railbirds in most of my decent mtt or satellite tournament runs. A lot of them. I guess there are things I could do, steps I could take, to minimize that happening at least to some degree, but I just don't bother. I've never made a practice of being dishonest in the blog, so I don't mind if people watch me play, see my results and see me practice what I preach here on the blog. But, there are some downsides, one of which seems to have popped up as I've been writing a lot about the blonkaments, the FTOPS and the various satellite mtts I have focused on of late with my online play. Basically, whenever I get eliminated from a tournament pushing what turns out to be a really bad hand for a showdown, I will get somewhere between five and 50 emails, IMs and blog comments from observers who saw me bust like that and cannot believe I would push with garbage like 82o or J6o or whatever it was that got me eliminated from the latest tournament that night. The commentary I receive ranges from the simple "???" to insults to allegations and to some friendly advice and constructive criticism, but basically I get a lot of questions from people for how I could have busted by pushing such garbage. The answer is really quite simple:

That's what I've been doing for the entire tournament to even have lasted to that point in the event!

The importance of this point cannot be overlooked. I've written about this here many times, but I almost never get good starting cards when I play nlh tournaments. When I do, I pretty much dominate. But that almost never happens. As a result, if I am to survive for another deep run in an mtt, I pretty much know going in that I'm not going to have the option of consistently great starting hands like some people we know, or consistently nailing the flops and the boards like some people we know. I know going in that I'm going to have to make my own luck. So that's just what I do. So it's like Wednesday night in the Mookie -- I didn't see a strong starting hand just about all night long. And yet I lasted over 3 hours, made it in the end to second place and was an 87% favorite to win it all with one measly card to come, and yet multiple people questioned me on how I could allow myself to be beaten with a chip lead when I held just JTo in my hand.

Now make no mistake about it -- if I hadn't been pushing hands like JTo, and far, far worse for that matter, pretty much consistently for the previous two or three hours, then I would never have possibly made it to this point in the tournament in any event. The only way I last to the final table if not deep into the final table in any single tournament I've ever won is by bluffing. Like a madman. With the blinds and antes so high at the end of your typical online nlh tournament, and the Ms correspondingly so low, I find very little option other than pushing hard most of the times I think I might have an edge. This is not to say that every single time I am dealt 94o I auto-push at a shorthanded table, but my point is that to isolate on one single time when my aggressive nature happened to work against me from a results perspective, and make some kind of judgment about the quality of my play in that one individual situation, really makes no sense if you think about it.

Again I point to Wednesday night's Mookie tournament. The previous 15 or 20 times at the final table where I was dealt two paint cards and the action was not opened in front of me, I raised it up, and I probably won about 100,000 chips doing just that and following that exact approach. In fact, something Surf could I'm sure confirm for you, I think I might have auto-raised the pot every single time the action folded to me on the button throughout the entire tournament, with absolutely no regard whatsoever for the actual cards that were actually dealt to me. Following that highly aggressive approach at the final table has worked very, very well for me in online mtts in general, and it worked amazingly well for me in the Mookie this week, well enough to get me to heads-up for the title and in position to win it all if one of six outs just doesn't fall on the river when I had my final opponent allin at the end. So this very approach is the thing -- the only thing, for that matter, given the crappy cards I got pretty much all throughout the tournament -- that got me to be heads-up with the chip lead and all that stuff to begin with. So then to focus on the final hand when I finally get beaten for the first time after 59 successful steals that got me to that point to begin with, I guess my point is that it really does not make sense to question the play. Trust me when I say that if you were me, and you got to see every single hand and every single play I made throughout the whole tournament, you would not be thinking that I messed up with the JTo hand there at the end, any more than you would think I messed up pushing allin with the 82o from the small blind into the unopened pot at the end of FTOPS #1 or any of the other "crappy" hands I have been busted with lately. You try getting no good cards for several hours in a 4000-person mtt and see how far you get not pushing with shitty hands, and let's compare our results, mmmmkay?

That is all for today. I do not believe there is a Riverchasers tournament this week, so you're on your own for Thursday evening and until Friday night's Donkament on full tilt. I will probably be on full tilt tonight, hitting up my old friend the 9:45pm ET token frenzy, possibly the 28k at 10pm ET, and probably my new main squeeze, the 20k guaranteed $10 rebuy mtt at 10:30pm ET nightly on full tilt. Hope to see some of you then so you can watch me bust after five hours with 63o and wonder wtf I'm doing. Oh how I love moving allin preflop with that hand in an unopened pot.

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Blogger bayne_s said...

Astin and I discussed this in girlie chat and neither of us can comprehend this never getting a premium hand concept.

Am I gonna have to assume the "mediocre" hands I try to steal with are ahead of the hands you attempt re-steals with?

1:16 AM  
Blogger lj said...

BOOOOOOO. you should be down on the lower east side tonight. ;)

1:18 AM  
Blogger surflexus said...

Hey Hoy, I enjoyed playing most of the Mookie at your table last night and it was cool to get to heads with you at the end....been a while.

1:21 AM  
Blogger jamyhawk said...

I thought your play at the final table was brilliant. It was hard to stay in a hand with all the raising you were doing -and you obviously outlasted me.

Keep shoving.

1:51 AM  
Blogger Chad C said...

Hoy = The Master of $10 tournaments. How you get people to fold is beyond me. When I play these things I can't lose anyone. If I got quads I bet I would get called to the river. For $10 nobody folds, unless Hoys betting I guess they all fold then.

1:57 AM  
Blogger Schaubs said...

I saw you type "I am folding 99 here", I think you were in the SB with 4 players left and UTG pushed and you had him well covered. It was interesting to me to see you say that and wonder if that was a bluff as well.

Well played overall. Good job.

2:33 AM  
Blogger Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo said...

The 99 comment was a lie. Of course.

2:41 AM  
Blogger FishyMcDonk said...

Methinks there will be a lot more calls with AJ, AT and KJ coming your way after this post.

3:04 AM  
Blogger Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo said...

Fishy, could there *really* be a lot more calls coming with AJ, AT and KJ than there already are?

3:20 AM  
Blogger mookie99 said...

Nice run last night, I really thought last night would be the night.

3:48 AM  
Blogger smokkee said...

63off is THA SHIZZ.

4:26 AM  
Blogger KajaPoker said...

Sorry, I don't buy the whole "I never get cards" act either. And it still doesn't explain the 82o push in FTOPS where I showed how you were behind almost anything and pushing into a much bigger stack. I get the JT hand but I think the pushing tactics might possibly be a leak you should look into. I had a chance to see you do it last night in the rebuy when you shoved half your stack in the SB with Q8 into the BB's QQ.

You're a math guy. Go over your PT stats and see how these moves work for you. It might work a lot of the times, but it might be costing you more than you think.

5:18 AM  
Blogger KajaPoker said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

5:21 AM  
Blogger Dr Zen said...

The JT play seems good to me. You have plenty of fold equity, and if called, you're not likely to be that far behind.

Busting out with a trash hand short is just what happens. I don't know why people would even comment on that, unless they have no idea how to play poker. You are supposed to get blinded out waiting for aces?

1:06 PM  
Blogger RaisingCayne said...

Love the post Hoy. The people that IM you with "JT-off, WTF???" are the same schmucks that blind out of every tourney they're in as they wait for JJ-AA. And then when their JJ in the BB loses to the button's K8 all in, they throw a tantrum wondering how someone pushes with K8. These are the dimwits that can only feasibly expect to really succeed in 1% of their MTTs as they wait for Astin's cardrack. Which is NOT the way to go about MTT play! We each make our own bed, and have to sleep in it... Those that wait for monster hands have to deal with their ever decreasing M, and those like you (and I to a lesser extent) that do what's necessary to maintain a sizable stack, also must realize we will often get caught with weak holdings. It's the nature of the game. GG at the Mookie...

11:37 PM  

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