Friday, October 05, 2007

Monday 1k Hand -- Lessons Learned

Out in 12th place in the Riverchasers event last night, I had a nice run with no cards as per my usual. Eventually I got called when I made an aggro move with nothing on a position play and got called by a better hand. So be it. That's the kind of stuff you have to do to win an mtt, at least the kind of stuff I have to do to win an mtt since I never seem to be the guy getting the AA and KK in the key spots at the final table or two, and on the few times I do I seem unable to have the hands hold up. I think swimmom took down the tournament in the end, adding another impressive mtt to her blonkament resume in just the relatively short time she has been playing with our group. In fact, between swimmom and katiemother, girl power has really been working in the blonkaments for several weeks, as one of those two players alone always seems to be somewhere in the mix at the final table of late.

So to close on the week I have found that I've been spending even more time analyzing and re-analyzing that hand from the Monday 1k earlier this week when that small-dicked donkey chat-stalked me for four hours after I took most of his stack on the play. To recap, we were about 45, 50 minutes in to the Monday 1k buyin mtt, with blinds at 30-60, and I opened from the cutoff with QJ with a 3x raise to 180 chips. Ol' Littledick repopped my raise 3x to 540 chips from my left on the button. The blinds folded, and the action came back to me, where I called the reraise for another 360 chips into what became an 1170 chip pot.

The flop came down AT4. Action was to me on the flop, and I checked with my big draw, with the intention of check-raising any bet from him allin since I put my opponent on a big Ace from his preflop reraise. My opponent bet 820 into the 1170-chip pot, at which point I went for the allin checkraise for my last 2400 chips. Littledick instacalled, flipping up AK, and I hit my flush on the turn to nearly eliminate him from the tournament and get me started off to a nice stack in the 1k, on my way to eventually bubbling out on a sickass runner runner beat of my JJ on a J42 flop. Man that is delicious just re-thinking about it now. Dam.

Anyways, we had a lot of discussion here earlier in the week about my play on the flop, and I had argued that the play was significantly +EV thanks to my 45% chance of winning (12 outs twice) plus what I figured to be a significant chance that he would fold to my allin bet since I had him on just top pair on the flop. Frankly I don't think this assertion can be disputed, mathematically speaking. From discussion with various other players and from thinking things over myself, however, I can see now that I probably overstated the 80% estimate I had made that he would fold to my allin reraise. I definitely think the allin checkraise is a more powerful-looking move then me just having moved allin for 2400 chips into the 1170-chip pot on the flop, which to me looks very draw-ish and/or short-stacky, which was definitely not the impression I wanted to give here. Putting my opponent on a high Ace, I needed to do the thing that would most increase his likelihood of laying down top pair strong kicker, so I don't have an issue with that decision per se.

That said, it is clear to me now that there was probably not an 80% chance of your random ftp donkey, even in this 1k buyin event, laying down TPTK for another 1600 chips, even if it was about 2/3 of his remaining stack early in the tournament. The right chance of him laying down is probably a lot closer to 25% than to 80%. Fortunately, even with just a 25% chance of him laying down to my allin checkraise on that flop, when that combines with my 45% chance of winning the pot at showdown with one of my 12 outs, that should easily take this play into >50% equity territory, so I still think the play has a clearly positive expectation the way I played it. Even if I was giving my opponent a bit too much credit for being willing and able to lay down TPTK in this spot.

One commenter earlier in the week also made the point that I would never have been able to lay down TPTK if the roles were reversed. All I can say to that is you never know. I lay down hands better than top pair and I do so with some regularity. I'm not saying I never push with TPTK, don't get me wrong, but probably at least once every night in the blonkaments I end up laying down some overpair or two pair or better hand based on a read or a particular play or player. I might raise allin with TPTK, but to call an allin early in a tournament with just TPTK is not something I usually do. It's certainly not good tournament poker in my book, that's for sure.

And this brings me to my main realization about this hand from the 1k the other day. I think it's pretty clear that with a 45% chance of winning the pot at showdown, plus some chance of getting my opponent to fold since I am the aggressor check-raising him allin, it is pretty easy for me to get my equity in this pot above the 50% mark with this move, making the overall play a +EV move for me to make. But, that does not automatically make it the right move for me to make. In the end, although my flop check-raise allin was +EV, it was also a very high variance move. And early on (first hour at least) in a large buyin (this was $1060 to play) mtt is simply not the time for high-variance moves, in particular ones that represent only small equity advantages as opposed to getting allin with a 90% chance of winning the hand. Yes I was more than 50% to win if you take my 45% chances with 12 outs twice plus my fold equity, but it's not like the fold equity brings me up to 80 or 90% to win or anything. I was a favorite to win chips over time with my play, but only a little bit. And, to get that slight favorite situation, I had to put my entire stack at risk during the first hour of a big tournament, at a time when I had a perfectly playable chip stack to wait for a better spot.

So I took a very high-variance, slightly +EV chance early on in a tournament. I may have overestimated my opponent's ability to lay down top pair in this spot to boot, but even if I had it exactly right, I'm still risking my entire stack 40 minutes in to a 1k buyin tournament for a slightly better than 50% chance of doubling up. Is that really worth it? Is that really any different from moving allin with your 77 30 minutes in to the Mookie when you know the other guy has AK and is pot committed? Normally in that situation I'm always the guy preaching how a good player can afford to wait for a better spot than a race situation early on in an mtt, and I have to say I think it's probably just as applicable in the 1k hand earlier this week. If I could have that hand back, I would like to take a lower-variance approach, even if it meant check-folding my 12 outs on the flop. I have a philosophical problem on some level with giving up 12 outs twice plus some fold equity, but I do think over time that that is not the best way to play the situation just in the first hour of a $1000 buyin mtt. I won the hand in the end, and I certainly didn't "suck out" or "get lucky" to win the hand since I was well into positive EV territory to make the play that I made and I had a 45% chance of winning at showdown, but it's a play I need to focus on not making as a rule due to its high variance. Again, high variance plays, especially ones that are not much into +EV territory, have no place in the earlygoing of an mtt, at least not the way I play the game.

So that's something to take out of this situation, and as far as constantly adapting my game, I'm glad for all the discussion and the fine points made by many of my poker friends and everyone out there who spent some time thinking about the hand and sharing your thoughts here. And I think one thing is crystal clear from all this analysis: the only really big donkey move in the entire hand was the instacall from Littledick. TPTK allin on a scary flop with an Ace, a Ten and two suited cards is most definitely not an instacall allin in the first hour of the Monday 1k. That was a horrifically bad move by the dickless wonder, and his total lack of forethought cost him. If he thinks forever, and then as time runs down he calls after carefully considering his options, then so be it. That's not a terrible play, and I guarantee you he would not have been nearly as pissed off as he was as a result. The only reason this guy chat-stalked me for four hours after this play was that he completely and utterly failed to consider anything about what my likely hand was to be checkraising allin on that flop. And if you're never even considering what your opponent is holding when they put you to a decision to all your chips, then you too will be faced with chat-stalking as your only option for revenge, because you'll be spending a lot of your time sitting on the rail, bemoaning the "fish" who don't think before they act, when all the while you'll be describing your own play to a tee. Instacall a big stack allin on the flop with just TPTK should be out of the vocabulary, out of the poker repetoire, of anyone who considers themselves a serious nlh tournament player. I guarantee you better results with just that one small change.

As usual I will try to check out Kat's donkament tonight at 9pm ET on full tilt (password is "donkarama"), though as usual the timing can often be a bit difficult for me on a Friday. As some other bloggers have written about, I love to lament my horrid luck in that thing, which is really legendary if you ask me. I will go 20 rebuys into the donkament, losing 14 hands of which I am the favorite going in in 12 of them. It's like the Mookie for me, but on steroids. Monkeydonks call me with 54 and 97 and Q3 in that thing and suck out. My luck during the first hour of the donkament of late has been nothing short of disgusting, so we'll see if I can make it out tonight to try to change that today. Or at least you should try to make it to what is always one of the most fun nights of blonkey poker there is. Maybe I'll see you then!

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Blogger Blinders said...


Stop questioning your poist flop play. It was stellar, and exactly how many of the best pros would play it. First off, you need to assume that you have 50% equity (12 outs twice = 50% not 45%). With the dead money already in the pot, you are very +EV even if you know he calls 100% of the time. The lowest EV move postflop would be to play it differently than you did.

Preflop you can't be smooth calling out of position with a hand that you know is behind, and does not have the pot/implied odds to catch up. If you think you can fold your hand on a Q high flop, then you are admitting that you need a flop that is too rare for the price you paid to continue. You really need to flop a massive draw like you did, or 2-pair or better.

It would have been a very interesting hand if the guy had KK, and the flop was Q high. I am sure you must lead out in that case to see where you are at, and I am sure he reraises you big. Now what do you do, as you really have little info about the guys hand.

11:53 PM  
Blogger Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo said...

I appreciate the comments Blinders. I think the preflop call is totally fine to call with and totally fine to fold with. Continually saying the preflop call was bad is something I used to believe but I just don't anymore. I had to call 360 into a pot with 810 in it. If I'm confident I can lay down to the wrong flop, I think the preflop call is ok. As is the fold, which is obviously the safer move.

12:58 AM  
Blogger Buddy Dank said...

Click on Kat's link in your blog. I always wanted to go to bible school!

1:17 AM  
Blogger lucko said...

If you are not playing a big combo draw like that strong in an MTT you are burning money IMO. A +50% edge with the money in the pot is a BIG edge. I don't think you are good enough to pass that up. I don't think I am good enough to pass that up. I don't think Phil Ivey is good enough to pass that up.

MTT's are in their nature high variance. Push your edges, no matter how small, and profit over time. Its a recipe for winning poker.

4:16 AM  
Blogger Shell said...

"MTT's are in their nature high variance. Push your edges, no matter how small, and profit over time. Its a recipe for winning poker."

I am not sure that I totally agree with this as a tournament strategy. Very much dictated by the structure.

Then again, I'm mush

4:33 AM  

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