Tuesday, November 20, 2007

MATH Recap, and Improving Your Game

First off, thank you for all the encouragement from the commenters to yesterday's...uh...interesting post. Normally I might apologize to my readers for having to see that kind of rantage, but it seems that the overall reaction was one of enjoyment to read my honest thoughts, and to that extent then I am happy I could help brighten some of your days as I brightened my own just by writing that crap down. But I really do appreciate the kind words and the encouragement, and the suggestions for me to help address my poker issues these days. Who knows where this crazy game of ours will take me next, but I am truly appreciative of all you guys and the thoughts and suggestions that I have constantly been peppered with over these past couple of years. In fact that's a perfect segue into what I plan to write about today, but first let me update with what happened at the Hoy last night on full tilt.

It seems like only yesterday when I read on Daddy's blog -- in actuality about six months ago -- that he would be playing in his first Mondays at the Hoy tournament as part of the original BBT. I was honored, as I was with my regular weekly tournament's first visit by the likes of Iggy, Pauly, Al, Speaker, Change and all those guys I consider to be my literal idols and the idols of the blogiverse in general. A visit from the sickest man alive to my own private tournament was quite an honor, but I was also impressed by the quality of Daddy's play, and this week it all finally came to fruition when he took down his first Hoy title, winning the latest BBTwo Aussie Millions Tournament of Champions freeroll seat in the process after outlasting 61 of his closest fake internet friends in the most skill-based of all the Hoy tournaments we've ever run.

So with 62 runners on the night, it made for a sweet $1488 prize pool for the latest MATH event, a turbo 6-max extravaganza that I knew was designed to ensure that the most skilled player took it down and got into the Aussie Millions ToC. The action was fast and furious like only a turbo event can be, with several players busting out in the first 5 or 10 minutes just the way I like to see. Unfortunately, I did not get the chance at all to suck out on anyone, making this just like the last 85 tournaments I've played in. My starting table must read my blog, because for the first 45 minutes or so nobody would play a dam pot with me, except for one where I got 99% of the way towards being sucked out on again. Basically I had top pair, I think maybe with the sooted jackace or something, on a board of J32 with the 3 and the 2 both in my soot. Long story short, he bet the flop, I raised allin, and he called me with? 88. My Jacks were ahead and could only be beaten by two outs. Unfortunately, as we have seen recently with me, two outs twice is far more than it takes to beat me in a blonkament, and the river brought one of those two 8s to give my opponent a reflockulous set against my top pair. It wasn't until the chips slid my way that I realized it was the 8 of my soot, giving me the flush and reminding me that he actually only had one out, not the two I had thought. Still, the momentary laugh that welled up within me was worth the price of admission right there. And don't worry, about 30 minutes later I found myself allin against Loretta with two overcards and a flush draw, 15 outs total, and lost with the favored hand to knock me out of 2nd place overall. Not a suckout by any means, but worth noting. I also got recockusetup against Blinders when he was dealt pocket Aces (who the fug gets pocket Aces during a turbo? Luckbox!), following that up by flopping a set of Aces on the AKx flop, and then of course I made two pairs with KT on the river, costing me half my stack once again in the unavoidable setup hand. And then the piece de resistance, when I reraised my college buddy buckhoya allin while back in 3rd place when down to 20 players remaining with my 99, and he told me in the girly that he was calling just so he could go to bed, which he did and flipped up A9. Ace on the flop of course, and I was in last place and gone two hands later. How fun.

So, in the end I recorded no suckouts of my own and in fact never even came close, and got beat from behind once, recockulously and unavoidably set up once, and sucked out on horribly once. Chalk another one up for the bad guys. I just cannot get out of my own way in these blonkaments no matter what I do or how well or bad I play or how hard I try to get in behind and suck out. One thing I will say though is that, at least for now, I think the turbo experiement is over with the Hoy. I know, I know that's going to upset most of you, for sure. But we had some much earlier-ending tournaments for the past two weeks and hopefully that's been helpful for some of you wimps or west coasters out there, and I figure I must have been doing something right when I was switched to a new table for the first time, and sitting there in the chat from just before I showed up at the new table was this comment from NumbBono: "F Hoy and his turbo tournaments." So that's always a good sign that the public is happy with what you're doing :).

Seriously though, no more turbo for now although personally I thoroughly enjoy a good old-fashioned luckdonk fest. In fact, next week's MATH tournament is already set up on full tilt, and it is another brand new style of tournament for the Hoy: a $10 rebuy event. I've been looking forward to this one for a long time, and in fact have been talking with a few other bloggers about setting up a regular $10 rebuy blogger event, so I'm excited to move away from turbo for now and on to something else new and exciting. Now, after two early weeks for the MATH, next Monday is gonna be a late one with an hour long rebuy period starting at 10pm ET, but I remain steadfast in not changing the start time so the west coast donkeys can still get in there and contribute to the prize pool. And I picked $10 instead of the normal $26 buyin so as to keep the total buyin costs roughly the same at least for the normal non-donkified players -- you can still buy in, rebuy once and add on at the end of monkey hour all for roughly the same cost as one normal Hoy buyin. Hopefully you will all enjoy this latest variation on a common theme, and I know I for one already cannot wait until next Monday for that one. As I mentioned in my comments yesterday, I only wish I could pick my starting table next week, and stick all the luckboxes and all the suckout artists on there so I could get my revenge again and again and again against you clowns. Oh well, you can't have everything I guess.

So back to this week's MATH results. Here are your 8 cashers for the event:

1. Daddy $491.04
2. buckhoya $312.48
3. Gary Cox $215.76
4. columbo $163.68
5. cardgrrl $119.04
6. mattazuma $81.84
7. cracknaces $52.08
8. emptyman $52.08

And here is the updated 2007 MATH moneyboard, including the results of this week's tournament:

1. Columbo $1526
2. Bayne_s $1400
3. Hoyazo $1162
4. RaisingCayne $1110
5. Daddy $999
6. cmitch $840
7. Kajagugu $806
8. Astin $793
9. Pirate Wes $792
10. VinNay $775
11. Tripjax $759
12. Iggy $745
13. Gary Cox $734
14. NewinNov $677
15. Fuel55 $666
16. Lucko21 $665
17. Waffles $650
18. IslandBum1 $642
19. XxMagiciaNxX $630
19. JJ $630
21. Surflexus $608
22. Jamyhawk $576
23. Buddydank $553
24. Numbbono $549
25. swimmom95 $545
26. Chad $537
27. Emptyman $513
28. Byron $510
29. Julius Goat $507
30. bartonf $492
30. mtnrider81 $492
32. PokerBrian322 $490
33. riggstad $487
34. wormmsu $475
35. scots_chris $474
36. LJ $470
37. Mike_Maloney $456
38. RecessRampage $434
39. Otis $429
40. twoblackaces $426
41. Miami Don $402
42. Zeem $389
43. Joe Speaker $384
44. jeciimd $382
44. Jordan $382
46. Blinders $379
47. leftylu $374
48. cardgrrl $371
48. lightning36 $371
50. ChapelncHill $353
51. OMGitsPokerFool $324
52. buckhoya $312
52. oossuuu754 $312
54. Wigginx $288
55. ScottMc $282
56. Fishy McDonk $277
57. actyper $276
58. Irongirl $252
58. Manik79 $252
60. Wippy1313 $248
61. Easycure $244
62. Garthmeister $216
62. wwonka69 $216
64. Omega_man_99 $210
65. katiemother $209
66. Pushmonkey72 $208
67. Thepokergrind $198
68. Mookie $191
69. StatikKling $180
70. 23Skidoo $176
71. Santa Clauss $170
72. jimdniacc $166
73. Iakaris $162
73. Smokkee $162
75. cemfredmd $156
76. lester000 $147
77. Heffmike $145
78. Julkeus $144
79. brdweb $143
80. DDionysus $137
81. Patchmaster $135
82. InstantTragedy $129
83. NinaW $120
84. UnTiltable $118
85. Fluxer $110
86. -o-LuckTruck-o- $103
87. hoops15mt $95
88. Gracie $94
88. Scurvydog $94
90. Shag0103 $84
91. mattazuma $82
92. crazdgamer $82
93. PhinCity $80
94. Presidentdave $79
95. maf212 $78
96. evy35 $72
97. Alceste $71
97. dbirider $71
99. kevin-with-AK $66
100. Rake Feeder $53

So this turned out to be a large week for the Hoy moneyboard, as we got two big moves in the top 5. First, this week's winner, Daddy, moves into 5th place thanks to his $491 windfall in addition to his ToC seat today, an impressive performance given such a small number of MATH events he has played in. But the biggest news of all is that Columbo busted out with a big cash this week as well, propelling him above BBT1 winner Bayne and into first place for the year in total MATH winnings! This is the first time columbo has led the leaderboard all year, now with a $126 lead over Bayne in second place and nearly $400 over myself in 3rd, so congratulations out to columbo in addition to Daddy for their big moves this week in Mondays at the Hoy.

So, I struggled a lot about what to write about today, poker strategy wise. I've got tons of ideas swirling around my head as always, much of which is affected by current events in the world of poker and bloggers. In the end, I have decided that today I would write a little about improving your game. It's something that I referred to in yesterday's post and for whatever reason it's still on my mind today. I'll put it this way: anyone who is truly serious about their poker game -- anyone, with no exceptions at all -- must make constant improvement a constant focus. Period. You must. And don't get me wrong -- you can play poker all you want, and not give a crap about improving your game. I'm not trying to tell you that you have to do anything. But, if you're serious about your game, then you have no choice but to work to improve. Constantly. And it's hard work, don't get me wrong. But it has to be done, if you really, truly care about getting better. Nobody is going to deny this either.

Now, to different people, this constant focus on improving your game to prevent it from stagnating or even moving backwards can take different forms and mean different things. To some it can mean constantly reading poker books. To others it can mean regularly discussing hands and hand histories with their poker friends. Some people may join ghey forums like pokerxfactor or cardrunners and pay their hard-earned money to hear other people's strategies and thoughts on the game. Maybe others will prefer to work alone, setting aside an hour a day to review their own hand histories and take an honest look at their game and at what has been working and what hasn't been working for them. Personally, as I've said previously, I do pretty much all of the above. I've had some nice success playing this game we all know and hate love, but I go through these phases where I basically suck. I can't tell you how many times I have realized yet another weakness in my game over the past few years (and longer, really), and adjusted the way I play in those situations as a result. I remember when I was raising too much preflop. I remember when I was betting too big on the flop. I remember when I was continuation-betting too much and too indiscriminately. I remember when I was playing too loose preflop. I could go on and on. But I figured these things out about my own game, through a combination of reading, studying, talking with others and spending a huge amount of time reviewing my own hand histories, screen shots, and shit I've done at the virtual felt, both with myself and with other people whose game I respect.

What can you do to improve your game? Here are five general ideas I have used and do use regularly, not that any of these are anything revolutionary:

1. Read. I know it's hard for many people to find time to read poker books, but there simply is no other better resource for building your poker knowledge than poker books, articles and similar materials. I've mentioned this stuff several times in the past here, but to recap, following is a list of poker texts that I have personally read and that I personally will say are completely essential to anyone serious about improving:

a. Super/System. The nlh section written by Doyle was the first real poker strategy book I ever read, and to this day it remains the foundation for my style of aggressive play, truly the only strategy for playing consistently winning poker. Tournaments or cash.

b. Harrington on Holdem. As I've mentioned, I found Volume 3 to be pretty much worthless and in fact to detract overall from the value of his books, but Volume 1 is really essential for any tournament beginner, and Volume 2 is perhaps the single best book ever written about poker tournament play. I've said it here before and I'll say it again, but if you haven't read Super/System and Harrington, then I'm better than you in poker tournaments, period. 'Nuff said.

c. Caro's Book of Poker Tells. More applicable to live poker, but frankly the concepts listed here can apply more broadly to poker in general. To me this is essential reading for any serious poker player.

d. You might as well pick up the Full Tilt Poker Strategy Guide as well. This is not quite as awesome as the first three books above, but any time you can get that much accomplished, proven greatness together in one place to write about play before the flop and after the flop all in one place, it's a solid read.

e. Phil Hellmuth's Play Poker Like the Pros. If you're into learning about Limit holdem as well as the other HORSE games, and you can get around some of the worst writing style ever including massive! overuse! of! apostrophes!, then this is a great primer of those games from one of the world's indisputably best tournament poker players.

f. Theory of Poker and Holdem Poker for Advanced Players by Sklansky/Malmuth/Miller. This stuff is key for any limit holdem poker player, and you can't help but improve your no-limit game as well just from reading these classic poker texts. Period.

g. No-Limit Holdem Theory and Practice by Sklansky. A recent text but it's one that I have read and re-read at this point probably four or five times. Lots of great stuff for any nlh cash player.

The other thing I would say about reading poker books is just to say that me, personally, I tend to read these things 3 or 4 times at least before I feel like I've actually "read" them. I mean, I have without a doubt read Super/System cover to cover at least 20 times. You read that right. My copy of the book is so worn that I had to buy a new one just to be able to keep it all together. I've read those other books on the list at least 3 or 4 times, every single one of them. That's the only way to really absorb all that material, no matter how great your reading comprehension is. These aren't like novels, and it takes tons of repetition for this stuff to really sink in.

2. Practice what you read. Along with reading and re-reading the seminal poker texts out there, you have got to practice. Practice by playing while you're reading these books, and make yourself apply the techniques and strategies you're learning. If you just sit and read all day without any practice involved, you are not going to be able to "get it". There's just no way, no matter how much you read and how much you want to improve. You have to read, then practice, then read again, and then practice again. It's the only way.

3. Discuss. Find people whose poker game you respect, and talk to them. Discuss hand histories. Would they have called or folded with QQ in that spot? Would they have folded or reraised with AQ in that spot? Do they like to value bet 1/3 of the pot, 2/3 of the pot or allin in that particular situation. Run this shit by other people. And please, find people who actually have game and who actually understand how poker works. That part is up to you, but discussion with other living, breathing human beings has been a major, major reason I ever started this blog in the first place, and it has without a doubt been the single biggest reason I have had whatever successes I've had in this game.

4. Listen. To me, this really goes without saying and goes right along with item #3 above, but along with discussing poker strategy with other experienced and skilled players, you also have to listen to what these people fucking tell you. Believe me, there's no point to talking poker with other good players if you're just going to disregard what they tell you. Sadly I know a lot of people who do just this. I guess they think it sounds good or looks good or something to say to anyone who will listen how much they're working with so-and-so or whatshisname on their game, but in reality, they simply don't change their game at all as a result. The only reason to talk poker strategy with other players is to have an open mind about rethinking some of the thoughts and ideas you yourself bring to the game. Otherwise, seriously, don't waste their time or yours doing this shit. No point to talking with someone else about poker only to refuse to apply anything you hear or anything you think you're "learning".

5. Be quick to identify leaks in your game, and then react to them. Just like I mentioned in point #4 above, it does you no good to continually identify the same weakness over and over and over and over and over again, and then just keep making the same exact mistake that you know exists, over and over and over and over and over again. That is insanity. If you realize that you have been c-betting too regularly and need to pay more attention to the texture of the flop, then start paying more fucking attention to the texture of the flop. If you find you have been misplaying middle pocket pairs, then try something new the next time you're dealt a pocket pair. Play it less aggressively, or even fold them more preflop if you have to if you've been continually busting with these hands from tournaments of late. If you wake up one day and realize that you've been putting everyone else on a bluff every single time they raise from late position preflop and losing a lot of big pots as a result, then stop assuming these people are always bluffing so much. In some ways you're a damn fool if you keep identifying the same problems again and again, but you just keep reacting in the exact same way every next time you're placed in that situation. Identify, and react. Don't just identify and identify and identify the same problems without attempting to fix them.

6. Don't make instantaneous decisions at the table. I can't stress how important this one is, especially to some people, and invariably it seems to be tied up very well with item #5 above. You can't imagine what I feel when I see someone who I know claims has been working on a particular leak in his game, just go and do the same dumb, indefensibly -EV instacall the very next time they're faced with the same situation. Instacalling has its time and its place, and I'm not trying to condemn the entire practice of instacalling as an activity here. But what I am saying is, there is nothing wrong at all with taking a few seconds, or even several seconds, any time you are faced with a situation at the poker table where you might have an opportunity to make a smarter, better-thought-out play. So, back to our examples above, if you've been calling off too much bullshit with shitty medium pocket pairs for a long time, you cannot allow yourself to be the person instacalling two big preflop allin reraises with pocket 6s early in a tournament and with one guy still to act behind you who has already called one preflop raise in the hand. That is indefensible and it is the definition of not getting better. Instacalling has a time and a place, but most of the time it's a bad idea in most poker situations. If you could get just that idea into your head, your game will improve right there, without a doubt.

And next time you instacall two allins ahead of you even with a hand like pocket 9s, you just fucked up. You might go on to win the hand. You might actually make the call and turn out to be up against pocket 8s and pocket 7s. But if you instacalled there, that is bad tournament poker and you just fucked up. Indisputably. Accept it.

OK that's all for today. Tonight will be my first night at the virtual felt without a blonkament (no bodog for this donkey) and without FTOPS to focus on for better than a month now, so it will be interesting to see where I end up sitting in my nightly tribulations at full tilt. If you have any fun ideas, hit me up on the girly chat and I'll get in there with you.

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Blogger Riggstad said...

hahahahaha! Gold, brother! Pure Gold!

Dig the rebuy tourny as well!

I think we are going to try a knock out event with the Riverchasers...

Stay tuned!

2:04 AM  
Blogger Irongirl01 said...

I own and have read all the books on your list( and then some) and review them continuously. I agree with all your picks for must reads.

2:21 AM  
Blogger Gnome said...

I hated "No Limit Hold 'em: Theory and Practice." It has some value but also gives some misguided advice that hurt my game.

2:40 AM  
Blogger Chad C said...

I would say that in order though, "Theory of Poker" must be read and fully comprehended prior to the start of any other book. If you don't understand pot odds, implied odds, or position you will be one lost puppy dog ready the Harrington Books.

Re-Buys roooool so I can't wait for Monday already. Seriously though, I have been craving some non NLHE tournaments. Even 6-max and re-buys are good enough to break up the monotony of donkey suck out NLHE. I just wish ONE of the THREE each week was non NLHE, would be so much better I think. Next MATH double stack HORSE? Probably too much skill involved though....

2:52 AM  
Blogger Wwonka said...

No Offense But I hate that you are changing the game and structure every week.

Why is it your the only one changing format? During a Contest for a big prize???

Make it a Knockout that would be fun but changing the structure midstream is asinine in my opinion.

Why don't you leave it the same till the bbt2 is over and then change it to your liking??

Unless you just like being in control and doing it for the sake of doing it.

wwonka aka Donka

3:28 AM  
Blogger WildDuces234 said...

Love the suggestions, I have been one of those that has been looking for the leaks in my game and trying to fix what has been a downward spiral of loses on FT poker. 600 losses in this month and I am not one who has the money to lose. I have fonud a lot of Free videos via cardrunners and ducks cracked, ... some of these videos are great. i would recommend them. anyone consider creating a study group ? or is that too High school esk?

Hoy - I like the idea of a rebuy structure math ...but sounds like a donkUment to me! (gl all i dont do rebuys) dont like the principal of it all - be a donk to double and then change to marginal donk to redouble - till rebuy pieriod is over.

3:46 AM  
Blogger Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo said...

Mr. Wonka,

You nailed it in your comment whether you realized it or not. I like being in control and changing things up just for the sake of doing it. The feeling of power I get from being able to decide what games you all have to play in the Hoy is simply indescribable. I fucking hold the power to affect the future of all you little peons. I'm so much better than all of you because of that power, it is just impossible to explain in words how strong that makes me feel.

Really, you should be in charge of what games we play in my weekly tournament.

And btw, your point is also correct in that the Hoy and the BBTwo represent the first time bloggers have ever played mixed poker games as part of a big tournament challenge.

You batted a thousand with your comment there it seems. All very well said.

P.S. I am without a doubt the best comment-responder of all the bloggers. Don't challenge me on that or wooops! Super Turbo 100-chip razz for all of you next week, with 50-100 starting blinds.

3:58 AM  
Blogger Chad C said...

Weeeeeeee Turbo RAZZ!

4:11 AM  
Blogger WildDuces234 said...

lol turbo razz! too F-in funny

4:35 AM  
Blogger bayne_s said...

Being resident Omatard (along with Drizz) I must protest that we do not see enough variety of games during BBT! I believe during BBT 1 we had monthly Sunday HORSE.

As a guest at Mondays at the HOY I must respect the host's desire to play game of his choosing and format chosen.

I would respectfully request we play PLO one time so we can see some extraordinary suckouts.


4:59 AM  
Blogger Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo said...

The funny thing is, I have been going out of my way not to change the actual game we play away from holdem, because I really don't want to shut out any of these people who just don't know the other games, and I really like everyone having a chance to win the ToC seats for the Aussie Millions. My plan was always to play some mixed holdem games in November and then potentially some new games in December, but I'm still kicking around some ideas for the December games.

Btw don't forget, apparently changing to a knockout tournament is acceptable to King Wonka. But 6-max nlh is not, nor is a rebuy. It's good stuff, consistency is always good.

Can't wait until Wonka starts up a tournament so I get to decide what games to play.

5:07 AM  
Blogger actyper said...

Any chance of making it a turbo rebuy instead, or up it an hr. Gonna finish at 3am! :) Though its not a deep stack rebuy is it?

6:14 AM  
Blogger Alan aka RecessRampage said...

Personally, I love that you changed the format. It keeps it fresh.

Btw, great post. I agree with the importance of continually trying to improve your play. As important as it is to continue to play and gain experience, if you're not continuously learning or reviewing your play, it will likely be that your play will become stagnant and maybe not as profitable as before. It's like an alignment on your car... it's off a little and you don't notice. But if you don't get it checked and fix it, it will put a strain on your tire... not sure where I'm going with that analogy. All I wanted to say was, great post. :)

7:41 AM  
Blogger Wwonka said...

Sorry for having an opinion contrary to yours.

It is your tournament so that is your right.


8:31 AM  
Blogger RoccoBoxer said...

Great Post. I agree about having to re-read books.

Question: Do you re-red abook before going onto a new book?

Good post.

9:23 AM  
Blogger Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo said...

I usually reread my poker books once or twice before moving on to a new book. But that's just me.

10:34 AM  

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