Tuesday, December 11, 2007

MATH Recap, and Drawing Hands on the Flop in Holdem

With all the bloggers still in Vegas, on a plane back from Vegas, or just generally too broke groggy to play any more poker, this week's Mondays at the Hoy tournament turned out to be the single best chance for anybody to qualify for the BBTwo Aussie Millions Tournament of Champions, with a field of just 39 runners. It was still big for the Hoy overall, but far smaller than the other MATH events during the BBTwo, paying out the top five spots and significantly increasing each individual's chances of climbing to the pinnacle and winning a ToC seat here in the 4th-to-last tournament in the BBTwo.

My starting table was without exception the toughest starting table I have ever been seated at for a blogger tournament, and it only had 6 players to boot. It was myself, jeciimd, KOD, Don, columbo and chitwood, this last player being the only one with whom I was not familiar. Honestly I've never had to play at a table like this before in my entire life in a tournament, and to make matters worse, KOD was playing recklessly which is always a problem, and I felt I was being floated on on more than one occasion by a few of the players at the table, which is always difficult for someone who likes to raise preflop like I do. Being at a shorthanded table only made the whole situation worse. Wishing I could just get a table change rather than face this smattering of solid, aggressive and deceptive players, I had to perservere and decided to just try to hold my own for as long as I could and hope to pick up a monster hand. Of course I do not get dealt many monsters in blonkament play, so I was forced to loosen my calling standards a bit against the players I figured were themselves raising a little light preflop, which mostly meant KOD and Don.

After laying down to flop bets from Don three different times in the first half hour or so, the fourth time about 40 minutes in to the tournament saw me call Don's utg preflop raise with K7s in the big blind into a heads-up pot. It's a questionable call, but it was my express plan to not just fold every time KOD or Don raised it up and K7s was actually the best hand I was dealt in any of these situations, and possibly the best hand I had seen all night at the time, so I made the call. I got lucky and flopped 77A for trips, and hidden trips at that since I had called the preflop raise from Don to begin with. Hoping Don had an Ace, I checked to the preflop raiser, he bet out, and I just smooth called, hoping even more now that he had a strong Ace and knowing there was no way he could put me on a 7 given the preflop action. The turn was something unimportant, a Jack as I recall, and I checked it again. This time I think Don bet out small again which I of course called. At this point I figured he would start to put me on a 7 but as I've mentioned, I was in a great situation where the preflop action could not have let Don think I possibly had the hand I had. But I could have called preflop with A7s, with 87s or 76s (if I'm a donk), or certainly a number of decent Aces or even middle pocket pairs. In any event, when the river brought a Queen, Don moved in the rest of his chips, and I called thinking I might have just gotten outboated, but in the end it was a setup for Don as his AQ lost to my flopped trips. It's not every day that I get to take K7s up against AQ and live to tell about it against a trappy, deceptive player like Don in a blonkament no less, so I'll take it. I really only write about it here because that's the kind of hand that would have burned me the phuck up if it happened against me instead of for me, and I try to write about those hands more as they happen since I certainly end up posting about them when they happen to me in basically every blonkament I play.

Anyways, my night ended just a few hands later when I unfortunately ran pocket Jacks into chitwood's pocket Aces at my new table, having gotten that table change I so desperately wanted once I busted Don from the MATH. I was in a heads-up pot preflop againt chitwood, whom I had observed stealing a few times already at my starting table, and basically I raised from the cutoff with the JJ from 100 to 300. Chitwood in the blinds kicked it up to 950. So it wasn't a minraise, it wasn't an overbet, but it was just your standard reraise from a guy who had been a bit stealy. Now, to be sure I was not thinking he was restealing me with air here, not by a longshot as I've never seen chitwood do that in the few blonkaments I've seen him in, but what would you do in that spot with JJ facing a reraise from the blinds after my own stealy self had open-raised from the cutoff at a shorthanded table? My answer was to just push. I knew I had the 4th best starting hand, and even though his range was pretty strong to be reraising me here, I know he knows I like to steal pots, and in the end I figured his range included enough hands like 88, 99, TT and AQ and maybe even AJ or KQ that I could get him to lay down or to call my allin with many of the hands I would be ahead of or at least racing against. In retrospect, I don't love my move, but at the time it definitely seemed like the right play. Of course he had pocket Aces -- I have to run into AA at least three or four times every night or it's just not a blonkament these days -- and a smooth call from me would clearly have been best since an Ace flopped and I would easily have folded to any action on the flop here. I suppose he might've checked his flopped set of Aces anyways on the flop, in which case I might very well have gotten it allin anyways, but the whole thing just kinda sucked, just two hands after surviving that tough starting table as it was. Ah well, such is the life of a blonkament player.

After winning and cashing in 3rd place in a couple more $55 turbo sngs, I headed to bed, but I saw in the morning that the MATH ended at a very reasonable 12:39am. I guess some of that is due to the smaller field no doubt, but in general I am liking 6-max as the new format for the Hoy and I enjoy the action that this game generates. I understand that not everyone loves the shorthanded game, but I have to say that I for one think a little something to break up the monotony of three, four or even five blonkaments a week that are straight up ring game no-limit holdem is a good thing for everyone. 6max is fun, it is a live game, and I guess I just don't have a whole lot of sympathy for people who want every single blonkament every single week to be the same exact game. I'm not one who is trying to change this game to HORSE or Omaha or some shit like that -- I love those games and play them often on my own in my nightly trials and tribulations on full tilt -- but I do recognize that most of you who play in the Hoy are nlh guys and I like to respect that and encourage participation. But if you can't get it up for one game a week of shorthanded nlh, then I guess I don't know what else there is to say about it. That's the game for now, and if it seems not to be working then of course I will consider changing it. That said, the last couple of MATH tournaments of the year will be a little different due to each occurring on the night of a big holiday, but otherwise for now it's a 6max tournament and I'd love to have you all embrace your inner aggromonkey and play.

Anyways, here are your cashers in this week's MATH tournament:

1. twoblackaces 374.40
2. LJ 215.28
3. lucko21 149.76
4. islandbum1 112.32
5. dabag 84.24

So just two bloggers in the top 5, but all five are names that we recognize, as they've all played many of our events and especially many of the BBTwo tournaments. I did not see the final table action so I really can't comment on twoblackaces finally winning one of these after coming out consistently for the BBTwo, or on LJ producing at least her second runner-up finish in one of these in her so far unfruitful attempt to play into the Tournament of Champions. But I am happy to congratulate twoblackaces, a very good player with whom I have played a number of blonkament and non-blonkament tournaments with, on winning his way into the ToC with I'm sure another hard-fought win out of him.

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

1. Columbo $1823
2. cmitch $1703
3. Bayne_s $1400
4. Hoyazo $1162
5. RaisingCayne $1110
6. Surflexus $1107
7. Daddy $999
8. LJ $867
9. Lucko21 $815
10. Kajagugu $806
11. Fuel55 $802
12. twoblackaces $801
13. Astin $793
14. Pirate Wes $792
15. VinNay $775
16. Tripjax $759
17. IslandBum1 $754
17. Numbbono $754
19. Iggy $745
20. Gary Cox $734
21. Blinders $720
22. NewinNov $677
23. Waffles $650
24. XxMagiciaNxX $630
24. JJ $630
26. Mike_Maloney $612
27. Jamyhawk $576
28. Buddydank $553
29. swimmom95 $545
30. riggstad $537
30. Chad $537
32. ScottMc $532
33. Emptyman $513
34. Byron $510
35. Julius Goat $507
36. bartonf $492
36. mtnrider81 $492
38. PokerBrian322 $490
39. wormmsu $475
40. scots_chris $474
41. whiskigrl $467
42. jeciimd $460
43. RecessRampage $434
44. Otis $429
45. leftylu $424
46. Miami Don $402
47. Zeem $389
48. Joe Speaker $384
49. Jordan $382
50. cardgrrl $371
50. lightning36 $371
52. ChapelncHill $353
53. OMGitsPokerFool $324
54. buckhoya $312
54. oossuuu754 $312
56. Mookie $304
57. Wigginx $288
58. Fishy McDonk $277
59. actyper $276
60. Irongirl $252
60. Manik79 $252
62. Wippy1313 $248
63. Easycure $244
64. Garthmeister $216
64. wwonka69 $216
66. Omega_man_99 $210
67. katiemother $209
68. Pushmonkey72 $208
69. Thepokergrind $198
70. StatikKling $180
71. 23Skidoo $176
72. Santa Clauss $170
73. jimdniacc $166
74. Iakaris $162
74. Smokkee $162
76. cemfredmd $156
77. lester000 $147
78. Heffmike $145
79. Julkeus $144
80. brdweb $143
81. DDionysus $137
82. Patchmaster $135
83. InstantTragedy $129
84. NinaW $120
85. UnTiltable $118
86. Fluxer $110
87. -o-LuckTruck-o- $103
88. hoops15mt $95
89. Gracie $94
89. Scurvydog $94
91. DaBag $84
91. Shag0103 $84
93. mattazuma $82
93. crazdgamer $82
95. PhinCity $80
96. Presidentdave $79
97. maf212 $78
98. evy35 $72
99. Alceste $71
99. dbirider $71
101. kevin-with-AK $66
102. Rake Feeder $53

Today I thought I would leave you with (to me) a very interesting point made in the latest poker book I am reading, called "Professional No-Limit Holdem" by Matt Flynn, Sunny Mehta, and Ed Miller. This is a book I am reading on a recommendation from the Gnome, and I have to say I am enjoying it so far. I thikn Gnome is correct that there are, as in every poker book that I read, some examples that I think give poor advice or at least are poor examples of what may otherwise be good advice. But overall, I am maybe halfway through the book and I just ran across one of several good pieces of general nlh advice in here for those who know when they've seen something useful.

To me, what I am really looking for in a nlh strategy book is generalized poker rules that can be applied across a majority of situations and circumstances. No-limit holdem is such a complicated game that just about anybody can say in their book that the game is too complex for a bunch of bright-line rules, and for the most part I think that is true. But, as a result, when I run into a nice rule that seems generally applicable in most nlh situations, I view that as a good thing, and today I want to share one such rule with you from "Professional No-Limit Holdem". This is from the section dealing with how to play drawing hands, most of which I think is applicable on the flop in nlh games:

With a weak draw and poor pot equity (i.e., an inside straight draw), choose between folding and calling (rarely raising). Call if you have good implied odds, and fold if you have bad implied odds.

With a strong draw with good pot equity (i.e., a straight flush draw or a flush draw and two overs, etc.), choose between raising and calling (rarely folding). Call if you have good implied odds, and raise if you have bad implied odds.

That's it right there. Again, in a highly complex game like no-limit holdem, to have a fairly bright-line rule like this one and be able to have it apply across most situations is a rare thing, and more than that, I think, a very profitable thing. And to me, this is great advice. So when someone bets the pot at me on the flop when I have 89o on a board of QJ2, the best move is almost never to raise. If the implied odds are good (i.e., my draw is hidden, my opponent is loose, etc.) then it might make sense to call, but in most cases on this flop I am likely to fold since it is hard to disguise a straight when the board shows QJTx. Similarly, if I have 6♠4♠ and the flop comes A♣5♠3♠, giving me the oesfd and someone bets the pot at me when I'm sure they have a strong Ace, I figure to have a good 17 outs. This gives me a very strong draw and very strong pot equity, so I am very unlikely to fold in this spot. If my implied odds are good, again because like in this case my oesfd is somewhat hidden by the gap in the sooted cards on the flop, I am more likely to call and not raise here. But if I think I have not much chance of getting paid off if I do hit my draw -- for example if I'm playing against one of these always-assume-the-worst tightydonks if a third spade or third straight card hits, then I might as well raise it up now and try to get that additional money into the pot with my better than 50% equity and not much chance of getting paid if a good card does hit on the turn or river.

Like I said, it's not often that I find a concise, well-put statement like this that makes for good strategy across almost all no-limit holdem situations. This is the kind of thing I am always looking for when I read poker books, and frankly these sorts of strategy points are very few and far between. I bet from the tens of poker books I've read over the past few years, I could probably come up with only 20 or so statements like this with broad applicability across the poker games that they are about, so I wanted to post this here. Frankly I don't know that I will change my game all that much as a result of what it says in the book that I have reproduced above, but that doesn't take anything away from the fact that this is first time I have seen this idea stated in exactly this way. I think I already played draws on the flop in no-limit holdem very similarly to the way this rule would recommend that I play them, but it's still always good to see something stated and explained in such simple, broadly-applicable terms as this. Hopefully some of you out there who have struggled with how to play draws on the flop in nlh will get some further insight and guidance from this, what I consider to be very sound, very solid (and somewhat rarely so) advice, and that's why I wanted to post it today.

If anyone is feeling like a man tonight, hit me up on the girly chat and we can play some $55 sitngos. Turbos only please, I am far too manly for regular speed.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

That was a sick opening table Hoy. I just tried to stay aggressive and mix it up because there was not a soft spot in the mix.

Nice hand on K7. I thought I was golden and no way you had a 7. Oh well at least my cooler was early.

Thanks for hosting and we missed you playing $1/2 NL at MGM this weekend.

3:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks again for hosting, I really enjoy playing in the tourney, especially the 6-max format. Sorry about the cooler with JJ/AA, but nothing you can do there. As you noted, maybe you can call and slow down on the flop when the A comes, but I definitely check there and you probably have to fire at the pot.


3:53 AM  
Blogger Shrike said...

Maybe you could do a summary of those proverbial 20 statements, Hoy?

4:52 AM  
Blogger Island Bum said...

Just wanted to say that I enjoy the 6 handed format. a bit more action and just all around better.

Thanks for hosting


7:36 AM  

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