Finally today I have a little bit of FTOPS love to report. To be honest, I have not been focusing on the FTOPS satellites nearly as much as I should have so far since they started maybe a week and a half ago. Normally I would have been all over qualifying for as many events as I can since the very first day they appeared on full tilt. But, I've had a lot of other things I've been focusing on with my poker play, not the least of which is my cash games (another very profitable night last night, more on that later), more bracelet races and the WSOP main event qualifiers since the large-buyin sats have such favorable payout structures, as well as my nightly 30k sats and other regular activities on the virtual felt. And I've also focused more time than I wish I had on the avatar races and related satellites, which would win me an entry into five FTOPS events at once -- at least one of which I cannot actually play in, mind you -- but where the play in the satellites and even in the avatar race itself has been so goddam awful that at times it's kinda like trying to win the WWdN or something. Painful. As a result, I have not been able to get anywhere significant with the avatar races, and since I've focused so much on those, I probably haven't played more than 5 or 6 individual-event FTOPS satellites, which in the past have been profitable plays for me. In the few that I have played before the last day or two, I've donked hard in a couple when I was actually playing on megatilt, and I've gotten donked by fonkeys on more than one occasion as well. In all, qualifying for the FTOPS in my half-assed way has proven to be highly frustrating for me, not to mention fruitless. I am highly competitive and driven, and my poker play has always been very goal-oriented. I want to play in as many FTOPS events as I can -- and I honestly believe that the entire online poker landscape is likely to be very, very different by the time the next
FTOPS comes around, presumably in August, once the regulations under the UIGEA have been promulgated -- and so far, nothing good to report whatsoever.
All that finally changed for me late this week. Either Wednesday or Thursday night (it all blends together for me, especially as I've been sick this week thanks to the Hammer Girls and the wonders of contagious viruses), I took on a $26 buyin mtt sat to the FTOPS HOSE event #5, which ended up being more like an sng as only 9 players entered the event. Now let me say for the record that, despite how effing frustrating razz can be, I am better than most players I bump into out there, in particular most players in the HORSE events generally for sure, and I just find it lame and almost sacreligious to be arbitrarily removing razz from the normal HORSE rotation. I don't really think this hurts my chances so much of performing well in such a multi-game event, but that doesn't mean I think it's right to just take razz out because, well, I don't even know why someone would do that. To me it's lame lame lame. But whatever, so I played in this 1-table mtt, with the winner getting a seat into the FTOPS HOSE event, and 2nd place thru 9th place winning diock. I hate that structure, which is the whole reason I prefer the mtt satellites to the sng satellites, but it was the hand I was dealt this week (pun intended) so I went with it:
This satellite was sick as ballz as we neared the end. I had played very well, getting paid handsomely on a turned boat in holdem and on a spectacular nut flush-nut low in O8, and I was actually up about 10k to 1k to 1k with just three players remaining. It took me overcoming not one, not two but three
stoopid suckouts to finally take out the guy in third place, with me once again up around 10k to 2k as heads-up play began. I was extremely card dead (we were just starting the latest O8 round as we got down to heads-up), and with such a large chip lead there was just no reason for me to play any starting hands that were not strong. Eventually he limped in preflop and I checked my option to see a free flop with AQ86. The flop came JT9, making me the second-nut straight with no low possible, and my opponent called my check-raise on the flop, getting most of his chips in in the process. Then when a rag fell on the turn, I bet out, and my opponent called off the rest of his chips, flipping up J9xx and wishing me luck in the FTOPS in the chat while he did so, leaving him dead to just four outs (the remaining two Jacks and two 9s) for me to win the seat. But the hideous 9 on the river suddenly brought him from the very brink of elimination back to basically even with my stack, and with me tilting out of my mind after a fourth or fifth suckout over just the past 10 minutes or so of play and about a 5-to-1 chip advantage at the beginning of heads-up play. After this latest suckout, we went back and forth several times, and with my tilt ever-increasing I was just about ready to kill somebody. Eventualy, luckily about two hands before I literally threw in the towel and just pushed with anything (we were playing stud high at this point), apparently my opponent got to his own towel-throwing point and pushed in his stack (about 70% the size of my stack at the time) progressively allin over 3rd, 4th and 5th streets with nothing more than a split pair of 2s. I had started with KQ(T), and eventually on fifth street just as my opponent moved in the last of his chips, I paired my Ten. I picked up two pair Kings over Tens on 6th, but he also picked up a runner-runner flush draw. With one eye closed and the other squinting tightly, I saw as he missed another big suckout at the river and I took down the winner-take-all satellite. So here is me registered for FTOPS Event #5 (HOSE):
On a related front, I also qualified for FTOPS Event #1 in nlh a night or two ago. This was another mtt satellite that paid the top two seats out of I think a 22- or 24-person field, and by the end I had managed to get into a dominant position, with about a 20k stack vs two sub-10k stacks in my last two opponents, with just two of us getting awarded seats to event #1. I eventually held on to make it in, although for some reason my screenshots from this event did not capture correctly, so all I have for you to see is me registered in FTOPS Event #1 as of now as well:
I guess it looks like I only managed to capture half of the FTOPS #1 window there. Well enjoy it cuz that's all I got for ya. So I am in to FTOPS Events #1 and #5, which will run on Friday night May 11 (#1) and Tuesday night May 15 (#5).
Looking at the other events I would like to play in, there are events #6 through #8, which are also on weekday evenings which is the optimal time for me, and also Event #4 on Monday the 14th is very attractive to me, in that it also has that 9pm ET start time that I like, but it carries a $1000 buyin. Now even though my roll could support me buying in directly to a 1k event, there is precisely zero chance that I would ever do that, especially with the fonkeys I run into regularly in online play. So, I did something on Thursday that I will only do for this particular event, which is play in a super satellite that awards seats to the $216-buyin satellite tournament on Monday, May 14 at 6:30pm ET, a few hours before the actual FTOPS Event #4 is scheduled to go off. Knowing this would require me to leave work early that day, I figured it is nonetheless my only realistic chance to play in the biggest buyin FTOPS event in FTOPS IV (including even the main event which sports a "mere" $535 buyin), since I do not foresee myself playing in the $165-buyin mtt satellite into FTOPS #4 that runs nightly at I think 11:15pm ET. So anyways, on Thursday I played in the mtt super sat to FTOPS Event #4 ($1000 nlh), which again was more like an sng than an mtt with just 8 players starting at one table:
Boooooom! The highlights here were me getting redickulously sucked out on twice at the river in the final 30 minutes, but then me laying one sickass bad beat of my own against one of these suckerouters when my tilt-allin with J7o four-flushed against my opponent's TT allin preflop. He can eat it, and I'll take the victory with the exact same pride as I do any other win I care about. J7o this, muthafucka. So I am now registered for that satellite to FTOPS #4 on Monday, May 14 at 6:30pm ET -- my only chance to play in the $1000 buyin tournament.
So that's it for my progress far on the FTOPS front, although I plan to play in more of these mtt satellites over the next few weeks to try to play my way in to whichever events I am able to get into. I did want to mention briefly here one new satellite full tilt has been running for the FTOPS over the past three days or so. It is called the FTOPS mega super satellite, and it is actually a satellite with a $75 buyin, that pays the winner(s) a $600 prize package consisting of seats into seven separate FTOPS satellites that occur the week of the FTOPS itself. Now, I can't play in this thing personally, because almost all of the FTOPS satellites that are awarded in this thing go off at 6:30pm ET on the day of the FTOPS events themselves, and I simply do not have the ability to play in a 6:30pm ET satellite. But, if you're interested in playing your way cheaply in to seven of the ten FTOPS event satellites that are held the night of the actual FTOPS events, then this thing could be for you. The FTOPS mega super satellite runs every night on full tilt at 10:30pm ET, and also I think around 7:30pm ET as well, and here is the actual schedule of the 7 FTOPS satellite tournaments that you will win your way in to if you take down one of these mega super sats:
OK, enough about the FTOPS for today. Now I wanted to discuss my cash game play of late, and some of the commentary I have received over the past few days about how I'm playing certain hands, because while most of the comments are really very helpful, some of what I'm reading just seems pretty silly. First and foremost, let me say again that I certainly appreciate every single comment I get on my blog about my cash game play. I recognize fully that I'm a cash beginner and that there are guys out there with 1000 times the experience and skill that I have in cash games. But I also want to say that I find it somewhat funny how tied on to their own specific styles of play some people seem to be, and how easy some people seem to find it to critique what I'm doing just because they don't play the game exactly like I do. When I'm out there reading hands, I can fend for myself and I'm doing quite well at it. I may not play exactly like you guys do. I may be on my way to eventually playing cash nlh exactly like you do as I continue to incorporate every tidbit that seems sensible to me that I pick up from your advice and from watching you guys play the game. And I certainly have my down days just like everyone else who plays cash regularly. But let's be honest here. This is the exact same group of guys who just commented in my blog within the past week that nobody good at nlh cash ever steals the blinds, that with no escalation of the blinds there is just no reason to fight hard over a dollar or two. Meanwhile, after maybe 5000 hands of 1-2 nlh 6-max over the past couple of weeks, I can probaby count on one hand
now -- the number of times that the button and the sb have folded around to give a walk to the bb when I've been at the table to see it. The bottom line is that, regardless of the advice I received here a week ago or so, the fact still remains that not just a few guys, and not just some people, and not even most people, but everybody
-- and I mean every. single. body. -- steals the blinds in 1-2 6max holdem on full tilt. So the advice for me not to play out of the blinds like that is not advice I can possibly adhere to, and I could not advocate anyone else doing that either. Stealing the blinds isn't just part
of the game at 1-2 6max on full tilt -- it is
Now, I'm not at all saying this to suggest that anyone who has commented here doesn't know what they're talking about with cash games. I said it above and I'll say it again here, I am getting better every single day at my cash games as a direct result of the conmentary I receive right here on the blog, and I could not be more thankful and appreciative of everyone's comments
. But, what I am
saying is that I think everyone can learn a little something about how to play these games from someone else, and that there really isn't any one "right" way to play the game, at least not at any level of specificity. A guy who is better at reading hands can play a little looser early in the hands like Negreanu does and make money. A guy who's better at getting value out of strong hands can play tighter than most like a Dan Harrington and make money. While I do believe there is a right way generally to succeed at poker in a general sense, there are simply a lot of different specific ways of getting there.
I also wanted to note here that in the comments to how I play specific hands in both tournaments and cash games, the most common overall commentary I get is for people to ask how I could not have put someone on a really strong hand, just because they were betting. Apparently a lot of people out there do not realize just how tight they play, and more importantly, just how exploitable that tightness is. If you're going to assume that a guy who steal-raised preflop has hit a board of 579Q hard just because he put in an automatic and meaningless c-bet on the flop and then called my raise of that c-bet, then your game will improve the sooner you realize that you are going to get exploited again and again and again by smart, observant players who see your game for what it is. Now, you can read this and get all pissed and think what a jerk I am if you want, that's completely fine with me of course, but that isn't going to change the truth of what I just wrote up there. If you're someone who puts a stealer on a hand that hits a board of 579Q hard just because he didn't fold to my raise of his automatic, make-it-every-single-time-regardless-of-the-cards c-bet on the flop, then you are exploitable. You're beyond exploitable in fact. Now this is me
people some good advice: If your play is so robotic that you automatically assume a preflop raiser hit a raggy board just because he doesn't fold to your flop raise, then good players will eat you alive. They'll kill you. I'll watch you at my table for 15 minutes, and then I'll be stealing pots from you by simply calling your raises and then betting strong on the turn. The single biggest mistake I see people make online -- after overvaluing shitty hands themselves, of course -- is being too timid and always fearing the nuts. A guy putting in an automatic steal-raise and then an automatic c-bet tells you absolutely nothing
about what he holds in his hand. If all an opponent does in the entire hand that shows any strength at all is call my flop raise, something for which he will have some decent odds thanks to the money he's already put into the pot with his preflop steal-raise and then his flop c-bet, then IMO you want to get yourself to the point where you're not automatically assuming he has nailed a raggy board of Q975. In fact, to me that conclusion is just plain silly. He's barely shown any strength at all in the hand! Fearing the nuts or near-nuts just because of one raise-call on the flop where there's already decent pot odds to call with some things like draws, 2nd pair decent kickers, etc. is not the optimal way to play the game in my opinion.
And while I'm on a roll here, lets talk for a minute about some other funny stuff I've been reading and hearing people say. First of all, if you are someone who believes that "calling an allin with just one pair in cash game is donkey", then you as a matter of practical fact are too rigid to be great in your poker game. I don't care what you think of me, but when you're done thinking it, you're still not good. Period. Start facing it now. Or don't, actually. Cuz I've been stealing pots from people like you all night long over the past month. And you know what? I do occasionally get burned by people who hit 2 pairs or slow played a monster against me. So do people who don't call big bets with just one pair
. You shouldn't need me to tell you this. The fact remains that I am probably up about 5 or 6 to 1 in chips in the times I've called with one pair and won, minus the chips I've lost when I've called with one pair. It's called hand reading, and for almost everyone reading this out there who thinks what I'm saying is wrong, I'm better at reading hands than you
. If you read hands well and are willing to get away from one pair when you think you're behind, then being willing to go to the showdown with one pair where you objectively and honestly believe you're ahead can be quite profitable, at least at the donkey limits. I'm quite sure that calling big bets with one pair at 3-6 is not at all a winning strategy. But at 1-2, if used sparingly and appropriately, it can work. And at $.10-$.25 like the blogger cash game that I played in for a few hours on Thursday night at full tilt, it can be a very profitable strategy if done correctly against the caliber of players, and the caliber of bluffers, you will run into at that level.
This leads into my second point about the cash games (and this is just as true for tournaments as well btw) -- and this is an argument that's been hashed and rehashed on blogs and in poker rooms for as long as poker has been played, so it's not like I'm saying anything new here. But if you are someone who is going to try to run a huge bluff on the river in a hand where you have nothing, your opponent has played the hand strong since before the flop, and you've played like you've got nothing all the way through the hand as well, then the other guy -- factually speaking -- is not the donkey when you make the painfully obvious, everyone-at-the-table-knows-you-aint-got-shit allin bluff at the end, and he calls to stack your ass. You didn't even think about this bluff until the second you clicked "allin". And as a result, your bluff is more obvious than the baldness of that guy with the horrble combover. I don't care if the other guy calls you down with frigging Jack-high and beats you. If you don't lay the groundwork for your bluffs earlier in the hands such that a person with good hand reading skills can't be THAT sure that you're bluffing when you suddenly out of nowhere commit the rest of your stack to a hand where you've shown nothing but abject weakness from the moment the starting cards came out, then no matter what you may think, no matter what you may say, and no matter what the other abject donkeys at the table might tell you, you are the donkey
. Again, start facing it now, because these my friends are facts. If you think the other guy has
to automatically lay his hand down if it's only one pair, so you can run the dumbest looking bluff I've seen since I played 5-card-draw with Aces, Deuces and One-Eyed Jacks as wildcards for m&ms with my friends in 4th grade, then you are an abject donator. And I love having ya around my table, don't get me wrong. But just because some other blonkey supports you that the other guy shouldn't have called your blatantly obvious bluff, do yourself a favor and don't let that make you fail to question how you could make such a horrifically bad play. As many great poker bloggers have quite correctly observed, if you aren't willing to constantly analyze your own play and try to figure out why you got stacked 5 or 6 times in front of your blogger friends at that cash game table the other night, then you are absolutely doomed to repeat your suckiness. And I'll be there to call you again and again and again with Ace-high, one pair, or my monster and continually relieve you of your chips. Because I'm in your head. Accept it. I'm in there. I'm there right now as you read this. Keep telling yourself that the other
guy is the donkey for calling your recockulously out-of-nowhere bluffs at the river. Keep letting the other jassack poker bloggers at the table tell you how horrible of a call the other guy made to stack you with his just one pair hand against your allin bluff with your Ten high. Just keep making those bluffs at me please.
I think that's enough of that mini-rant for today. I'm sure the better players out there disagree with a lot of what I've said above. I welcome that disagreement, and I can only assume this is because you guys play at a higher level than I do and a higher level than I am referring to here, because at those levels I'm sure a lot of how I've been playing over the past several weeks will not work. Well, I'm not playing at your levels. I'm playing at 1-2 or below, and this shit is working. Some days I get stacked. Some days I make ridiculous, horrible laughable allin calls with not-very-strong hands and lose a couple hundy to a guy with a monster. It's true. I bet it even happens to you on occasion, no matter what level you play at. But I can't argue with the fact that my roll is growing pretty consistently at 1-2, which I'm doing by taking stabs at lots of small pots, stealing the blinds when it makes sense, and sticking with my reads when I think I'm ahead. It actually sounds a lot like how I play in tournaments, to an extent. And at the donkey limits, this is working. I fully believe my higher-level-playing friends that this stuff won't work at all
up there. If I ever move up, something which I'm not planning to do anytime soon right now, I look forward to having to re-learn how to beat that level. But for now, there are donkeys all the phuck over the place at 1-2 and below, and I'm beating them. Consistently. And I'm not doing it by assuming they have the nuts every time they call a raise of mine. The guy who plays that way, he's the guy whose money I'm taking consistently at the cash tables in fact. I love players like that.
OK so today I will just leave you with a sweet hand from last night at the 1-2 cash tables, where I recorded another solidly profitable session over maybe 2 or 3 hours of play. And this is a hand where I am going to specifically thank Fuel55
for educating me that it is ok to play low connectors in a multiway pot at a cash game for a small bet.
And to Dr Zen from yesterday's comments, this one's for you! Ha ha.
So I'm in the big blind with 64o. A totally shite hand by any possible standards. But when middle position just min-raises my $2 big blind to $4, and then the small blind calls the raise as well, I'm looking at seeing a flop in a $12 pot for just $2. This is a hand which I would have insta-folded just a few weeks ago. But I specifically remembered as I played this hand both Lucko and Fuel making calls like this (not saying either of you would have necessarily made this specific call, just calls like this with low suited or connecting junk) at cash tables I was at, and then seeing them get lucky, hit a big flop and suddenly they're stacking someone else at the table. So I looked at those pot odds, and I made the call:
The flop comes down:
Not bad. Bottom two, it's not a great flop but obviously I hit it pretty good here, and since I called a preflop raise, nobody is really going to put me on this hand. I check it, because I know the guy up top, Mr. Formulaic, is gonna c-bet on this raggy flop. He obliges with a $7 bet into the $11.40 pot. Then the guy after him raises before the action even gets back to me:
Now I know here this was a bit of a tough decision. I think if I had put the guy up top on any kind of a hand at all with his c-bet, then I might have been a lot more tempted to fold. But to me, the guy up top I know for absolute certain fact is c-betting here with any two cards. Any. Two. Cards. That's just the way he plays, and I am 100% positive of that fact. So all I'm really looking at here is a guy raising on the flop, a raise that could easily mean just top pair decent kicker. In fact I'm putting him on something like JT, since he called the preflop raise with just one other player in the pot at the time, so I'm guessing he's on a Jack and a decently high card. Yes he could be on a set, but there is just no reason for me to believe he's on a set yet. I debated reraising to find out now if he does have me beat, but the bet was so big already that I decided to just call it and see what this player does on the turn with the information that I called his big raise on the flop. I'm guessing not everyone will agree with this move, but I think it was ok given my hand at the time:
The guy up top folded. And this was when another shining, beautiful 4 fell on the turn, giving me a delicious boat. What's more, the guy on the right, whom I still had on top pair of some kind, liked the 4 as I probably would in his shoes, but liked it enough to push in the rest of his stack:
This I think was a horrendous play by him, given that I had just called a bet and a nice-sized raise on the flop. In particular when you see what he had in his hand, since I insta-called his bet of course:
Top pair, shit kicker. Another great example of why you don't want to be the guy always putting players on the nuts or near-nuts just because of one modestly aggressive action on the flop against a guy who is perceived to be auto-cbetting without any need to have actually hit anything on this hand. The J3 guy played this hand about as badly as humanly possible, but I would have never been there to take down this $280 pot:
if not for Fuel and Lucko. I should send you guys each $2.80, one percent of this pot for each of you, for being the impetus behind me winning this guy's money. Again, I'm not trying to say that either one of these guys would have played this hand at all, or played it exactly like I played it on every street, or anything like that at all (I bet they would not have played it exactly like me, in fact, given both of their massively more cash game experience than I). But it's a great example of the kind of thing I'm constantly looking to add to my game from watching and learning from other better, more experienced players out there. I specifically remember thinking "donkey!" the first time I saw Fuel call a raise and 3 callers of that raise preflop with 64s. Then when he stacked me with the hand, I kinda did a double-take. Then a few days later I watched Lucko call a few preflop callers with 76o and do the same thing. I questioned, and I got answers from each of them explaining the rationale of calling a small preflop bet with junky connectors, soooted or otherwise, to try to nail a cheap flop against multiple players and get to stack somebody good. And slowly but surely, this stuff is finding its way into my game. I may put my own spin on things, but I'm always looking to get better, and the best way in the world to do that is to learn from observing and picking the brains of others who are better than you. That's what I hope some people can get out of the 347 posts I've put up here over the past couple of years. Well, maybe not Dr. Zen, who obviously has emotional problems after busting his bankroll for the umpteenth time this year. But the rest of you.
Have a nice weekend, everyone. I should be online intermittently in the evenings so you can come and berate me for the content of this post. God I love being a blogger. Now go and qualify for the FTOPS!
Labels: Cash Games, Fonkery, FTOPS, Full Tilt Satellites, Rant