Tuesday, January 15, 2008

MATH Recap, and More FTOPS Satellites

So, in keeping with my general plan to qualify as early as possible before the fields get too large for as many of the FTOPS tournaments I can play, my big focus on Monday night other than Mondays at the Hoy was trying to play my way in to the $1060 buyin nlh tournament known as FTOPS #10 scheduled for Monday night, February 11 at 9pm ET. Expanding upon something that full tilt started over the past one or two FTOPS series, finally full tilt is now running one $150 + $15 satellite to this $1060 buyin FTOPS tournament every single night of the week at 10:30pm ET (and at least one more earlier every evening, as I recall). I think they started this up over the past couple of FTOPS's once they introduced this $1060 buyin tournament to the series, but they are finally running one of these $165 buyin satellites seven nights a week for the first time. Now, as I have discussed previously I choose not to buy in to $165 tournaments out of my online roll generally speaking, and I assume most of you are in the same boat. But, what full tilt does for all of us therefore -- and frankly, what is one of their biggest strengths overall as a site if you ask me -- is they also run four separate supersatellites into this $165 nightly FTOPS #10 satellite ranging from a $5 rebuy at 7:55pm ET to a $26 buyin supersat nightly at 8:10pm ET, a $10 rebuy at 8:20pm ET and then a $40 buyin supersat at 8:40pm ET. Now while a $5 rebuy is not really my thing to qualify for a $165 buyin tournament, on three of the last four nights I have managed to play in each of the other three supersatellites. This means I am ponying up $44 + $26 + $21 on average for a total investment of $91 a night, and on all three nights I have managed to win my way into the $165 satellite in exactly one of those three supersats.

In my first two attempts over the weekend in the $165 satellites into FTOPS #10 I have fallen short, mostly due to bad play on my part as I recall, though I haven't seen a real hand yet in one of these large buyin satellite tournaments. Things started off very similar for me on Monday night after I qualified in the $40 + $4 supersatellite, with me dropping down quickly below 1200 chips from the 1500-chip starting stacks on a couple of hands worth seeing a flop but not worth paying or betting to see a turn card. With 23 entrants in the sat, the top 3 finishers would win FTOPS seats, and I was not willing to just donk it up for $165 early on, so I folded a few flops that I could have pushed with if I had to. Still, after having flopped trips turn into a chop against a guy with the same trips but a 2 kicker thanks to a running pair on the turn and river, my stack dipped below 1000 chips before I quickly doubled up with A9o being called by a big stack in buttsauce33, one of the very best online poker players I have run into regularly on full tilt (despite the recockulous name, which sounds more like something Waffles was writing about the other day than an actual full tilt handle), who was playing downright reckless on the night and called me with KQo. Still I was in 10th of 12 remaining, although a bunch of people ahead of me were close to my stack size, with just the top 3 or 4 guys well out ahead of the field.

In my attempt to keep building up from short stack land, I won a pot on the flop with 33 and again on the flop with 99 when I moved in in a heads-up pot against guy who called my preflop raise on a non-Ace flop, and both of those plays worked and took down the pot for me uncontested. I was up to 6 out of 10, but again still far from the top 3 or 4 spots, and with only the top 3 winning seats, I still had a lot of work to do. That said, my stack had grown somewhat so that I wasn't in total desperation land, giving me enough chips to make a play before the pot and yet still be able to fold to a reraise without being utterly crippled. So, I started stealing, something I would be much less apt to do on a very small stack where I more have to pick two high cards or a decent pocket pair and just move allin with it. So I stole from button with K8o. Then I restole from my bb against a small blind opener with T3o. I stole with K9s on the button. After a round of folding all shitty cards, I even kicked it up a notch and "stole" with K9s under the gun and somehow took that one down uncontested as well (this was a 6-handed tournament if I did not mention that before). All of these drew folds, thankfully, because if I get called with any of those hands I am in pretty bad trouble for sure. So after all these steals, I was up to 4th out of 10 players remaining, sitting at a 5-handed table and again with the top 3 winning seats.

Then came my big hand of the tournament, the whole reason you try to maintain your chip stack and build gradually in these things without ever calling someone else's preflop raise unless you are megastrong. I was dealt 97 sooted on the button, and as I mentioned above I had been stealing with abandon from the button so I figured why not here as well when the action folded around to me:

This is actually not a bad situation for me, because most of the hands I had been stealing with were real garbage, whereas this one is a soooted one-gapper with medium cards. It could be a lot worse. Nonetheless, I was not too happy to see the big blind smooth call my steal attempt, pretty much the first time one of my steals had been called all through the tournament.

So, with 1660 in the pot we saw a flop of 996. Bingo!! Now, I figured that checking here would be too obvious, given that I had raised preflop, had a shortish stack and basically had to make a move here if I was any kind of a man. But, I didn't want to move allin and chase this guy out either if he had some kind of pocket pair or some shit like that. So, I wanted to make the size of bet that I thought looked the most like I wanted him to fold -- big enough to seem foldable-to, but also small enough that it looked like I was leaving myself a cushion in case I was raised:

There it is. I loved this bet size here. It's kinda like I felt like I had to go above 1000 to get that fourth digit on the bet there into a 1600-chip pot, but like I didn't really want to go that high. Here was the response:

and BOOOOOOOOoooooooom!

Slow play to no pay baybeeeee! I survived the two-outer, and suddenly I was the new chip leader with just 8 players remaining:

Now instead of being in allin push mode as I would be with a bottom stack, or steal-and-build mode as I would be with a medium stack that is still not in the payout positions for this satellite, I was suddenly thrust into protect-and-dont-make-any-dumb-moves mode. This is a crucial change in posture once you get into the money positions in any multi-seat satellite, and it is absolutely essential to stay on top of these things and act (and react) quickly when stack sizes dictate such moves. This way of looking at tournaments and approaching the way I play them is something I credit for the majority of my mtt satellite (and sng, for that matter) success, and I think with proper understanding and focus, most players with good poker skills could probably do the same thing. But I will try to show a little bit below of the kind of strategy changes that I undergo once I am in the chip lead in a multi-seat sattelite as opposed to when I am short and need to accumulate.

So, the final table begins with me leading in chip stack -- remember, the top 3 finishers will win the $1060 FTOPS #10 seat:

Early on at the final table, I was dealt pocket Jacks and made a nice chip-up against one of the other largeish stacks to build up a very strong chip lead. This other player was buttsauce33, again whom I know to be an excellent player, so I knew he would not get deeply involved in a pot with the big stack at the table so I was willing to reraise him preflop and take down a nice pot as a result. It was the only "risky" move I made at the entire final table, because again, being in the chip lead, there is just no reason to take any risks at all. But this hand gave me over 12k in chips, at a time when the second place player was just over 6k, with still 6 players remaining at the final table.

OK now here is a perfect example of the kind of situation where my strategy would change dramatically based on the size of my chip stack in a multi-seat satellite:

So there is buttsauce again, on a nice big stack, raising from the button when the big blind is the small stack at the final table. I have AT. I'm pretty dam sure I have the best hand in this spot, and I would say odds are good that a reraise takes down a nice big pot for me. If I were the short stack here, I would push immediately. In a heartbeat. In fact, if I were even a middle stack but still not yet in the payout positions, I probably take a chance with AT here and reraise allin, hoping to use this situation to move into one of the payout spots. But with a big stack, this is the easiest fold in the world. Yes I know I am highly likely to be ahead and have the best hand here, and yes I am passing up a chance to further increase my chip lead. But, the bottom line is that, when I'm already comfortably in the payout spots for the satellite and we're getting down near the end, the benefit to me of adding another 2k in chips when I don't really "need" them -- remember, this is not a winner-take-all tournament or even one where 1st place pays a dime more than second or third -- is simply not worth the risk of buttsauce having AA or QQ or even AK or AQ. Easy fold, given my stack size alone. Remember, in my position, this is protect-my-stack-and-don't-make-any-dumb-moves mode, and nothing else.

Eventually buttsauce lucked out when he picked up AA in the big blind, and the small blind for some reason pushed allin with 55 into his pocket rockets, so we were down to 5, with buttsauce and myself now both with large stacks. Then, with five people left, another situation arose to practice the satellite strategy I mentioned above:

Really, this is the exact same situation as the one above. I'm fairly sure I have the best hand here, and could again probably win at this point 2500 chips with a reraise. But why? Short stack, I push here for sure. Medium stack -- say 3500 chips like the guy to my left here -- and I probably push as well and try to use this to move up to the money spots. But in my situation, I would be a fool to do anything but fold here. Again, I am pretty sure I have the best hand, and I am pretty sure I win a nice pot with a reraise. But with the stack I have already amassed, the benefit is simply not worth the risk. Easy fold.

Even here:

with a sooted King I would probably reraise on a small stack and possibly even with a low-middle stack. The 2 in my hand sucks, and that's a great reason not to call with this hand, but a raise would probably be in order against a known aggro if I needed chips. But with my stack? Another quick fold.

So it is moves like the ones I mention at the start of this post -- stealing and restealing when I needed to build a stack to get near the payout spots -- that helped me to get my stack to where it needed to be early on, and then I practice the opposite sort of restraint once I get to that point -- even where I am fairly sure that I am ahead and could win with a raise -- once I've moved from aggro build mode into conservative protect mode. And that's what enables me to still be sitting on a nice pile o chips when the following hand goes down:

Boooooooooooom! And just like that, it was over. FTOPS #10, here I come. So overall, I spent I think $91, $91 and $111 (extra rebuys in the $10 supersat one night) over three nights playing in to FTOPS #10. Total investment = $293 to win a $1060 seat. Again, I'll take it. I've said this many times, but if you have a little bit of money to play with, the larger buyin sats are where you want to be. If you think you can win your way in to a $322 FTOPS tournament by playing a $3 buyin satellite, more power to you. If you win, of course, you've done so incredibly cheaply. But odds are extremely high that instead of being in a $322 tournament, you'll just be out $3.30. Instead, I always try to find the best satellites for the money, mostly focusing on the ratio of seats awarded to total players, and as I've mentioned previously, if at all possible I want that ratio to be smaller than 10, and the smaller the better. So I definitely spend some money winning my way into the FTOPS tournaments every time the series comes around, but I find that I can generally spend about 30% of the total buyins for the tournaments I end up playing in, which I will take any day of the week.

So, moving on to Mondays at the Hoy this week. We had a very nice turnout, with 31 players for a fatty but not evenly divisible $744 prize pool for some shorthanded nlh. And naturally we had our fair share of questionable calls, dubious pushes, and of course the inevitable suckouts that ensue from such debauchery. In the end JD Schellnutt busted on the bubble pushing 99 into bartonf's QQ, and then there were five players ITM for the second MATH tournament of 2008, including yours truly who basically got the benefit of a manly Hammer allin reraise from cc in the earlygoing and then rode more or less that same stack all the way to the final table. In the end, it seemed that every time I raised at the final table once we were ITM, my perennial blonkament nemesis surflexus was there to answer the call with a reraise, which worked to keep me as the short stack for the 15 minutes from bursting the bubble until my eventual demise in 5th place when I pushed AJs on the short stack utg and surf woke up with AK and did me in once and for all. Annoying, but I will take my first appearance on the 2008 moneyboard and do so proudly, even if my name is at the very bottom of the list. For now.

Surf raised and reraised like it was goin' out of style on Monday night's final table, not just to me. It was pretty sick. I know surf enough to know that he had mostly good hands in those spots, something which I can certainly not say about my own cards in the tournament (my best hand was TT, with which I earned being called a calling station all night for calling cc's allin re-reraise with his Hammer). In the end, VinNay sucked out KJ vs AQ to knock out bartonf in 4th, continuing his early suckout ways and deck-face-smashing to jump him out to a recockulos lead early on. VinNay's luck ran out eventually when he ran into twoblackaces' QQ I believe to get tba and surf heads-up. After a short but action-filled heads-up battle, tba made a huge call to double up with just a pair of 8s for I think 3rd pair on the board, and then a few hands later sealed the deal by getting allin preflop with a higher Ace against surf's lower Ace to give tba his first MATH victory of 2008.

Here are this week's cashers in Mondays at the Hoy:

1. $297.60 twoblackaces
2. $171.12 surflexus
3. $119.04 VinNay
4. $89.28 bartonf
5. $66.96 hoyazo

And here is the updated 2008 moneyboard, including this week's action:

1. twoblackaces $298
2. surflexus $171
3. Jordan $150
3. Miami Don $150
3. Astin $150
3. Mike Maloney $150
7. VinNay $119
8. bartonf $89
9. Hoyazo $67

Thanks to everyone who came out and played. Don't forget tonight is the latest Blogger Skill Series tournament at 9:30pm, ET on full tilt, and boy is this one gonna be a doozy: razz. Easily the most frustrating and probably up there with O8 as the most luck-based and least skill-based of all the poker variants, razz will be the game tonight for you all to show your skillz (that's the password to the skill series events, btw), and I will be there to get tons of rolled up hands and of course to be the bringin 8 of the first 10 hands around the table. See you at 9:30 tonight on full tilt!

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Blogger crushmastac said...

Nice work Hoy. The thought of playing in a 1060$ buyin tournament is enough to make me have strange feelings that I originally thought were reserved for my ladyfriend.

8:21 AM  

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