Tuesday, February 26, 2008

MATH Recap, and 50-50 Follow-Up Comments

Wow. It really is amazing how much brigher, how much more vivid, the world can seem with more than 30 minutes of sleep in a night. To be totally honest, I'm not even sure if I actually slept at all on Sunday night, as I recall laying in the bed but I actually think I might have been mostly awake for the entire 30 minutes between me lying down and me getting up for work with the Hammer Girls jumping all over me. But yeah, I am feeling a little better today, though as with my previous final table runs over the past couple of weeks, I think it generally takes me a good 3 or 4 good nights of sleep to get completely recovered from an all-nighter like that one. I will have some more to say about that whole 50-50 thing in a bit, but first, the recap of this week's Mondays at the Hoy.

So we had 28 runners come out and play in the Hoy on Monday night, our usual size and making for a nice $672 prize pool to be paid out to the top 4 finishers as usual who bought in at $26 a pop. For me, it was a real struggle to even make it to 10pm for the MATH's start time, with my body literally aching for sleep with every minute after I got home from another full day of work on basically no sleep whatsoever. I think I only survived in the Hoy for maybe about 40 minutes, thanks to cmitch uncharacteristically (I think) calling a big preflop raise with KQ, and then calling my allin bet into a large 3-way flop with just an oesd. In cmitch's defense, I'm sure he figured either or both of his Kings and his Queens were overcard outs as well, so he most likely had sufficient pot odds on that flop to make the call, but my top pair was no match for his turned nut straight on the very first card that fell after all the money got in, and IGH fairly early in the field. It was a good thing, in that I had already fallen asleep three separate times in that first 40 minutes of play or so, and I hit the sack literally within seconds of my Hoy elimination for some desperately-needed zzzzzzzzzzzz's.

Being that I was completely out of it all through this tournament, I have nothing to report on how the end of the MATH went down. But I can tell you who cashed, and I have to say the list includes some people with multiple ITM finishes already in the Hoy during this short year so far. Your four cashers for this week's Mondays at the Hoy include:

4. katiemother - $67.20
3. jordan -- $134.40
2. byron -- $201.60
1. Pirate Wes -- $268.80

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

1. astin $664
2. Pirate Wes $581
3. fuel55 $512
4. surflexus $488
5. Jordan $476
6. twoblackaces $298
7. Tripjax $288
8. Donkey Shortz $215
9. VinNay $203
10. Byron $202
11. columbo $180
12. jmathewson_III $171
13. buckhoya $150
13. Miami Don $150
13. Mike Maloney $150
16. pureprophet $144
17. chitwood $127
18. cubanlinks $120
19. LJ $119
20. bayne_s $112
21. thepokergrind $95
22. ANIguy $89
22. bartonf $89
24. katiemother $67
24. Hoyazo $67
26. PirateLawyer $60

So Wes jumps up from 5th place to 2nd on the moneyboard with this week's win, and Jordan actually drops a spot despite his cash this week thanks to being passed by Wes in the process of that ITM finish. Still, another week, and another two lawyers cashing in the top three spots of the Hoy. You gotta love that.

OK so back to the post-mortem on my big cash this week. There is so much I could talk about and write about, but I actually thought I would take some time and respond to some questions and comments that people made in response to my last post about my 50-50 win. I figure this is as good a way as any to intro into discussion about the big score.

Chad started off the comments to yesterday's post by explaining that he thinks that one thing that has helped my game is my looseing up my range of hands I am willing to call with when I raise from the button and then someone tries to resteal from me from one of the blinds. That is interesting, as this is not something I have consciously been thinking about, but I will take Chad's comment for what it is. I certainly agree that a lot of people seem to like the resteal these days, and I have no doubt caught a bunch of people when I actually have a good AK-type of hand trying to resteal from me and then having to flip up garbage like 97s or something like that, so maybe Chad is right that the move is overused. More the point I was trying to get at in my post yesterday and really all the posts I have made about deep mtt runs in my day is that stealing, and especially restealing, really need to be part of your repertoire in order to have any chance of lasting to the latest stages with any kind of a playable stack. Maybe the luckiest players in the world can just play their own cards without playing position and make it real deep, but I wouldn't know anything about that. I got lucky in every key spot I needed it on Sunday night, but as a rule I have not had success just waiting for the good cards all the time, and I do not believe for most of the non-Astinned and non-Bayned among us that this is a sound strategy for winning deep mtts. And thus, since I know the other players at the table know that I am stealing quite a bit, it only makes sense to widen the hand ranges I put them on when they attempt to resteal from me, because I think they are putting me on a wider range of hands that I would be stealing from in the first place.

Chad also mentioned that this win will make it all the more impossible for me to ever win a Mookie tournament. With this I basically agree. I mean, I don't know how much more of a target I can already have on my head in any blonkament at this point, but I will surely never win the Mookie. I have accepted that already a long time ago, and even when I have the chip lead at the final table, I always know that in the Mookie it is always not a question of if but rather just when the suckout or the setup is coming.

Lester commented that I should just turn pro and quit my annoyingass day job once and for all. Now I know lester and I know he is just fucking around with me and with Hammer Wife (his sister), but in all seriousness this gets to a good point I thought it was worthwhile making here. First of all, I would never consider quitting my job to play online poker tournaments full time. Now I won't lie to you -- when I was first starting out playing online, and in particular after I started winning some $10 mtts and then culinating in winning the party 40k a couple of years back, I did entertain the thought, at least from a fantasy-land perspective. But those days are loooooooong gone now, replaced with what I like to think of as a much more realistic view on these things, which is the other point I wanted to touch on here in reaction to lester's comment to yesterday's post. To be clear for everyone out there -- yes, I do think I am "good" at mtts, to the extent that anyone can be considered good at them. In a nutshell what this means is that I know there is a generalized formula of winning poker play, which involves tightness and aggression early, and then increasing aggression as the tournament wears on, mixed in with a solid dose of timing and a keen sense of reading other players. I have written about this before, but I think in the end there is only a very small number of people out there who have really figured out this "formula" to winning large mtts, and I am happy to say that I know I am one of those people. So that's all good.

But -- and this is a big but here -- I am also very realistic at this point about my mtt success in general. By this I mean that, despite my three deep runs and three nice cashes in the 5050-format tournaments this month on full tilt and pokerstars, I have absolutely no doubt whatsoever that I will undergo any day now the beginning of a couple-months-long drought of no big mtt cashes. That's just the way this stuff goes, and I am well beyond having any doubts about that and letting my tournament success this month get to my head. I know with no doubt whatsoever that I'll probably be here two months from now writing about the 8-week-long streak of running bad that I've been undergoing, my complete inability to even cash the minimal ITM payouts in the big mtts, all that stuff. So my huge success in February here will never get to my head like it maybe once would have, and I know for certain right off the bat that a run like I have been on this month does not last. It cannot last -- such is just the nature of the mtt beast. So, no talk or even any thought whatsoever of playing tournaments full-time or quitting my day job, anything like that. Maybe from that green kid just learning the ropes of online poker back in early 2006, but not these days, not from me anyways. There are plenty of well-known internet pros who have made an actual great profit over a long period of time from online mtts. I am nowhere near their level, and I do not think I ever could be. Hopefully, that settles that point once and for all.

Moving on, Mookie asked something that I get asked all the time by readers, in particular after I do a post like this recapping a deep mtt run as I have done in the past on such occasions. He wants to know how much of a distraction is it taking all these screenshots all the way through when I go deep in an mtt. The answer is, really not very much at all. Now, to be sure, my experience of playing in an mtt is different from everyone else's out there in that I will, in a typical evening of playing poker, maybe take between 150 and 500 or more screenshots. Each night. That's just what I do. Although it does eat up a lot of my hard drive, in the end I find reviewing screenshots to be much, much more effective for hand analysis for me, personally, than reviewing plain old hand histories. I just find that for me having a pictoral account of things hits home a lot better and enables me to really feel "part of the action" even days or weeks later than just some old text-based hand histories do.

So anyways, my mtt experience is different from everyone else's in that I am taking screenshots all night long, sometimes several hundred per night, and that means I am constantly pressing the "print screen" button in all the key spots before, during and after the big hands as they happen. But that's really it. I press the "print screen" button quite a bit, but other than that and a little bit of checking to make sure the screen capture program is working properly, I don't really think about the screenshots otherwise. A lot of this involves me having used my ordered, lawyerly brain to set up a system -- including a specific configuration of my screen capture application as well as a detailed naming convention and setup of files and folders in specific locations on my pc -- that enables me to not have to think about anything other than just the "print screen" button while I play. My system then enables me the next day to easily access all the files I have saved up from my previous nights of play, review them for hand analysis purposes (something I make the time for just about every single night) and/or for review and use for the blog. So I've made the whole screenshotting thing as easy on myself as possible by honing the whole process over a good 200,000+ screen shots I bet over the past few years, such that it is really not a distraction at all at this point anymore.

Peaker suggested in a comment that I use this money to satellite into a WSOP event. It is a good suggestion, and I suppose on some level I will be doing so, although I don't think about it quite that way. But, if you have read here for a long time then you know that starting around the beginning of April, my almost singular focus changes from regular satellites and (this year) cash-payout mtts to full tilt's Bracelet Races, and I expect the same thing to be true this year as well. For those of you who do not know, full tilt offers Bracelet Races several nights each week where the winners get paid out in increments of $2000 WSOP preliminary event packages. Basically the thinking is that the cash can be used for buyins to the $1500 WSOP tournaments plus $500 cash, or you can win multiple Bracelet Races and aggregate these 2k payouts to buy in to larger events. Of course a few years ago when I won my first WSOP buyin via a Bracelet Race back in 2006, pre-UIGEA that is, full tilt actually did not give you the cash but instead gave you vouchers in person in Las Vegas at their WSOP hospitality suite that could only be spent as buyins to WSOP tournaments. Nowadays they basically have to give you the cash directly into your account, but that is definitely what I will be using some of my roll for as I have done in each of the past two years. So, one way or another, I definitely plan to be out in Vegas for a WSOP event or two this summer, and regardless of what I win or don't win between April and WSOP time, that money is coming directly out of my roll, which just got a lot bigger thanks to these wins. So Peaker, your suggestion is more or less being followed that my roll will fund another WSOP preliminary event buyin this year as it has for the past two years, although hopefully I will win me some more of those Bracelet Races along the way to help further cushion the blow of ponying up some 2k in cash for a silly poker tournament. And for those of you who don't know, the Main Event simply does not fit in with my work or family schedule, so I have never made any attempt to play it since it became a two-week affair, and that will not be changing this year. It is all preliminary events, all the time for me at the WSOP, and one day soon I'm sure I will write here when I have the chance to take a look at this year's WSOP schedule and which events I would like to play in the most.

Riverchaser Corron (lack of link corrected) commented how nice it is that I beat out well-known pro Prahlad Friedman on my way to winning this 50-50 tournament. I mentioned this a little bit yesterday, but word on the forums is that Prahlad's full tilt handle is "Spirit Rock" or something like that. Nonetheless, Kajagugu said he searched Spirit Rock on all the online databases, and no one with that name has played at all at full tilt this year, while "PrahladF" has recorded something like 27k in wins already this year at full tilt. So that might suggest that this guy could be the real Prahlad Friedman after all, although from the very minimal forum reading I did during one of the breaks at the final table or two the other night, I would assume that this was not in fact the Prahlad Friedman but just some over-aggressive impersonator. I'm thinking, if nothing else why would a well-known pro ever use his real name in his full tilt handle, unless he was being paid by full tilt to play there like so many of their "pros" now are? It just doesn't add up, so I'm betting it's not him.

Still, it's nice to have beaten an impersonator of a well-known poker pro on my way to winning the 50-50, yes. Shit, I would think it was nice if I had beaten my own mother on my way to winning 11 grand, so yeah, I will still agree with corron's sentiment overall.

Twoblackaces asked if I am planning to write my own mtt strategy book. Now, obviously this question was asked tongue in cheek-ly I'm sure, but it's not the first time it has come up, and frankly it is something I have toyed around with from time to time. I do think there are a number of areas where I would enjoy putting down my thoughts into a more coherent form than the way they are just laid out day-by-day here on the blog, and I think many of my ideas and strategies about mtts could be helpful to some people who read here. However, the bottom line is that (1) I am a shitty writer, and I have no bones about that, and, at least as important, (2) I just don't see the value-add over all of the other truly great poker books available out there by this point in time. I know that whenever someone goes to a potential publisher in today's day and age, unless they are already a well-respected and well-known poker player or writer, the biggest question a potential publisher wants to know is What will distinguish your poker book from all the others already out there on the market? Truly, I do not have a good answer to this question, so I have no plans whatsoever to try to write anything more down beyond what I already do here on the blog. Plus, I love writing this blog, I really do, and never yet in 600-some posts has it ever seemed or felt like a chore for me. I remember all the shit Scott went through when he was trying to finish up his great poker book "Pressure Poker", and I just don't want to do that to myself. Plus, there are limits to even the amount of time I can manufacture in a day. So, no book from me, just this blog instead. Hope everyone enjoys it.

Kajagugu made a great point in his comment yesterday that I am just shattering my stated goal for 2008 of redoubling my efforts to focus on cash-payout mtts, something I know I got well away from in the latter part of 2007 due to my focus on satellites, cash games and sitngos. He is absolutely right on that point, which obviously is something I am really pleased with. One of the biggest things I attribute this to, in addition to just generally better focus on these types of tournaments, is my choice of mtts to play in. If you look back at my stats during 2008 so far, you will see that I have basically completely avoided something like the 28k at 10pm ET nightly on full tilt. This is Chad's domain of course, but for me I have had very little success in this thing over time, and I have made the determination that the large field, fast structure, low buyin and the tier I token aspect of things just combine to create a level of donkery that definitely makes this tournament -EV for me over time. But for me, the 50-50 tournaments at 9:30pm ET on both pokerstars and full tilt represent a better, more +EV tournament for me, and this is where I have tried to focus my mtt efforts so far this year, to good results so far of course. The 5050s have longer structures, with blinds rounds I think 20-50% longer than the standard mtt formats on these two sites which is always good for the higher skilled players, and they also sport the $55 buyin, which not only is twice the price of the $26 buyin events, but also removes the ability for uberdonks to buy in just by winning a tier 1 token in any of the various, even cheaper ways offered up by full tilt.

Kaja also asked a very good question about the hand against PrahladF in the middle of the tournament where I reraised him preflop with TT, and then ended up laying down the hand to his allin re-reraise in that spot, losing 25% of my stack in the process but surviving to fight on where I eventually won the whole tournament three or four hours later. Basically, Kaja's question was do I think ahead of time when I reraised him before the flop about what my response will be if he jams on me. The answer: of course! How anyone could go into any tournament, let alone the highly strategic period after the first few hours or so, and make moves like this without giving thought ahead of time to the likely responses, and your likely responses to those responses, is beyond me, not if you planned to be a winning tournament player anyways. Of course I thought that over, and in this case I already knew I would likely have to fold to a re-reraise by him.

Kaja's second question, related to this one, was do I then alter the size of my reraise there, depending on whether I think I will call or fold to an allin push from him if Prahlad chooses to re-reraise me in that spot. For this one, the answer is generally no. Changing raise sizes based on my desired response or my likely response to his response is, to me, a losing proposition over time. I know how easily I read most anyone who uses different bet sizing consistently for different levels of strength or weakness in the hands they are betting or raising with, and as a result I generally try to shy away from that sort of thing and opt instead for a more generalized, standardized raise size that fits either scenario. Using instead a smaller bet size in case my opponent jams so that I can more easily fold, and a larger bet size where I know I will call any jam of his, I think is highly exploitable poker, and I choose not to paricipate in that kind of thing, again because I personally find it so easy to read almost any player who regularly does this with me. If anything, I would be more apt to do the opposite, in an attempt to get into my opponent's head and to manipulate him into thinking I am strong because I raised so big on the flop, to maybe try to get him to fold his hand instead of reraising me. But giving honest signals about the strength of my hand by the size of my bets or raises is not what I am all about at the poker table generally speaking, and as a rule I think of that as exploitable, and therefore bad, poker overall.

OK tomorrow I want to do a bit more about preflop raise sizing in mtts, which will be a nice follow-up to a post I saw that the Gnome had done a couple of weeks back, in particular when the blinds and antes kick in in the later stages of these things. I think I have an interesting viewpoint and strategy on late-stage mtt preflop raising that, in my opinion anyways, most of my opponents do not share, so that will probably be the topic of tomorrow's post. Unless I suppose if I win the 5050 again or something tonight. Ha ha.

Don't forget the Skills Series is back tonight at 9:30pm ET on full tilt, password as always is "skillz". I forget the game today, but I think I saw on Chad's blog that it is gonna be HOE. Holdem, O8 and Stud/8. This should be a good one, with lots of people seeing lots of flops with garbagey cards, and as usual I'm sure the most skillful of all the bloggers will take it down. Oh and don't forget Smokkee's Blodonkament either, I think that is also at 9pm ET on the WWPC (special callout to you tomorrow for the first person who correctly identifies the meaning of that acronym there).

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Blogger bayne_s said...


2:35 AM  
Blogger PokahDave said...


3:09 AM  
Blogger Buddy Dank said...


3:33 AM  
Blogger Schaubs said...

World's Worst Poker Command-line-interface?

3:47 AM  
Blogger Julius_Goat said...

What Would Pauly Chew?

3:52 AM  
Blogger Astin said...

World's Worst Poker Client.

Hoy's book = 2000 pages long.

Assistant's Synopsis = 5 pages.

3:56 AM  
Blogger KajaPoker said...

World's Worst Poker Client

I have a much better one for CPWW, but I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings.

Thanks for answering the TT questions.

4:09 AM  
Blogger pokerpeaker said...

Sounds good, Hoy. I have a feeling that this summer at least one of our crew will be on TV promenently this year, or at least make a pretty big splash in the WSOP, whether it be main even or not.

I know that we've got some pretty damn good players who will grab some seats from the Bodog and BBT3 series seats, and I'd like to see you play at least a couple events, because you have the ability to make a final table.

4:21 AM  
Blogger Corron said...

I think its him IMO. You need to link my ass.

5:26 AM  
Blogger thedream said...

World's Worst Poker Client... obv you've said it in previous posts

6:46 AM  
Blogger Rob1606 said...

I am not saying you should write a book, but I did want to respond to your point (1). You are most definitely NOT a shitty writer! I really enjoy reading about your exploits every day. You know how to build up suspense when you describe a hand and you can describe very clearly what you (and your opponents) were thinking during the game.

Also, you write in grammatically correct sentences that have a beginning, a middle, and an end. Of course you have a lot of experience writing in your day job. But you should not disregard these aspects (that you probably don't even think about). There is a lot of bad writing on the internet, especially on some blogs, and yours is definitely not a part of that.

Just wanted to get that off my chest...

5:55 PM  

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