Monday, March 24, 2008

The Law Chica Scores Again, and Single Stacks vs Double Stacks

Don't forget the Mizzle tonight, 10pm ET on full tilt:

Password for the MATH as always is "hammer", and one and all are welcome as the BBT3 rolls on tonight for some 6-max nlh fun times.

So yeah I was gone for a couple of days there, I have heard about it from enough of you but what can I say, sometimes a guy just needs to recharge. Actually last Thursday the culprit was work, as one of my colleagues left my group and my company for good (riddance) that day, but the transition and the increased work responsibilities for me will be noticeable for the foreseeable future. That said, in the end I got just what I wanted as far as my promotion at work, and my company did not go out of business last week like some investment banks did, so for the time being things are going ok overall I suppose. And this past Friday was Good Friday, a bank holiday, and as such we are closed at work and I generally tend to take my holidays seriously even as blog holidays when I am able. So that's my excuse for two uncharacteristic days of absence, it's not much but it's all you're gonna get. I'm back now and better than ever, and that's all that matters.

For starters, last night I watched LJ absolutley manhandle the field in the nightly 32k guaranteed on full tilt, treating me to a masterful show by her over maybe two hours or so of early Push Time as she navigated the field from around 100 players left down to around 25 before I finally hit the sack for the night. LJ was playing like a pro, barely showing down a hand in two hours, and using selective aggression like a champion on her way to an eventual 2nd place finish out of 1721 runners for over $5600 cash money. You cannot play Push Time any better than LJ did there, and she is rewarded with her biggest ever online win. so go stop by her blog and congratulate LJ for yet another big tournament score. Does anyone in our group cash in the big ones with LJ's regularity? Anyone?

And while I'm on the topic, while I was away our man Smokkee went and came in 3rd place in the daily $165 buyin 40k guaranteed tournament at 3pm ET. Go read about his exploits at Smokkee's blog and make sure to congratulate the man on his largest-ever online poker cash of over $6000 and change! What is in the water this past week or so that has all the bloggers turning in huge performances for largest-ever scores? I don't know but I want to get me summa that for myself, I know that much.

So today I wanted to talk a little bit about one of my favorite topics -- the Mookie. Over the weekend I was reviewing my last few Mookie finishes among other things, and a very obvious fact jumped right out at me. There is quite simply a major difference in the proper tournament strategy for a 1500-chip tournament and a 3000-chip tournament. I've heard and read a number of people saying the opposite around the blogging world -- heck, I might have even said so myself at one point or another -- but that shit could not be further from the truth. When the blinds are starting out exactly the same in either format, the simple fact is that there is a ton more room to splash around, to play some small ball and try to see some cheap flops and nail 'em, or to wait for the good cards and pick your spots, in a 3000-chip event than in a correspondingly-structured 1500-chip one. Way more.

One of my many Mookie problems over the past couple of months is directly related to this. I have clearly been playing the regular-stack Mookie's identically the same way as I approach the 3000-chippers, and that is no way to survive and accumulate in a blonkament or any other mtt. It just cannot possibly work, unless I get smiznacked in the face hard with the deck, which just doesn't happen nearly often enough to plan a strategy around. Let me give you an example of exactly what I mean:

So I'm reviewing my hand histories and screen shots over the last several Mookie's, and here I go maybe 30 minutes in, with blinds at 25-50, limping in from middle position behind an EP limper with a hand like 97s. I'm hoping to attract a couple of more stragglers into the pot behind me and maybe hit something big with soooted one-gapper. So EP limps for 50, I limp for 50, the cutoff limps for 50, and then the button makes it 150 to go. The big blind calls the 150, as does the EP player, and now I have to call another 100 to see at least a 3-way flop and more likely a 5-way flop once I get in there with 97s. So I make the call, thinking my pot odds and especially my implied odds easily justify such a move here. And you know what? Implied odds probably do justify the call here with 97s, all other things being equal.

But here's the problem -- all other things are not equal, in particular in this context the variable of stack size. We are 30 minutes in to the Mookie, let's say my stack is right where it started at 1500 chips, and now here I am calling off 10% of my stack with 97s. I don't know about you, but that is definitely not where I want to be if I am trying to win the dam thing. 97s for 10% of my stack preflop? Blech. Whereas, if I had started with 3000 chips instead of 1500, making that same limp-call move 30 minutes in to the tournament doesn't bother me in the least. Yes it's still 5% of my stack with a speculative hand, but frankly the difference between those two is quite noticeable in my eyes. I have little trouble making a well-timed play for 5% of my stack preflop with a sooted one-gapper. If I miss, I fold and so what, I have 2850 chips instead of 3000 in my stack. No big whoop. But when I fold the flop after completely missing it and am down to 1350 instead of 1500, that is a much bigger difference.

But the even bigger problem for me has been coming after the flop is already out in the short-chipped Mookie. As most of you know, I tend to play pretty aggressive poker overall, and that definitely extends to my postflop play in addition to my preflop play. So if I like the flop for my hand, or more accurately, if I sense a lack of strength on my opponents' part, I am likely to bet at almost any flop at any point in the tournament. And, depending on the preflop action and the exact texture of the flop, I am likely to bet somewhere between 2/3 and the full size of the pot when I make such a bet on the flop. So look at what this does to me in the 1500-chip stacks:

So going back to my example above, let's say I do go and call the 150 and end up seeing a 4-way flop with my 97s, making 625 chips in the pot and bringing a flop of 983 rainbow on a hand where I had started out even with the starting stack of 1500 chips. The big blind and the EP player check to me, and what's my move? On this type of flop, I would likely as in most cases want to put in a bet of roughly two-thirds the size of the pot, which in this case is around 450 chips. So let's say I do that, and then someone in late position raises me allin. Now look at me. I've got 1500 - 150 - 450 = 900 chips left, and there is now 1075 chips in the pot. Yes I can fold my top pair no kicker to the allin raise on the flop here just 30 minutes in to the Mookie -- most likely that is the "right" move in terms of me probably being behind here in some way with just two cards to come -- but how sure am I that I am definitely behind here? Basically I am facing a poor decision either way on my part, one that is mostly a direct result of the fact that I have been betting over my head with a mediocre hand right from the getgo here. Either I decide I am pot committed and I call off my last 900 chips into a 1075-chip pot with just top pair 9s no kicker (and I am a donkey), or I fold my top pair and am left with just 900 chips and a very poor chance of recovery to respectability. Damned if I do, and damned if I don't, and again it all comes back to stack size. That exact same decision for the exact same numbers of chips involved just isn't nearly as tough if I still have 2400 chips behind as opposed to when I have just 900 behind. Laying down to the reraise is a much easier decision I think with just top pair 9s no kicker, and reraising allin is even a better option that simply is not available in the 1500-starting-stack scenario due to the limited number of chips involved.

When it comes right down to it, long before even the first hour is up in these 1500-chip blonkaments, the starting stack all but requires you to be nearly committed to the pot to even bet or call a normal-sized bet on the flop, one time. So, I need to play different kinds of hands differently in a 1500-chip tournament to adjust for this fact. I'm sure I used to know this back in the day when all of our regular weekly blogger tournaments were 1500 chips to start, but it didn't all click in my own mind again until this past weekend while reviewing my recent Mookie failures. I can't play a hand like AJo for a raise preflop and then withstand (or even lead) one round of normal-sized betting on an Ace-high flop in a 1500-chip tournament, whereas I can do so in a 3000-chip tournament quite easily without really risking a significant portion of my stack on the hand. With 1500 chips, I have to noticeably tighten up my preflop play, and more than that, I need to very directedly practice pot control from the very earliest parts of each hand in order to see flops, turns and rivers on my own terms. Once I start adjusting for that, I am hoping to see a noticeable improvement in my Mookie performances, hopefully in time to win me my prop bet with Mookie at some point before this year is out. Ha ha yeah right.

And don't get me wrong here btw, I'm not complaining even a little bit. I enjoy the 1500-chip format. I love the shorter (what used to be "normal") stacks and I am a huge fan of the variety in the whole thing as I have written about here previously. I am merely making an observation that I have not previously made, and in fact which I have been practicing as if the exact opposite of this observation were in fact the truth. So much of poker is all about adjusting, and in this case it's no wonder I haven't done squat in the Mook since the switch back to 1500 starting chips a couple of months ago. I've been playing it as if no switch actually occurred at all, when in reality a significant switch went down which has noticeable impact on the proper strategy of play compared to the 3000-chip donkfests I've become used to over the past half a year or so since the first BBT hit town and we all upped our tournaments to double stacks. I've been the deadest money in that tournament week in and week out, for going on a couple of months here.

But now all that changes. And hopefully I can start the change tonight by focusing on adjusting my game a little better for the 6-max superfast structure of Mondays at the Hoy as well. See you tonight at 10pm ET for the MATH on full tilt!

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Blogger WillWonka said...

Also, perhaps pushing with your favorite hand 72o preflop when both players are above average chips stack might be something that you want to change.

12:54 AM  
Blogger mookie99 said...

Now that you have the 1,500 stack Mookie figured out, don't forget this week is the 3,000 stack KO Mookie. :)

1:46 AM  
Blogger lj said...

thx for props. i agree that mookie now requires hugely diff strategy, and it leaves way less margin for error. you also can't really afford to get coolered, b/c even in first few levels you're mostly playing for stacks.

5:01 AM  
Blogger lj said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

5:01 AM  
Blogger jamyhawk said...

Deep Stack 6 Max rewards the aggressive player. Bottom line. It is my favorite game right now.

11:45 PM  

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