Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Still Running Gooooood

Well it was another night of the BBT3 and another strong performance from me. I final tabled the Skill Series HA tournament (half PLH and half PLO) this week in my attempt to defend my title after I won my BBT3 Tournament of Champions seat in last week's Stud8 Skills game. This makes I think final tables in four of the last five BBT events. Is that right? Who would've thought it, just a short week ago before my big win. Certainly not me. I had only made "the points" -- which I never even consider for a single millisecond while I play because I'm a Man -- in I think two BBT events prior to this streak. And right here is exactly where I would like to explain to you my secret -- the secret for winning the large-field blonkaments brought about by the BBT.

If only I had any god dam idea. I think I play all the poker games well, and I think I play pretty well in most of the BBT3 tournaments most times I play them. This is certainly not true all the time, but more often than not I show up and I play the games well. I have been wracking my fucking brains trying to figure out what specifically I've been doing differently over the past several tournaments that has me not only lasting, but making the final table repeatedly, always in at least decent chip position, and enabling me to nab my one BBT3 win so far.

My first thought in situations like this is always exactly the same thing: playing tight. I figure, I must be playing tighter if I am lasting longer, especially given my success in the last couple of Skills games, which have seen me take down about 15 or 20 bustout bounties after going literally 11 or 12 Skills games without recording a single one. But you know what? I don't think I am playing tighter, to tell you the honest truth. I have spent a lot of time reviewing my big hands from the past several BBT3 tournaments and I see myself perhaps folding a couple of marginal hands that I might otherwise have played -- the QJo from the cutoff seat in an unopened pot early, for example -- but really I am playing some marginal hands and pushing somewhat hard with them early, midway and late in these tournaments. Now don't get me wrong, I'm not playing stoopid poker as a rule, but when I review some of the plays I've been making in large pots before the last couple tables in these tournaments, I see a lot of marginal stuff going on and lots of chips flying to the middle out of my stack with not a whole lot working for me.

Similarly, I can confirm it is certainly not great cards that have been leading me to so many final tables in these things. I have not been seeing my share of AA and KK in the holdem games, and I'm not flopping quads against other people's flopped boats in the Omaha variants. Those of you who have sat at my table in one of these recent tournaments -- think how many times I am beating you with AA or KK or something. It's just not happening. I've seen guys like PirateLawyer and DonkeyPuncher last night showing lots of AA and winnings lots of big pots with monster starting cards. That ain't me.

So what is it that's working so well for me in the BBT3 blonkaments lately? I think it is a combination of two simple things, neither one of which is a whole lot in my control. First, I am hitting some big hands in very big spots. This does not extend to the quality of my cards in general, but when I've needed to fill a flush near the end of the tournament and I've made a call on 5th street in Stud with just the flush draw against two opponents, I have hit my flush in a big spot. I turned trips in a big spot where my opponent had flopped top and bottom pair earlier this week. In a few key spots, when I have absolutely needed it most, I have come through with a big hand or a big draw or my shit has been holding up. I am running good in that respect.

Also, I am jumping out to big stacks early. In some cases, really big. If you look, I have been chip leader in almost every blonkament of the past week or so with around 20 players left. The early big stack is so key because it enables you to survive and withstand some of these asscock chasemonkeys, especially in the limit games, who otherwise can ruin your night with one idiotic play then ends up costing you big time. When you start with 1500 chips and drop down below 1000 early, it is very difficult to come back to amass, say, a 10k stack because you have to double so many times to get from 900 chips back up to 10k. However, if I can get an early double and be at 3000 chips, and then another double before the first break, then I can get sucked out on, I can take the worst of it a little bit in a 40-60 pot with a smaller stack than mine, and still be more than ok. That is extremely helpful.

Lastly, and to be honest as I review everything this is the most direct conclusion I am drawing: people are playing bad poker against me. I pretty much always get called down with anything by just about anyone, so it stands to reason that when I am hitting some draws and making some nice hands early, I can really amass a stack, and that's just what I've been doing. In Stud8 last week, someone grossly overplayed two low pairs against me from 5th through 7th street with an obvious high hand even though I clearly had Aces over from the betting action and the cards on my own board. In the MATH this week I got lucky and survived an allin call with the hammer early against my opponent's overplayed AK, but then two players donked me like 4500 chips within minutes with crappy one-pair hands or even just primary draws on the turn with 9 outs or fewer and just one card to come. Even last night I got off to a nice double early in PLO when my opponent got stuck playing a not-great Omaha hand and then called off his stack on the turn with two pair and a flush draw on a board with a high straight possibility to get started off hot. It's been happening a lot with me lately, which like I said is partially reflection of the fact that I have been hitting some draws with a bit more frequency than usual, and the fact that people tend to play against me as if I am constantly in there with garbage. Calling me down allin preflop early with shit like JTo, K9s, stuff like that.

A great example of all of these ideas can be found in the hand I profiled yesterday with PirateLawyer from the MATH. Yesterday I reposted the hand history from PL's blog and asked what you guys thought I probably had. Here it is again, from PL's blog:

"Then after a long period of inactivity I play Q5s from the small blind vs. Hoy, who has me covered in the BB. This was a significant mistake in situation selection; I end up spewing a large amount of chips needlessly.

Full Tilt Poker Game #6129182836: Mondays at the Hoy (45101299), Table 9 - 200/400 Ante 50 - No Limit Hold'em - 0:02:52 ET - 2008/04/22
Seat 1: jimdniacc (8,783)
Seat 2: PirateLawyer (20,798)
Seat 4: hoyazo (22,685)
Seat 5: wormmsu (23,121)
Seat 6: BuddyDank (6,596)
jimdniacc antes 50
PirateLawyer antes 50
hoyazo antes 50
wormmsu antes 50
BuddyDank antes 50
PirateLawyer posts the small blind of 200
hoyazo posts the big blind of 400
The button is in seat #1
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to PirateLawyer [Qs 5s]
wormmsu folds
BuddyDank folds
jimdniacc folds
PirateLawyer raises to 1,200
hoyazo calls 800
*** FLOP *** [5d 4h Kh]
PirateLawyer bets 1,400 - middle pair, second kicker = easy c-bet
hoyazo calls 1,400 - Hoy could well be floating here, or he slowplayed preflop
*** TURN *** [5d 4h Kh] [Kd]
PirateLawyer has 15 seconds left to act
PirateLawyer bets 1,900 - time to fire a second shell now that's it's less likely he has a king
hoyazo has 15 seconds left to act
hoyazo raises to 5,700 - this smells like a positional raise but I can only beat a bluff or bottom pair
PirateLawyer has 15 seconds left to act
PirateLawyer calls 3,800 - I decide to call and re-evaluate on the river; I might check-fold or open-shove depending on what comes
*** RIVER *** [5d 4h Kh Kd] [Ks]
PirateLawyer checks - frankly, this card completely surprised me and I froze like a deer in the headlights
hoyazo bets 14,335, and is all in
PirateLawyer has 15 seconds left to act
PirateLawyer has requested TIME
PirateLawyer folds - I reluctantly fold but escape to fight another day
Uncalled bet of 14,335 returned to hoyazo
hoyazo mucks
PirateLawyer has returned
hoyazo wins the pot (16,850)
*** SUMMARY ***
Total pot 16,850 | Rake 0
Board: [5d 4h Kh Kd Ks]
Seat 1: jimdniacc (button) folded before the Flop
Seat 2: PirateLawyer (small blind) folded on the River
Seat 4: hoyazo (big blind) collected (16,850), mucked
Seat 5: wormmsu folded before the Flop
Seat 6: BuddyDank folded before the Flop

I folded to Hoy's pressure even though I didn't really think he had the goods; all I can beat is a bluff."

The answers you gave in the comments for what I was holding ranged from possibly the case King to make quads, or perhaps a middle pocket pair, but most of you had me on either a busted flush draw, or just flat out air.

What really happened was PL open-raised from the small blind, and given his nature I didn't put PirateLawyer on shit when he goes for the steal in this spot. So his preflop raise in this particular situation told me just about nothing about his hand. If he had been really strong or really weak I suspect he would have smooth called, so his open-raising there told me he probably has a hand between 20th percentile and 80th percentile of all starting hands, but not much less than that. As in, I figured he is open-raising easily with garbage like 86s, T7o, any soooted face card, stuff like that. I barely narrowed his hand range at all, but to be clear I had him on total ATC garbage all through the hand.

I was right, but then I was wrong. PL was playing utter garbage just as I had suspected, in there it turns out with Q5s. It's a blechy, below average hand and one he could have just laid down with me and my big stack behind him given his position in the tournament and his stack size at the time, but I am ok with the float by him as long as he is not going to lose too much to the hand if he doesn't flop strong to it.

The flop comes 45K with two hearts. I figure, I know PL's game and he is c-betting me here probably 90% of the time, especially on a non-threatening flop like this, so again I have him on total air here. I was right -- Q5s is garbage -- but PL had unbeknownst to me picked up a very low second pair on the flop that is likely to be fourth pair by the time the hand is over with. Still, when PL bet out 1400 chips, I still had him on basically ATC, certainly nothing that made me think he had a pocket pair or a King, so I smooth called. I like the smooth call of the guy I think has air on the flop, almost better than raising on the flop sometimes. The smarter aggro players are more scared of the flop smooth call than the flop raise anyways most of the time, so I like to mix in smooth calling my aggressive opponents on the flop with air once in a while just to keep them guessing.

Then the turn brought the second King, and when PL bet out again, I was more sure than ever that he did not have a King in there or anything else good. So now I figure was the time for the raise, so I popped him 3x to 5700 chips and figured he would fold his nothing hand. When PL smooth called me there, I figured he had something he thought was decent. But with a King, against me, he is reraising allin in this spot, so I did not at all put him on trips. I didn't know what to make of PL's smooth call there to be honest, but I knew I didn't like it.

When the river brought the third King, I figured no way PL has a boat, so he will lay down to my allin bet with anything less than a boat. I made my allin move knowing full well that if PL had any kind of a boat whatsoever, he was going to call. In the end, I think this was a putrid poker play on my part, because I did not have a boat and after PL had called my turn bet, he more or less had to have boated up with the King on the river. And yet I made the play anyways, with this hand:

So yeah, it was total air, and frankly I think it was a really terribly played hand by both PL and myself. Me, for pushing allin for such a relatively small bet on the river after PL had seemingly committed himself with his call on the turn and given that I had to know anyone with a boat is not likely to fold here. And him, for just calling on the turn and then the fold on the river while holding the highest boat available on the board, that move is just inexplicable to me. If I knew what PL had I would have check-folded in a heartbeat of course, but to think PL actually made a boat on the river and still laid it down for 14k more into a 31k pot, it just boggles the mind.

But I show this hand (1) because PL asked me to, and (2) because I think it illustrates well that I am not playing tight or reserved poker through these things, I am not winning my big pots due to good starting cards, and that others are playing suboptimal poker against me which is the single biggest factor in my recent blonkament success.

So, tonight for the Mookie at 10pm ET on full tilt (password is "vegas1"), please keep your donking of chips to a maximum where I am concerned, because I never have good starting cards and I am probably just making a move. So call call call me as much as you can. See you tonight at 10pm ET.

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Blogger Shrike said...

Well, nice to see my read was confirmed. If only I had had the stones to follow through.

I agree, Hoy, that I butchered the hand, and that neither of us should have been playing a big pot there.

1:37 AM  
Blogger Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo said...

Yeah PL I actually wish you had called me there on the river, so that the lesson of my own horrible play in this hand could be better imprinted on my brain. Hopefully just going through this exercise of writing about it will help me not to be such a fewl next time.

1:43 AM  
Blogger Shrike said...

I think it's safe to say we both have some lessons to learn from this putrid hand. That's really why I blogged about it and asked you to do the same . . . I don't ever want to repeat this comedy of errors.

Honestly, I made a weak-tight fold on the river because I still had an average stack with 16 players left in the tourney. I think that's a horrible reason to fold what I thought was likely the best hand getting 3:1 on my money.

1:51 AM  
Blogger Schaubs said...

I love how you keep calling it "my big win" LOL

I am trying to find the sarcasm, but I can't.

I'd rather you call it something like "my big gift" or "the right place at the right time against the right person TOC gift"

You pwn PL.

PL, smarten up!

2:41 AM  
Blogger Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo said...

I can actually live with your decision to fold the hand with just the 5-boat if you had good reason to believe I had a middle pair. But then I think you need to fold to the turn raise. It's the smooth call of the turn raise plus the river fold that I think is so -EV.

And my pushing on the river with nothing but Ace high is probably the dumbest play in the entire hand, given your call of my turn raise. You should have flipped up quad Kings and sent me to the rail to rethink the way I was playing.

2:51 AM  
Blogger Shrike said...

I guess I learned my lesson.

Instant kharma, whee.

9:31 PM  
Blogger lj said...

dude, it's 2:42pm on thurs. wtf? if there's one thing i can usually depend on, it's massively long post from hoy by this time.

1:43 AM  
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