Friday, June 24, 2011

Foxwoods Keys to Success

Just one more day of workin for the man and I will be off to Foxwoods for Event #1 of the Spring Into Summer Mega Madness tournament series. As I have mentioned here over the past week or two, this is a $600 buyin no-limit holdem tournament with a $125k guaranteed prize pool. Based on what I've seen and heard, I would guess this event will end up pulling in a good 300, 350 runners on a weekend (hopefully more, of course) and that 125k guarantee will be easily exceeded, but I guess I won't know until a couple hours after Saturday's 11am ET start time. It would be so great to finally make just the second Day Two of my poker playing career, but in order to do that, I'm going to have to play a heck of a lot better poker than I played in my two recent practice tournaments I detailed in yesterday's post. I wanted to take today's post to write down and cram into my brain once again the lessons I learned from playing this week that I had grown quite rusty about over my three-month poker hiatus.

First and foremost, I have to do better at not betting too aggressively and/or play too loose right off the bat in the hopes of hitting that miracle flop. This is simply not advice I have ever needed to focus on before -- I think playing 100 mtt's a month thanks to the wonder of online poker helps from making any one tournament seem too important or too boring to sit on the sidelines for -- but it is clear from my recent tournament experiences that it's where I am at now. I resolve on Saturday not to drop more than 10% below my starting stack during the first two rounds of play unless I pick up a big hand and am forced to make a major laydown. In general, making laydowns has never been and continued not to be my problem over the past week -- I laid TT and AQs preflop, I folded a slow-played TPTK to a big river raise from a guy who made too many deliberate faces at me while I was pondering my move on the river to have anything other than a big, strong hand, and I even laid down two pairs twice on the river to big action, one of which was still a multi-way pot. But unless something like happens, I flop a set and then the river four-flushes or something and I face a huge bet, I will not play too aggro early on, I will not call preflop raises or reraises with garbage, and I will absolutely not allow my desire to mix it up with the clear fish at the table to back me into a corner where I am in against a strong player with a weak hand late into a pot.

Secondly, assuming I last through the first, say, three or four hours of this tournament, I resolve to resteal more. Shit, I resolve to resteal at all, given my timidness in several a propos situations over the past 9 or 10 hours of tournament play I put in this week. I have simply got to take advantage of stealing from the stealers, because each time you do it, it is worth a good couple of orbits of sitting out and just ceaselessly contributing your blinds and antes. And the big problem is, everyone steals nowadays. The blind steal has become such a part of the nlh tournament game nowadays -- in particular among the young types that will likely predominate the scene at Foxwoods this weekend -- that if you do not take advantage of the stealers from time to time, not only do your own blinds get eaten up when you are in the first two seats left of the dealer, but your ability to steal any pots diminishes over time since someone else is always in there ahead of you opening the action. I have to tell myself over and over again: there is no way these guys are that strong, all the time. This was always something that I used to take for granted as it came naturally to me to play with this type of attitude over the years, but as I mentioned yesterday, if there's one thing I take away from my tournament play this week, my lack of balls when it comes to restealing from the preflop stealers is That Thing. Of course, restealing with total air will eventually run me into a monster and end my tournament run prematurely, but all I can say is, I've honestly never had a deep, deep tournament run where I never restole from someone who I thought was trying to pick up the blinds and antes with a weakish hand preflop. Never. Some of that of course is the cards I get, some of it is situational of course, but the bottom line is, if someone is on a medium stack and we're getting down near the money, a well-time allin against a guy giving off a weak vibe pays dividends, not only directly in terms of the amount of chips in my stack, but also in the meta game, as you keep everyone thinking every time they consider putting in a raise before the flop with less than a premium holding.

My game has always relied as a major cornerstone on preflop aggression. Even when I can feel the bubble near, as I could twice over the past week, I need to keep up the pressure against the people I believe can fold and who have demonstrated a willingness to mix it up with beatable hands.

The last thing I want to make sure I remember -- and this, too, is something that needn't even be said back when I was playing with regular consistency -- is to preserve my chips. In that first tournament this week, I know why I pushed allin on the flop on a stone bluff with 9-high in the hand where I got eliminated. I know what went into the decision, and taking everything into account, I still think there was a good chance when I made that move that I was right in that spot and could have chipped up nicely in that hand. But did I need to make that move just then? I was 5th in chips with less than two full tables remaining, and the top 8 slated to receive payouts. Was there a good reason for me to risk my entire stack on a guess -- and that's all it was, an educated guess -- that the biggest stack left in the tournament was weak, when I couldn't even beat a bluff and had barely any outs to draw to even if I got called? No, of course, there was not. So I probably shouldn't have been doing it. Or at the least, I should have thought about my play in the exact terms that I just described it before making the decision to push everything allin and risk elimination just short of the money by one of the few stacks left in the tournament that could wipe me out in one hand. And I can tell you, I did not think about it at all like that at the time. At the time it was just like "Well, there's no way that clown has a hand again. If he leads out on the flop, I'm pushing no matter what." I didn't look at his stack, my stack, the other stacks at the table, and I did not consider that I had literally just managed to climb my stack out of the doldrums for several hours back up well above average as we were fixing for a run to the final table. To go and throw away all of that patience, all of that hard work, all of that deserving success, running a stone bluff with 9-high against a guy with a monster stack who'd been hitting hands all day and who raised me preflop and led out on the flop? Not smart.

Play tight early. Loosen up preflop late, especially against the middle stacks who already have an inclination towards folding. And protect my chips from needless, thoughtless risks. These are the keys to my having a successful tournament at Foxwoods on Saturday. I will try to update here how I am doing, in particular if I last a little while and might be making a run. Have a great weekend everybody and wish me luck at the indian reservation in Connecticut.

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Blogger Josie said...

Excellent post. Great primer for anyone heading into a tourney.

My bit of advice to you: Don't let the size of the buyin nor the opponents get into your head. DO NOT PLAY SCARED.

You almost cashed in the last 2, so I feel the coin toss will fall as you wish during this 3 tourney.


Oh and good luck. :)

11:09 PM  
Blogger The Neophyte said...

Good luck Hoy. Clean em all out.

4:44 AM  
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12:35 AM  

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