Monday, June 26, 2006

Weekend UberRecap

Ahhh Mondays. You gotta love 'em. Sure, we trudge back to the office, re-joining the pathetic rat race for one more week while we desperately try to Win The Big One that will let us get out of that crappy place once and for all. Yes, it does double blow when that alarm goes off first thing Monday morning (or in my case, when the older Hammer Girl decides it's time for the entire house to be woken up by her wake up screamcall).

But Mondays are also good for two key reasons. Reason Number One: On Mondays, I have often saved up enough good content from a weekend of pokery goodness to make an homage to the Blogfather with an attempt at an uberpost myself, which this will almost certainly be.

And Reason Number Two:

WHAT: Mondays at the Hoy
WHEN: Every Monday, 10pm ET.
WHERE: Pokerstars, "Private" Tab
BUYIN: $20 + $2
PASSWORD: hammer

The time to WPBT Vegas is drawing nigh, so we all need to hone our skills and play against each other as much as possible before the big live event on Saturday, July 8. So be there tonight, or I scoff at you.

OK so let's much pokering to talk about this fine Monday morning. First off, as many of my regular readers know, I have largely been playing like a donkey for the past two weeks or so. Yes (I know this is going to sound stoopid) I did win a $2000 prize package and buyin to the WSOP in the middle there, and yes I did win a satellite to a seat in last week's Winner's Choice event on full tilt along with Smokkee (I went out of the actual event around 2/3 of the way through the field, including a pretty sick river beat to send me to an early exit), but otherwise, I've been largely donkish. I don't mind, it happens to everyone, and I enjoy being open on the blog about when I know I am playing like a fool. I just try to limit my losses during those times (I'm actually way up thanks to the big Bracelet Race win and some other sng profits), and play my way through. That's my mantra when dealing with a donkey streak: Play Your Way Through. A lot of other people recommend taking some time off from the game, re-reading some poker books (I've just started a whole new batch btw), dropping down limits, switching games, etc. I recommend you play it out. Sometimes, it's not just your play, it's the cards you're getting, the cards your opponents are getting, or some combination of the above. Variance is going to vary you until it is done varying you, and I have just found no effect on my game after getting away from my normal thing for a while. So I don't do that. I Play My Way Through. In this case, the only thing I am actually concerned about with my poker play is that I don't go into the World Series in two weekends still on a bad streak. That is definitely not the way I need to go into my first entry ever into the WSOP. I have no fantasies about me actually winning this kind of major event (unlike some people), but there is no way I'm dropping $2500 on a tournament when I'm busy playing like I do when I hear the Hammer Baby crying and I know I have to get up to take care of her in the middle of an MTT.

So, on that front I am happy to report that this weekend, I played some good poker. I didn't win a ton of money -- as I mentioned, when I am heehawing around, I focus on playing through it, and limiting my losses while I do, so I played a lot of $5 and $10 events this weekend instead of the $20-$30 mtts. As I've always said here on the blog, first and foremost I play to play poker, not to make money, so I am more than happy at those levels even though I have had more consistent success at the next tier up or so from there. But, I managed to make a nice profit for the weekend, and more importantly I enter the new week feeling like I might have finally emerged from my recent donkery. Winning a couple hundred bucks is nice, but quitting playing like a donkey is very very nice, and worth a lot more than a hundy here or a hundy there over the long term.

But before I get to my personal poker exploits, I saw some interesting things in general on the virtual tables this weekend for sure that I thought I would share with you.

First, this past Sunday evening was the latest wpbt event, hosted as always by Byron, which this week was not just razz, but Deep Stacks razz so that the players could pull their hair out for twice as long for the same exact price. After struggling with the desire to defend my 10th place standing on the POY list before this weekend, in the end I resisted a last-minute push from Change100 and opted to stay out of the event, mostly because I tend to get dealt so unbelievably many pocket pairs in Razz that I never seem to get dealt to me when playing the same setup for Stud High. Anyways, although I did not participate this week, congratulations go to Lucko for taking down yet another of these blogger events. And take a look at the updated WPBT POY standings on Byron's blog, which includes the results of last night's Razz event. You will note, I am still in 11th place on the overall wpbt points list, even without playing Razz last night, and on the second list, which is wpbt points per event, I would also come in in 11th place as soon as I have played in one more event to make the required 8 total events played thus far. Two other quick points to note are (1) Check out Lucko's assault and takeover of the top spot in wpbt points per event, wresting that title (but not the overall points title, btw) away from StB who has dominated the field thus far this year, and (2) check out this screenshot for a view of who went out first in last night's Razz event:

Oh dear Waffles, I thought you had overcome your own personal donkery after winning the WWdN Not last Thursday, but apparently you are still working out some of the kinks in your game. Please get that done before Thursday's latest DADI event so we can win the last longer bet. Please.

One other quick point about razz on full tilt. I have mentioned several times in the blog about how I seem to get dealt tons of pocket pairs every time I play Razz online. I don't want to sound like a conspiracy theorist, and I no longer believe that online poker is rigged (although 9 months ago I certainly did believe it in some circumstances), but I submit the following screenshots for you as anecdotal evidence only of a HORSE mtt that I did play in over this past weekend. I played I think 10 hands of razz total in this event (and unfortunately I did not make it to the second round of razz), and here were shots of four choice hands out of those ten that I played:

Four effings out of ten razz hands? You tell me if that is statistically significant.

In other poker things I saw of note this weekend, here is a truly horrendous bad beat. I think in this case the picture tells all the story that needs to be told. How furious would you be?

And here was another fun one I saw, where a guy flopped a huge boat and simply could not possibly have gotten away from the hand at that point. No effing way.

Here was another of my favorites from this weekend. I played in probably 8 Katie Holmes token sng's, winning I think 6 tokens in 8 attempts. This was not one of them. I made a kick-ballz call on a guy who made a super-quick allin reraise on me, for the first time in an hour of playing that he had acted so quickly like that, and that immediately set off my spidey sense, so I called with ATs, and he confirms my suspicions, flipping over mf'ing Q8o. Here was the flop:

Un. Fuggin. Real.

Oh congratulations go out as well to jeciimd, a player in the weekly Mondays at the Hoy event and a friend of a friend of mine from growing up, for his very strong finish in this weekend's 200k guaranteed tournament on full tilt:

That's a nice $736 payout for jeciimd, who I'm sure will earmark those funds to pay for the buyins to his next 36 MATH Monday night tournaments. Kudos, jec!

I also thought you might be interested in seeing exactly how I went out early in the 19k guaranteed tourney on full tilt last night at 10pm ET.

First, we're about 15 minutes into the event, and I manage to call a guy's allin with pocket Jacks in my hand and a dominating 4 to 1 lead in the hand:

but then I got slammed with this board:

Then, just two hands later, I moved in and got a call from a single opponent after the flop was already out, when I had a significant overpair to the board, and my opponent again had a lower pocket pair, this time giving me about a 9-to-1 advantage with just two cards to come:

and here was the final board on that one:

and just like that, I'm out. You've gotta love when something like this happens to you in a poker tournament. I mean, the one 80% favorite losing was apparently not a sufficient sacrifice for the poker gods as I attempted to end my donkeystreak this weekend. They had to also have me lose a 90% hand on top of that. Doing some quick math, the odds of variance causing me to lose both of these hands like this are approximately 1 in 36, or less than 3%. Allegedly it should all even out and I should suck out some 3% victories at the same rate as they occur to me, so theoretically I should be okay with this happening, but so many of those assumptions sound dubious that it is difficult to really be comfortable with this occurring. Suffice it to say, in some parallel universe I was supposed to have a monster stack early in the 19k thanks to a couple of well-played overpairs and pocket pairs, but on this planet it just didn't work out for me on Sunday. Blech.

OK enough of the bad beat littanies (and no I don't pay anyone any dollars when I tell bad beat stories. I just tell the best of 'em, and you like 'em. Especially you). Back to my own play this weekend, as I mentioned I did very well in a number of token sngs on ftp, which continues to allow me to buy in cheaply to the regular mtts that ftp has to offer, including for example the right to get junk-kicked like I did last night in the 19k as described above. I also played one of my favorite types of online mtts, and something which I don't typically get to play because these events tend to start somewhat early in the evenings and before my family is in bed -- the 6-handed max tournaments. I have played in this event twice before on pokerstars -- they seem to have some form of it every night that I can tell -- and both times have cashed. This one was a $22 buyin, more than I was looking to spend given my recent donkery, but I was home on baby duty while Hammer Wife was out at the ballet, so I figured what the hey. I have had consistent success in these 6-max nlh tournaments, and as I bet most of our 6-max cash game brethren could confirm, 6-handed no limit holdem comes down to one thing. You know how they say Virginia Is For Lovers? Well, 6-Max Is For Stealing (and Re-Stealing). Especially in tournament format, with the constant short tables in addition to increasing blinds, etc, this is a real action game, and people must steal actively, from all positions at the table, in order to really excel. Steal, Re-Steal or Die. It really is that simple in this game.

And steal I did. More than that, I re-stole. Every single time the hand was folded around preflop to someone in late position, and they raised, I considered re-raising them with absolute disregard for my hole cards. I figure, most of you out there know how to steal a pot in the blinds, but much fewer online players seem to have incorporated this re-steal maneuver into their standard repertoire. So following are some examples of exactly what I mean by restealing. First here is me bluff-reraising with the Hammer, where I was fairly sure the original LP raiser was actually weak:

He folded:

In fact, each of the following six screenshots will show times that I restole with more or less nothing in my hand, playing just my opponent and his or her tendency to put in steal-raises with nothing from late position. In each case, my opponent folded to the reraise.

A few quick notes on these bluff-reraises above: First, the most key element is that I don't get any read of strength from the way the target raises it up in steal position. Of course, one of these times they're going to pick up a hand in LP, and I will lose some chippage doing this if I'm not careful. So if I get even the slightest hint of strength from them when they raise preflop -- even sometimes if I've re-stolen the last 2 or 3 pots in a row from them in this position, so I know they know I'm going to do it again unless they have a hand -- then I will tend to fold here instead of resteal.

Second, along those same lines, if I do get played with here with a re-reraise from
the target after my resteal attempt, I have to prepared to lay down my hand. In that case, the target is indicating that they do in fact have a very strong hand, and I can't be betting so much on the resteal that I become pot committed, or else it becomes a recipe for disaster since I am doing this with no regard whatsoever for the quality of my starting cards. Yes, it is always possible that a great poker player will recognize my penchant for re-stealing and will therefore just put in a re-reraise against me once in a while to keep me on my feet and get me to lay down against a poor hand for them. But in reality, the percentage of players online who are capable of making this move is about 0.0000001. Percent. So I just don't worry about that.

Anyways, mostly by stealing and restealing, I managed to go into the first break of this 6-handed event in 23rd place out of 123 remaining players (351 players originally began this $20 buyin event). And I made a huge chip-up about 10 minutes into Round 2, when one guy semi-donked by calling my allin reraise with 88, and the other player uberdonked by calling both allins preflop with JTs, and I held a very strong hand that managed to hold up for my first huge pot of the tournament:

Which was followed up about 15 minutes later with my second big pot, as I won a race from the favored side and hit trips on the end to boot:

Thanks to these big pots and relentless pressure from me on the stealing and restealing fronts, I went into the second break in 5th place out of 35 remaining players (top 30 paid out in this event out of 351 original players -- don't ask me why this one pays less than 10%).

About 30 minutes into Round 3, I was in 13th out of 21 players remaining, well into the money for my first nice cash since winning the WSOP Bracelet Race early last week. Unfortunately, my luck started to run out when I lost a race to a fish who called my allin with KQo, the ultimate in fishdonkey moves given my likely holdings at the time:

And after close to three hours, I restole one time too many here, which is truly the only way to really excel in these 6-max tournaments:

This time my "victim" flipped over a monster that he had sneakily limped with, knowing my restealing tendencies:

I did not improve, and IGH in 10th place overall out of 351 players:

for a nice profit of close to $170. Again, in this case, it's the performance that counts, not the actual dollars and cents won.

Without belaboring this post any more than is already is, I also made a very strong run in a $5 mtt on pokerstars on Sunday evening. Without getting into too many boring details, I got no cards but stole and bluffed my way through the first two rounds of this event, which had 1776 players originally for a prize pool of nearly $7500, resulting in me being firmly ensconced below average as of the second break, but already into the money in this 20% payout schedule tournament (blech!):

Shortly into Round 3, I got dealt my first big hand of the night, and a guy pushed allin ahead of me (god I love that!):

Here I also continued to hone my restealing skills, which I believe more and more has to be a part of my game if I expect to consistently cash in these large multi-table tournament fields. Here are two bluff-reraises that did the job and elicited folds from my opponent in both cases as we neared the final 100 players in that event:

We entered the final 100 with me in much better shape than at the previous break, as the Aces hand and several steals left me in 30th place out of 99 remaining, and at the third break, I was still going strong and in position to make a serious run:

As the number of players remaining continued to dwindle with the blinds ever increasing, my luck took a turn for the worse when this bozo called my allin preflop with the all-powerful 92s, and well you know what happened:

I still had plenty of chips left here, but you could just feel the air going out of my sail at that point in the tournament, with about 50 players left overall.

And it continued, as I lost a huge pot after I moved my single opponent allin on a Queen-high flop with me holding the AQ in my hand. No way I was getting away from this, not on this flop:

And it ended mercifully near the end of Round 4, as I lost yet another allin preflop race with me once again on the favored side of the equation:

The final standings looked like this:

with me ending in 33rd place out of 1776 players. This was good for another $48 in my bankroll, which is all good, but again the most important aspect here, much as with my 6-max event from earlier in the weekend, is not how much money I made, but the fact that I once again appear to have emerged from the doldrums of donkery and back into my normal hard-playing, spot-on reading self. That's the key for me right now, as I must head out to the WSOP in 12 days feeling calm, cool and confident in my play.

I look forward to taking my newly rediscovered confidence with me to Mondays at the Hoy tonight, where I will try to let someone else at least have maybe 1/5 of my stack or so when we get to heads-up at the final table. See you then!


Blogger CC said...


Whew, you played enough for both of us! I won't be able to make it tonight to defend my title as I'll be in the air on my way to Vegas. Hope you have a good turnout, and give everyone my best.

1:40 AM  
Blogger smokkee said...

i didn't get far in last night's 19k either. went out about 35 mins in after my AA got cracked.

nice finish in the 6-handed. haven't played many 6-handed tourneys but, what you described is what i'd expect. every hand is a game of chicken. who flinches first, loses.

1:40 AM  
Blogger Matt Silverthorn said...

RE: the AA vs AA bad beat.

That happened to me in a CASH game. I lost $100 on that hand.

2:35 AM  
Blogger Guin said...

Great uber post... I have also spent some time playing in some smaller buy in events this weekend. Actually trying to get some HU experience so I feel more confident so I can close out a tournament.

You have done a brilliant job of outlining another great move to make while playing power poker. I am amazed it worked so often for you but it sure has to help you get chips (since you are stealing blinds and the raise).

2:38 AM  
Blogger Blinders said...

"Variance is going to vary you until it is done varying you"


4:21 AM  
Blogger Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo said...

Guin, you are right on with your comment there. The re-steal is a very effective move because every time it works, you are stealing not only the blinds, but also the 3x or 4x raise of the blinds that the victim put in. In 6-handed tournament play, you just can't be long-term successful unless you steal with abandon, and make yourself a constant threat to re-steal as well.

5:01 AM  
Blogger L8Bloomer said...

"Variance is going to vary you until it is done varying you"

Definitely Classic! I quoted you in my blog,

2:38 PM  
Blogger Iakaris aka I.A.K. said...

Another clinic. After you win a huge one, the book will be half written...

AA v AA: so wrong, so wrong. Tells you what experience does for you though - QQ cracked my AA on the Rivah at MATH last night, and I was so tilted I couldn't look at a poker screen for the rest of the night.

See ya at WWdN

9:48 PM  
Blogger smokkee said...


i posted a combined team challenge for DADI on my blog. don't donk. LOL

12:18 AM  
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5:58 AM  
Blogger lucko said...

Thanks, I have noticed you steadily creeping up the WBPT POY standings. You jumped to 7th and are in position for a run in the second half of the year. 5th in average points as well. Its going to be a fight to the finish.

11:43 PM  

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