Wednesday, February 28, 2007

W-W-Donk-N, and Starting Hands Part III

How the fuck did I ever win a WWdN?

You have got to love the WWdN. There's probably more than one reason why, but for whatever reason, the quality of play in the WWdN can be really funny sometimes. I mean, all the blogger tournaments usually see a few nutty plays here and there (especially when Waffles is playing), but the WWdN is a rare bird. I'm guessing it's because in our other regularly-scheduled blogger events, it is mostly poker bloggers -- guys who actually play a lot, and think a lot about poker, and spend some amount of time analyzing their plays and the plays of others, etc. Whereas, Wil tends to attract a slightly more diverse crowd. Sure you've got your regular run-of-the-mill poker bloggers, but you've also got a certain amount of TNG geeks fans, and a sometimes even larger number of just general "celebrity" hounds. And, for the most part, people in these latter two categories don't really know a whole lot about the finer points of no-limit holdem strategy. So, when you play the regular Tuesday night WWdN tournament, you really never know what you're going to be up against as far as quality of play goes, and as most of you know, you can't really put your opponents on a hand or on a particular play if you can't even put them on a poker thought.

Last night, on my way to being eliminated in the middle of the pack from the 46-person field in the latest WWdN, I saw truly one of the worst plays you're ever going to see in an organized poker tournament, in particular from someone who I know plays in at least this tournament with a fair amount of regularity. Let me set the setting for you.

It's maybe 30 minutes into the tournament. Probably 37 or so of the 46 starting players were remaining, and I was a bit under my starting stack of 1500 chips, around 1250 or so, as I failed to get a good hand dealt to me in the entire night of play. I'm UTG and am dealt AKs. I make one of my favorite plays here, which is just to limp UTG for the 50 chips. Unlike AA or KK, AKs is a hand that plays great with multiple players in the pot, so I don't mind if nobody raises after me preflop here. And what's better is that if someone does raise behind me before the flop, I can go ahead and re-pop it with high confidence that I can still win the hand no matter what my opponent is holding. I don't make this play very often UTG with AK, but maybe 15-20% of the time in this situation I'll just limp and see what develops.

So, I limp for 50 chips UTG with AKs. Two folds to my left, and then the player three seats to my left (let's call this person "Fonkey" for lack of a better term, in keeping with my belief in not identifying anybody specifically when I "question" their poker play) pops it up 3x more to 150 from middle position. I'm lovin' it. Then the next player to act calls the 150 chips (you have to wonder what that person has, no?). Then the player after that also calls the 150 chips (hmmm. Wonder what "Fonkey" is thinking about his raise now?). Then the last player to act also calls another 100 chips out of his big blind, and action is back to me, with 4 other players already in the pot for the 150-chip raise after me UTG limp.

Me, I can't believe my good fortune. There are now 625 chips in the pot, and while someone could easily have some kind of pocket pair here, nobody appears to be particularly strong, and I #1 probably have the best hand right now anyways, and #2 even if I don't, I have no worse than a 49% chance of winning if this goes to showdown. And I've got a ton of fold equity, with about 1200 chips behind here and nobody else in for more than 150 chips so far, so I know I can push with my at-worst-50/50-shot hand, and each of the other four players involved has ample reason to fold. They don't seem particularly strong so far, and it will cost them another 1000+ chips to see what I limped and then push-reraised with UTG. So I go for it, allin for my last 1200 chips.

Fonkey, the initial raiser, mulls this over for a loooooong time. His problem is that he not only has to call me for the rest of his chips, but he's got the not one, not two but three players behind him still to act, each of whom already happily called a 3x raise before the flop when he put it in a minute earlier. After letting his time run down to almost zero, he goes ahead and calls my allin limp-reraise from UTG, with the three raise-callers still to act behind him.

All of you out there, do me a personal favor and take a second and think, what would you need to make an allin call in this spot? Again, I limped from UTG, you kicked it up 3x more, got not one not two but three callers of your raise. And then to top it off I allin-reraised all four bettors from UTG, where I had limped from originally. So you've got to call your last 1200 chips into a 625-chip pot against my UTG limp-allin reraise (scarrry), plus you've got to worry about all three of your preflop raise-callers behind you still to act and who might get into the hand as well. Do me a favor and think of your calling range here. I don't want to influence you at all, so just take one second and think about what you would need to have in order to call here, and maybe some hands you would never call with here.

I'm going to skip some space to give you a chance to think this one over.

OK so you got it? What are you calling with here? I'll tell you my thoughts. I just saw a solid player (ahem) UTG limp and then allin-reraise four raise-callers preflop. That guy alone has got to have a medium-big pocket pair (probably 9s or Tens or better) or AK. Not sure what else makes that play. Plus, with three other raise-callers behind me, I've got to be looking at at least one decently high Ace, maybe a big suited connector like KQs or something, and probably one pocket pair. These are guesses but all educated ones, and are probably more or less right on. So, just to call the UTG player I would need to have a big pocket pair myself or maybe AK if I was feeling frisky. But with the three raise-callers still to act behind me as well, at least one of whom almost certainly has a pocket pair of some kind, there is just no way I'm even making that call with AK. Not this early in a tournament, with this few chips invested in the pot so far. Presumably your thoughts are similar to mine here, but if not I'd love to hear about it.

Well either way, what did it turn out Fonkey made this call with?


Niiiice. You have got to love these people. So he's taking AQo up against the UTG limp-allin reraiser and three other players who've already called a preflop raise. That is awesome. Just great, intelligent poker right there. Everyone else folded after Fonkey called my allin reraise, and when the cards were turned up, showing my AKs as an 82% favorite or whatever it is, I had to laugh. How you make that call with AQ is completely and utterly beyond me. The WWdN is great.

Pokerstars, of course, is even greater though, and let's just say I failed to win the hand thanks to the river card, and leave it at that. As I've written about here profusely of late it seems, it is just unreal how often these fuckyfonkey calls get rewarded by the poker sites these days. Absofuckinglutely unfuckinreal. AQ calling an allin UTG limp-reraise with 3 raise-callers still to act behind. That is fucking scary folks, absolutely scary. You will be extremely surprised to note that Fonkey still didn't manage to even outlast me in last night's tournament, which totally shocks me given the tremendous tournament mindset he must have had to make that call there, as I've also written about a lot lately.

Now jump ahead maybe 30 more minutes, about half the original WWdN field is gone, and I am short stacked but still holding on. UTG limps for the 150-chip big blind (let's call her "Fonkette", just to keep the gender right), and I'm UTG+1 with pocket 7s. I'm short (around 700 chips as I recall), so I go ahead and move it all in which by all rights is quite likely to be the best hand preflop here. And since UTG has a decent stack, I'm hoping against hope she might call with whatever Ace she is limping with here, or maybe if I'm real lucky, with a smaller hand like pocket 6s or pocket 5s and I can get back into this thing. The action folds back around to Fonkette, and she thinks and thinks. She thinks so long that I now know I'm ahead, and am considering that she could actually have a hand like 22 or 33 or something. Anyways, she finally calls -- admittedly for only another 550 chips, but it was 550 chips into a pot that was at the time around 1100 chips. But take it from me, Fonkette hasn't got a clue about pot odds. I don't even think Fonkette knows what a "pot" is, let alone what "pot odds" are. Trust me on this one. She just fonkey-called me here for another 550 chips, and with what hand, mind you?


Another brilliant move. It's unreal. Now again I understand that at 2-1 it was reasonable for Fonkette to assume she had maybe a 35-40% chance against a likely Ace with an undercard in my hand. But the whole thing is still funny. This player doesn't know what pot odds are, and most certainly doesn't know what her specific odds of winning are with KQ against an Ax in my hand. And she had to know she was behind here. Had to. Am I pushing here for 700 chips with KTo? 98s? Come on you fonkeys. But never fear, pokerstars to the rescue. King on the river, and IGH. Oh what a night.

Did I mention how recockulously often the poker sites reward players who make allin calls with dominated hands like AQ, AJ and KQ? It's effing sick.

OK, now before I get to yesterday's Stud High starting hand, I want to post a couple of really great items here.

First of all, if you have not yet read Miami Don's incredible retrospective on the past year, then you are severely missing out. Go check it out right now! As you know I read an effing fuckload of poker blogs, and I will say without hesitation that this is my favorite post I've seen on any blog so far this year. I've already read it 3 or 4 times and it only gets better. Go click that link and take a read of some of the background of one of our favorite cash gamers and all-around great guys. Simply unbelievable.

Secondly, I wanted to personally mention how thrilled I am that the Iggy, the uberdrawrf himself, is returning to his rightful home at Guinness and Poker. Iggy, you will always be my one and only when it comes to poker blogging -- not only the first, but clearly the best -- and there still can never be anything like a genuine Iggy uberpost to destroy my workplace productivity like nothing else. But to echo some sentiments voiced by Al earlier this week, there were two main problems with your move to pokerworks. First, as Al mentions, my dorkwork blocks all the pokerworks blogs, and frankly my work day is where I do about 95% of my daily blog reading. I will admit that over the past few months since Iggy's move, I have gone from reading 100% never-possibly-miss-one of his posts, to instead reading probably 25% of them, and almost never in a timely fashion. Sadly this is true for most of the pokerworks crew because I simply cannot get access to them during the weekdays ever, but with Iggy it was by far the worst because you couldn't have paid me money to ever miss anything Ig had to say before 2007. So for that reason alone, the move back to Guinness is obviously the right thing.

But more than that, I have got to say that the whole pokerworks thing just was not the same IMO for the original uberposter. I never got the same feel with Iggy's pokerworks blog as I always had for it when it was at G&P. Even though Iggy still called them "uberposts", they were just not quite the same thing. Different feel, different structure, something. It's intangible, but it was real, trust me. I went through a smaller-scale version of the same thing when I was writing for Cardsquad, so I know what I'm talking about here. Writing for the two blogs was fun and all, but believe me when I say that #1 it was draining, and more importantly #2, I never felt like I could be quite myself on Cardsquad. For one thing, the structure of the blog was totally different from my own corner of the blogiverse here. Also, I felt pressure for my posts to be shorter, smaller, and more structured. Writing as part of a larger group of writers kinda builds in its own pressures as it is, and while I loved every minute of it -- don't get me wrong -- it was definitely very much different from what I was doing here at good ol' hammerplayer dot blogspot dot complain. I never wanted to rant quite as personally as I do with abandon here, and I know for a fact that the overall tone in my Cardsquad posts was just not nearly as edgy, or ultimately not nearly as real, as what I do here on a daily basis. It's hard to explain unless you live it, but I have and so I'm here to say, Iggy, the blogiverse was sorely worse without you at your rightful home, and I for one could not be happier for you, and for us all, that you're now back where you belong. So go give Iggy a look at his new old home. And for those of you who've never had the honor of meeting the man, the myth, the legend before in the flesh, there is an awesome picture of him up on G&P right now if you want to go see one of the rare times he'll ever let someone take a snapshot of him close-up.

Lastly but not leastly, go check out Blinders, who has a couple of great posts up this week where he scours the pokertracker details of his recent ladder challenge. For a guy like me who never uses pokertracker, it is highly interesting and entertaining to even see just how powerful a program like this can be to analyzing your game, your strengths, your weaknesses, and I think more than anything else, just your tendencies in how you play no-limit holdem. After reading Blinders' last couple of posts, I am quite sure that if I were a cash game guy I would be downloading pokertracker immediately. I think its usability is far less for an mtt-only guy like myself, where you're constantly getting shortstacked and end up pushing with lots of utter garbage hands from late position, the blinds, etc., but for a cash game specialist, Blinders does a great job this week of (1) showing all the great details you can get from a program like pokertracker, and (2) providing the kind of analysis of one's play that one can get by just using this program and keeping an open mind about what the results are telling you. I've read Blinders last few posts several times, and am still captivated by all his pokertracker stats have to show him, and by how objectively the man is able and willing to analyze his own play by use of tools like this. We should all be so objective and introspective about our play as Blinders is here. Really, really good stuff, and super cool of him to post since on some level it does give away some information about his style of play.

OK, with that out of the way let me turn back to yesterday's Stud High starting hand post. If you'll recall, I had posed the following hand to you all:

where I am in middle position with QJ(T), straight possibilities, flush possibilities, and only one other high card showing. Unfortunately, that high card is a King, and double unfortunately, that King has already raised it up before the action gets to me. This hand in particular interested me because, unlike my first two omaha hands this week where I feel like the right move really is to fold both of them in most cases, with this one I thought it was a little more up in the air.

I got a lot of good comments here, which seemed basically pretty evenly split between calling and folding. Even the posters who suggested calling were pretty unanimous that if I don't improve on 4th street and face another bet from King Boy, then I would have to lay it down, something with which I defintely agree if I even decided to take one card off in the first place. That said, let me show you what I did here:

Yeah. I folded it. I'm still not at all sure this was the "right" play or "best" play here, but it is an example of my generally tight strategy in most of the HORSE games, and in fact mostly all the poker variations I play. I have made more money than I've lost in my life in HORSE games of all kinds (cash, tournament, individual or in HORSE format) by generally giving people credit for what they represent on the early betting rounds. That is, when someone plays their King upcard as if they've got a pair of Kings, sometimes I try to chase them down, but for the most part that's been a losing strategy for me, and I've been much happier and much more profitable by playing my hands on the assumption that the guy really does have the pair of Kings that he's representing. Maybe in this case the guy was bluffing. If that's true, I probably lost my chance to win a few chips in this particular hand. But, I barely lost any actual chips in my stack, so that's not a bad outcome at all for me in any event. And if he did have the pair of Kings, I was a big dog in the hand the way I see it.

Here's the thing -- if I had had KQJ, and he had a Ten up and had bet it, I would have surely called. I might have raised it even. Then I've got three overcards to the pair he's representing, and with no other high cards showing in anyone else's hand here, I've gotta love my chances of pairing any one of my three cards and being ahead of my opponent with the exposed Ten on 3rd street. Given my aggressive nature and my faith in the math of poker and odds, I'm probably even calling here if he has a Queen showing and I have AKQ. Then I think it's that much less likely that he actually has a pair of Queens since I've got one in my own hand already, and even if he does, I've still got the Ace and the King to pair and take the lead over him at some point later in the hand. In fact, given my confidence in my ability to lay good reads on people, I would definitely even consider calling if I had QJT and he had a Jack up and had raised it on third street like this. Again I've got one of his jacks buried in my own hand, plus I've got the overcard Queen, and I've got the straight possibilities working here (plus of course the high two pair chances, etc.). But, in this case, since I have nothing but three undercards to the pair he's representing here on 3rd street, and since I haven't lost a dime into this pot yet so far in the hand other than my measly 25-chip ante, I figured I'm laying this thing down here. The two-flush doesn't do much for me at this point (unlike a 3-flush on 4th street which I certainly like a little more), and the straight chances are nice, but with one of my Kings and even an 8 already out as jeciimd points out in his comment, even those straight chances are tempered somewhat. And I just can't escape the thought of what happens here if I, say, pair my hidden Jack on 4th street, and then King Boy bets into me again. Not only am I already still behind to his likely Kings, but even if I make a backdoor two-pairs on 6th or 7th street, he has just as much of a chance of that as I do, and his pair of Kings will win the pot from me in that situation. So I laid it down. As I said earlier, I'm still not sure this is the exactly correct play, and if anyone thinks I screwed it up please feel free to say so, but what I am sure of is that it was the safest, and lowest-risk play since like I mentioned above I didn't actually put any chips into this pot yet other than my 25 that automatically went in for the ante.

OK so lastly today, I'm going to profile a starting hand from 7 Stud Hilo. This incidentally was the game of choice for last night's WWdN 2nd chance tournament, which I again lasted through the middle of the pack until some clown guy called me down on 6th street for all my chips -- no, he raised me actually for all my chips -- with nothing. That's right, nothing but a flush draw. I called with the pair of Jacks that I had so skillfully camouflaged all the way through the hand, because that's just how I roll, and boom! Flush on the river, and IGH. Unreal the quality of play in Wil's tournaments. It should make them easier according to all you donks who claim I should want the lowest form of poker clowns in my mtts. But you're wrong. It makes them much, much harder to survive in. I want the donks, don't get me wrong, but just not the lowest form of donk who doesn't have a clue when they're beat, and therefore is just constantly getting bailed out by these fucking asshole poker sites. Disgusting.

Anyways where was I. Oh yeah, Stud Hilo starting hand. It's the same HORSE satellite from this weekend, but a few minutes later than in the Stud High hand above. I'm still around 5th place out of probably around 16 players remaining, with the top 3 winning seats to the big HORSE tournament, and I'm dealt (24)5 in middle position. The low card, a 4, brings it in for 20 chips, and the next player limps for 20 with an Ace showing. The next player, showing a Jack, folds, and then the player to my right limps as well with a 6 up. Now the action is to me, with 3 players still to act after me, all of whom are showing high cards on 3rd street. So again, I've got a 4, an Ace, and a 6 already limping in ahead of me for 20 chips, and I have (24)5 rainbow in my hand, with nothing but high cards to act after me.

What do you like to do here? Obviously I've got a very strong starting low hand. But, I'm also looking at a number of other low upcards, and with them limping into this pot, they've probably got at least one other low card each underneath. So this takes away some of my potential low hits here and makes my low hand less "live" than it otherwise may appear. And I don't have much good for high, especially with an Ace already in the pot ahead of me. Does anybody fold this 5-low on 3rd street? If not, does anybody raise it up, or are you just calling here? Why?

As always I'll be back later with my analysis of the comments as well as what I did on this particular hand and why. Thanks again to everyone for their thoughtful comments on yesterday's Stud High post.

Labels: , , ,

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Crazy MATH, and Starting Hands Post (Part II)

Wow. Somebody has got to stop Fuel55.

This year, the guy is amassing a huge pile of chips in basically every blogger tournament there is, and it is taking quite an effort from everybody involved to keep this guy out of the final table and out of the money in nearly every one of these things over the past several weeks. Last night in the Hoy was more of the same, as I watched players donk to the guy early and often, which combined with some very nice plays by Fuel to give him yet another dominant stack heading into the final table at the Hoy, where 18 players showed up in the battle for the $20 buyins, the 8th time we have gotten together this year to donk it up. As usual of late, Fuel wielded his big stack like a hammer, taking Lucko's ATC (any two cards) approach about ten steps further by literally calling just about any sized bet with literally just about Any. Two. Cards.

I'm serious. At the final table last night, I watched Fuel call an opponent's allin for a quarter to a fifth of his stack with J7o. K7s. 96s. Any Ace. It happened again and again and again. And again. Once he had about 3 times the 2nd place stack, Fuel didn't fold at the final table. At all. He won nearly every race situation I saw him in (not every one, but probably 13 out of 15 or so if I had to guess), regardless of which side of the race he was on, and with that luck Fuel managed to stay way, way ahead of the rest of the field even heading towards the bubble at the Hoy, with our usual top 3 spots paying out in the battle for the 2007 money leaderboard supremacy.

In general, the final table was among the wildest times I can ever remember at the Hoy, with suckouts happening all over the place for basically everyone involved. I myself sucked out an awful runner-runner straight to best Iak's dominating hand on the flop near the beginning of the table as well, but I also got brutally sucked out on twice myself near the end there, including my TT losing to Wes's ATs on the river (where else?) as one of Wes's four allin survivals as he made his push to hold on for at least the third place money. In the end, it was Astin bubbling out when he pushed his short stack into my big pocket pair, and the final three survivors of the suckout fest and ATC callfest from Fuel were myself in third place, recent Hoy casher Wigginx in a close 2nd place, and Fuel far, far in the lead. Once ITM, I was dealt a couple of big hands early and managed to claw my way back to a respectable chip position, sitting on around 5000 chips, to Wiggin's 6000 chips and Fuel's 16000 or so, when I picked up pocket 4s UTG. I got it allin, and Wiggin called for almost his entire stack with....

KQ. Offsuit. Yeech. Nonetheless, in fitting with the rest of the activity at the final table, he hit his King on the turn, and IGH in 3rd place. At this point, Wiggin and Fuel were very close to even, with Fuel only about 1000 or so chips ahead of Wiggin's stack as we started up what we railbirds figured would be a marathon heads-up sesssion replete with the kinds of ATC calling and suckouts that had peppered the final table up to that point. However, instead the HU session lasted exactly three hands. First hand, Fuel takes down the pot preflop. Second hand, Wiggin raises preflop, Fuel reraises, Wig re-reraises, and Fuel re-re-reraises allin, which Wig of course calls. What do the two donkeys players have to justify such crazy moves preflop here? I was guessing AK and a pocket pair, maybe AQ if someone was feeling especially donkorific. The actual hands?

KQo for Fuel. 66 for Wigginx. Despite my feeling that I should have been automatically awarded first place for the event after that play, Fuel promptly nailed the flop of AAK, and it was just about over for the night. Until, that is, the 6 on the turn completed the resuck and gave Wigginx about 95% of the chips in play. Very next hand saw Fuel blinded in for the rest of his chips with 87s against Wig's pocket 4s, and the 4 on the flop iced the victory for Wigginx, his first Hoy title as I recall. And more importantly, it kept Fuel out of the winner's circle for one more week, which is good not only because I can't stand seeing one guy win so many effing blogger tournaments in a row this year, but also because, with the way he is playing lately and the luck he is having in his ATC calls with a huge stack, we can't have Fuel taking a huge lead in the yearly money race this early in the season:

So congratulations to Wigginx for the win and the $180 first prize, and to Fuel for another impressive run to second place and $108, and yours truly making my fourth Hoy cash in 8 attempts this year, ending a respectable third place in an impossibly suckout-filled and ATC-cally field to nab the $72 booby prize. In all, this leaves the new Hoy money leaderboard as the following, after Monday night's antics:

1. Hoyazo $472
2. Fuel55 $458
3. VinNay $310
4. Wigginx $288
5. Bayne_s $270
6. Manik79 $252
7. Smokkee $162
8. Chad $120
8. Zeem $120
10. Ganton516 $114
11. Omega_man_99 $108
12. NewinNov $90
13. Columbo $80
13. PhinCity $80
13. jeciimd $80
16. l.e.s.ter000 $72
17. Julius Goat $60

Notice that this is the first week of 2007 where all three MATH cashers were previous cashers in this year's MATH tournaments as well. So, no new names added to the list for this week, and more importantly, Wigginx's huge comeback win kept Fuel's money gain over me this week to a mere $36, which was just enough for you know who to retain my overall 2007 money lead in the Hoy tournaments, now two months into the year. So come out next week and try to dethrone me once again from the leaderboard, and more importantly, see if we can cooler Fuel55 from the incredible blogger tournament hot streak he has been enjoying so far in 2007.

OK what else. Back to yesterday's O8 and Omaha high hand I had solicited your opinions on. In the end, most of you shared the opinion I had about both of these hands. The first one if you recall was everybody's favorite game for me to write about, Omaha Hilo 8 or Better (O8), and here was the starting hand I had asked about:

So it was the medium straight possibility, the Queen-high flush possibility and the two Queens from UTG in O8, and most of you suggested you would probably fold this hand. While I agree with the few commenters that you could maybe take a cheap flop with this hand if it's a game where you've seen a lot of people playing bad hands to a flop, in general, I agree with most of the commenters who said you just have to fold this here:

I just don't like that it's under the gun, so you really have no idea if or how many raises you're going to get here before the flop. And, the hand has absolutely no possibility of making any low hand, so if three low cards flop I'm basically only playing for a maxiumum of half the pot anyways. And, the high possibilities for this hand are just not that great anyways. The pair of Queens is nice, but any Ace or King on the flop will basically kill that. The Queen-high flush possibility is nice, but it's hard to bet that or the Queen-high straight possibility with much confidence either in a game like omaha. Remember, Omaha is a game of the nuts, and this hand just doesn't have nutty potential on the high side, no potential at all for a low, and I'm UTG to boot. To me it is definitely a fold, which it seems most of you agreed with.

Similarly, yesterday I also offered up the following pot-limit omaha high hand from the WPBT even this past weekend:

This was the one with the suited Ace and the two other suited cards, the A2 and the 78 combinations, and it was also UTG. Again, most of you agreed with my view on this, which is that this hand is also a fold:

I see a lot of people in my PLO travels play almost any double-suited hand in PLO, and I identify this as one of the biggest and most common mistakes I see in general omaha strategy. Double-suited cards can be great to play from a late position for a cheap flop, in particular if both sets of suited cards contain one high card (King or Ace, basically) such that any flush that is made will be a nut flush or near-nut flush. But, playing a hand like A278 from UTG is, generally speaking, a mistake in omaha high IMO, as once again you have no idea if or how many raises there will be from all the other players at the table, and I would not normally call from this spot with a hand with only one card above an 8, very little straight possibility, and really only the suited Ace as the reasonable nut hand potential here.

Now, today I want to profile one more starting hand and get your thoughts on how you would play this. Hopefully this will garner some more varied comments than the first two hands yesterday, which most people seemed to agree with me were generally folding hands from UTG in omaha. Today's starting hand is in 7-Stud High, and is also part of a HORSE satellite I recently played:

At this point in the satellite there are 17 players remaining out of 30 who started, with only the top 3 finishers winning seats to the big HORSE event. I am currently around 5th place of 17 players remaining, and I am once again UTG. Here you can see the 2 of diamonds has brought it in for 50 chips, and then the player to my immediate right has raised it up to 150, with a King showing. I've got (QJ)T.

What do you like to do here? Obviously QJT has a lot of possibilities with three high cards to pair, and the straight possibilities as well. Plus, the raiser here could just be raising on the strength of his King being the highest upcard out there. So, do I reraise here, or just call the raise? Or, do I fold this hand, since his King is higher than any of my cards and since he has represented a pair of Kings here on third street? What's the right move?

I'd love to get everyone's thoughs on this hand, and then I'll be back later with discussion of some of the comments, along with my own thoughts. Meanwhile, tomorrow I've got a nice razz starting hand and a stud hilo starting hand that I also think have some definite possibilities for differing opinions. Thanks to all the comments yesterday and I hope to hear from you all again today.

OK, the Wheatie is tonight, $10 buyin on pokerstars. 8:30pm ET, password as always is "monkey". I plan to be there. Also, on an exciting note for me, last night full tilt appears to have started a new group of nightly satellites for the nightly 30k guaranteed tournament at 11pm ET. In addition to the usual 8:15pm ET ($6) and 8:45pm ET ($14) sats to this event, now full tilt has introduced an 8pm $3 rebuy satellite, as well as an 8:30 $8 rebuy satellite for this 30k tournament as well. The best part about these two events, from what I could glean yesterday, is that they appear to have only a half-hour rebuy period, plus one addon, so Monkey Hour becomes only Monkey Half-Hour, and any shortening you can do to that time is all good from my perspective. I did manage to sneak into the 8:30 $8 rebuy sat last night, and I can say another good thing with it is that, due to the rebuys and the addons, in the end 5 of the 30 entrants won themselves seats. 1 in 6 is about as good as you can ever expect for one of these things, so I think if you play your game and play careful, smart poker, these things should not be difficult to win at all. And with the low buyins, it's possible to rebuy once or twice and not take too big of a hit. So kudos to full tilt for adding two new fun satellites into this 30k tournament every night, and you can definitely expect to find me in some of those sats as well tonight and I'm sure in the future as well. See you then!

Labels: ,

Monday, February 26, 2007

WPBT, and Omaha Starting Hand Questions

Before I forget, come one and come all tonight out to pokerstars:

I'm still atop the 2007 MATH leaderboard heading into tonight's tournament. Can anyone dare dethrone me?

So yesterday was Event #2 in the WPBT race, being managed this year by Columbo, with help from its progenitor (god I love that word) Byron. The game this time was Pot-Limit Omaha (high), one of my favorite and best games, and I had a good time as always with the group. 30 bloggers showed up for the PLO festivities, and in stark contrast to Event #1 in old-fashioned no-limit holdem, I was reminded early and often why I did so well in the WPBT POY race in 2006 -- namely, because most of the bloggers don't really know how to play the non-nlh games well, and this really benefits the well-rounded players among our group.

I won many pots, including being dealt Aces and Kings probably five times in the first hour of play, and I knew things were gonna be good when I rivered a straight flush to top Budohorseman's nut flush on the very first hand of the night. Like I said, play in general was not so great, with players calling off their chips with non-nut straights even when flushes were possible on the board, and with non-nut flushes with pairs on the board, and even some players with just one pair hands losing half their stacks to two low pairs, etc. As a result I was able to coast into the final table having been around the middle of the top ten more or less throughout the event, before I finally fell after failing to hit a monster draw with two cards to come, where I had two pairs and the nut flush draw after the flop. Unfortunately, it turned out I was up against top set (Kings, as I recall), and I was unable to fill my boat or my flush, and I went home in 8th place overall:

Believe me when I say I am just happy to get onto the WPBT POY leaderboard after being the very first one out in WPBT Event #1 after three river dickings in the first orbit that time around. Now I sit in 23rd place on the POY standings after two events, out of the 67 total players who have played in either event, and this already actually has me higher after two events than I was last year when I ended up in 4th place overall, so I'll take it. And congratulations are in order to event winner Mattazuma, 2nd place finisher and recently new blogger Schaubs, tournament host Columbo for 3rd place, and our last casher in 4th place, the Surly Poker Gnome himself.

So congratulations to all the cashers in yesterday's WPBT event, and I also wanted to call out two plays I saw last night that I thought were indicative of truly good PLO players. I've long viewed PLO as a game of big laydowns, something I would not say about any other form of poker. This is so IMO because of all the great nuts opportunities there are in Omaha due to the four starting cards, which often means you have to lay down that King-high flush to a pot-sized raise on the river, and it also often means that late-hand raisers on a paired board have a boat of some kind regardless of how strong or hidden your own hand may be in a particular situation. Anyways, one such nice laydown occurred yesterday in a hand against me, where Lucko laid down what turned out to be the nut flush with an Ace♣ in his hand, against what was actually my full house with another Ace and a 9 in my hand as well. I had bet the pot on the turn, when Lucko had already made his flush, and after he smooth called my potbet on the turn, I bet out again on the river for the size of the pot, at the time about a quarter of Lucko's existing stack. Lucko sat and sat, let his time tick down to almost nothing left, and then folded the hand. The nut flush. Impressive. Especially with an Ace already in his hand as well. Very solid PLO right there.

Similarly, I saw Otis from UpForPoker make an excellent play against another player right on the WPBT points bubble with 16 players remaining last night that also really impressed me, as a guy who's read a lot about and played a lot of PLO myself, both in cash games and in tournaments. At the time, both Otis and his opponent had large stacks -- that is, neither one of them was in any danger of busting on the points bubble -- and Otis raised it up from early-middle position to over 500 chips or so, the size of the pot. His opponent, acting immediately after Otis in middle position, put in the pot-reraise to over 1700 chips, representing more than half of his stack, and clearly screaming out "Aces! Aces!" to any experienced PLO player. Now, raising up big with your Aces preflop after someone else has already pot-raised it is not by any means a bad move or the wrong move -- someone like Hellmuth for example will tell you that all things being equal, he would always happily get in all his money with Aces preflop in PLO, and I think this is all the more true in a tournament setting where blinds and antes are ever increasing. That said, Lyle Berman in Super/System II makes an excellent point that I've written about before in the blog here, which is that the very clear downside to doing so is that you make it very, very obvious that you do have Aces when you make that big raise or reraise in this context, and that way anyone with two small pairs, or a straightening or flushing hand can make a run at you and basically know right where you're at. So, keeping that in mind, Otis called the large reraise preflop with what turned out to be AKJT with 2 diamonds, and when the flop came all diamonds, he checked it to his opponent, knowning the opponent would have to bet his pocket Aces allin there, having already sunk more than half his stack into the pot before the flop. He obliged, and Otis took him out of the tournament, right on the WPBT points bubble, and the play gave Otis a huge stack that he was able to ride deep into the final table with me in the event. Well played, sir.

OK, on to the real poker content of today's post. I was thinking this weekend, given all the recent hemming and hawing about my O8 play and HORSE play in general out there across the blogosphere, in particular with reference to my view of certain starting hands in the non-holdem games, I thought I might profile a few starting hands this week, and get everyone's thoughts as to how you recommend playing them. Call, raise or fold sort of things, and maybe how much to raise if you recommend raising. So I am hoping to get the opinions of many of you, in particular perhaps those of you who have been most critical of my O8 play of late, either in your own blogs or in comments to my, your or other blogs out there, on the following couple of Omaha hands today (and I've got a few more of these for the next day or two as well assuming people seem to like this kind of thing after today's post).

Hand #1: So, the first hand is in O8, the game that many of you love to hate my play and my understanding in, and this occurred in a HORSE satellite tournament in which I participated over the weekend. It's near the beginning of the satellite, and I am currently in the top 3 or 4 out of 29 players left (30 started the satellite, about 30 minutes earlier), with only the top 3 finishers winning seats into the larger tournament that this was a satellite into. I am UTG and am faced with the following hand to ponder:

What would you do here? I've got nut straight possibilities (JT8 on the board and I'm lookin' good), I've got a Queen-high flush possibility, and I've got a pair of Queens. That's a lot of possibilities for high, albeit nothing at all for low. And I'm UTG so who knows what kind of action I'm going to see after I act first here. How do you play this starting hand? Fold, call or raise one bet?

Hand #2: My other starting hand I wanted to inquire of you all about today came from Sunday night's WPBT pot-limit Omaha (high) event. This was very early in the tournament (maybe 15 minutes in), with 28 of 30 players remaining, with me sitting in 3rd place of 28 remaining players very early on. Once again I am acting first UTG:

Again, what's your play here? Again I've got nut straight possibility with a 456 on the board, a low straight possibility with the A2 as well, and no low this time to worry about like in the previous O8 hand. Plus, I've got the suited Ace going on here, which can make me a nut flush or at least a nut flush draw on the flop or turn. Fold, Call or Raise here? If you raise, how much (remember this is pot-limit Omaha high)?

Please post your responses to these two hands (Hand #1 in O8, and Hand #2 in PLO), and I will be back later with my analysis of the comments, what I actually did in each case, as well as a few other fun starting hands to review for tomorrow.

Labels: , ,

Don't Forget the WPBT

Can't believe I forgot to post this on Friday, so here's a real quickie to make sure no one can claim they didn't know about it tomorrow morning, but the WPBT is back with Event #2 tonight (Sunday) at 9:00pm ET:

Be there or be square. Pot-Limit Omaha -- one of my favorite games. Of course, so is no-limit holdem, but that didn't stop me from being first one out last time around for WPBT Event #1.

Password as always is "wpbt72", so go and register early (if you're me), and often (if you're ZeeJustin).


Friday, February 23, 2007

Friday Rant

Well it's Friday again, and that means it's basically time for another Hoy rant. This one isn't directed at any one in particular, but it is inpsired by other bloggers, and other poker players with websites, etc. But first, I'd like to be the first to congratulate Mr. Al Can't Hang, for not only final tabling his Riverchasers tournament last night on full tilt at 9pm ET, but also final tabling CC's Thursday Bash tournament on pokerstars at 9:30pm ET last night at the same time. Al was a two-tabling machine last night, all while sitting at The Bar and SoCo'ing it up I'm sure, as he sat perched near the very top of the leaderboard throughout the vast majority of both tournaments. Although I didn't watch his play closely in Riverchasers -- thanks mostly to my own middle-of-the-pack bustout after failing to win pots with KK, QQ, JJ and 99 in the first hour and a half of play -- I was there all the way with him in the CC and I can say without hesitation that our man played an aggressive, blogger-worthy style truly befitting of a man of his gravitas in the poker blogging community. It was a pleasure to watch Al doing his thing, just as it was to see StB sickly drop at least four hammers in the first hour of the CC (including one gross runner runner straight near the end of the first hour of play), and especially to watch eventual CC winner Shane outlast repeat champion Fuel55 after a marathon heads-up battle, sparing us all from a week of having to read about Fuel becoming the first blogger to three-peat any of the major blogger tournaments ever that I am aware of (thank god). In the end, both tournaments were a great time as always, and I look forward to next week for the next of these events (and congrats to Fuel for following up his back to back CC titles with a 2nd place finish last night).

Oh yeah, and thankfully Gary did not final table the Riverchasers last night either, so yet another blogger we won't need to read about the greatness of for one more week (Gary is not so much the type to toot his own horn, but you know Al woulda been all over that if Gary had cashed again, and with me being the jealous type that I am, that outcome is all good as far as I'm concerned). In the end I busted in the 40s out of 91 players at Riverchasers, as I mentioned hitting all the wrong flop cards whenever I had big pocket pairs, and I was bubble boy in the CC, busting in 4th out of 27 players when my A8 failed to hold up against Shane's AK. Lots of fun from both tournaments, and thanks again to CC and Al for hosting.

OK so where was I? Oh yeah, the Friday rant. This one probably won't be quite as ardently crafted as some of my previous, more personally-involved rants have been, but let me just say this. As you all know I read a lot of poker blogs. If you have a blog, I've probably read your blog from time to time, some of you every single day (wouldn't miss ya), some of you a couple times a week, some only at night (like the pokerworks crew since my work blocks all the pokerworks know, because viewing this site is responsible for all the problems in the world. What fools my company's information security peeps are.), and some of you just from time to time based on the regularity of updates, etc. My point is, I read poker blogs all the time, hundreds of them, and I think it's fair to say I've basically seen it all as far as the various kinds of poker content in these things.

In all my blog reading travels, I've run into quite a large number of posts where people in some form are cutting on other peoples' play of a particular hand, or a type of hand in general. This is something that I myself obviously have done on several occasions, and frankly I enjoy writing these sometimes because they can be my most animated posts if I get into a groove while I'm writing them. Anyways, in my experience, these sorts of posts come in two general flavors. First are the ones where the poster is making a valid point, and where the other player in his or her story in fact made a bad poker play that is worthy of questioning on the morning after in the victim's blog. I like to think that mine for the most part fall into this first category. Then there are the other category of these sorts of posts -- the ones where the person doing the complaining actually played a hand badly, or sometimes flat-out incorrectly poker-wise, or maybe both players played it pretty bad, and the poster is merely voicing his or her frustration over what happened, but doing so in a way that incorrectly portrays his or her opponent as having effed something up, when in reality this is not the case at all.

We've all seen this last type of post. They're everywhere out there in bloggerland. You know, the ones where someone complains in his or her blog how "I open-pushed allin for 20 big blinds with K6s, and the big blind called me down with just A9o!! Can you believe this guy? What a donkey call!!" Or how about "The guy pushed with 55 -- Five effing Five, can you believe that guy?!! So I called allin with my AJs, and of course I didn't connect and IGH!". Or one of my personal favorites -- "I was dealt A2xx eight times in one hour of an O8 tournament, and didn't make a qualifying low in any of them!" Oh no wait, that last one was me 9 days ago after the FTOPS O8 tournament. And the odds of not making a qualifying low in eight straight A2xx hands are right around 2%, give or take a couple tenths of a percent there. Is it ok to complain about a 2% shot working against you? That's the equivalent of a guy hitting a 1-outer against you. Actually slightly less than a 1-outer. A one-outer guys. Variance can be a serious wench, and that night, she was an mf'ing bizznotch to me at the worst possible time, plain and simple. But the first two examples above are just the kind of silly blogger post I'm talking about, and we've all seen them, many times, if you read blogs anywhere near as regularly as I do.

The reason I bring this up is that it is important to be able to differentiate between the two types of complaining-about-someone-else's-play posts, if you're the kind of guy like me who likes to read these things and tries to absorb all the good ideas you read about any form of poker and incorporate them into your own game where they make sense. Now, if you have a good foundation of poker knowledge, skills and experience, it normally shouldn't be too hard to figure out whether a whining blogger is making any actual poker sense with what he's saying. Hopefully those two examples I provided above struck you guys right away as being pretty effing silly in the substance of what they were bitching about (though they are based on real posts made by real bloggers in the not-too-distant past). But like I said it's very important, if you're going to rely on someone else's poker advice (let alone if you're going to, say, cite someone else's statements on your blog as good poker advice), that you be able to ascertain which kind of post you're dealing with before you rely on it in any way.

So, earlier this week as I was perusing the many "interesting" responses in the blogiverse to my FTOPS O8 post from last Wednesday, I found one post suggesting among other things that maybe I ought to sit out the O8 round when I'm playing HORSE. Now, I admire the spunk that this person has to make a statement like that to a guy who earlier this year won almost $5000 in the weekly HORSE 30k guarantee, and who has won qualifiers to play in that tournament on at least 10 occasions over the past 3 or 4 months, in addition to numerous other HORSE sng and profitable cash sessions as well. That takes real chutzpah, and frankly I like that in my bloggers, so, so far so good.

This post goes on, however, to cite another blogger who, according to the blog I was reading, "gives great advice" on O8, a game in which he "constantly wins". Here's part of the passage cited, in which the player ended up losing an O8 hand to another player who had played A266 from the big blind, when the cited blogger had open-raised it from the small blind immediately before:

"Again the ignorance of opponents is put into effect here. A266 is not a hand you should be calling with preflop, even if the ace is suited. There are very few flops you want to see hit, hitting an ace is bad as you will always be outkickered and hitting a 6 means you may lose a very large pot to a bigger set. There is no flop in poker where you will make top set and have the nuts on an unpaired board. This means you can never bet your hand hard and confidently."

Now let's review. A266 with the Ace suited "is not a hand you should be calling with preflop"? Huh? So it's folded around to the small blind, who you know therefore is going to raise or call with a bit looser standards than normal since it's just down to him and the big blind left, and he raises it one bet in a limit HORSE tournament. Now in the big blind, sitting on A2, a pair and a suited Ace, you're not supposed to call in this spot. Anybody else out there play O8? CJ? Drizz? You guys folding this hand here for one bet? Come on. That thar is some highlarious advice. As a joke, I like it. As true O8 strategy from a guy purporting to be trying to help other players play better, it's shit. And as something I'm thinking of putting up on my own blog for its quality of poker substance, it's straight-out diarrhea. And I mean the really liquidy kind.

"There are very few flops you want to see hit, hitting an ace is bad as you will always be outkickered and hitting a 6 means you may lose a very large pot to a bigger set." Sheesh. Talk about a tinfoil hat wearer. So, when it's folded around to the small blind who is the only guy who sees the pot with you, if you hit your Ace on the flop you will always be outkickered. Nice. Because I guess that guy in the small blind would only ever raise if he holds an Ace in his hand, right? Ah ha. Nobody steals the blinds these days? He wouldn't ever raise there with KK23, no? What a joke. And if you hit a 6, "you may lose a very large pot to a bigger set"? That's a true statement, don't get me wrong, and for that reason playing pairs in O8 (or Omaha high, for that matter) below Queens or Jacks is I think not a great idea overall. But that said, hitting a 6 on the flop with A266 in your hand is clearly a good thing (very good, even), and not a bad one like this guy suggests.

"This means you can never bet your hand hard and confidently [on the flop]." Whaaa? So you've got A266 with the Ace suited (let's say in clubs). The flop comes 345 (pick you suits). Drizz, CJ, jec, you guys betting that flop confidently? What about the flop coming with three clubs, and maybe two low cards to boot? How about there? Hey for that matter what about the flop just coming with any three low cards that are not an Ace or a 2 -- you know you aren't in great shape for high then, but you can still play your nut low with some confidence, no? Remember it's just the small blind open-raising preflop in there with you, so the odds of another A2 aren't exactly high. What about a flop of 634? Not the best flop ever for that hand, but again you're looking at the nut low draw, plus top set on the board right now for high. That's an awful lot of flops I just came up with over the span of...maybe...8 seconds that I would be at least fairly confident playing out in that situation. Does that sound like "never" to you guys? What a pucking futz this clown writing this stuff is. And yet people are actually citing this passage on their blogs as some smart O8 strategy from a consistent winner who gives great advice. Scarrrrrrrry.

Now before everyone goes and misunderstands me like happened with my FTOPS O8 post from last week, please re-read the above carefully. You will notice missing from my comments above any statement that says I can't lose with the A266. You will notice that I don't say anywhere that this hand is incredible, unbeatable, etc. You will notice I don't say you should cap with this hand on any street. I don't in fact even say I would raise at all with this hand. Fact is I might raise with it as the first one in the pot from late position, but I might not, and I'm not saying one should reraise with it preflop at all. All I'm doing is responding to the fucktard (first time I've ever used that word in this otherwise clean and classy blog, but I do think it's warranted) who says A266 is not a calling hand from the big blind in an O8 tournament when facing a steal-raise from the small blind.

Of course it is. In fact this is a fairly easy call in most situations. The clown who wrote those statements is just mad because he ended up getting scooped in that pot by the A266 (mostly because he himself played a hand with almost no low potential, and no pairs either, from the small blind for a raise preflop) and so he's one of those zobos who goes on his blog and just spews venom about what a terrible call the guy made against him. But what he's actually saying actually makes no actual sense.

Like I said, it's one thing to continue to read this guy's posts, if you like to be entertained, or maybe you like to laugh at someone who continually persists in authoritatively posting about strategy about which he clearly is not knowledgeable. But I would think that, before you post this guy's "strategy" stuff on your own blog, along with an explanation of how "successful" he is at all levels of O8 and how "great" his "advice" is, that you might want to actually read the substance of the post, and at least do a modicum of thinking about it before you put his stuff up on your own blog as something to follow, or even pay any serious attention to at all, other than for pure entertainment purposes of course. And please please please, if you're going to cite someone else's statements in an effort to discredit me in some way, you have got to be able to find something that makes more sense than that, from somebody who isn't just some tiltmonkey who made a bad play in O8, couldn't get away from just one measly pair on the flop and ended up getting scooped by a guy who made a better play than him preflop, and on every street thereafter.

Check your sources people, and use your heads is all I have to say.

One last rantpoint for today -- ESPN Poker has a Bluff Magazine article up today about Justin Bonomo, more commonly known as the lying, cheating online multi-accounter ZeeJustin, and the success he is having in live mtts since turning 21 and legally being permitted to compete in these events in U.S. casinos. Now, the article is fine enough, but there is one paragraph near the end that is rant-worthy for sure all on its own, as the author of the article, Chris Vaughn, for some reason tries to justify or mitigate the badness of ZeeJustin's multi-accounting sins:

"To put his misdemeanor in some kind of context, Justin was caught multi-accounting at a time when a lot of other high-volume players were also engaging in this activity. Many players did this so that they would remain "incognito" against the players they faced on a regular basis, and this was especially true for high volume sit-n-go players who would see many of the same players every day. Almost all of the activity on his non "ZeeJustin" accounts was involving sit-n-go play, where he never played at the same table with another one of his names. Justin only used multiple accounts when entering multitable tournaments with at least 1,000 players, knowing that the odds of being at the same table with another one of his accounts were very slim."

First of all, wtf is this clown talking about saying that "a lot of other high-volume players were also engaging in this activity"? While it may be true that other people had different accounts in an attempt to preserve some sense of anonymity when they played and did not want to be immediately recognized, to suggest that "a lot of" those players were multi-accounting in tournaments at the same time is redonkulously irresponsible journalism, making an unsubstantiated and ubsubstantiable generalization in a blatant attempt to make ZJ appear less like the cheating asshole loser that he is. He cites no sources for the statement, offers no proof or evidence of any kind. The statement is just put there at the top of the paragraph, stated as if it is in fact true, and that's it. Whatadick.

And secondly, my favorite part of this quote is the last sentence, that "Justin only used multiple accounts when entering multitable tournaments with at least 1,000 players, knowing that the odds of being at the same table with another one of his accounts were very slim." I love this fucking guy. As if the only problem at all with playing multiple accounts in the same mtt is that you could end up at the same table with yourself, and therefore donk chips to yourself on purpose and really affect the outcome of the event in a major way. Well, Mr. Irresponsible Asshole Author, maybe you should consider just the general unfairness of one player having 5 or 6 entries in the same mtt in general. Like, even if two of his aliases never play at the same table throughout, what if one of them gets recockusucked out on early on. Never fear because ZeeJustin still has 5 other entries in that event to choose from. In fact, why not take a ton of chances early on to either double up or be elminated, thereby affecting the odds of winning of everyone else at each one of his aliases' tables, and then just focus your efforts on the few aliases that do manage to get a nice stack early (a strategy which I am quite sure ZJ regularly used while he cheated, btw). All possible solely because you're playing with 6 fucking entries to the same tournament at the same time. For Chris Vaughn to suggest that these factors somehow in any way mitigate what ZeeJustin did is recockulous, redonkulous and irresponsible, and it's enough to get me never to buy a copy of Bluff Magazine as long as I shall live. When they fucking fire Chris Vaughn for this kind of not only biased but just plain idiotic journalism, maybe I'll buy one copy just to show some solidarity for them doing the clearly right thing. But to be justifying what ZeeJustin did with these specious arguments -- this guy is even dumber than the diarrhea-spewing jackoff writing about the A266 O8 hand that I referred to above.

OK, not much of a rant for today, but it's something that's been on my mind for a few days and I wanted to get it up here for everyone to chew on heading into the weekend. I'm a blogger through and through so as I always say I defend to the hilt everybody's clear right to blog about whatever you want, anything and everything, but I will respectfully suggest again that one check one's sources and try to use at least a small amount of your brainpower before you post something on your blog that you claim to be great advice, when in reality it's basically just a ranting, raving lunatic who got beat down by someone who played better than him at a game which he himself claims to be some kind of expert in.

That is all. Enjoy your weekend everyone. I should be in my usual 8-9pm ET satellites for the 30k, as well as taking maybe a stab tonight at qualifying for Saturday's Winner's Choice tournament in tonight's 10:30pm ET satellite on full tilt. Maybe I'll see you there. If you dare.

Labels: , , ,

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Tournament Pot Odds Redux

Man I have so much to write about in the world of poker these days, my biggest struggle is narrowing it down to just one or a few topics to write about every day. That reminds me FWIW, I've seen Jordan, TripJax, DNasty and a few others comment several times on their own blogs over the past few months about the "pressure" to post every day. I have got to say, for me personally, I don't feel any pressure to write about poker every day. Instead, I have a desire to write every day, almost a need to write every day. So for the time being, nobody needs to worry about me disappearing into the weeds and this blog going stale. I've got so many effing ideas stored up for poker posts in my head that Bill Frist could order full tilt and pokerstars to shut down effective immediately, and I'd probably still have enough content to post for another 6 months or so as if I've been playing every night. So that's a great thing for me about this blog. I know I haven't been doing it for nearly as long as some of those other guys I mentioned above, and I may eventually face the same fate as they as far as feeling pressure to write when I don't really have any particular ideas to write about, but for now I am still going stronger than ever in that department.

So, last night was a banner night of sorts for me (not really). For the first time ever, I managed to win a seat into the nightly 30k guaranteed tournament in the 8:15pm ET satellite:

and the 8:45pm ET satellite:

Of course I've won that 8:45 satellite seat many, many times, as that is the $14 flavor of satellite, and with an average crowd steady at around 100 players or so since Neteller effed us, it typically ends up paying out somewhere around 13 seats or so. As I've mentioned here several times in the recent past, these multi-table, multi-seat satellites are far and away my best, most profitable tournament structure these days, something which I credit a large part of to Smokkee since he really is the guy who turned me on to these things in the first place a long time ago. It was probably last spring or so, when I was already an avid reader of Smokkee's blog, when he started playing more and more satellite tournaments on line, mostly on full tilt for the WSOP and on pokerstars for the WCOOP.

I remember realizing after reading about a particular satellite tournament win on Smokkee's blog that those tournaments really are where it's at, and also that the bigger the buyin, and thus the larger the ratio of winning seats to number of players in the satellites to begin with, the better the satellite is. That's why the 8:45 30k sat is so juicy, because you basically only have to finish in the top seventh of total entrants to win your seat. But the 8:15 satellite, which sports just a $6 buyin, is much, much more difficult to win one's seat with, since it also typically has around 100 players, but only awards seats to an average of 5 of those entrants. And let me tell you, finishing in the top 5 out of 100 in the fonkeyfest that is this $6 turbo 6-max nlh satellite is no small feat. I've only managed to win that satellite a small handful of times, and never on the same night as I've won the later $14 sat as well, so yesterday was a special night in that regard for me.

In case you're wondering, I doubled up early on a great play in the 30k itself, and then got recockusucked by duping a guy with Q5s into getting allin on the flop with me with just his flush draw against my overpair pocket Jacks. Well, he didn't hit his draw, but the river cruelly brought the 3-outer queen, and I never managed to recover from this blow. I made it to the first break still slightly below the 3000 chip starting stack, shortly after online "retiree" Chad joined my table, but then the next thing I knew, I woke up an hour later, just 2 minutes before the second break. Not sure what happened there as I wasn't even tired at the time (that I thought). Needless to say, when I awoke I was in 87th place of 87 remaining players (only top 36 paid out), and I quickly busted on the next hand when my KJ failed to hold up against a smaller pocket pair and IGH. But hey, I did find an effective way to outlast Chad, who had just gone out in I think 91st place overall. Dam I'm good like that.

OK so on to what I really wanted to talk about today. Yesterday's post about tournament pot odds in all-in situations made my general point, but there were two issues with it that make me want to redux this topic again today as well. #1 as many of you pointed out, the example I gave was not a good one for a number of reasons, and #2 in the end my post focused on all-in calling situations, which is not really where I wanted that discussion to go when I started it. Today I plan to rectify both of these problems with a further discussion and a new example on tournament pot odds. I will credit Iakaris with unwittingly providing me the basis of the example I will use today, as it is closely (but not exactly) derived from a question he asked on his blog a week or two ago about a run he had in the 18k guaranteed tournament on full tilt.

So, say youre playing in a large mtt. Youre down to 25 players left from a field that originally started at 500. You are currently in 3rd place out of 25 remaining players, with a stack of 30,000 chips. Blinds are 500-1000. The action folds to you on the button, and you raise it up as a pure steal to 3000 with 63o. Small blind folds, and the big blind pushes his last 6500 more chips into the middle.

This puts 11,000 chips in the pot, and you have to call 3500 to see the big blind's allin bet and take a flop. Pot odds are 11,000 / 3500 or 3.14 to 1. Thus, you need just a 32% (1 / 3.14) chance of winning this pot in order to take the action here on a purely pot odds basis. You figure, you've got 63o, and assuming the big blind must have two cards above a 6, you estimate your chances of winning the pot to be right around 35%. Do you make this call?

I do not. Even though I am giving up a 1/3 chance of winning a pot with 11,000 chips in it, my cards dictate that I will lose this showdown around 2 out of 3 times I play it when my opponent has two overs, as he is fairly sure to have. And what's more, on the times when my opponent flips up any pocket pair above 5s, I am going to lose here more like 4 out of 5 times I play the hand. Why donate another 3500 chips out of my stack (which has already lost 10% of it into this pot as it is)? Why put 20% of my chips at risk from my 3rd place stack with a hand like 63o? Given the choice of losing 10% of my stack that I've already put into the pot here on my steal attempt, or a 2/3 chance of losing 20% of my stack with this cripehand, for me this is the easiest decision in the world. No go, take the pot, have at it thank you very little.

And this gets me to my overall point about tournament pot odds, even in a non-allin context. I think people sometimes "trick" themselves into thinking they have the right odds to make a call, but I say "trick" because the only reason they have the right odds is that they've already made a poorly-timed decision to put chips into the pot with a bad hand to begin with. For example, in the situation above, would you, as the player with the 3rd place stack and 30,000 chips, ever call from the BB if, say, the button had open-pushed his last 6500 chips into the pot before the action got to you? Of course not. Why take a hand with a likely 1/3 chance of winning, and put up 6500 chips into a pot already containing 8000 chips with it? You'd have to win far more often than 63o is going to win in order to justify this play. So, since you happened to act before the big blind in this case, and happened to decide to kick it up to 3000 on a 4x steal before seeing the big blind push in his last 6500 chips, now in a sense you are allowing yourself to be "tricked" into calling another 3500 chips based on the 3-to-1 pot odds you're now receiving on the hand because of your earlier steal attempt with truly terrible cards. But, the only reason you're getting those 3-to-1 odds instead of the 1.23-to-1 odds with your crappy 63o is that you acted before the big blind and you made an ill-timed decision to dump a lot of chips in with a horrible hand.

Now, I've never been one to fight the math, and I'm not trying to do that here either. I understand that, from a purely mathematical perspective, once you've bet those 3000 chips into the pot, the strict math of the situation dictates that you have the pot odds to call an additional 3500 chips into the 11,000-chip pot because you can expect to win roughly 1 in 3 times with your 63o. But, just because you are getting close to the "right" pot odds, does that mean that you have to make this call? Again I come back to the point I made in yesterday's post. In a cash game, I think you should be basically fine making a call where you are getting 3 to 1 from the pot on a 1 in 3 shot to win. I believe that is true more or less by definition. But, in a tournament setting, where not going bust is itself of some value, I don't like to just automatically make calls for any significant part of my stack, where I'm getting no fold equity at all, and where I know I have low odds of winning the pot (even if the pot is laying me good odds to chase that low-odds hand). Maybe it's just me.

To me, I liken this situation to carrying a credit card balance in a way. In the past I have often thought that it's ok to carry a small credit card balance, if doing so means I can have the money I need to live my life (within reason) more or less without worrying about money. No I can't go buying midieval castles and 100-foot yachts on the Mediterranean. But, in the past I have found that by carrying a small credit card balance I can have a "better" life overall. Most of the people I know think this is insane, because it is a fact that I am paying interest on that balance while I carry it. They explain that it is actually costing me money to hold that balance, and that if I can find any way to pay that balance down instead, I should. This is fact which I, of course, cannot and do not argue with. My point, however, is that, to me, it is actually worth the small money loss (interest) in order to have the financial freedom that that credit card balance buys me. Again, I am not arguing that there is no financial cost to holding a small credit card balance -- I pay x dollars in interest every year by keeping such a balance and I acknowledge that and in fact openly embrace it. What I am arguing, though, is that there is a benefit to me (financial freedom) that actually outweighs that cost (interest), and so in the past I have lived this way at certain times of my life.

In my perspective, I view tournament pot odds in situations like the example above in very much the same way. I understand that by folding my 63o for just another 3500 chips into an 11,000-chip pot, thereby sacrificing a roughly 1/3 chance to win the 11,000 chips, I may be incurring a certain cost to do so (I am giving up the pot odds expectation and the 1/3 chance of winning those 11,000 chips). But, not having to lose 20% of my 30,000-chip stack in a pot that I am quite likely to lose is itself a benefit that, to me, is worth me paying that cost of losing my 1/3 chance of winning those 11,000 chips by folding. So, even though I acknowledge that by folding in this spot I am costing myself a 1/3 shot at 11,000 chips, I also know that the benefit I get from being able to retain those last 3500 chips rather than call them off into a pot I am likely to lose has a real value to me. In a tournament, having chips is itself a real value, in a way that is just not present in a cash game when you can always go back to your pocket for more chips.

Now, make no mistake, this theory I have of being willing to give up some pot odds in order to save some chips in a tournament when I have a good-sized stack is not something I take too far. In other words, if I am being laid 5 to 1 odds by the pot in order to draw to a 50-50 shot, of course I'm going to make that call without hesitation. But, my theory in tournaments is, if I'm dealing with a close situation where the pot is basically offering me roughly the same odds as my chances of winning the hand, and it is a longshot for me to win the hand, I am far more apt to fold it in a tournament and preserve my precious chips rather than to make that call. This is only exacerbated by the possibility that I will have to call another bet after the next card in order to stay in the hand to see the river. That is yet another reason why I hesitate to draw on or before the flop when I think I've got a longshot, even at decent odds -- because in all likelihood I am going to face another bet on the flop which I will not be able to call with the proper odds.

Please understand that I'm not even trying to suggest that my way is the only right way to play these sorts of situations. Just like with my credit card example above, I fully respect and understand that everyone gets to place their own value on the benefit of "having chips" in a tournament, just like everyone gets to decide for himself or herself how important being debt-free is, or how much it's worth to them to have a little bit of extra cash laying around, even at the cost of x dollars of interest paid over a year. I will simply say that I have had quite a lot of success in poker tournaments over my career by approaching decisions with longshots where I think I'm getting close to the "right" odds to draw in this way.

That concludes my post today on tournament pot odds. Again let me apologize for using what really was not a great example yesterday, though I still think it got across the point I was trying to make. Hopefully today's illustrates a little better where I'm coming from in these decisions, and why in the example I give above, I would happily release the pot, save those extra 3500 chips and retain 90% of my stack before that hand, rather than have a 2/3 chance of only being left with 80% of that stack after the hand. In tournaments, chips are king, and having them, or having a lot of them relative to my peers, is itself a desirable end, and something that really has intrinsic value in the way I approach poker tournaments.

Now before I go, everybody should not forget tonight is the latest Riverchasers event, hosted by Big Al himself:

Tournament: 13185806
Name: Tour Event #4
When: Thursday, February 22nd 9pm ET
Game: NLHE
Buyin: $10+1
password: riverchasers4

Note the password change for this event please! As with the other Riverchasers tournaments this one will take place on full tilt tonight, and I will just say that Al's tournament has quickly become one of my favorite private events of the week, as it has a large field, replete with many of my favorite bloggers, and it also has a bunch of cool guys to chat with week in and week out. And, many of them don't seem to have the focus on or understanding of the nuances of poker like many of our blogging brethren do, so that always makes it fun as well. Flop top two against one of these guys early in the tournament, and you're probably going to get TPTK or even TP2nd or 3rd K to call you for all their chips early. Yummy. I will definitely be there tonight, and I plan to do what I can to personally dethrone Gary from his perch atop the Riverchasers standings so far through I think 3 events this year, in which Gary has dominated all of them. Not tonight my friend, not tonight.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Tournament Pot Odds: All-in or Fold?

Today I want to talk about tournament pot odds, specifically in allin-or-fold situations. This is actually a post I've been writing in my head for some time. In fact, I've sat down and tried to compose it on the pc on at least two separate occasions in the past several months, but it has quickly become more difficult than I thought to get my point across. In the end on those occasions I have ended up giving up the chore for another day.

Well today, that day is here.

Pot odds. To some people, in particular poker noobs, this concept is nebulous at best. For people who've read the popular poker books and have gotten a minimal understanding of the basics of the game, calculating pot odds is becoming easy enough to do. You just count your outs, figure out your percentage chances given that number of outs, and you compare that percentage to the percentage of the existing pot you will have to call in order to draw to those outs. To the better and more experienced players out there, these types of calculations aren't even formally done anymore, as instead it becomes fairly easy for this entire concept to just be done internally, instinctually, in such a way that you often don't even realilze you're doing a calculation at the poker table. Among our ghey little group of bloggers, I like to think that many of the group are within this last category, at least in the amount of experience and time we spend at the poker tables -- virtual or live.

And yet, despite all this, I seem to have a somewhat different view of pot odds in all-in decisions in poker tournaments than most of the rest of the group out there, and today I'm finally going to put into writing what I've been noticing over the past year or so. This is something I have seen said and thought-out incorrectly (in my view) in countless blogs, and in even more comments to other peoples' blogs, and I think today is the day I get my own point of view on the subject out there once and for all. Based on numerous commentary with about a hundred other bloggers and poker friends, I believe what I'm about to say here will be disagreed with by just about all of you. And I accept that there can be differing opinions in the subject. But I still think my point is valid. All I can really point to -- other than the logic of my argument itself, which I will try my best to make clear here -- is the fact that I have won a whole lot of poker tournaments in my day -- both small 1-tablers and huge multi-thousand field jobs -- and that my poker tournament success has been accomplished by following the general theory on tournament pot odds that I'm going to espouse in this post.

Now, I'm not in any way trying to suggest that just because I've won a lot of poker tournaments, that that means anything I say or believe is correct, or that you should automatically accept everything I say as true. I'm only mentioning this because I know mostly everyone has disagreed with this point as I've tried to make it in the past, and I am a big believer in trying to get people to be introspective and open-minded, about their game, about poker in general, etc., as I am myself, and thus I want to try to do whatever I can at the beginning of this post here to maybe get some of you to suspend disbelief for a bit, and open your minds to the possibility of what follows.

OK, so with that ghey introduction, the Hoyazo theory on tournament pot odds basically comes down to this one basic premise, which I will then try to explain:

Sometimes blindly following pot odds in allin decisions leads to the wrong conclusion in a poker tournament.

There. I said it. Fire up those flame throwers, people. But in my view, it's true. Sometimes if you blindly make allin calls based purely on pot odds in a poker tournament context, I believe you are making a big mistake. Allow me to explain, which I think is best done by starting with an example that has probably happened to all of us at some point in our poker lives.

So it's late-ish in a nlh tournament, call it a 1-table sitngo that pays the top two spots, for simplicity's sake. There are 5 players left, and blinds are at 500-1000. You are sitting on the button with 7000 chips, while your other four opponents have 4000 chips, 6000 chips, 10,000 chips and the chip leader has 12,000 chips. So you're in 3rd place of 5 remaining players (not that this really matters to this discussion), albeit not in a terrible spot, chip-wise. You have 7 big blinds left, which isn't huge, but the other players have 4, 6, 10 and 12 big blinds between them, so it's no big thing for mostly any of you just yet. So that's the setup.

Now, you're on the button as I mentioned, and you look down to find 63o. A veritably terrible hand. Yet, UTG and UTG+1 both fold and the action heads to you. Now, in most cases I would give serious thought to folding in this spot, since the 63o is just about the worst hand imaginable, but let's just say you have watched people stealing the blinds all night, you don't want to get too short and so you feel you need to take this one down without a fight and pocket the 1500 chips from the small and big blinds. So, you raise it up 4x from 1000 to 4000. You know your hand is terrible so you really want to take this thing down here.

The small blind insta-folds, but the big blind, on a larger stack than yours, thinks for a minute and then min-reraises you, bumping it up another 3000, making the total bet 7000 back to you, and requiring you to slide the rest of your stack into the middle in order to make the call.

What do you do? Think about it. What would you do here?

Let's look at the pot odds for a minute. There is already 1500 in the pot from the blinds, plus your 4000 that you bet from the button is 5500. Now your opponent has put another 7000 in the pot, representing the rest of your stack, so the pot is up to 8500, and you will need to call 3000 more chips into that pot of 8500 in order to make the call. So the pot odds in this situation are 2.83 to 1 (8500 / 3000), meaning that you would need at least a 35% chance (1 / 2.83) to win the hand in order to "justify" the pot odds you are being laid in this pot, following traditional pot odds rules.

Edit: Patch has correctly pointed out that my math is effed up here. Oh well. I went to fix it and decided I'm just not going to bother. Just humor me instead, and play along with the pot odds on the assumption that I have them correct. So assume the pot is laying you roughly 2.83 to 1 odds to make an allin call when your chances of winning are roughly 35%. I've already got what I think is an even better example of what I'm talking about, which I plan to post on Thursday, but for now if you can just try to accept my [incorrect] calculations as true and think about your likely play here.

Now, you have 63o. Let's assume that, since your opponent has reraised you allin, he does not have any cards 6 or lower in his hand (pretty much a guarantee to be correct). This means that in all likelihood, unless your opponent holds a very unlikely pair, he has just two overcards to your two undercards. This means that your odds of winning the pot are somewhere around 35-40%. It could be a little more or a little less (considering the suits, connectedness, and the possibility of a pocket pair in your opponent's two cards), but the point is, you're basically right there at the 35% chance you need in order to "justify" making this call here according to the price the pot is laying you.

So do you make this call in this spot? You're getting the "right" odds, yes?

The fact is that most of the bloggers I see out there routinely choose Yes here, and make the allin call, often times even typing things like "well I'm getting more than 2 to 1, I have to call here" or some such commentary. But me, I say no to this call. No way.

In a cash game, when you can go back to your pocket for more chips as many times as you see fit, there is I think a certain logic to this kind of blind devotion to pot odds. If you're getting 35-40% to call where the pot is laying you 2.83 to 1 odds, you can basically make that call and know that, over time, you're going to win slightly more money than you're going to lose, based purely on the mathematics behind the odds of the situation. But in a tournament, I base my play on the understanding that there are other factors at play that dictate sometimes straying from results that are determined stricly by pot odds. Namely, the fact that you need to put the rest of your stack in on this call, and if you get eliminated in this spot, you're done from the tournament. Finito. No more chance to win the cash for finishing in one of the top two spots in the tournament.

See, this is the part that I find a significant number of the people I run into on a regular basis in my online poker play don't seem to get. I can't count how many times I've seen someone call off the rest of their chips in a tournament -- blogger tourney or otherwise -- saying or thinking things like "well, I'm getting 2 to 1 here, so I gotta make the call and hope I hit something." And in some cases, I'm all about pushing in the rest of your chips when you're truly pot committed. But, in my example above, even though you've put 4000 of your 7000 chips into this pot, you've still got 3000 chips left, and that still gives you a chance to make a move in this tournament, in a far better spot than when you know you've got two undercards to two overcards. With that 63o, why take a chance with a 2/3 likelihood of resulting in your complete elimination from the tournament, when you can instead fold it and wait for a better spot to put your tournament life on the line?

So my point in this post is that sometimes in a tournament where once your stack reaches zero you are eliminated, I find that making allin calls based strictly on having the pot odds, when the call you're contemplating has you at a significant disadvantage to win the hand, is not good tournament poker. In a cash game, different story if you truly don't mind getting stacked and truly can go back into your pocket for more chips. But, the price of elimination is something that IMO needs to be weighed in every decision where pot odds are dictating making a "crying call" in a tournament context.

So, in summary, pot odds, while a very useful and even crucial tool in making allin call or fold decisions, is in my view not at all the end-all-be-all determinant in such decisions. If it is used as such, I believe people are led to making decisions that give negative tournament equity overall to their play. Yes, even where you are technically getting the "proper" pot odds to draw at a 1-in-3 shot of doubling up, and 2-in-3 shot of going home. I believe instead in using a more balanced approach, one that takes into account the likelihood of elimination from a tournament in making an allin call or fold decision, and only dictates a call where I am truly pot committed, or where there is a significant pot odds advantage to calling instead of folding. Using this method of determining whether to call allin or fold when I am surely behind to an opponent has worked very well for me over time poker-wise, and I firmly believe that others would see better tournament results as a whole if they would not make themselves slaves to pot odds and pot odds alone when faced with such decisions.

I have much more to write on this subject, but this is the general idea I wanted to get out there, so have at it. Gentlemen, start your flaming!


Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Back to the Grind

It's always hard for me after a thing like the FTOPS. As I've written about here many times, I look forward to these large-guarantee tournaments more than most since I never get to play in tournaments this big during the late nights, the only times I generally ever play online poker. I am blessed with a gorgeous and fun family who always comes first for me with my free time, but the one negative result of that otherwise fabulous good fortune for me is that I never get to do the big Sunday tournaments on pokerstars or full tilt, never the Saturday afternoon biggies either, etc. So, I'm left with things like the FTOPS to get all juiced up about, to dream of the really big score, and I end up looking forward to these things far more than I probably should. And the end result? When it's over, it can be difficult for me to get back to the daily grind of the ho-hum regular old wimpy 4k, 25k, 30k and 35k guaranteed tournaments that comprise my usual nighttime online poker fare.

That's the situation I am facing now. Last night it was a little tough logging on to full tilt, knowing there would be no 200k guaranteed tournament for me to participate in, no large O8 field replete with several pros and about a million donks just waiting to give me their money, and no $1.5 million prize pool along with a bunch of my favorite bloggers all taking our chance at The Big One. Nope. Just back to my usual routine, some 30k satellites, maybe some Winner's Choice sats, maybe the 4k HORSE or the 25k guaranteed tournament.

That's why I was happy when I logged on around 7pm ET last night and saw a whole bunch of satellites to this "Grant Guarantee" on full tilt. Turns out this was a fun 50k guarantee tournament last night at 9:30pm ET, special for the President's Day holiday in the U.S., and that helped cushion the blow quite a bit of getting back to the daily mtt grind. In fact, as they were running turbo satllites basically every 5-10 minutes or so for this thing, I arrived at a strange decision: I played in five of them. Now, I knew I was going to win my way into the event in at least one of these five. With all the WC sats and the FTOPS sats and weekly HORSE sats and the nightly 30k sats I play in, I've got my multi-seat mtt satellite game honed to a sharp point. So I knew I'd get in to the Grant Guarantee and would not need 5 shots to do it. But, after the FTOPS, it makes some sense for me to get back to bankroll-building mode, and I view these mtt satellites as probably my best shot at cashing out of any strucute of mtt I can play in these days. So, I figured, I'll play the 5 remaining satellites last night, win my $55 buyin through one of them, and just pocket the cash for whatever other seats I can get.

Fast forward about 90 minutes later, and I had won 3 seats to the Grant Guarantee. That was one buyin to the 9:30pm ET 50k tournament, and $110 cash into my bankroll. Seriously, I could play and win these mtt sats in my sleep at this point. And there is just something so great about not having to play all the way down to the final seat. Just make it to the top 10 or 15 finishers, you've got your seat, and then you can just push allin if you so choose. Not only does it make the tournament itself go much faster, but it takes away a lot of the pressure as well that is normally associated with very late-stage mtt play. Only having to play down to 10 or 15 players is probably the best part to me of these multitable, multi-seat satellites, and I think the single biggest factor in making these things so easy to cash in.

So, never mind the fact that I played like donkey for some reason and was out of the actual Grant Guarantee in about 20 minutes after getting not one but two second-best (yet still very good) hands. What's important is that I got to play my mtt satellite game, got some more great practice, and won $110 cash for my roll in the process. Thank you full tilt.

So, out of the Grant Guarantee at around 9:50pm ET, that gave me perfect time to prepare for the weekly Mondays at the Hoy tournament on pokerstars at 10pm ET. Last night saw one of the largest fields we've seen in several weeks for the MATH tournament, with 27 runners each ponying up their $20 buyin for a shot at a $270 first prize, as well as the more valuable opportunity to get on to, or increase one's standing on, the 2007 Hoy moneyboard, where yours truly sat perched atop of the pack heading in to last night's affair.

Things started off well for me in the Hoy last night, as I found pocket Aces and pocket Kings within the first 30 minutes, using the Aces to nearly double up off of Mungo when he could not get away from his pocket Jacks with just one (non-Ace) overcard on the board and getting me up to the top of the leaderboard shortly into the event. I managed to stay there for the better part of the first hour of the event, that is, until LOK called me allin with his KQ against my AQ. Now, you may remember a couple of weeks back when LOK sucked out in consecutive nights to eliminate me both nights from the Mookie and then Al's Riverchasers tournaments on full tilt. Anyways, getting a chance to exact some revenge against LOK with my AQ against his KQ here was something I was pretty in to, and when the flop came KKJ, you can imagine how hard I kicked the dog in my apartment (ok so there's not really a dog in my apartment. I'm talking metaphorically here guys). Disgusting.

So, with my stack suddenly knocked down to a much more ordinary level, I was forced to keep myself off uber LOK tilt and try to keep playing my game. I declared to anyone who would listen in the girly chat that I no longer cared about winning the Hoy last night, and that I had only one objective -- to take LOK out of the thing, at any cost. No less than 10 people reminded me how bad of poker that is, to target an individual at the table for a personal vendetta instead of just playing your game -- and I informed each one of them of my acknowledgement of that fact. I wanted to play bad poker. I wanted to blow off my chance of winning. I was determined to just play any pot LOK was in if I could get in for any reasonable price, and try to hit something big to take him out. Happily, I didn't even have to make any stupid plays to get there, as within the next 30 minutes or so, nearing the final table bubble of the Hoy and with LOK sitting as the short stack, he open-pushed from the cutoff position, and I looked down from the big blind at A9o. I knew it was not a great play, but going with my stated intentions from the girly chat, I had to make the call, and LOK flipped up....

A8o. I was shocked to be ahead here, and relieved. And, I was even more relieved when my dominating hand actually held up against him!! I still can't believe it. So I reached my goal and eliminated LOK from the Hoy, securing my ability to survive past the two remaining short stacks and eventually reach the final table in the process (I believe my 856th consecutive Hoy final table, I'll have to check on that to verify).

Unfortuantely, my run to the pot o gold in the Hoy was ended shortly thereafter, as Smokkee, who has recently returned to pokerstars and forsaken full tilt due to a nasty string of beats at the latter, had amassed a pretty big stack by the beginning of final table play. And, for those of you who have played a lot with Smokkee before, as much of a risk-taker he can be at the beginning of a tournament, you have to multiply that by...oh....about 10,000 to see what he can be like with a big stack late in a tournament. So early on in the final table, somebody raised the 200 blinds to 600 from UTG+1 preflop, and Smokkee smooth called that raise from MP. In the small blind, I pushed in with my shortest-stack-at-the-table and with me holding pocket 9s. The first raiser folded, and Smokkee instantaneously called me with two crappy overs, I forget which two (youdonk). Let's just say that to even have called the preflop raise with his hand was a dubious play (and that's being kind), let alone calling the allin from me after the preflop raiser and caller already in the pot. But that's where Smokkee's mindset was at the time, and naturally he hit one of his laughable overcards and I was out in 9th place from the Hoy.

And once again I'm back to that word again -- mindset. Much as I wrote about with a certain someone and the massive stack she had amassed early on the WWdN a couple of weeks back, at which point she started calling anything and everything, sucking out on a bunch of people but eventually succumbing to the only possible outcome with that "call everything" mindset she had found halfway through the tournament, I will say it again now -- mindset is everything in an mtt. And this is all the more true in a tournament like the Hoy, where the skill level is generally much higher than what you'll find at your usual online mtt donkfest or even a larger, broader-based blogger tournament like the WWdN. So, with Smokkee's mindset where it was to be calling not only the EP preflop raise with the two embarrassing overcards, but then to also call my preflop push in that situation, I knew he couldn't win the thing. Even when it got down to just the final two players, with Smokkee having I believe a 450,000-to-1 chip lead over Bayne, I just knew Smokkee didn't have the right mindset to win it. And although the two battled it out for several minutes in heads-up play, with Smokkee fairly quickly losing his huge chiplead to Bayne, but then sucking it all back out when he nailed a flush on the turn for all his chips against Bayne's top pair, I still could not shake the feeling that Smokkee was playing with Lucko's aggression level, but without quite Lucko's hand selection to go along with it, which is a dangerous combination. Eventually Bayne took the lead back again with some solid play and hitting some flops with middle pairs, weak top pairs, etc., and then his AT prevailed over Smokkee's A9 in the final hand to ice Bayne's first-ever Hoy win, and maybe even his first Hoy cash as I think about it:

In the end it was a fun time had by all as always, in again what was the largest MATH field in several weeks which is always a good thing. So congratulations to our cashers, with Omega_man_99, a new player with whom I am not familiar, ending in 3rd place and taking home $108 for his efforts, and Smokkee ending in 2nd place for $162. And Bayne took it all down, winning his first weekly Hoy title along with the $270 first prize in the largest Hoy prize pool thus far of 2007, enabling Bayne to power his way solidly onto the 2007 Hoy moneyboard in the process (updated to include this week's results):

1. Hoyazo $400
2. Fuel55 $350
3. VinNay $310
4. Bayne_s $270
5. Manik79 $252
6. Smokkee $162
7. Chad $120
7. Zeem $120
9. Ganton516 $114
10. Omega_man_99 $108
10. Wigginx $108
12. NewinNov $90
13. Columbo $80
13. PhinCity $80
13. jeciimd $80
16. l.e.s.ter000 $72
17. Julius Goat $60

And who is that up on top of the list still? Can anyone dethrone me? Just please promise you'll all keep calling me with two crapovers at the final table, and I think I'll stay right where I am thank you very little.

OK a few other quick things. As part of my return to the normal routine last night, I decided to play the nightly HORSE mtt at 10:15pm ET for the first time in several weeks, and I ended up having a great run. A run that included nailing quad 9s in stud high once I was allin on 3rd street nearing the ITM positions, and just generally hitting a lot of big cards right when I needed them. That HORSE tournament really turns in to quite the luckfest once you're ITM, as the blinds get so big that you're basically totally at the mercy of the cards, what you start with and in particular what the board brings you. After getting into the money positions which began at 24th place like usual (163 runners started off in this event, fairly usual for these days in this tournament), the O8 hands began, and just to harken back to a post from last week, with high blinds I managed to get A2 dealt to me in about 4 out of 5 hands. As with last week, I went ahead and raised almost every one of these up (I followed Garth's advice and did not raise when I was in EP on one or two occasions, much to my profit, thank you Garth), but unlike my terrible final hour to the FTOPS O8 event last week, this time I actually managed to make a low in most of these hands. At the risk of causing some of you to stop reading poker blogs in general, let's just say that I had a nice run in these hands, one which took me all the way to my elimination hand which saw me take a flop with just one other player with my hand of A♠2♠3♠K♣. The flop came 3♥4♠K♠. So, I was looking at the nearly-uncounterfeitable nut low draw with any 5, 6, 7 or 8 falling on the turn or river, plus on the high side I had the nut flush draw with any spade on the turn or river, a straight draw with any 5 falling on the turn or river, and I had top and bottom pairs on the flop already to boot. Long story short, with all this stuff working for me on the flop, I ended up getting my shortish stack allin with one opponent after I checkraised him on the flop and then checkraised him again on the turn when another offsuit Ace fell. He flipped up nothing but a bunch of high cards, but the offsuit 2 on the river meant that I did not fill my flush, did not fill my straight, and did not make a boat for the high side, and even worse I also failed to fill my low thanks to the double-counterfeit on the turn and river. And, what's worse, my opponent made a set of Kings and scooped the entire massive pot from me. Frustrating to the say the least. Still, a very nice run for me overall:

Of course, Chad outdid me here and ended up finishing in 7th place overall in this thing, but I'm still very pleased with my performance overall. And Chad, in a weird deja vu from a few months ago, let me personally congratulate you for a job well done for a guy who was quitting online poker for good as of the end of the FTOPS on Sunday. You truly are amazing when you're not playing online poker anymore buddy. I'm glad to see you always not following through with these silly threats, but at the same time I think I liked playing tournaments against you better when you were posting middle finger pictures and running bad instead of proclaiming the end of your online poker career. Congrats man, great run.

Secondly, go stop by jeciimd's blog if you have the chance for an interesting question about how to play certain big starting hands to a lot of action preflop. I for one am looking forward to jec's comments on that, in addition to maybe, someday, finally getting up a post about his incredible run to 13k+ in the FTOPS O8 event from last Wednesday.

Lastly, about the hand I posted about yesterday from the FTOPS Main Event, if you'll recall I called a preflop raise with ATo and found one more caller from the blinds as well, going on to see a three-handed flop of AT5. This was near the end of the second hour of the event, with my stack sitting at just under the 5000-chip starting level. So, after UTG+1 bet out the size of the pot (240 chips) on the AT5 flop that I nailed, I minraised to 480 chips with my top 2 pairs, and then the big blind min-reraised me to 960 chips. UTG+1 folded, and I smooth called, partially as a slow-play and partially for protection just in case this guy had flopped a miracle set of Tens or 5s. When the turn came a King, I bet out for 1200 chips for half the pot, and was quickly reraised allin by the big blind. This was where I asked for your advice on what he likely had, and how you would play it from here.

The comments I received were interesting to me. A number of you felt that I was clearly ahead here, and that the guy was likely some donk probably holding something like AJ or AQ, and that I was about to double up nicely. Personally I think this would not be smart poker by me. The guy min-reraised, which as Smokkee wisely points out in the comments, is a very obvious and very overtly suspicious move for anyone to ever make at a poker table. To me, like Smokkee, this move screamed out "big hand!" on the flop. Now, I had flopped top 2 pairs, so unless he was on a set I was still ok, but I think suggesting that he would min-reraise the flop with just top pair decent kicker, although possible, is just not nearly as likely as him having had either a set or AK, which to me were easily his most likely holdings in this hand.

A few others of you took the opposite approach, saying I must be beat here and that he could even have a hand like QJ, something which even a few of the bloggers in the girly chat said at the time. I think I commented about this yesterday in the comments, but I don't see how you can possibly reasonably put this guy on QJ in this spot. Again I go back to the highly dubious min-reraise on the flop. Is this guy possibly min-reraising two other players giving a lot of action in front of him on a flop of AT5 with just QJ? I mean, he would know he is behind there, and drawing just to a 4-outer inside straight. Is he going to min-reraise there? No way. This guy did not have QJ, it just cannot be. Even a donk might just smooth call my minraise on that flop with QJ (a total donk, mind you), but not even the major donks are reraising with that shit hand, let alone the min reraise.

I was also intrigued by Lucko's comment where he said there was "NO way" he is folding in that spot, with half his stack already in that pot by the turn card. While I can certainly understand the sentiment of wanting to play out the only big hand I've been dealt in 2 hours of play in the biggest online poker tournament I've ever participated in, especially with half of my stack now in the pot on the turn, I have to ask you then, what hand do you think I can beat? What does this guy realistically have that I can beat? Before the King on the turn, I could easily see this guy having AK -- in fact, that's exactly what I had put him on as of the min-reraise. Although a set was very much a possibility, if I had to guess I think the set raises more than just the min-reraise there, given that there's already been such action on the flop he can probably assume TPTK or top two pairs, etc. will call a bigger reraise than that. I think the min-reraise fits perfectly well with AK. So, when the King fell on the turn card, making the board AT5K rainbow, and he moved me allin with his raise on the turn, I looked at the possible holdings that would fit his preflop call of a raiser and a caller from the big blind, his min-reraise on the AT5 flop and now the push on the turn. What hands could he have here that I can beat? This is a huge tournament, and he had a nice-sized stack going in, so I am not putting him on a stone bluff here (again, especially not with that curious min-reraise on the flop). So, if he's not stone bluffing, is he really possibly doing all this with AJ or AQ? No way I say. Once that King fell, if he had an Ace weaker than AK, then he would have to fear me having the AK as much as I feared him having it. So, when he moved me in on the turn there, I could not escape the conclusion that he either had flopped a set, or that he had AK and had just hit a miracle turn card.

So I laid it down. And I never did find out what the guy had. Although for me, I am completely positive that I was behind. I think this was a mature, smart laydown for me, one that I don't think I would have made a year ago. But reviewing everything that happened in the hand, I just can't see him having had anything other than 55, TT, AA or AK, all of which have me crushered with just one card to come. I might have believed he had A5s or something and flopped a lower 2 pairs than mine, but again once he pushed when the King hit the turn, I can't see him doing that to his big stack when I acted like I could have had AK all along and be well ahead of him with just the one card left to his the board. He had to have a set or AK, I am sure as sugar about it. Does anyone feel differently about that? I'd love to hear your reasoning on that one.

OK, WWdN tonight at 8:30pm ET (password is "monkey" as always). I should be there. And, come be a man and join me in the 8:15pm / 8:45pm ET turbo 6-max nlh satellites for the nightly 30k guaranteed on full tilt as well, where I definitely plan to be making my nightly attempt to qualify for the $109 buyin event for a super cheap and very fast-paced 6-max nlh run. Hopefully I will see some of you then, or in the WWdN for some old-school bloggerdonkery.

Labels: ,