Sunday, May 06, 2007

All About the FTOPS Sats

It's Monday again! And that means it's time for the Battle of the Blogger Tournaments to take over your psyche and rule you for another week, starting with tonight's Mondays at the Hoy tournament on full tilt!

I plan to play well in tonight's MATH after a very solid weekend of poker in Hammer Land. Who knows, maybe I won't be displaced at the top of the Hoy moneylist for 2007 tonight after all. There were already a bunch of people signed up over the weekend as I recall, so come in there early and let's see if we can take down the previous record of 53 entrants. At just a tier I token or $26 cash to play, it's a very playable tournament for most of your rolls out there. Think about it -- you can play the $6 2-table sng token satellites where the top 5 finishers out of 18 win a tier 1 token. You can play the $8 token sngs, also with two tables, but that run in turbo format so you can make it to the top 5 token winner in just over an hour in most cases. You can also play the $6 buyin Tier One Token Frenzy mtts that run every few hours daily on full tilt and which award the tier 1 tokens to the top 23% or so of finishers. Or, if like me you don't even want to commit a full hour to winning a $26 token, you can play my personal favorite, the $13.75 heads-up token sngs. These things will run you probably 10 minutes on average, and if you know what you're doing in heads-up play, they are very, very winnable. I am winning almost exactly 2 out of 3 of these now over a sample size of around 60 tournaments, so these games are beatable, and they'll take you anywhere from 1 hand to 10 or 15 minutes on average. All of these are cheaper ways to get your token to play in tonight's MATH tournament if you don't have the cash in your roll to buy in directly for $26, and all of the above satellites are very winnable for a skilled player. So hopefully you can all find your way in to the MATH tonight at 10pm ET on full tilt, password is "hammer" as always.

Speaking of satellites, man the FTOPS satellite bubblage has been killing me over the past couple of weeks. I mean, I think before this weekend I had played in a total of 16 ftops satellites, and had final tabled like 13 of them, but only won a seat in three of them (one was a super sat to the $1000 buyin Event #4 and not a regular sat), and I won cash in I think two more. But overall it's been incredibly frustrating. Sure, final tabling is great, and it always helps my confidence to do well in an mtt, but in the end the results are the results, and I don't really care about anything else, right? Well, suddenly this weekend, it was like the dam finally burst.

Friday was nothing special, really, although it was clear I was playing a bit better than I had been in the FTOPS satellites I was entering, which was basically my sole focus over the weekend other than winning another buyin+ or so at the 1-2 tables and playing profitably in another blogger cash table as well. Although I do find $50 nl a bit hard to take seriously. Now I'm not trying to demean or say anything negative whatsoever about people playing those stakes. I used to play those stakes, not too long ago. All I'm saying is that when you've recorded thousands of hands of $200 nl, getting "stacked" at $50 nl is more like me just folding to a flop raise after I raised preflop and then c-bet the flop in my usual 1-2 game. And that just happens far too often to be too concerned at $50 a pop. Still I've managed to play positive in every single session I've played at $50 nl over the past couple of months, most but not all with bloggers, as occasionally I like to pop in on tables where guys like Waffles or a guy I know from work are playing and see what's up.

Anyways, back to the FTOPS satellites. So on Friday I played for the second straight night in the 23:45pm ET $14 rebuy sat into the FTOPS Main Event. If you read here then you know how much I love rebuy satellites. And $14 is the perfect level of buyin -- guys playing a $14 sat into the main event aren't going to be good. If they were good they'd be playing the $69 buyin FTOPS ME sat that runs every single night. They'd at least play in the $24 buyin ME sat that runs earlier in the 11 o'clock hour East Coast time every night. The $14 sat is populated about half with a bunch of donks who honestly hope not to rebuy and to play their way in to the main event for $14. And yet, $14 is enough that, if you get a little lucky with the size and the number of rebuys, it can award two seats to the FTOPS ME, although often it settles on just one as it is difficult to build up a $1070 prize pool required to award two ME seats on $14 buyins (that's 76 buyins required, so you basically need about 25 people to rebuy an average of twice including the addon). Do-able but not always attained. Anyways I played in this thing the first time I saw it this past Thursday night. I ended up taking an awful beat when I was dominating and allin preflop to go out in 4th place for a small cash payment. But I had played well, and if my favorite had held up there I would have been way out in front.

Then on Friday I played it again because I quickly identified that specific tournament as a very winnable one for me, and I played even better, this time taking a significant chip lead into three-handed play with all three of us already getting a decent cash payout but with only the overall tournament winner winning the FTOPS ME seat. There were a couple of bloggers there on the rail so maybe they remember, but I don't really remember exactly what happened but in two hands I went from prohibitive chip leader to short and then to out, and my recollection was that it was a setup and a bad beat mixed in together that did me in. A "setup" as in I'm dealt TT in the blinds, UTG raises preflop, I move allin and he instacalls, flipping up JJ. Or, being dealt AJ or AQ in this spot 3-handed and with a big chip lead against a short stack when he is dealt AK would also qualify as a setup. No real man is getting away from either of those hands in this situation, so the cards just kinda "set you up" to lose. Anyways, suffice it to say I was very disappointed to have failed to qualify for the FTOPS ME in my second straight rebuy satellite attempt on Friday and after having run deep into the final table and putting myself in position to win in both, but at least I won enough cash on Friday to fund my entire night of mtts so I can't complain about that. And I already knew what I would be doing on Saturday night just before midnight with the rest of the Hammer Family all fast asleep.

Right off the bat the Saturday night FTOPS ME $14 rebuy sat started off poorly for me, as I ran AQs into AK early and had to rebuy. I won a few small pots with very little to work with during Monkey Hour -- actually it's only a half-hour rebuy period in the full tilt turbo mtt satellites, which is great btw -- but in the end was nursing a stack of 1290 chips, just over the starting level of 1000 chips as the warning came up that the break would begin and rebuy time would end after that hand. I had Q2o and decided to raise it up to 290 chips, just so if I lost I would have 1000 chips or under and therefore be able to rebuy myself up to 2000 to end the rebuy period. I got called, the flop had a 2 and three rags total, and I just went allin to try to make something happen or rebuy. I got called, ran into middle pair (ha!) and was busted. I immediately double-rebought for 2000 chips, and then took the 1500-chip add-on for a stack of 3500 chips, good for 7th place out of 16 players remaining heading into the "real" tournament with no more rebuys. So out of 22 players who originally started in this event, I was about to begin the freezeout portion of the tournament in 7th place, despite gone having completely busto on the very last hand I'd played before the break, and I was only in to this thing for $70 total. Now that's a lot of money, but #1 it's the aberration and not the rule for me to spend this much on a cheap rebuy, and #2 frankly, I am more than happy to do this on the few occasions where I do get stacked late. It's one of my strategies in cheap rebuy events like this. If I'm on a short stack going in, why not try for the quick double at the end of monkey hour, and if not, you can spend a little more money and get right back into the top of the leaderboard for just 3 more cheap buyins. I love these satellites for that exact reason, and here I was still able to start freezeout time in good chip position and with a shot to at least cash once again, all for $70 to try to win a $535 seat. I'll take it.

I plan to put up screenshots of all of these hands sometime later on Monday, but for now the text will do, as I will just mention my three biggest hands of the tournament that tell the story of my play. I played very solid poker, got some good cards and did a good job getting paid with them or getting away from the losers. I had to lay down Kings to an Ace-high flop which I absolutely hate to do after raising and getting called before the flop, but otherwise I made the most of my good cards and did a whole of stealing and aggressive pushing as per my usual tournament strategies.

My first nice chip-up of almost the entire satellite came when I raised AJs UTG at a 5-handed table with 10 players remaining, found two callers and then a flop of J97 with two suits. I opted for the allin push on this flop, both callers folded what I assume were middle pairs or non-Jacked Aces and I nearly doubled up in the process.

In third place overall out of 10 remaining, I saw a cheap flop from late position in a multi-way pot with A6s, flopped a flush draw and smooth called a cheap poorly-sized lead bet from my opponent. On the turn I made my nut flush, no pair on the board, and he led out again, which I just smooth called to get him off the idea that I had flushed this board, because I could tell he liked his hand and was going to pay me more. On the river an Ace fell, leaving me with the nuts but I figured likely helping him in some way as well, so I moved allin for my last 2k in chips or so, and he agonized a while before calling as well, with what turned out to be QQ. Yeeech that is some bad playing of QQ right there. At least be like me and get it allin preflop against AA or KK, come on with that. So that hand vaulted me way up to 14k in chips, and I entered final table play in 3rd place of 9, with my 14k compared to 19k held by both first and second place at the final table.

I played very aggressive poker over the next half hour or so, and when the short stacks starting the open-pushing with their any-Aces in middle position, either I or one of the other big stacks was usually there to answer the call. In fact I did just that in two consecutive hands to get it down from 5-handed to 3-handed, after which I found myself with a 35k to 28k to 6k chip lead, and when I reraised allin preflop with TT, the 6k short stack calls my allin with AJs and my TT held up! So I start heads-up play with a 41k to 28k chip lead, winner gets the seat and loser something like $138 for 2nd place. Not something either of us is interested in, especially me since I have a nice lead to start.

Disaster struck about 20 hands later when I reraised allin preflop with AQs and a nice chip lead and got called by 55. I don't hit an Ace or a Queen and suddenly I'm the guy who's down 41k to 27k. I was pissed although in retrospect I don't think I had much good reason to, and as a result I reraised allin preflop with K7o a short while later, got called by the hugely-donkish-even-in-heads-up-play KJo, and then I amazingly hit a 7 on the river to pin the nail on the donkey's ass, taking a 53k-15k chip lead once again.

Four hands later, I get my second chance to eliminate this KingJackoff-calling asshat when I called his allin preflop raise with my ATo. What does he show? QJo. Niiiiice. Nothing bad on the flop, no problem on the turn, and blammo! Jack on the river and my lead is back down to just 37k-32k. We've been playing heads-up for about 12 minutes at this point, and that was when I just turned into a hardcore stealmonkey. I won 5 of the next 10 hands preflop, which with big blinds at that point was a couple thou per hand from his stack into mine, and 2 of the remaining 5 hands I also won by betting out on Ace-high flops even though I had nothing on either hand. All this time, I was representing strong cards without really being dealt much to speak of, but I knew I was laying a trap for my opponent who had to be pretty sick of me betting every preflop and on every flop. I just needed to find one big hand here and he was going to call off his chips to me.

Finally I find an actual pocket pair, raising it up preflop with 22, not a great hand to see a flop with with deep stacks still behind, but a perfectly acceptable raising hand in heads-up play in my book. He calls and we see a flop of K42. Bingo!! He bets out on the King-high flop for about a third of his short stack. I minraise him. Not sure why I went with the minraise, but it seemed like it might make him think I was just trying to get him to lay down, and maybe trick him into moving in on my perceived bluff. He took the bait and pushed it all in for just his last third of a stack, I instacalled and he flipped up....

K5o. Top pair 5 kicker. Awesome. My set held up, and I took it down:

Let me just say again, if anyone wants to play the FTOPS ME, that 23:45 nightly rebuy sat for $14 a buyin is gold, Jerry, gold! The play is terrible, and if your roll can support a $14 rebuy event, you can be fine even if, like me, you get stacked on the very last hand of the first hour semi on purpose with a shitstack, just double-rebuy and add on, start off the *real" tournament in like 7th place out of 16 players. Awesome.

Anyways, to top it off, around the same time as this satellite was going on, I also won my way into FTOPS Event #8 in pot-limit holdem. This will be my third consecutive FTOPS PLH event, which is one that I won on my 5th attempt at $26 a crack into this nightly mtt satellite on full tilt. In the end this tournament had exactly 9 players, making for another of those sng-like mtt satellites which I don't really like, but once again I played awesomely, making it to heads-up almost exactly even. Each of myself and my hu opponent were down 8500-3500 in chips or worse at two separate times during a very see-saw heads-up session where the winner would win the FTOPS #8 seat and the loser wouldn't win shiat (this is exactly why I hate these 1-table mtt satellites, the payoff is just too shitty to reward the overall best players). Anyways, we played heads-up for 30 full minutes before my I finally called my opponent's allin preflop with my AJs against his QJs, and I won my seat into FTOPS #8:

OK so after a very productive weekend that saw me win over $700 in FTOPS satellite seatage, here's my updated FTOPS story as of right now. I'm already in to FTOPS 1 on Friday, May 11th. I don't plan to play Events 2 and 3 over that weekend, including that Sunday the 13th which is Mothers' Day (anybody else notice how full tilt always seems to run the FTOPS over significant holidays of some kind?). Event 4 on Monday the 14th is the bigass $1000 buyin nlh tournament, which I won't even pony up the $150 for the nightly satellties in, but where I am already in to the nightly super sat for that event, which I won with an $8 up front investment in an mtt super sat of 23 players I think. Event 5 on Tuesday is HOSE, which I'm already in. Event #6 on Wednesday the 16th is 6-max nlh, that is one that I fully intend to get in on before it goes off in the middle of next week. Event #7 on Thursday is O8, another event I would like to play my way into, but of all of them this is the I will mind missing the least, as I've always maintained that O8 is kindof a donkey game. Then, on Friday the 18th is PLH, which I won my way in to this weekend. Saturday I will not play Event #9, partially because it's on a Saturday, and mostly because it's a rebuy event which I am just not interested in since I don't have the roll or the mentality to make multiple $100 rebuys for an event like this, which as someone who excels in rebuy tournaments I can confirm is something you absolutely positively must have in order to play these things right. And now, I am also already in to the FTOPS Main Event, Event #10, on Sunday, May 20. Yay for me!!!

Now I'll see you tonight on full tilt at Mondays at the Hoy!!

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Blogger Unknown said...

Congrats on the FTOPS satelliting, I made a stab at the ME super-satellite (24+2 tournament) and also the Event 1 satellite (another 24+1), final tabled one but got crushed after going card dead and ran middle set into top set in another.

Good luck in the ME!

11:07 PM  
Blogger TraumaPoker said...

Why is O8 kind of a donkey game? Is it because you kind of can’t play it or you kind of don’t understand it? You know I like to give you a bad time just catching up on my hammer reading keep up the good posts.

11:53 PM  
Blogger Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo said...

I've written about this in previous posts, but basically I can't stand the fact that if you happen to be dealt A2, then you automatically have the low in any given hand where a low qualifies are you're not counterfeited. You know it's the low nuts every time. Other hilo games, which I have long loved, don't have this aspect. The 5-card wheel is the best low, or 23457 is the best low. But not just being dealt A2 in your hand. That aspect is what ruins O8 for me in my head. It's much worse than other split games in that respect. And I love Omaha high and consider it one of my best games, so it's not like I just dislike the Omaha format or anything. It's the A2 thing with the nut low in your hand. In my view that cuts down on the skill needed in this game dramatically.

12:36 AM  
Blogger bayne_s said...

The skill aspect of PLO8 is recognizing when it is correct to lay down the A2 low and when to punish those that can't lay down an A2.

12:47 AM  
Blogger Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo said...

Blahblahblah Bayne, I'm sticking with my point. That may be the skill of the game, but it still doesn't require the same level of skill as all other major poker games as far as I'm concerned. Just my opinion of course, and no slam intended on people who are good at the game. I'm very good at the game, I just don't think it requires as much skill as other major poker games IMO.

12:53 AM  
Blogger FishyMcDonk said...

My biggest complaint with O8 is that folks will (especially in a HORSE game) call the BB, and even call a raise, pre-flop with literally any four cards. People who gladly fold crap hands in razz and stud just can't let shite go in O8. So even if you have a good hand pre-flop and it still looks okay post-flop who the hell knows where you are vs the other calling stations. I like to sit O8 out in HORSE. Usually the only time I'm in a hand is if I'm the SB, BB or first to raise LP holding a good low.

But it could be different in an O8 only MTT. Never played one.

1:00 AM  
Blogger Julius_Goat said...

First, well played to make the Main Event, Hoy! Make some waves.

Second, I'm juiced to actually be a reigning champ at the MATH, and I'd love to see us break 53 runners.

And what's poker without a nice challenge? So . . . if we break 53 runners, I'm putting a $24 bounty on my own head. Yes, that's right, you heard right. Anybody who busts me plays free.

So sign up, fercryinoutloud and let's make this the horking forking fonkingest MATH yet.

Bowling! Getcher bowling here! Come bowl! Bowling here!< /Homersimpson>

1:09 AM  
Blogger Irongirl01 said...

I have a token.. If I can stay awake.. Ill be making my MATH debut tonite..


1:22 AM  
Blogger TraumaPoker said...

I see your point Hammer, at least you were not just making stuff up you have a legit beef with the game of O8, maybe one day you two will make up and be friends. :)

2:19 AM  

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