Monday, October 31, 2005

SNG Challenge Update 1

My first weekend of play in the Challenge I played 42 tournaments. Here are my relevant stats:

Amount won: $128
ROI%: 27.71%
1st Place: 5
2nd Place: 6
3rd Place: 8
Finish in the Money: 45%

The level of play is much worse than the $55's. There are usually 2 players out by the end of the first 2 levels. That almost never happens at the higher levels. Plus you tend to see much bigger bluffs in the $11's.

Here were some interesting hands:
4 handed, blinds 75-150
I'm BB with 3720
SB is Stu1971 with 1265
Button is 575
UTG is 2215

Obviously the correct play is to play tight here since the button is due to go broke soon. UTG and the button fold and the small blind completes. I have 7-3 offsuit.

The flop is 4d 4h 3s. He checks and I bet 300 which is the amount of the pot. The SB then check raises me all in with a bet of 1190. This seems weird. He could have a 4 but it just doesn't seem very likely. If he did, he would probably just call and slow play it. He could have Ace-3, but I think he would have went all in preflop.

I decide to call because I can afford the chips and it smells like a bluff. He turns over Ad Kd and hits runner runner flush to beat me. OK, bad beat, but I made a good call. Naturally I begin to look for revenge.

Later in the same tournament, it's down to heads up between me and stu1971. He had a big chip lead at the start but I have almost pulled even. He has been playing very conservative and I have been abusing his blinds. I have 3705 and he has 4295. The blinds are 200-400. I have the small blind and the button and I finally get dealt Pocket Aces.

My first instinct was to slow play it. Then I thought that he's probably getting tired of being bullied and maybe he's ready to defend his blind. So I raise to 1200. He falls for the bait and raises all in at 3800. I call quicker than Hugh Grant says yes to a hooker.

He turns over Kd Qc. So he was justified in pushing back. The flop is Kh Ks Th.

He goes on to turn a full house and I am out. I guess this one wasn't meant to be.

The other thing that hampered my returns was the fact that I went on a 7 tournament streak of not cashing. Of course that happened right after I had cashed in 7 straight and got all cocky.

I probably will not get to play the next couple of days because I am going to the casino tonight and playing in a charity poker tournament tomorrow.

This might be tougher than I thought.

Friday, October 28, 2005

SNG Challenge

I've read posts before with these challenges and they have always seemed like fun except, I have a real job and can't play more than 15 hours a week.

So I am going to give myself a smaller one and see if I can get some others to join me.

My goal is to take $200 and play the $11 Sits at Party Poker. I will turn the $200 into $1000 by November 15th. I think I can do it in under 230 tournaments.

I will post this on 2+2 and see if I can get anyone to follow along. Hopefully this will add to the bankroll a little bit as well.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Clarification of Large Tourney Strategy

Just read a decent article on large field tournament strategy.

The punctuation is crappy, but I think he makes a lot of sense. Here are the basics:

Early stage: Your goal is to see the flop cheaply and out flop your opponents. You are basically looking for two pair or better and trying to trap your opponents. Bluffs at abandoned pots are ok only if they are done very cheaply.

Middle stage: Play tight solid poker. Raise big cards preflop and if you hit top pair and good kicker, bet big. If you miss, do not bluff. It costs too much money if you are called.

Late stage: Blinds are big and you should be happy just winning them. You want to win all of your hands preflop. Steal in the right spots with good cards. Other players will start getting desperate and it will be easy to chip up quickly if you are picking on the right players.

I have played in these modes at different times in tournaments, but I don't think it was ever quite in that order. This is definitely something I will have to experiment with.

As for my bad run, I have avoided playing poker the last 2 days. On Monday I played 1 $55 sit at Party. My idea was to record every hand and submit it to 2+2 for evaluation. The problem was, it took too long to record my hands and I don't think there is a good way to summarize everything so someone would take the time to read it.

I think the only way to do it is copy my tournament summary into a post with a link to the party poker hand replayer. Then you can just sit back and watch the tournament play out. It may take too long for someone to watch the entire thing, so maybe I could edit out the hands I don't play except for hands where I see someone do something stupid to give my critics some background on my opponents.

The funny thing was, I did not play a hand for the first 3 rounds. I got short stacked and went into all in mode and I was not called the first 5 or 6 times I did it. Then in the middle of writing down the previous hand I was dealt 88. There was a small raise in front of me so the play was all in or fold. I wasn't quite sure that my reraise would be enough to get him to fold. While I am thinking about it, Party Poker timed me out. It did not even go into my timebank!. After it folded me, two other players called and it turned out that the original raiser had 99 and one of the callers had over cards. I would have lost the hand.

The very next hand I was dealt AK and went to bet. Unfortunately it folded me, because I forgot to hit the "I am Back" button. Dammit. I pretty much stopped writing everything down after that.

Somehow I managed to make it in the money by continuing to move all in and winning blinds. I made it to the final two and I was down in chips 2-1. We traded blinds back and forth and then he raised 2x the blind from the button. That seemed weak, so I moved all in with 98 suited. He turned over a pair of tens. I should have remembered from earlier that he raised 2x the blind with a good hand when it was 3 or 4 handed. I should have taken my time. Anyway, the $150 came in handy.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Losing Sucks!

I absolutely hate reading posts from players that complain about a 200 or 300 BB losing streak and wonder what they should do about it. I am not going to write one of those posts.

I will say that I dropped $1500 over the last few days. I was playing 4 tables at a time in 3-6 on the bad beat jackpot tables at Party Poker and the $55 sit and gos. The jackpot was up over $650,000 so I thought it was a smart play to give myself a chance at it.

Was I unlucky? Yes. Could I have played better? Yes.

Now I am forcing myself to move back down to the $33 sits and 2-4 in limit. I am going to limit myself to two tables at a time as well. I also want to play more Omaha 8OB if I can find decent games. There is quite a mental challenge involved in this. There is a strong urge to make my money back as quickly as I lost it. I know that moving down will delay the accomplishment of that goal. However, it should also prevent me from losing any more money.

My main short term goal is to have a fat bankroll for my Wedding in Vegas in December. Since I know there will be at least one or two sessions of black jack or craps, I am going to need some money that, "I can afford to lose."

I think one of the issues I encountered with the 3-6 games over the weekend was game selection. When I could get Poker Tracker to work with Game Time, I seemed to find 2-4 other players at the table that looked pretty good. I didn't have the discipline or the tools to find other softer tables. No matter how many fixes I try, I cannot get Poker Tracker to work in real time. It always freezes up on me after about 45 minutes.

As for Omaha, I think I have finally settled on a preflop strategy. I will only play A2XX or A3XX hands along with 23XX hands if the other two cards give me good cards for a high. I will also play 4 cards over a 9 if there are a lot of players already in the pot. This alone should give me enough of an advantage to make up for lack of skill post flop. I have noticed that players will play absolute crap online. I still need to get better at figuring out when I am drawing to a nut straight, but I am improving. It's a shame that there are hardly any limit tables available in this game, even on Party Poker.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

The Best Non Winning Session Ever?

They say that in poker you should concentrate on making the best decision possible in every hand. Money won or lost is outcome based thinking. If you make the correct play, you will win in the long run.

Last night was one of those sessions. I went to the Casino AZ for the Monday Night Football specials. I sat down at the usual loose passibe 4-8 table determined to play tight solid poker. As I said last time, I think I have been trying to mix up things too much in play in the erroneous assumption that my opponents are paying attention. This time I would play tight and solid until they make a move that tells me they are noticing what I am doing.

I did really well in sticking with that strategy. I was patient and even keeled for the 4 hours I was there. I was going to show a profit for the night until I lost the last hand.

I was in middle position with the 5-7 of diamonds. This is not a text book call, but there had been very little preflop raising and at least 5 players seeing every flop so I thought it was a good idea. The flop was 8x-9x-Kd. The small blind bets and there are two more callers before it gets to me. I have an inside straight draw and back door flush draw. I'm getting 8-1 probably 10-1 when the rest of the players call so I am actually getting the correct odds so I call. Using Phil Gordon's 2-4 rule I have 4 6's and give me one out for the back door flush, so 5 outs total. 5 times 4 = 20% chance to win. 5 big bets to the turn.

Everyone calls and the turn is the 10 of diamonds. The small blind checks and everyone checks to the button who bets. The small blind check raises. Two players fold and it's to me. First I try to calculate my pot odds. 8 big bets in pot with one player behind me to act. I have the open end straight draw but the low end for 8 outs. I now have a low flush draw which would be 9-2 = 7 outs. So 15 outs. 15 x 2 = 30% so my odds are ok to call the raise. The button calls with a puzzled look on his face.

The river was a diamond. The small blind bets, and I raise. The button calls and the small blind calls. The button had the 8-9 of diamonds for a bigger flush. He had two pair on the flop. The small blind had top pair and a busted straight draw.

Man I really wanted that pot. But that is the way it went most of the night. I ended the night down $7 and I lost 3 decent pots where I was rivered on the end by someone who played bad cards preflop. I made a couple of really good folds to save myself some money.

On an unrelated topic. I think I am going to by Eastbay's Sit-n-Go power tools to help with my game. It looks like an integrated EV solution for figuring out when to push all in. I still think my biggest weakness is heads up, but maybe if I accumulate more chips in the bubble and in the money stage, I will be able to compensate for it.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Can I play any worse?

Went to the Gila River for the first time in months. I played in one of the softest 4-8 games ever and lost $175.

The first hour was spent folding bad cards. I knew I wasn't going to play well because I was having trouble following the action when I was out of the hand. A good player pays attention and trys to play along with the others in the game. Time and again I was missing possible flushes and straights on the board. Of course it didn't help that most of the players were playing any two cards so hand reading was becoming exceedingly difficult.

I dug for another $100 and went on a rush. My best hand was 4 sevens on the flop. I was in late position and I just called after a couple of bets in front of me. On the turn, a flush draw came up. Unfortunately nobody bet and it was checked to me. I decided to check and see if someone could hit a card. This was a horrible decision. When playing with a bunch of calling stations, make the bet.

The river made 4 of the same suit on the river. There was a bet and a raise in front of me. There was still 2 players left to act, plus the original better. I asked for time, so I could think about reraising or going for the over call. I decided to just call and hope others would come along. Unfortunately, everyone else folded.

So I won a big pot, but I probably left 5 bets out there.

Since I was obviously the tightest player at the table, occasionally I would try to make a bluff or a hyperaggressive move to sustain my action on my good hands. The problem was I didn't get much show down value because I would be forced to fold before the river or the table was not paying attention. I think the better strategy in that situation is to just play tight, solid poker. If I get a couple hands in a row where players start to fold to my bets, then it's time to open up. After all there was a very good chance that in this game it would not matter since nobody was paying much attention.

Eventually things started to go haywire. I did not hit a single draw all night. There was a fat guy in the 8 seat that just seemed to have my number. Every time I had top pair, he had two pair. If I had 3 of a kind, he had a straight or flush.

In addition it was smoky and incredibly noisy due to the band in the bar. Eventually it was all giving me a headache.

The only positive is that I had the discipline to finally get up from the table and leave when I knew I was not playing my best.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Friendly Pot Limit and SNG Strategy

Last weekend I went to Rob's house to watch the ASU vs USC football game and play some poker.

We played 1-2 blinds and pot limit raises. I played with Jon, Rob, Carlo, Ryan, and Ken.
I am becoming more and more convinced that pot limit and no limit cash games are not my best game. It is so much more of an art of reading people as weak or strong and being willing to put all your chips in the middle. In limit poker, I can only make small mistakes and I take great pleasure in making one or two extra bets. Plus reads are much less important since the math basically dictates your decision on the turn and river.

We all started with $40 to $60 and Jon went on a heater right away. He is great at playing with his friends. He talks all the time and really mixes up his chatter well. So far, I can never tell when he's telling the truth. With some well timed bluffs and some good cards, Jon made $180 in less than 2 hours.

I lost $45 and only won one pot. I gave two pots away. Once I had Ace King offsuit in the small blind. Carlo and Ken folded then Ryan raised to $4. Rob folded, but as he did, he turned over a King. Jon then reraised to $10. If Rob doesn't turn over the King, I probably call. As it was, Ryan is pretty tight when it comes to preflop raises. Jon usually doesn't reraise so I thought he must have a pretty good hand as well. Thinking that one King was dead for sure and that there might be one or two other Aces and Kings in Jon and Ryan's hand, I folded.

Sure enough an Ace came on the flop and Ryan and Jon ended up checking it down. Ryan had something like Ace-10 and Jon only had Queen-10 suited. I really looked into their soul on that one.

The other hand I gave away was when I had AJ suited on the button. It was folded to Jon and he raised to $4. I made it $10. It felt like I challenged Jon's manhood, so he called. The flop was all low cards and I totally whiffed. Jon checked. I didn't want to give Jon a chance to check raise me, so I checked as well. The turn missed me again. Jon checked again. For some reason I thought he was in call mode so I did not bet again. The river missed again, but this time Jon put in $10. I think I only had about $20 left so I could not raise him out of the pot. All I had was Ace high and I felt like it was the best hand. I ended up folding and he turned over a rivered flush. I let him check into runner-runner. More evidence that I suck at No-Limit and Pot-Limit.

As for the Sits I have been doing pretty well. I have my overall rate of return on the $55's up to 11% from a low of 1%. I was browsing the two plus two website and I came across an interesting strategy. Here is the post
I have been frustrated by playing tight early and not getting any value from the hands that I do play. In other words if I have Ace-King and raise preflop. I get one caller and the flop has a King. Usually I bet 1/2 to 2/3 of the pot. It seems like 75% of the time they fold and I just win the preflop bets. This post suggests over betting the pot or even pushing all in. This looks so strange that a lot of players will think it's a bluff and call with 2nd or 3rd pair.

I know that I will not call my opponent's all in bet in the early stages even if I feel it's a bluff because I have the discipline to wait for a better opportunity. I usually just make a note that this players overuses the all in bet and look to trap him later. I think most players see the overbet and think bluff. Then they think," I don't want to be bluffed by this retard so I will call."

I am going to give this approach a try and see if I get anyone to bite.