Thursday, April 29, 2010

Tournament Strategy Musings, and a Query

For the first time in many moons I found myself playing in the Mookie, as the lure of the BBT5 proved too strong to resist. This was the first NLHE tournament I have played in a long, long time. I was excited to play with a lot of familiar screen names and to fire up BDR.

I got an ideal start, as not ten hands into the tournament I opened for a small 2.5 BB raise with two black tens from the cutoff. The big blind called and the flop came down a beautiful Td 3s 6s. The big blind checked, I bet half-pot, he check-raised to 330, and then I time-banked and shoved for 3100 hoping my 3-bet looked like an overplayed AK of spades or an overpair. Sure enough my opponent snap-called with a set of threes, and I held up for the early double-up.

For the rest of the early and middle stages of the tournament -- I think the Mookie had just under 90 players last night -- I slowly bled chips as I went completely card dead and lost every pot I played. Towards the end of the second hour I found myself back down to a starting stack of 3K after my AdKd got tangled up in a blind vs. blind situation where I didn't improve on the flop and I had to lay it down after a big flop raise of my continuation bet.

However, I managed to improbably triple up once the antes kicked in as I came over the top with KQ and another short-stack overcalled me, along with the original raiser. Two ace-high hands couldn't withstand a queen on the turn as I made top pair to vault up to a top-ten stack of 8500 entering the second break.

With one-third of the original field left, we entered the phase of the tournament that I have often used proficiently to position myself for a deep run into the final table in the past at the Mookie, as two of my past Mookie wins during BBTs can attest. Tonight it was not meant to be, however, as I uncharacteristically put my tournament life at risk preflop hoping for some fold equity (but not getting the desired result).

We'd just collapsed down to three tables with blinds at 200/400/50. A short-stack jammed his last 3 BBs into the middle, and an aggressive player with a 10K stack min-raised from the button to 2000 straight (20% of their stack). I'm in the small blind with AdKs and decide that I need to go with this hand. I hesitate between a shove and a scary-looking min-raise to 4200 or so (thus signaling I am committed to the hand), and opt for the former (this was only the second time in the tournament that I put in all my chips before the flop, but this player hadn't played with me during this tournament and would not be aware of this fact).

The player snap-called with a pair of fives. The short-stack made an improbable straight with 8s9h, the pair of fives rivered a set, and I ended up with the third-best hand with ace-high and exited the Mookie in 27th place.

Now, I'm a big fan of presto; this has been well-documented on this blog. I also know that many poker bloggers don't like to fold. But surely under these circumstances folding a small pair is prudent? The player can fold and still be in the top half of the remaining field in chips and avoids a situation where they can only hope they are in a weighted coinflip instead of being crushed by an overpair ...

Lastly, the structure of the BBT rewards winning a tournament to secure a seat at the ToC. How do these considerations factor in to a decision to stick it in with a small pair here? (Let us ignore the fact that this is a $10 tournament for the sake of discussion.)

So, did I misplay the AK? Would you have folded the pair of fives in that situation? Let me know what you think.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Slowplay to Oblivion, episode two

This hand more or less demonstrates -- to a large degree -- why I never seem to be able to get an online bankroll into a healthy state. I should be able to find a fold at the end because the villain is supposed to have aces or queens. I will admit that I cursed when I saw what he actually beat me with.

In happier news, I will donk it up in the Mookie tonight and I have a pristine hardcover copy of Guy Gavriel Kay's new novel on my bedside table. The finer things in life more than make up for having a big pocket pair cracked on the virtual felt.

I believe in presto

Sadly, it can be hard to get action with flopped quads, especially when you have 4-bet preflop in position.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Slowplay to Oblivion

I lost a big pot here, but I still think my raise at the end is correct, because my opponent could have quite a few flushes and Ax hands in his range that I beat, and he's priced in to call with all of them. I'd be interested to hear what others have to think about how I played this hand.

Having most of my session's profit wiped away like that stings but so long as I feel I am making correct decisions I will not be too disappointed with the results of any one hand.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Presto is gold, exhibit 43798

Only because he's actually blogging again will I extol the virtues of presto.

I guess this also is an example of why jacks suck.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Canucks vs. Hawks, redux

Looks like it's time for another bet. Revenge for last year would be sweet.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Honing the overbet

After the better part of a year not playing much at all online I have been shaking off some rust playing some cash games. I've had a lot of success with NL10 Rush Poker as a BR builder. Nut-peddling seems to be by far the path to victory; however, I have noticed that my bet-sizing needs work. Let's take this hand for example.

As you can see, I was dealt black aces in first position and I made a standard 3x open (the ol' limp re-raise play can sometimes work, but I'm not a big fan of it because you get so many dominated hands to fold that you want action from). A MP sooted ace donk then proceeded to call off his stack after flopping top pair. At these levels I have found that it is best to just bet your monster hands right out and hope your opponent has a piece because if they are at all stubborn, you will get maximum value, and if they don't have anything they will just fold, so you can mix in some continuation bets with big aces that don't improve as well to balance your own range.

What I don't like, after reviewing the hand, is the bet-sizing I used. I bet two-thirds pot when I really should have bet full pot or even a bit over full pot to set up the hand properly. I had to overbet the pot on multiple streets to get my opponent's entire stack in. I need to improve on this going forward by making a bigger bet on the flop to properly manipulate the pot size so I can play for stacks in a less suspicious manner by the end. In this particular instance I was saved by the fact that my opponent just didn't believe me and thought top pair was gold.

It's easy to nit-pick on the best way to play very strong hands but it's important to set up lines that work well for other hands in your range too.

What do you think?

[Edit] Here is another example of an overbet for value where I get a top pair hand to call off their stack after I've turned a flush:

Thursday, April 22, 2010

FTP doomswitch is "off"

I guess FTP is trying to make up for some of the bad kharma. It's been quite a while since I've been involved in a hand like this.

This time I will adhere to proper bankroll management and quit my Rush poker bonanza with a 600 BB stack intact.

[Edit] As for hand analysis, the original raiser's range is polarized and narrow; I put him squarely on one of two hands: QQ or KK. The MP who shoved could show up with 66+ or 7x, so again I had no hesitation in overcalling because I am crushing a large amount of his range.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

I like a good freeroll

I made this one.

The amusing thing about this hand? The villain in this spot had the screenname "Don'tGetFelted".

Too bad he didn't take his own advice.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

A reminder that a good PLO8 game is solid gold

Somehow my hand held up to scoop. Finding these games is definitely a good opportunity for profit.

Now if only the stakes were higher or I could find a live game of this spread locally.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Victimized by an overbet for value

Apparently even small-time fish know how to maximize their good fortune.

I'd be curious to know who could find a fold here to a 2x pot-sized bet. How large does the bluffing frequency have to be for a fold to be correct? (If the stack sizes were 300BBs deep to start the hand, does that change your answer? If not, how deep do the stacks have to be before you can find a fold?) I couldn't find one, and it cost me two full buy-ins. I would have felt better if villain had shown up with jacks, obviously. I was pretty darn sure I was good on the flop, so the turn card didn't scare me. And I was proven wrong.

Friday, April 2, 2010

A belated New Year's Resolution

I've recently begun an exercise program because I was very unhappy with how much I'd let my fitness level deteriorate over the past four or five years. As I get older I've also realized that it takes more work to stay fit (duh!), so I've been complaining and grousing about this to my running partners as we train for a 10K run in May. Once I reach that goal, though, I know I need to set another one for later in the year. (Also I'm getting back on the ice and can't stand how much my hockey skills have atrophied. They say one's hands are the first thing to go but for me it's all cardiovascular weakness.)

I figure this means I should take another go at a weight loss target for year-end. I tried this in the summer of '09 but unfortunately I wasn't able to make it to Vegas in December to resolve the bet. History is not going to repeat itself -- I'll be making the trip this time around -- so I'll offer the same bet for any poker blogger who also wants extra motivation to shed some flab.

I currently weigh 83 kilos. My target is 75 kilos, which means I need to lose 1 kilo per month to reach 75 in time for the Winter Gathering.

So, who else is interested? Once we have a group of people signed up (please include personal goals when you sign up in the comments) we can decide on the stakes and figure out the weight-in. I'm sure someone will volunteer to adjudicate this bet and laugh at those who fail.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

An interesting hand from the Mookie

It's been a long time since I have played a blogger tourney, but I found myself playing the Mookie for the first time in many months last night. I got tangled up with the mean man from Philly himself, Riggstad, in a couple of large pots and he came out on top in both of them to eliminate me from the tournament. Our first hand is somewhat interesting so I thought I'd throw it up here to ask how others would have played it.

Here's the situation for. It's early in the tournament, level three with 30/60 blinds, and I've chipped up to nearly 4K in chips from the starting 3K since I won a nice pot with crubs vs. their biggest fan. I am in the big blind and am dealt a premium hand, AhKs.

The UTG player, who has me comfortably covered, opens to 180. My notes say he is extremely active from that position and could have a wide range of hands here. Two other players, Katitude (who also has me covered) and Riggstad (short-stacked with just over 1700 in chips) also call. I think it is quite likely that I currently have the best hand, but there's a chance the UTG raiser actually has a hand from the top of his range and I'd have to fold if he puts in a 4bet. Having that prospect firmly in mind, and cognizant of the virtues of controlling the pot size and slow-playing a hand that no-one will put me on, I opt to smooth call and see a flop.

The flop comes down 3d 7h Kd. This is obviously a pretty good one for my hand, so I decide to go with my original plan and I check, waiting to see what will happen. It gets checked around to Riggs, who jams his remaining 1500 chips into a pot of 750 in the middle and I snap-shove to isolate, figuring that he's much more likely to make this move with a flush draw than a made hand that already has me beat. Sure enough he flips over QdJd; I'm momentarily pleased that my reasoning was spot-on, but then I'm saddened when the draw manages to get there on the turn, sending the very nice pot of 3,840 over to Riggs. I'm left with about 2200 chips and the tournament continues on.

Comments on how I played the hand are welcome. I'm particularly interested to hear opinions about the preflop decision-making process. Which of you would rank the optimal decision tree as Raise > Call > Fold? As played, would you lead out on the flop, and if so, why? Would you play for all your chips if one of the big stacks raised on the flop?