Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Viva Las Vegas!

YTD: +$28368.85

Well finally one of those tournament things paid off. Last Saturday night, I played a Winner-Takes-All satellite to the $1500 PLO event at the WSOP and managed to stumble my way to victory :-) Hopefully I will be another fat bloke talking about how I turned one hundred bucks into hundreds of thousands on ESPN...hold it, maybe I need to lose weight!

I almost didn't play the event itself as I was feeling quite under the weather with a man-cold that I haven't been able to throw off. But because it had been organised by one of the immortals on the 2+2 plo forum, and occasionally here, Acesover8s, I gave it a spin.

To be honest, I didn't pay a whole heap of attention to the early stages as I was having some big swings on PLO8b on Stars. There was a lot of play though, and after taking an early lead I then bluffed off a few too many chips and had to get into waiting mode.

Even this didn't really pay off, and with 13-14 players left I had less than 2% of the chips in play. In these kind of stages the way to play is very simple - make sure you have enough to make a raise...and make sure you raise and don't call off your chips so at least you have two ways to win. I trawled through this mud for quite some time, building back up, but never enough where my stack had any real kind of play to it beside allin. Eventually this tight aggressive approach got me to the final table, but only with 7 big blinds. So again my approach was dictated for me...wait for hands, make cheap moves where possible and be aggressive if I played at all. The game was being played to a very very loose aggro style, and it simply didnt make sense trying to play flops with such a short stack. I ended up passing a lot of hands that I would play in a cash game and it seemed I was the only one really making that kind of adjustment. This doesn't mean I was adverse to making a steal or two with something like Kh,2d,Js,Qs for example...but these were position moves only.

My first big break was when I raised with Ad,Jd,Ac,4d and got a caller who also called for a reasonable allin bet on the flop of 10d,Qh,5d. The fact I was called by Ah,7c,5h,7h showed just how loose the table was playing. Kind of a hybrid PLO/NLHE combo :) This gave me room to breathe, but I was still playing a tight game, for example I passed a medium suited pair to a raise in my big blind. All the confrontations would be of my choosing, if I could help it.

I ticked along in this fashion for quite a while. One of the things I was lucky with was that when I did get my raises called, I tended to hit something on the flop, even if it was only a good draw. This meant it was much easier to follow through and bet the flop. Then I made my first real bad mistake. I called a very loose raiser from the big blind with Ah,8s,9d,4c and the flop only brought me Jc,7s,8c. Now I could actually be in front here, and I do have a half-assed draw, but I felt I needed more in this spot, especially and perhaps paradoxically BECAUSE he was a loose raiser. I hung tight for a while until I got a chance to make a nice move to make up for my previous poor one:

With only $3100 in my stack I called 1800 more from the small blind from the same loose raiser with 8d,7c,Jc,7d. Yes, CALLED. You guessed it, I was going to bet regardless of what came on the flop, which was an ok Kd,4d, foe passed.

Only a few hands later i found myself headsup facing over a 5 to 1 chip disadvantage. I would have to get lucky. What was in my favor was that my opponent was playing very, very fast. Now some people prefer trying to finish off a tourney in this way, a quick murder. But I don't like it. Especially when the antes are large enough and my stack still of a size that if I double up a few times, I'm the chip favourite. There was no point in limping as he would I was happy to let him limp and if I was in, I was firing. I lost some ground, then doubled up with kings. Immediately I bet out the very next hand with bottom two pair on the flop, and passed to a raise. Again, I wasn't going to try and get lucky on a call.

I was then lucky for 9c,As,Kd,2d to stand up against Jc,Kh,10d,Qh allin preflop. The power really shifted when I reraised with 10h,4s,10s,2c against 10c,3d,Ad,7d and won on the flop when nothing came. To be honest I don't like either of our plays in this tens action is too extreme and he should really pass to the reraise.

Now I was chip leader the difference in approaches was very apparent. I didn't give him much action at all, I was looking to grind him out, and when he raised I only called with Qh,Ad,3h,Ks. The flop came a very nice 10c,6s,Js and I check raised him allin with his 7s,4d,7c,Jc and I hit my str8 on the river! My opponent played a great game, considering his inexperience but I feel he tried to close me down too quickly instead of just anteing me out.

So, adorned in livery, to Vegas I shall go!

Friday, February 18, 2005

Holdem Hating...Interlude

YTD: +$22858.90

I did give another Holdem tourney a spin..the 10+1 rebuy on Stars. It was OK. I played more ABC poker and things worked out well-ish. 73rd out of 557. But again it was the same old same old. I got bored. These things just take too damn long. And then I start looking at the prize list and realise that unless I come at least 3rd or 4th it's barely worth winning. So then exasperation adds to the boredom.

However I do recognise that this is where a lot of the money is today online so I probably do have to persevere. Maybe I should play the Stars every week and look at the daily large comps on Party. Undecided.

Still prefer cash games tho :-)

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Flushed with Success

YTD: +$22281.80

One of the things that clearly differentiates No Limit Hold'em players coming to Pot Limit Omaha is how they play the nut flush draw, especially if they are coming from No Limit Hold'em tournament-style.

Basically, if you find yourself all-in playing the nut flush draw in No Limit, you are never in much jeopardy. In fact many players will move all-in themselves, trying to win the pot then and there. The reason that you are nearly always in reasonably fine shape playing this way is that in Hold'em it is comparatively rare for your opponent to have the nuts, such as a hidden set. More than likely you are facing just one pair, and you are near enough to even money not to care, and maybe a small favourite if you have two overcards to the flop. So in the majority of situations, it's hard to make a sizeable error in playing the nut flush draw in big bet Hold'em In many cases the cards are playing you, not you playing the cards, and you are not having to make any brain-aching decisions.

The situation is very different in Pot Limit Omaha.

Because the average hand in Omaha is much stronger, if you over commit to the nut flush draw you are very likely to find yourself against a made hand. This is especially a problem heads up, as you may find yourself getting basically even money on a hand which may be as bad as a 2 to 1 dog, in the case of a hidden set. Time and time again, especially on the Net where NL players are having "a shot" at a PLO game, I see them heave in 100 or so blinds heads up in an un raised pot. Basically they are turning a marginal situation into one that has a very poor long term expected value.

As an example, in a PLO game online a tight player bet into a field of 3-4 players with two of a suit, but no other draw available on the flop. We both have comparatively monster stacks. I passed the nut flush draw! The reasoning was that if I raised, he would either pass, and I would have won a small pot, or he would have re raised, in which case I would be finding myself committed to a bigger pot in which I was a reasonable underdog. If I just called and hit I would not get paid anyway. This is a rare situation but perfectly sensible if you know your foe.

Conversely, in a multi-way pot, if my raise will set me all-in on the flop I am often happy to play the aggressor even though I may expect to get called and I would also expect to have some of my outs in other people's hands. This is because I am still drawing to the nuts, but I will be getting much better money odds and this may actually turn it into a long term positive expectation situation, especially if I have even as little as a back door out extra.

Next time you find yourself with the nut flush draw and little else, think about factors such as position, how big the pot is, whether your raise can actually makes someone pass, how deep your and your opponents stacks are, and how you will play the turn. You can actually decide how to play the cards; they don't have to play you!

Monday, February 14, 2005

Holdem Hater

YTD: +$23750.50

I hate Texas Holdem.

I must admit to a slight fondness for the limit version of the game, but the mindsets between it and PLO are so vast and varied that I find it hard to switch from one to the other, as a disappointing Party session taught me last month. I passed to a classic underpair value bet/bluff just because there was 4 to a straight and a caller - even though I had drove all the action with my top pair, good kicker - even though I was getting laid more than 10 to 1!

But back to the subject at hand, hating holdem, of the NL and tourney variety.

Of course it hasn't always been this way. Like most Brits, I grew up playing tournament holdem, small buyins and pot limit. And I was good at it. However now the world has tilted on its axis and the world of NL tourney play is vastly different from the one I cut my teeth on. Back in the day, and it seems now so very long ago, to be a winning player you simply had to be intelligently aggressive. Most dead money, as it is labelled, was tight passive and could only really cause you harm if it got hit by the deck. Of course now the so-called dead money is ticking away like a time bomb. Sure they don't play "properly"; they grotesquely overplay all their hands on almost every street; having to call or bet on the river is unknown to them - they are already allin. Maybe playing this way is deadly for their bankrolls, but they don't care, they're just having fun doing what their "heroes" do on ESPN. But you can be sure that it can be deadly to you, if you don't make the right adjustments to your game or you are just plain unlucky.

It probably doesn't help my mood that my timing and luck is way out of kilter. I make a move in an unraised pot with 22 and then suddenly, bink, bink, bink, out pops a whole raft of slowplayed pocket pairs. I've got someone drawing to 4 outs for a big pot, and not only does he hit it, another runner comes to ensure someone else beats me too. Depressing.

Some examples of mild madness that you could see every day now on the web. We are playing the 215 tourney on Stars. There are three limpers to the button, with the blinds at 50, so 225 in the pot. The button goes allin for over 2000. Yum. Playing a winner-take-all 1-tale satellite, a guy limps for 50 UTG and I raise with 99 in the CO to 150. Everyone folds to him and he goes allin for 900+ more. With KJo.

These and many, many more are just standard moves in the NL world now. The game I used to enjoy, where you could outwit each other through the streets has fairly much gone, at least online. I'm sure there are sensible and strategic adjustments you can make. Dan N seems to have made them, along with some others. But I don't seem to have the heart or the will to make them, which is foolish considering how much money is flying around in these things.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Rushin' Roulette

YTD: +$25965.30

There was some interest in my posting hands from my rush, which I'm *almost* going to resist. The problem is that when you are hitting this well, most of the hands are fairly uninteresting. It’s mostly a question of having hold of someone by the bollocks and gently squeezing. Or maybe roughly. This does not make great reading. So instead, I'm gonna post those hands that I won, but played really, really bad :-) But from now on, interesting hands only, whichever way the rush is going!

The first hand is so bad I can’t even comment on it – it speaks for itself:

PokerStars Pot-Limit Omaha High, $4 BB (9 handed)
saw flop|saw showdown
CO ($432.50)
Button ($266.90)
SB ($456.40)
BB ($109)
UTG ($837.75)
UTG+1 ($728.20)
MP1 ($684.95)
MP2 ($285)
Hero ($743.20)

Preflop: Hero is MP3 with Js, 7h, Qs, Td.
UTG calls $4, UTG+1 raises to $8, 2 folds, Hero calls $8, 1 fold, Button calls $8, SB calls $6, BB raises to $52, UTG folds, UTG+1 calls $44, Hero calls $44, Button folds, SB calls $44.

Flop: ($220) 3s, Jd, Kc (4 players)
SB checks, BB bets $57 (All-In), UTG+1 raises to $388, Hero calls $388, SB folds.

Turn: ($1053) 8s (3 players, 1 all-in)
UTG+1 bets $288.2 (All-In), Hero calls $288.20.

River: ($1629.40) 9d (3 players, 2 all-in)

Final Pot: $1629.40
Main Pot: $391, between BB, UTG+1 and Hero. > Pot won by Hero ($391).
Pot 2: $1238.40, between UTG+1 and Hero. > Pot won by Hero ($1238.40).

BB has Ad 5d Kh Ah (one pair, aces).
UTG+1 has 7s Kd Ks 7c (three of a kind, kings).
Hero has Js 7h Qs Td (straight, king high).
Outcome: Hero wins $1629.40.

I have no excuses for this hand. I played every street badly. I deserved to lose. I must have been a touch on tilt. What is interesting is that the turn call looked good, but in actual fact made me even deader. NH. Not.

This one is bad, but there is some thought at least:

PokerStars Pot-Limit Omaha High, $4 BB (8 handed)
saw flop|saw showdown

MP1 ($353.90)
MP2 ($1851.45)
CO ($390)
Hero ($1299.65)
SB ($308.40)
BB ($524.40)
UTG ($233.60)
UTG+1 ($187)

Preflop: Hero is Button with 9s, 5c, 8s, 6h.
2 folds, MP1 calls $4, 2 folds, Hero raises to $12, 1 fold, BB raises to $42, MP1 raises to $140, Hero calls $128, BB calls $98.

OK, I’m loose as a goose here, but it now looks like they both have high pairs, maybe both even with AA. In that scenario my hand is quite good.

Flop: ($422) Th, 2d, 6d (3 players)
BB bets $384.4 (All-In), MP1 calls $213.90 (All-In), Hero calls $384.40.

This is far from a dream flop. But if my read is right, then even if one has the nut flush draw, this is an ok call. Unbelievable but true.

Turn: ($1404.70) Jc (3 players, 2 all-in)

River: ($1404.70) 6c (3 players, 2 all-in)

Final Pot: $1404.70
Main Pot: $1063.70, between MP1, Hero and BB. > Pot won by Hero ($1063.70).
Pot 2: $341, between Hero and BB. > Pot won by Hero ($341).

MP1 has 5h As Ad 8d (two pair, aces and sixes)
BB has Td 9d 8h 7s (two pair, tens and sixes).
Hero has 9s 5c 8s 6h (trips, sixes)

Outcome: Hero wins $1404.70.

Arrrrrggggghhhh. My read was very, very bad. In fact I was almost drawing dead. However, compared to the first hand this was World Class Play :-)

So. An amusing slant on a rush? Not to worry, I have played *some* hands well too.

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Not so Super System

YTD: +$19781.95

A little while back a poster asked me for my views on Super System 2 (SS2). Finally, the slow boat from China delivered this long-awaited tome from the site after only a wait of 1 1/2 months from shipping. What's my initial view?


I haven't read it all yet, and I sincerely doubt I will do. Even for a poker book the writing is mostly poor. I guess the problem for me is that I expected it to be of a similar quality to SS1, which although was often about antiquated games, was always full of top-notch advice. In SS2 you get a lot of filler...a LOT OF FILLER. Do you want to know the history of NLHE? Or the WPT? Or a synopsis of Mike Caro's n books? Well here it is. But wait, isn't this supposed to be a book for *experts*?

I've only read one full section, the PLO. I can't imagine that anything in it you wouldn't have already figured out for yourself if you had played a bit. Certainly nothing as useful as the Ciaffone and Ruben books. Not one thing that was an eye opener. I guess there was the prohibition on early raising that I liked, but I understand that I may be in the minority there and for me its more a style thing - lots of players seem to raise early and do okay. There was also some bad advice and IMHO at least one piece of fatal advice, so bad I can't mention it just in case it is widely taken up and it is directly responsible for my becoming a millionaire :-)

But it does make a very effective doorstop.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

The Mouth of Madness

YTD: +$11083.55

Apologies to my Constant Readers for the long hiatus...too much play and too much other stuff going on. I thought this hand was a very interesting one as I am either a complete fish or I played it very well. Needless to say my Foe went beserk after this and went into a long diatribe about how useless I am. Not a good tactic with me as (a) I have the money (b) I am funnier at the needle stuff than most (c) I have the money.

Omaha Pot Limit ($2/$4) - 2005/01/24 -
19:09:00 (ET)
Table 'Abnoba' Seat #1 is the button
Seat 1: haloofflies ($55.15 in chips)
Seat 3: fixer410 ($494.45 in chips)
Seat 4: TheDummy ($461 in chips)
Seat 7: Foe ($513.15 in chips)
Seat 8: Hero ($362 in chips)
Seat 9: proffen ($1793.95 in chips)
fixer410: posts small blind $2
TheDummy: posts big blind $4
Svenning: sits out
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to Hero [5s 7c 4d 8d]
Foe: calls $4
Hero: raises $8 to $12

I certainly don't always raise with this kind of stuff in early position. However I felt my foe was fairly exploitable and I would rather have him "to myself" if that was the case

mamakitty has returned
proffen: folds
haloofflies: folds
fixer410: folds
TheDummy: folds
Foe: calls $8
*** FLOP *** [2d Ad 9s]
Foe: checks
Hero: bets $24

A standard "Yes I really do have them bet"

Foe: raises $76.50 to $100.50

This was a strange one. Why check raise supposed trips with a flush draw? He didn't seem that kind of player at all. And of course my own flush draw makes it less likely he has one. The clearest explanation is that he has trips or two pair himself and that he doesn't believe me. My outs, plus the surprise factor of the middle pin just about make this a call for the turn.

Hero: calls $76.50

*** TURN *** [2d Ad 9s] [Th]
Foe: bets $228

Assuming I'm right on his hand, this card has just shot my outs through the roof. I would have passed a blank on the turn, but if all my outs are good, this is actually a trivial call.

Hero: calls $228
*** RIVER *** [2d Ad 9s Th] [5d]
Foe: bets $25
Hero: calls $21.50 and is all-in
*** SHOW DOWN ***
Foe: shows [9c 9h Ah 5c] (three of a kind, Nines)
Hero: shows [5s 7c 4d 8d] (a flush, Ace high)
Hero collected $727 from pot

Insanity or good play?