Tuesday, February 01, 2005


Go For Your Gun

I played the £50 Shootout in Luton last night. It was very good, the structure worked really well. When you compare to a standard £20 Rebuy comp, it's just amazing how you can have the same number of players putting in about the same amount of money and taking about the same time, and yet you have 20 times more play !

I've been sceptical in the past about how much difference having "more play" makes. In this case, I was wrong. When you have small blinds and are playing 5-handed or less most of the time, weaknesses will be exposed more painfully and more often. Even though there was only one player at our starting table who was £10 beginner tournament weak, there were still plenty of mistakes to exploit. This one player lost all his chips to me, which was nice ! First off I flopped the nut straight and he was unfortunate enough to make the low straight on the turn, and foolish enough to overplay his hand on the river. Then I made up the small blind with Kxs and four of us took the flop. The flop was QQ9, checked around, the turn gave me a flush draw, checked again, and I backdoored the flush on the river. I bet out and our hero raised all in with Q-rag. It's hard to say which was the bigger mistake, checking the turn against three players with a possible straight and flush draw out, or raising on the end when he's only going to be called if he's behind.

We played 4-handed for a while before Rita cracked up and blew the lot with K2s. It was quite funny how it happened, the small blind said "Raise" but before he could draw breath to say how much, Rita barked "All in", slammed her chips in, picked up her bag and stood up. The SB made a good call with KQ. I think Rita's behaviour constitutes a tell :-)

The same guy wasn't a bad player but he was overplaying Ace-small short-handed and paid me off all in with A6 against my AJ. Heads up I had a 3-2 chip lead, and after some to and fro, exploited his tendency to overbet the pot when I found QQ. In the key hand, I bet every street with A7 on a board of AKJQ7, and he called on every street, throwing away on the end with "I was hoping for a split pot". I finished him off next hand and as everyone was waiting for us, it was time for the final.

So we started off 5-handed, 15K chips, 100-200 blinds, 5th through 2nd win £150 and the winner £1150. I admit I didn't play the final as well as I should have done. I was up to 19K after a couple of moderate pots, but I lost 5K in a blind v blind confrontation after correctly putting my opponent on an Ace but not realising he had hit his Ten kicker on the turn. After being caught with my fingers in the till here, I tried to run at least one more bluff too many, probably two. Looking back I went from 14K down to 7K almost entirely in hands where I was the Big Blind and saw a free flop. In this situation I have been pushing too hard lately. It's better to take the free flop and value bet if you hit something half-decent, most of the time. Anyway, with blinds at 400-800 I reraised Carmy's button raise with ATs, he called with 66, and I lost the race. So it goes.

All in all it was a great game to play in. I played for 4 hours and I never had less than 20 small blinds in my stack. The first time I was all-in I lost. Every table was winner-take-all, which is how it should be. If you're a good player, you have so much more scope to set people up and take advantage of their mistakes. If you're not (and we can all improve), you can really pick up some bad habits playing rinky-dink rebuy tournaments, and this would be a good place to learn how to play properly. I would love to see a few more of the £10 tournament experts in this game ! It's on every Monday this month, check it out.

Meanwhile I will be posting tournament reports for any live tournament I play where something interesting happens. Seeing as I managed an entire article out of one hand, that should be most of them. I find it extremely helpful to write it down and analyze it myself. It was only when I sat down to write this I realised I was doing too many chips in free flop hands. I encourage anyone to chip in with comments or questions, especially if you disagree with anything - that's when we learn the most !

I would have guessed that the prize money would be as follows:

£250 for 5th-2nd and £750 for 1st.

This seems to me to be a better balance - winning your table becomes better rewarded and you are all playing for a £500 freeroll in the final.....?

Paradoxically, my next best choice of structure would be £1750 for 1st.

What time did the final start? Or finish if you were still there...? I may well drop in on the next one if it is early enough.

Your thoughts on the payout?
Hi Simon,

Payouts don't bother me too much. In the long run it'll all work out. If a payout system is unusual, in whichever way, that's usually good because I can adjust to it better than most. £100 either way I'm not really bothered about.

It's a nice change to sit down and play in a winner-take-all game, and even nicer when you're up against opponents who plod (or speed) along in the same gear whatever the blinds, whatever the payout, however many people are at the table. I left about 1 am in 5th, I shouldn't have thought it went on much longer than 2. Of course even if you have a good edge, at least 70% of the time you're not going to make the final and you won't be there too long.

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