Saturday, March 26, 2005


Jack Of All Trades

I think many people don't realise how important game selection is in tournaments. Surely everyone knows that it's a big part of cash play, or at least everyone who thinks about anything more than the two cards in their hand (or six, depending on your taste in sick cash games). With the huge choice now available on-line, it's a big factor in tournaments too. For a start you have standard MTTs, 50/30/20 Sit and Goes, winner-take-all single tables, super-satellites, 6-handed versions of all of the above, and while No-Limit accounts for about 90% of the action, there are enough other games around to give you plenty of options. Then you have the different player populations on each site. If you play a particular site because you like the software, that's all very well, but you could be costing yourself $$$. IMO Pokerstars has by far the best software (and customer support), but also generally the toughest (or least soft) tournament fields. All in all, there's a lot to consider.

I keep changing my mind about where my focus should be. Only three weeks ago I said on here "I'll stick with the Sit and Goes". Now I've binned them for the moment, and am mostly playing MTTs. It's important to keep an eye open for good games as they come and go. This means having accounts with as many of the major sites as possible - although I will admit that I currently don't play Ladbrokes and Ultimate Bet for the main reason that they both sponsor so many twats. You have to make a stand somewhere :-). Ladbrokes suck anyway because they don't allow American players, as I have mentioned before. Anyway before I ramble too much, keep your options and your eyes wide open, because games will come and go, change and mutate very quickly. What's important is that you have the knowledge to step into any format and adjust to it. Structure defines strategy. You must always think about how to adapt your play to the structure of the game. Don't just whinge about short levels and so on - think how to adjust, and do it. Follow the money !

Which is why I am going to the Vic today to play a super-satellite for their £1500 comp next week. Normally I'd rather have my eyes pulled out but Brighton is on, Dublin is on, there's a fair chance that the field will be well populated with sunglasses boys, and most of all Blue Square are adding two seats, £3000 in cold hard cash. Good for them, at least someone realises how to sponsor for value. It's the least I can do to cough up a fiver rake and give it a spin. See if I can out-rock the rocks !

Evening update : I did play, no good. No need to out-rock any rocks - the small tournament/satellite dynamic has changed in the Vic, perhaps forever, as I was discussing with Bad Beat in the bar beforehand. It must have changed if he can win twice in a row ;-). Felt I was Lord and Master of my table, worked 2K up to 4K, flopped nuts geezer check raised all in with flush draw you know the rest, not much happened after that, all in 2700 (blinds 300-600) with 44 called by AQ flop A goodnight. I didn't want to play the stupid £1500 anyway so nyeah. I did feel it was a waste of such a beautiful afternoon to hang around the Vic. I should have been playing online at home with the window open.

Thursday, March 24, 2005


Slave To The Grind

Why is everyone getting the cake in Sit and Goes except me ? I ask myself ?

Well the immediate answer is they're not, most of them, it's just that Sit and Goes are much more streaky than people think, and they'll tell you all about their good runs and talk about something else when it goes pear-shaped. But I can't help thinking I ought to do better in them. My record since the start of last year at $50 and above is Played 253, Net $2484 @ $9.82 per tournament. Well I'm not losing I suppose but it ought to be better than that. Here's a hand I played just now that makes me wonder why.

Pokerstars $55 Turbo, 8-handed in level 2 (15-30) and I have around 1500. I limp in late position with 55 and 5 players take the flop. T65 two diamonds ker-ching. SB bets 30, call call, I raise the pot. No time to get trappy here with the drawing flop. Only the SB calls. Turn 4d. He checks. Well I think I should bet rather than give a free card to a hand that's still drawing. I bet 350, he check-raises all in. Marvellous. It is now 850 to me with 2200 in the pot.

At this stage of a conventional tournament, where the decision is simply a question of pot odds, this is close, but IMO probably a call against an unknown player. Even a small chance of him having 2 pair or thinking he's being clever with JJ or something tips it towards a call. In a 50-30-20 Sit and Go, the equity considerations probably make it a fold. Not just because survival is important to me, it's important to him, so he's less likely to go all in without a hand. Unless he's a nutter, which he could be, but I don't know. So I turn the stereo down and click Time and chew my lip for a bit and I think I should pass but I STILL FUCKING CALL. I just find it really hard to pass this kind of hand, especially online. He has Td2d and I miss. Can't fault his call on the flop with a pair and a draw, and of course he has outplayed me fair and square on the turn.

In a 50/30/20 Sit and Go, my instincts and my intellect pull in different directions. Instinctively I want to get involved while the bad players still have chips. I want to pressure the tight players. I want to get all the chips. Intellectually I know this is wrong. So this continual tug-of-war between heart and mind affects my judgement, and frankly the heart just wins too often.

The dynamics of a multi-table tournament are different. Prior to reaching the money, you can make pure pot odds decisions unless both you and your opponent have huge chips. Contrary to popular belief. I know that if you lose your chips you're out. I know that you might find a better spot further along the line. I don't care. If I'm out, there'll be another one to play soon enough. If I double up, then when the "better spot" arrives, I'll have twice the chips to make it pay. You may not want to be knocked out but the correct way to think about it is : "If I double my chips, is that twice as good ?". Usually it is. So I can play the way I want to. The same applies in winner-take-all single tables, in fact even more so.

I think that's a major contributory factor to my relatively poor Sit and Go return. Another is that I'm not the greatest at multi-tabling. The more I think about it, the less I believe it is a coincidence that I won a 300-runner tournament while playing only one game. But there is one final statistic to consider. I can break my S+G numbers down as follows. No Limit - P 218, Net $1759 @ $8.07. Limit ($50 Limit on Party) - P 35, Net $725 @ $20.71. A minutely small sample but perhaps something worth following up. After all if everyone says something in poker then it's almost certainly wrong, and everyone says No Limit is more skilful than Limit ...

Monday, March 14, 2005


Some Value I Can Eat

"And somewhere in the darkness the gambler, he broke even.
But in his final words I found some value I can eat"

That would have been better I reckon. Call Kenny Rogers, get it changed. I finally found some value I can eat in the Will Hill £10K added yesterday. In the interests of getting it quietly I will keep this as brief as possible :-). I think there were three factors that helped.

1) I was lucky. Of course. It should go without saying that you need some luck to win a 300 runner tournament, but I'm putting it here to remind me when I'm on a bad run. The only outrageous outdraw I laid down was T9s making a house on the turn against KK, although that was for only 30% of my stack, he was all in. I won four or five hands with the best of it (QQ v A9), as coin tosses (AQ v 88) and from behind (KJs v A6), and even though most of them were for less than half my chips, I did win them all. I had to put down to a reraise a couple of times, but I never ran into a big hand when I was committed The key hand was probably when I raised with QQ on the button and the BB tried to make me put it down with 55. That sent me into the final as clear chip leader.

2) I played well. Humility being the greatest form of conceit, I do think I played well. I adapted to the structure better than anyone else I came up against. Once the antes kick in on Cryptologic, they're on the high side (usually 1/4 of the small blind). High antes severely hurt the tight players, and they absolutely kill the guys who are trying to fold their way into the money. Hooray ! Many was the time I saw someone pass when they should have been calling with 23 off. I gambled (with the KJs against the A6) before I became too short-stacked. I made the first raise as often as I could and no one stood up to me. I called short stack all ins when I had to for the size of the pot, and won quite a few of those as well with my 29 and 47 type hands. For a moment heads up I thought "shit ! I'm playing for £1500 heads up online" but all the heads up practice in S+Gs paid off. I had worked it up to 2-1 chip lead when I raised on the button with KK and he called. Flop 875, he checked, I put him all in (100K in the pot, he had about 200K left), he called with 98 and my hand held up one more time ! Unfortunately I was doing my Mattias Anderssen for long enough for the window to disappear before I could say well played to my opponent, so Matt20026, I'm sorry and well played, you were the toughest opponent by a distance.

3) I was concentrating. I wasn't playing any other games. I recorded the football to watch it later. I'm not sure how much this helped, but it didn't hurt ! I may have made one good call and one pass which I thought was good at the time (though we'll never know) as a result.

So what's next for me ? $500 Sit and Goes ? Play every event at the Vic in two weeks ? No. This isn't a bonus - it's a wage. It's money hard earned over all the on-line hours in the last year or so. While I'm now in a position to take the odd shot, I'm going to be selective with it. We shall see what happens.

Saturday, March 12, 2005


Another Friday Night

Just for the record, I played the £100 No-Limit in Luton last night. As soon as the first words in anger were "Five Hundred" (starting blinds 25-50) I knew it was game on ! I enjoyed watching the madness for a while, and built my stack up to about 8K at the break. After that I lost two hands, one from in front, one from behind, them's the breaks, next case.

It was quite hard work after being at work all day as the new five day week kicked in :-(. While the round of each and the £250 games are probably not enough value to schlep up there for an 18 hour day, these £100 games are just unbelievable. With a few of the better players off in Vienna, this was a line up you really would like to be locked up in a room with.

Obviously the work commitments are going to cut down my regular play a little, but I should manage one more game before flying out to Vegas on the 7th. Not that I'm counting the days or anything ! I think my game is as good as it's been for a long time. We shall see.

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