Sunday, July 31, 2005



$1100 on Betfair this afternoon (900 Euros if you wish) ahhhh. Which pushes us the right side of $3000 online as we end the month. What I'm pleased with is the number of deals I've closed, 4 outright wins and just the odd 3rd and 5th place finish. More than one bubble finish as well - which is quite as it should be ! I've had some luck here and there but if you do hit the front in some of these tournaments, you have a lot of play (Bodog and Betfair especially) and it's often just a case of chipping away at people till they crack up. Geezer reraised me with A9 today for no reason at all, I had AK and that was the end of him. I've been playing pretty well heads up and 3-handed too. Let's hope I can take a bigger tournament to the hoop fairly soon, then we'll be in business. Not tonight though, I think 4 hours will do for today ! I might play some Exchange Poker on Betfair with my winnings. Totally pointless from a value POV, but it looks like fun.

What was nice today is that I was really on a freeroll. Not in terms of added money (although of course there was some mmmmm) but because I should have been busted miles away from the money. Playing 75-150 I had about 1600 after posting the BB. Late position made it 300, SB called, I called with 65s planning to move in if I flopped a draw or a rag flop pair. I hadn't planned for it coming 789. Or one of my opponents having JT. However, thanks to a comedy bungling duet of the like not seen since Glaze and Maclean *, I escaped with half my chips and never looked back.

The added money makes more of a difference than you might think. If you assume a basic ROI of 50%, for an E20+2 tournament that's an EV of 8 Euros, not really worth getting out of bed for. However with 100 runners and E1000 added, now our total expected return is 1.5 x 30 = 45, and our EV is almost trebled to 23 Euros ! Because your edge and the overlay can be multiplied. Double-table another tournament with a similar edge and there's $60-70 for maybe 1.5-2 hours play on average.

Finally, as usual there was a bit of stalling going on. It's not too bad on Crypto, certainly nothing like as bad as Party, but it still perplexes me what people are trying to do. If 20 places are paid and 22 players left, fine I can understand the players 19th-22nd in the chip list taking their time. But not the guy in 7th. He's just missing the stealing boat. Or if 30 players are left, the guy in 27th is just wasting his own time and ensuring that the blinds go up quicker in terms of hands played. Most of the time it was just one guy, and he busted 22nd (ha ha) but what amused me was, his name was a prominent English football club. Now if I was going to piss everyone off by wasting their time trying to get my money back in tournaments, the one thing I wouldn't do is call myself "QPR" and drag my club down with me. But as soon as this guy sat down I thought - staller ! Angle shooter ! Anyone like to guess which club he was proudly representing ? Clue : think 70s.

* Yes, I had a bath this morning. Well I thought it was funny at the time.


Don't Bluff When You Will Be Called (3)

With a day off today, I'm just doing some homework prior to the tournaments I'm going to play this week - £200 rebuy on Wednesday and £300 freezeout on Sunday at the Vic. How can you bone up (so to speak) for a poker tournament ? Well, the first thing you can do is check the structure and be ready for any adjustments you have to make. I'm still not sure if the Vic are going to have 3 blinds this week, but they did yesterday, so I've been practising that a bit with my software. I quite like 3 blinds, more money in the middle punishes the rocks and favours the (selectively) aggressive. And it seriously punishes the legions of people who can't play a short stack.

Yesterday I had about 20K at one point, with 30K being "par" for a seat. I'm still not sure if I should have rocked up for a while at that point - the blind structure and my natural instincts pulled towards mixing it, but of course it was a super paying 10 seats which very much pushed towards rocking up. There'll be no such dilemma this week, unless I have a huge stack, which is unlikely. If there is one area I should probably tighten up in, it's trying to play too much poker out of position.

Apart from that, I've been thinking about where my edge is. What do other players do that I don't, because I think it's wrong ? Even at this level, I'm encouraged to realise that it's quite a lot. Telling you all the areas where I deviate from "conventional" strategy would be tantamount to telling you how to beat me, so we won't be doing that, but there is one situation which I think many, many people misplay and it doesn't hurt me too much to talk about it.

I was talking before about raising with marginal hands when the big blind is effectively committed and so you're going to be called. What about the situation where a short (or shortish) stack has already moved all in, and you find a middley hand like AJ or 77, with half the table still to act. So many players launch in a reraise "to get it heads up". Much of the time, the risk/reward score makes this play a loser.

Let's fill in some numbers. Blinds 1K-2K, short stack goes all in for 5K. You have 25K and find AJ, with 5 players still to act behind you. If you raise all in (please don't even think about putting half of it in and then folding to a reraise that's even worse), your best case scenario is that everyone passes and you get it heads up as you wished. The short stack's hand range is going to vary from player to player - we'd like to "put him on" a smaller Ace with our magic powers of hand reading but it isn't necessarily so. Personally I'm quite loath to commit with a small Ace (as the short stack) simply because it's in such bad shape against the hands you'll be called by (although in this situation with only 5K I'd have to). I'd rather have two pictures or even suited connectors if they're not too low. And short stacks are allowed to find legitimate hands. I think it's generous to say your chance of winning is 60% but let's go with it. Your EV compared to passing in this eventuality is (60% x 13) - 5 = +2.8K.

However, if someone behind you wakes up with a hand, now you're in trouble. I might pass AQ myself in this situation, but a lot of players won't. Anything else that's bigger, you're going to be called, and you'll be a 5/2 dog for all your chips. The EV calculation is more complicated because of the side-pot but I would estimate it at around -10K, or worse. Does this add up to a +EV play ? Maybe, just. But it's high risk and frankly a discreet pass is better a lot of the time. If EV's not your bag, just realise that you're putting the extra 20K chips out there to be lost. If no one has a better hand, you just get them back. If anyone does have a better hand, you're now a solid favourite to lose them.

Believe me I've seen people make this kind of play with less than AJ/77 as well. When they turn over 44 and say "I 'ad to get it 'eads up y'know ?", it's only a matter of time before they're on the rail muttering "can't believe it, I had the all in beat and the blind woke up with Queens". Funnily enough these are often the same people who have a coronary if you bet into an empty sidepot on the flop with less than the nuts. I know it's not exactly the same situation but there are similarities.

The bottom line is that two of the things people overdo in tournaments at this level is they play too aggressively and they are too intent on knocking opponents out. Sometimes these two factors pull in opposite directions, but here they're pulling together. People are so conditioned not to call, that is to raise if they play, that they end up endangering all their chips when there's no need. There are plenty of situations that arise where calling is the right play, I might even say that it's the new raising. We shall see if I can exploit any of them this week.

Sunday, July 24, 2005


Low Rolling

I span up a few tournaments this morning and played absolutely dreadfully. Or at least it felt dreadful, every flop seemed to miss me but I knew I was playing poorly too. Every time I tried to play poker with someone it went horribly wrong. What I need to do right now is focus on my early-round / big stack strategy. I know how to play a short stack upside down and back to front, so I should be practising on what I'm not so good at.

And as it happens I was watching one of Jesse & Padraig's shows today (a few more have popped up even though the Series is over) and Scott Fischman was on. I have to say that previously he has come across as a complete tool on ESPN and in text interviews but to be fair he talked a lot of sense in this. He was saying that Internet poker is a great practice ground for trying new things at whatever level, you can play as low as you like, the money doesn't matter.

So I fired up a couple of small tournaments with a view to playing a lot of hands and taking it from there. One of them was a $4 satellite on Paradise for those who can't afford $30 for their rebuy tournament :-). Apparently 60 such people do exist, or at least 59 plus me, and it worked reasonably well, I pumped up to about 7K before the blinds reached the point where I would have to fall back on normal short-stack strategy. At this point it was just funny. There were 8 seats and 3 prizes of, wait for it, $0.12 $0.10 and $0.07 . So with 12 of us left we were playing hand for hand for a 7 cent bubble. The pressure ! Anyhow I took the blinds and made a call I probably shouldn't have, lost and was reduced to auto-folding and hoping that the lower stacks would bust out before me. And I was still getting angry with all the people doing stupid things in all in pots like they do at this level ! At any level come to think of it. Anyway I made it in the end for my $30 seat !

Greg Raymer has said that one of his main strengths is being able to play his best game no matter how big or small the stakes are. I can do the second bit. That must be a start at least.

Sunday, July 17, 2005


So How Was Damascus ?

This is something DY likes to say when someone completes a U-turn in thinking. And this weekend, it seems to me, I have finally committed mentally to on-line tournaments rather than live.

There are a lot of reasons. You can skim through this blog (and this one of course) to pick up an idea, but in general all the inconveniences and annoyances of live tournaments were tolerable while I was making more money live than online. Now, I think, that's changed. Easy for me to say after winning 3 online tournaments in 3 days I know. But tournaments are inherently very streaky. More so than almost everyone realizes. I cashed 1 in 48 on-line tournaments between returning from Vegas and the tide turning about 10 days ago. In the last 4 days I have cashed 4/8 including 3 wins.

I know about the luck involved - see below - and obviously I also knocked Aces off with Queens, found AA v KK and won a few races, all the things you have to do to win any tournament. But a part of this is down to a change in attitude towards tournaments without antes. Basically, you either limp and take some flops or, if they won't let you do that, wait for a hand and get paid. There's no shame in the latter ! Stealing blinds is not a factor until you approach the bubble. At that point you steal based on the sizes of the stacks behind you and who gives a toss what two cards you have. This has opened up a few more sites - I should mention BoDog which receives a big thumbs-up from me. There aren't too many games for $50 and above, but if you like to play $15-$20 or so, there is lots of play and if you play the bonuses right for every $1 you pay in entry fees you get $2 back. Not bad.

Playing festival tournaments with your own money for any extended period of time is a mug's game. Frankly hardly anyone else is doing it. They're either paid in by sponsors or backers, or they're the luckiest of the online satellite punters (who remind me of those bizarre Japanese arcade machines with a million grillion balls going in the top and a couple of hundred coming out the bottom). Anything that's sub-festival is too small to provide the same kind of earn as on-line multi-tabling, especially when you factor in travelling time and expense. Maybe something like £100 tournaments in Luton or Gutshot are just about worth it, if you can accomodate the fixed start times and late nights, the old-time moaners and angle-shooters, and the "new generation" with their sunglasses and their dwell-ups and their "ain't gonna knock me mate out am I ?".

I will spin the two Vic tournaments I've already paid for and take stock. My aim would be to take stock based on how well I play and whether I feel I have an edge rather than results. If I play like an idiot and still get a result (it can happen) I might just say "ha ha" and pocket the loot. We shall see.

Saturday, July 16, 2005


A Bit Of Form !

3 of the last 4 tournaments I played today :

Two very special bad beats I inflicted on my enraged opponents :
A couple to remember to warm the cockles on those long winter nights.


Oh If I Could Only Get Some Sleep

If you are wondering how I called off 4K with no pair and two outs at Luton last night, here it is. £100 rebuy 2500 chips to start 5 tables. I worked up to 4500 and doubled up to 9K with JJ v A9 just before the rebuys ended. Shortly after, blinds are 100-200. Geezer on my immediate right goes all in for 300, I make it 700 with AK and Asif calls in the big blind.

Flop 854 rainbow, Asif moves in for 4K (surprise). I have 7K at this point. Now I wish I could tell you what my thought process was at this point but basically it was "I have no idea what he has. Fuck it. Call." He had about the most unpleasant hand he could reasonably have at this point - A5. And the all in turns over AK. Marvellous. Down to 3K which I soon lose with A5 v 99 when the blinds go up to 200-400.

Asif is a bit of a legend. I've always found him very difficult to read. I think I have a better line on him having seen two more hands last night : soon after our coup he raises, Ray Hammer calls, flop comes AKJ and Asif moves in. Ray has a dwell up and claims to pass AQ. Asif shows him AJ. Soon enough though Paul Alterman calls him down with a King high flush draw on a board of 77c6c, and finds he was winning all the way against Q9 no clubs.

Asif does get paid when he has a hand (by fish like me :-)) and will win many more tournaments than a lot of players who look down on him. He's probably still losing, but man he has fun with it.

I was a bit zonked and shouldn't really have played. Driving up I almost rear-ended someone and thought "Are you sure you're in a fit state to play poker ?". 2 minutes later I thought "Are you sure you're fit to drive ?", first things first though. Calling without thinking is a sure sign of tiredness and I'm finding it really hard to play late at night sometimes, being out of practice. I still signed up for the two Vic comps as planned, one of them has a final the next day and the other is 4pm on a Sunday so shouldn't be too bad. We might see how those go before committing to all-night sessions in Luton (especially the Shootout which finishes on the night).

Despite all that it was fun last night, Luton had clearly imported the Internet's top dealers for the occasion, 2-outers being pinged on the river on a regular basis. Best of all last hand before the rebuys, three diamonds on board, 4 players all in. 8 high flush, 9 high flush, Q high flush and two pair. All that surprised me was that the two pair didn't hit. Typical Pokerstars.

Thursday, July 14, 2005


You Can Keep Your WSOP

Just won a small on-line tournament. $10 freezeout, 14 runners. 1st paid $320. Mmmmm ... value.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005


Time For A Spin-Up

Right then. I feel good about my game and it's time to have another spin at the festivals. I was thinking about stepping straight into the £1500 at Luton which will be great value no doubt, however I thought it would be better not to put all my eggs in one basket and try the following instead :

3/8 £200 PL Rebuy (Vic). One rebuy maximum.
7/8 £300 Freezeout (Vic)
8/8 £200 Freezeout (Luton)
12/8 £250 Shootout (Luton)
14/8 £100 PL Freezeout (Luton)

A nice mix of styles, and all within bankroll *. If I should make £1500 profit or more in the first three, I can then spin that up in the £1500. This should be a good chance to test the water and see how these things are playing right now because they do change from year to year. And to see how my game stands at this level. After I fluked a result in 2001 I spent about 18 months giving it back at this level. It staggers me to think of everything I know now that I didn't know then, to look back at some of the mistakes I made that I wouldn't make now. And that's the way it should be. If I don't say the same thing in 2008 looking back to now, that will be a problem.

I will be going for the win, and I won't be making any deals unless they are heavily in my favour. I want to win an amount of money that can set me up for a decent run, and I want a good result on my CV. Nothing looks better than "1st (no deals)". So I have three weeks to prepare (fail to prepare, prepare to fail !) and of course I will keep you posted with reports here. Speaking of preparation by the way, does anyone know what the Vic's blind structure will be ? Two blinds, three blinds, two blinds with antes (for NL) ? I know I could phone them up but what odds I can talk to anyone who knows. What were they last time ?

Incidentally I have only just noticed that Luton is ALL freezeouts. Interesting. This can't be just because they can squeeze the maximum juice out can it ? And the Vic have only 2 rebuy tournaments, including the crapshoot-tastic pot-limit PLO8 (the only time I played one of these I saw a guy reraise all in with KQJ2). Has there been player pressure for more freezeouts ? As you know I'm not in the "rebuys aren't fair" camp but I wonder if enough of that talk has reached the ears of the tournament organisers.

* I don't mean I only have £1500 to play with, I mean these are all less than 3% of my bankroll which is a reasonable limit for a single tournament.

Sunday, July 10, 2005


How To Play When You Don't Have Magic Powers

Interesting hand I just played in an online tournament. 400-800 blinds, I have about 7K. One limper (who has about 4500 after the limp), I'm in the big blind with 97 and I check.

Flop comes down T7x. Frankly I would have a nibble at this even if I had nothing at all. With second pair I bet 800 into the 1600 pot, he calls me. Turn is a J, putting 2 hearts on board. I punt again for 900 and now he goes all in for about 2700 more. By this time there is 7700 in the pot.

Now, for those of you with magic powers you can send them into the ether to "put him on a hand", decide what he has and act accordingly. The problem is that I lack this ability, and I have to deal with possibilities. And what strikes me is that even if he has an overpair or AJ I still have 10 outs. If I this is how it stands when I make the call, my EV is about -400, calculated as (10/44)*(7700+2700) - 2700. However, if he has a draw, an underpair, AK, AQ or something like that I am a substantial favourite and the EV of a call is more like +5000. There is a very slim possibility that I'm looking at 2 pair or a set, but even then I have 4 outs, so I won't worry about that too much.

If you ask me what's most likely, I think I'm most likely behind. However, to fold I have to believe I am behind 90% of the time. And I just don't. So I call. He has KQ and 13 outs. He rivers an Ace. Doh.

You see this all the time. There are a couple of prime examples in WSOP interviews here and there (I won't name and shame :-)). "I put him on XYZ so I ..." How do people do that ? Magic ? You know what ? I secretly think they can't do it at all. I secretly think they "put" their opponent on the hand they want to put him on, and notice that's not always a hand they can beat - the weak-tight player will often put his opponent on a hand he can't beat, so he or she can fold and congratulate themselves on their survival.

You can see this on Gutshot if you like, in the "Kings pre-flop" thread. Most of the respondents mean well, but they're making no attempt to assign a range of hands to their opponent. They're just picking the most likely one. And yes Aces are most likely if I had to pick one, but that's not how it works in real life. Don't kid yourself that you can pull your opponent's exact hand out of the air. If, like in my tournament situation, you're a small dog against the most likely hands but a big favourite against the less likely ones, this can point to a clear call.

Incidentally if I did make a mistake on this hand, the bet on the turn was too small. But the real point is the thought process behind the final call.

Saturday, July 09, 2005


Putting In The Hours

Battered the tournaments on-line today. I played 4 speed tournaments and 5 "proper" tournaments. Mind you two of the proper ones lasted about 5 minutes between them. Annoyingly these were the two with decent added money. One was just the breaks, I had top pair against a big draw on the turn and lost. One I made a bit of a blunder in retrospect. Very early on, 1500 chips and 10-20 blinds, I found AA under the gun and made it 60. Either limping (to induce a reraise) or making it at least 100 would have been better. What I did inhibited a reraise but still let everyone in for 4% of their stack. Flop 862 rainbow gave me no chance to escape from a cunningly concealed 62s. I don't knock the guy's play here, why not take a flop for 60. In the very first level or two I realise you should either limp/see a cheap flop, limp/reraise or make a large enough raise so as not to give people implied odds. Live and learn.

Rather frustratingly I couldn't win a race all day, until finally on Stars I knocked AA off with JT and won a 50/50, which was sufficient to take me to 22nd/400. I can't remember any other all-in coups, although it's possible I'm selectively forgetting the odd win :-). Enjoyed it though, and learned something too. Nice to feel I'm moving forward. And tomorrow I have a day off, family stuff.


Dont Bluff When You Will Be Called (2)

Funnily enough a similar situation to the one I talk about below comes up in Harrington On Hold-Em 2. Problem 10-13 if anyone has it to hand.

Online tournament. Blinds 3K/6K, antes 300, 9 handed so 11,700 in the pot. It's folded to you with 4 players behind you. Stacks :

You 80K
Cut-off 44K
Button 148K
SB 14K (after posting)
BB 1500 (after posting)

You find A4. What do you do, what do you do ?

Dan makes it 12K, although he does say "A very conservative player might elect to fold here, and that's not a bad play".

Without doing an exhaustive analysis, if this play works and everyone folds except of course the BB, then we have put in 7500 and the total pot is now 20500. If A4 is 60% against a random hand the EV when no one calls is about 5K. We're putting in 12 to win 5, there's the SB to worry about, and if we get any action from cut-off or button I'm either going to pass to a reraise or be in a horrible situation if they call. In the problem, hero is reraised by the cut-off and Dan recommends a pass at this point.

It's not a clear cut fold pre-flop but it's a bit thin for my liking. Plus you're going to show A4 and that's not going to help your stealing image.


Real Live Poker

Just made it back from Luton's £100 freezeout. Reading HOH2 and seeing all this WSOP stuff on the web was enough to make me bite for some live poker. And I quite enjoyed it, albeit nothing very spectacular happened, I spent about three hours between 4500 and 7000 (from a starting stack of 5000).

Fairly early on I moved tables and there was this young guy 2 to my left who, it was immediately apparent, knew what he was doing. Someone called him "JP" and I asked him if he was John Paul Kelly, who I've heard Keith speak highly of. He said he was. I asked him why he wasn't in Vegas, and he said he was only 19 ... just like policemen they get younger and younger. Good player too. At one point I raised, he flat called, one of the blinds went all in for double the bet, I called, JPK moved in. Luckily for me I only had some suited bollocks so I folded, although the pot was big enough for me to have called if I had any kind of hand. I was fully expecting to see only half a hand - but he had Aces ! Sneaky. By 11pm he was caked up and running the table. I reraised him for about 4K with 44 (blinds 300-600) - I know but he was the one player who might have passed. Unfortunately there were others at the table, and one of them woke up with QQ. Oh dear how sad never mind.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005


Don't Bluff When You Will Be Called

There's an interesting situation that comes up more often in speed tournaments than in the conventional games, and I must admit that when I worked out the Maths I was surprised by the result. See what you think.

This is example is close to a real situation I was in a couple of days ago, altered slightly just to make the calculation simpler. Alterations don't change the basic idea. Playing 1000-2000 blinds, I have 8000 under the gun 7-handed and I pick up A6.

We're going to have to make some assumptions to work this out ; I'm going to keep them reasonable and not get carried away about how accurate the result is, and anyway the important point is that I make the same assumptions in the two cases.

Case 1) the other players all have enough chips to fold to the raise, including (most importantly) the big blind. If I move in, assume that I have a 50% chance of being called, that if called I will be a 2/1 underdog to win the hand, that I won't be called twice and that the caller will have enough chips to cover me. These assumptions are necessary to simplify the calculation, I don't believe that they undermine the central point. Anyway, my EV is now :

Everyone passes : Prob 50%, Result +3000, EV +1500
I get called and lose : Prob 33%, Result -8000, EV -2640
I get called and win : Prob 17%, Result +10000 *, EV +1700
...............................................................Total EV +560.

*10000 is an average value allowing for the fact that it's different according to whether the caller is in the blinds or not.

So we have a +EV play. Of the three outcomes, in one of them we're eliminated, in one we increase our stack sufficiently to withstand another round of blinds, and in one we double up and are in good shape. Whatever happens we're not going to be desperately short-stacked in the near future. This is almost as important as the +EV IMO.

Case 2) Everything is the same except the big blind is all in for the 2000. Now there are more outcomes, as follows :

Everyone passes and I win against the BB : Prob 30%, Result +3000, EV +900
Everyone passes and I lose to the BB : Prob 20%, Result -2000, EV -400
I get a caller and I lose the whole pot : Prob 33%, Result -8000, EV -2640
I get a caller and I win the whole pot : Prob 14%, Result +10000, EV +1400
I get a caller and I win the sidepot only : Prob 3%, Result +4000, EV +120
...............................................................................Total EV -620

The above probabilities assume that I'm a 60% favourite against a random BB hand with A6, and that it's quite unlikely for me to beat the better hand that calls me but lose to the random BB (thus winning the sidepot only)

The result surprised me because I thought it would be break-even. But it's much worse than that. The play is -EV. There is also a 53% chance that we will either be eliminated (33%) or very short-stacked (20%) as a result of this play. If we get heads up with the BB and lose this hand, we'll have to post 2000 in the BB next hand leaving us only 4000 left and an almost mandatory call of any raise.

Bottom line : when the Big Blind is all-in or so short-stacked that he will have to call your raise, the EV of a steal play goes way down. This also applies (although less so) when the SB is committed. Also look what happens if we don't have an Ace, if we have another hand like K3 or 98 or almost anything half-decent. In Case 1, our equity is much the same because we'll still be around 30% if we get called, unless we're unlucky enough to run into an overpair. In case 2, our weaker hand is less likely to win against the BB, probably not much more than 50%, which makes the figures even worse.

So, in any tournament (but especially in a speed tournament where this is more likely), watch out for the situation where a player in the blinds has to call you and up your raising requirements dramatically in this spot. Make sense really, first rule of poker - don't bluff when you're going to get called. And think ahead. In the situation where you're in second position with 8 SBs and the UTG player, who can just about cover the blind, passes - this is basically your last hand. You don't really have an extra hand before the BB like you usually would. So make your move now. Stealing is also less lucrative when a crippled stack has called in front of you, although it does depend how crippled, obviously if the all-in only has 200 with 1000-2000 blinds it doesn't matter much.

Perhaps the most interesting corollary of all is the situation where there is no small blind, the big blind is all in and it's passed to you on the button. What hand do you need to call, even if the big blind is only in for a small fraction of the blind ? Should be obvious if you think about it. But I wonder how many people would call with any hand.

Speed tournaments are great for honing your short-stack strategy. Situations that would be unusual in a normal tournament occur more frequently, allowing you to develop a strategy that might have much better EV when the situation does come up for big money. If I may quote the New Testament (or Harrington On Hold-Em Volume 2 as it is also known) "Be advised that playing correctly around inflection points [that is in short-stack situations] is the most important single skill in No-Limit tournaments". Quite so. And you might be surprised how many highly-regarded players don't play that well (at least compared to their reputation) with a short stack.

Saturday, July 02, 2005



Feeling the need for speed, I had a bash at a Party Poker $30 speed tournament. That was my first mistake. My second mistake was thinking that, with 100 players left, 12K in my stack and the blinds at 500-1000, I was in a good position. Someone started stalling. Soon enough 8 players on my table were taking the maximum time over every decision, and 2 of them were deliberately disconnecting. The next 4 hands took 15 minutes. I lost three of them, and that was the end of me.

Of course if I had won a hand or two I would still have had good chips, but by the time we had reached the money I think the average stack would have been around one big blind, if that. I don't like to use the word, but that really would have been a crapshoot. So what can be done ?

Well first of all I would suggest that it seems ridiculous to allow people to take 30 seconds pre-flop in a speed tournament. Give them 10 and if you don't like it, play a normal comp instead. And if you get disconnected, baby that's tough. Secondly I think the payout structure has to be causing a lot of this. With 400 runners, 50th paid $60 and I think it was only about double that for 11th. The temptation to hang on for 50th with a few chips is too high. There's no reason why online tournaments can't pay a small increment for each place - the whole "5th table gets $60, 4th table gets $70" structure is a hangover from B+M tournaments where you don't want arguments about who was 46th and who was 45th all day long. Then in this case you could start paying small amounts at 100th or so. Even if these were less than the buyin, so what.

You pay your money and take your choice. Experience and anecdotal evidence suggests that emailing Party about this would be a complete waste of time. I was about to say it was only a small tournament, then again it was $3000 for the winner which isn't chump change. But apparently the stalling is also quite common in the big Sunday night comps. If you play these and you want to play some hands rather than stare at the wall for about an hour, it might be worth suggesting a payout structure alteration. Of course some bozos will keep stalling anyway, but it might help.

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