Tuesday, January 31, 2006


He Doesn't Play Like I Would - How Mystifying

This might be how I do this for a while - certainly nothing particularly interesting happens in Sit and Goes on a hand by hand basis. Except this bad beat I took the other day, er no moving on.

"This" is taking other peoples' trip reports and talking about where I think their thought process is flawed. A lot of the time it's not the decisions they make, it's how they make them. Anyway, hero raises UTG with Ac4c, button calls and villain calls in the BB. Flop comes Ad3c5c. Kerching ! Villain bets out 50K from his 150K stack (unfortunately there is no indication of how big the pot is at this point). Hero moves in. Villain calls and "mystifies" the hero by turning over AK. Hero explains his mystification by saying

"he knew his tournament life was on the line ... He would have been so sick had I been in there with pocket 5's, when he could have raised me out for sure."

1) So his tournament life was on the line. So fucking what. Many players don't think like that any more and I am proud to number myself as one of them. Even in a 10K tournament, as this was, when there may not be another tournament tomorrow of the same size, you have to play as though there is. That's my opinion, many others share it and, this is the important point, you might not but you must account for the fact that other people do.

2) He would have been sick if I had been in there with 55, when he could have raised me out. And if my auntie had bollocks she'd be my uncle. What if, what if, what if ? If hero is going to raise with A4s then he clearly has a very large range of raising hands (nothing wrong with that mind you) which means that, from the villain's POV, hero is quite unlikely to have a pair. If he does have a pair, the probability of the flop making him trips and containing an Ace or a King is rather low. I make it less than 3%, though I have been known to make mistakes on these calculations in the past ! This is what Brunson means in SS1 when he says he'd "rather have AK than AA". If you don't hit AK, you're done with it [in Brunson's cash games]. If you do, then your opponent has only two board cards to beat your hand with instead of three. Think about it, it's good stuff.

In the villain's shoes when he makes his pre-flop decision, the risk of "failing to raise out" a small pair is relatively small because it's so unlikely that we will flop top pair AND opponent would have folded to a pre-flop reraise AND the flop makes him two pair or better, all at the same time. Re-raising incurs much higher risks, namely that one of the two opponents already has a big hand (don't forget the button) or that we will get called and miss the flop, out of position, in what's now a very big pot.

IMO this is one of those hands where no one did anything wrong. For sure raising UTG with A4s is marginal but if you like, why not. Having done so you can't ask for a much better flop to move in on. Villain, after calling pre-flop and (again correctly IMO) leading out [1], has to call the allin because hero could so easily have the hand he does have - AcXc. While that would make villian a small underdog [2], the pot's big enough to mandate a call. Hero could also have AK or (believe it or not) be bluffing in the knowledge that, once again, villain's "tournament life is on the line".

There's quite a lot of information missing from the account, not least what the hero did think that villain held when he bet the flop. If AK mystified him, what did he think he did have ? A bluff ? Who knows. But what comes through is that the hero wants to "pin the blame" for his loss on his opponent and his mystifying play. You know what though, sometimes there is no blame. That's just poker baby.

[1] Unfortunately it's impossible to comment on the bet size when villain leads out, because there's no indication of the pot size. Likewise whether moving in pre-flop was a reasonable option for the villain, although one would guess that it wasn't.

[2] 45% as the cards fall. However, that's with the gutshot straight draw. Against something like AcTc, AK is 53%.

Friday, January 27, 2006


It's 50/50 - You Win Or I Win

Just had a moderately amusing hand in a Sit and Go on Stars. Three-handed, so in the money, quite high blinds. I find AK on the button and auto-push. The small blind calls. At this point I have to make a decision on another table. By the time I switch attention back to the first one, I simultaneously see that I have been called by AA, and the flop has come KKQ. There's no further drama, I double up and go on to win the S+G.

AA might well have kicked his cat half way across the room at this one, but let's calm down. Both players had an automatic play. Both players would have done exactly the same thing if the roles were reversed. AA can claim he was unlucky if he takes his starting point as the time he looked at his cards. Had I lost the hand though, I could just as easily claim that I was unlucky to run into Aces. Someone has to win the hand and the loser will, if he wants to, feel hard done by.

This is an extreme example but you see this all the time. It's the easiest thing in the world to blame a tournament exit on bad luck. Either you ran into a bigger hand or you got outdrawn, take your pick ! We can launch into a big analysis of when the money went in and who mis-played the hand if we want to claim the higher ground but the bottom line is why bother. Try to ignore the noise as best you can and get on with it. For example, ask me how the sit and goes are coming along. Go on. Well, after 100 they were going very well ; in 35 since then I haven't won too many but I don't know exactly how much I'm still ahead because I won't even look until I've played 200.

This is a trick from Taleb ; the more frequently you check your results, the higher the noise/signal ratio and the more likely you are to see a loss, even if your expectation is a healthy plus [1]. Seeing a loss is more psychologically damaging than seeing a win is beneficial, by a factor of 2.5 Taleb quotes but who knows how they worked that out, mice and pellets probably. So anyway, I tap my results into the spreadsheet but all the $ columns have zero length. When I've played 200 I'll un-zero them and see where we are. It's a nice trick if you have the discipline to stick to it, try it out. And incidentally, I managed to do a version of the same thing in the particular hand. By looking away I avoided the trauma of "Fuck ! He's got Aces ... Woo-hoo KKQ !" and instead experienced a simple "ah yes AK on the button stands up, as one would expect". Of course, this is very difficult to do consciously when the game is right in front of you !

[1] Of course if your expectation is negative, it's reversed. A losing player who only checked at long intervals would see continuous losses and probably give up. So it's a good job they don't :-). Volatility is the bad player's friend. Which is why, now I think about it, bad players should play satellites. It's their best chance of making any real money out of poker. So that's my final contribution to the debate. Yes, you should play satellites, but only because you suck :-)

Thursday, January 26, 2006


Won't Get Fooled Again

I finally roused myself to order Taleb's "Fooled By Randomness" after Pete B mentioned it again, and I was not disappointed. It's a brilliant book. Even though it's ostensibly about financial markets, the poker applications jump off every page. And while he was to some extent preaching to the choir in my case, I still took a great deal from it. If you have any interest in the tournament circuit, you must read this book. In a perfect world, anyone who wanted to report on tournaments would have to pass an exam based on this book first, still we should remember that, as Taleb himself says, we don't want everyone to understand it.

Meanwhile I was ordering some CDs off Amazon today so while I was there I tapped in Poker/Books/Newest First. I waded through 6 pages of 10 "yet to be published" books before there was anything I could buy. Not one of these (or anything else much) caught my interest in terms of purchasing, although a few made me snicker when I saw who the author was. If a single one of these 60 books is one tenth as insightful as Taleb's, a book which as I say isn't ostensibly about poker at all, then I'll eat my proverbial hat. Too much information indeed.

Saturday, January 21, 2006


Adapt And Thrive

What strikes me reading a lot of trip reports nowadays is how many people take fixed ideas into a hand. This might be a permanent fixed idea, or something like "yesterday I went out calling so today I was determined to be the raiser if I was all-in". I don't mean to pick on an individual but one report showed this so clearly twice in quick succession I thought I'd pull out the relevant quotes. First of all :

"The key hand to my tournament came against X who was steaming (he had raised the last four hands to 3k and been re-raised every time - lost 12k without seeing a flop). He made it 3k and on the button I called with AQd. I made this call because we had similar stacks and I didn't want him going all-in on tilt giving me a decision if I re-raised him."

The fixed idea in play here is that AQ isn't good against a re-re-raise. Well normally it isn't. But against someone who is "steaming" and liable to "go all-in on tilt", I think it is. In the event (and this is slightly results oriented I admit) hero calls, tries to be clever with some speech play, and loses to A4s when it makes a flush.

Now short-stacked, this happens :

"Shortly into level 9 I raised to 3k with AQ and folded to an all-in by another player after having the clock put on me. Maybe I should’ve took that shot but I didn't want to die calling."

Well who knows. The key factor here is how much the reraise is. Close behind that, the tendencies of the re-raiser. A million miles further back, how you "want to die".

Poker is all about adapting to the circumstances at hand. I have guidelines and a basic idea of how to play but it can all go out of the window in specific situations. Don't rule options because of pre-conceived ideas of how you "should" play.

Friday, January 20, 2006


It Begins

Dell's customer support may have been slightly underinformed but you can't whack their delivery - 20" LCD screen arrived within 24 hours of order. And it rocks. 4-tabling takes a little getting used to. The first time I tried it, after 15 minutes I developed one of those "afterimages" like when you stare at a bright light without realising it. Of course I finished all the tournaments I was playing, $80 of EV being much more important than my long-term vision. It was one of those "teeth breaking ... must ... finish ... sandwich" moments.

Fortunately that hasn't recurred, and it was probably because I dived straight in to the most awkward software to multi-table on IMO (Pokerroom/Eurobet). It's going well so far, but I'm probably running hot, and anyway it's pointless even looking at your results until you've played a few hundred. I'm not going to post a number on here till I've played 500, hopefully by then I will have a rough idea how it's going. In the meantime I'm trying very hard to ignore the short-term results and just play.

Don't expect any posts discussing individual hands. When you're playing so many hands, no single coup is worth that much anyway. Tendencies and aggression ratios are much more important. One more thing, if anyone can point me towards a Cryptologic deal whereby I can get rakeback on single table tournaments, I would appreciate it. At the moment I have a deal with Caribbean Sun but that appears to work for cash games only. You have to have some kind of rakeback setup to play STTs seriously.

Monday, January 16, 2006


Calm Before The Storm

I haven't played an MTT for at least a week. Quite a nice break really. After phoning Dell to check whether my laptop would support 1600x1200 and receiving the polite but less than confidence-inspiring response "we don't know", I tested it on a big screen at work today and it looked ok, so I ordered the new 20" LCD. Once that's in place I'm inclined to 4-table as seriously as I can for a bit and basically have a proper go at making some money.

That may well be primarily in Sit and Goes. I've been trying a few different modes of play in these and I'm sure there were holes in my game last time I was attacking these. Mostly, playing too few hands early on and committing all-in too often 4-handed. I know they shouldn't call me 4-handed when I go all in but they clearly don't. I should also be better placed in short-handed games that pay 70-75% to the winner instead of 50%. Once the screen arrives we'll have a bash.

Friday, January 13, 2006


Cool T-shirts And Stuff

Introducing the Get It Quietly range (you can click on the shirt but the link is better).

That's just one of the many innovative designs that you could be wearing on a quality ... oh nuts to this I hate marketing speak. These are T-shirts and junk with stuff written on them. They stand or fall on their own merits. This is real, you can really buy these. In the UK and Europe that is, I'm still working on the US equivalent. Oh and free delivery in the UK on orders over £17 until 31st January ! What more do you want.

Send any feedback to andy@getitquietly.com . Apart from that, buy one, wear it, and tell people where it came from.

Sunday, January 08, 2006


Getting The Worst Of It

I was telling tonight's tales of woe to an unfortunate colleague on MSN when he said "are you ever in front when the chips go in ?"

Well, I am sometimes, but an awful lot of the time, no I'm not. The usual course of events is steal, steal, steal, oops someone found a hand behind me. At this point I'm freerolling with the chips I've already stolen. If I win the hand, and unless they find a monster I'm usually at least 1 in 3 to do so, then we're in business.

It's something you often see on forums (if you bother with them any more). "I'm usually knocked out on an outdraw". Great, give yourself a medal. What's happening there is fold, fold, fold, I found a hand I'm 2-1 favourite ! To get the chips back that you wanked off by folding. You'll be alright.

As for me, I'm going to buy a 19" screen so I can do my bollocks properly, although $1400 in the hole in 8 days is a fair start to the year as it is.

Friday, January 06, 2006


Fairly Poor Play

I have been playing a few FPP satellites on Stars just for yuks, and at the third or fourth time of asking I have converted 300 to 3000. Some of the play in these would turn your stomach, it really would. These are 1 in 10 satellites now, rather than 9 seats irrespective of the size of the field, so 15K is par for a seat, if you make 10K you really should win a seat and if by chance you do top 20K (although you never should unless people are throwing chips at you) it's time to sit out and flick your plums instead. It's also worth noting that you can unregister from the event you qualify for (like with the W$) and use the FPPs whenever you see fit, which could be saving them for the WSOP or playing more 300s to build up a "bank".

With 12 seats on offer tonight, one guy managed to bust out 14th after having 22K at one point which was a hell of an effort, but the blue riband must go to the loser of this hand. UTG limps, I limp in the small blind (virtually compulsory with the antes) and the BB checks. It comes K9K, checked round (I'm not interested, I have T6). Turn is a T, now three spades on board, I check, BB makes a small bet, UTG moves in for 13K. I insta-fold. BB also has around 13K left and quickly calls. Name those hands ? How about Ace high flush for UTG and QJ straight for the BB. BB = bye bye. Not that moving in with the flush was much better play, I would have thought you'd only be called by a full house. Another mis-read on my part.

I have a terrible record in B+M supers, I won a £750 seat in Luton once, that's it. 0 for about 20 in the US. They are a law unto themselves but I think I'm starting to pick up the knack. What's most interesting to me is that many players believe that the best way to protect their stack is to overbet allin, when in fact this is the best way of knocking yourself out. Check-calling and incurring the risk of being outdrawn (or already behind) for maybe 1/3 of your chips is much smarter. But I suppose the old testosterone kicks in. All in bitch ! Oh. How can he have the nuts this site is rigged.

Even in these games, something to learn. Good job really because I'm doing my bollocks for real money.

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