Sunday, May 28, 2006


Back From The Wilderness

Not quite 40 days and 40 nights, although it felt like it at times, but a few weeks churning it out in $20s and $50s has helped me to iron out some of the new methods of playing various hands. When you pick up something new, you start trying to make the play every time you can. A very important part of the process is learning when not to make the play. I can't reveal exactly what these plays are ; they are too powerful. In the wrong hands, they could start a chain reaction that would eventually vapourize the Earth's atmosphere. Probably. In truth, they're not that amazing, just various ways of taking a flop instead of blasting all the worse hands out (and showing AA like you're proud to have just won the blinds with it).

So on my metaphorical return, I started firing up one decent sized tournament of an evening, $100 or so, and another $50 just to keep me busy, and just 2-tabling. That feels a lot better. It's also a lot easier on my laptop which for some reason is really struggling with three tables or more, depending on the sites (Stars not too bad, Betfair quite bad, Tribeca woeful). Nothing puts you on tilt like being shown AA and having it whisked away because "you did not act in time".

Anyway, last night I made the last two tables in the Crypto £15K, and tonight copped 5th in the "Euro Grand Prix" on Pokerroom. That's 2 points, right ? Shame I couldn't make the podium. I think more online sites should give their tournaments funky names. Couldn't be any more ridiculous than the Coventry Masters. A bit annoying not to take the chequered flag as I was in pole position going into the final (alright I'll stop), but in any of these finals it's hard to survive losing two races, and I couldn't. Not exactly 50/50s to be fair, but not exactly stone dead either, and naturally I was the raiser in each case. It is frustrating to bust out and see someone is chip leader four-handed who has won every chip by calling, still what can you do. Trust your system and put the hours in.

Friday, May 19, 2006


Too Many Cooks

I was just collecting my MTT results for this year (woeful as they are) when something struck me. I have basically had my arse handed to me on Party, Pokerroom and Betfair, but I've done OK on Tribeca (PIE, Blue Square, Victor Chandler etc.), Full Tilt and Stars. Quickly, what's the difference between the first three and the last three ?

The difference is that Party, Pokerroom and Betfair are all 10-handed. Tribeca, Stars and Tilt are all 9-handed. Now it's a ridiculously small sample of tournaments, and I have to remember that I basically made all my money on Betfair last year, but I think there's something in this. Even when tables aren't full, there's usually an extra body on the table when it's 10-handed. That's one more person to find a big pair and turn you over. One more person to raise in front of you and stop you from stealing. Fewer hands per level because more pots are contested. It all adds up. All other things being equal (which of course they aren't, you just have to balance it up) I think that better tournament players should be looking to play 9 handed rather than 10.

Incidentally this is much more of a factor in live tournaments, and plenty of players (Rodman and Parkinson for example) have spoken out against playing 10-handed in big tournaments. You have all the above factors plus you're jammed up next to some tub of lard (usually). On the other hand, I'm not that bothered what goes on in live tournaments, they're a waste of time (compared to playing online) unless you can find a good line-up for $200 or more.

Friday, May 12, 2006


The Bleeding Obvious

I certainly set a personal best today with 5 MTT cashes in a day. Just like the buses. Two were inconsequential money-backs and one only double, but I managed 6th in a $50 10-table on Stars just now. Perhaps I didn't play the bust-out hand very well, mental tiredness is not unexpected at that point. And I finished 3rd in a Turbo on VC for $700. Just call me the crapshoot king. If I draw a line in the sand when we were 4-handed and forget about how lucky I had been up to that point (Q8s beating QQ was a good one), I was very unlucky.

One point that occurred to me today was that I should really be betting more with big pairs in the early levels. Against rational opponents, betting 150 with Aces when blinds are 10-20 would tend to lose me my market. However, and it's amazing that I ever forget this at all but it's easily done, my opponents are not rational. They probably don't know what rational means. Ignorance being bliss, they're perfectly happy to call it pre-flop with K8 and call the rest off on a King high board. If you can get about 10% of your stack in pre-flop [1] then this has two benefits. Firstly, anyone with a small pair isn't getting implied odds to bust you [2]. Secondly, if you like the flop, the pot's now big enough to put 30% in on the flop and the rest on the turn, denying the draws leverage on the river. If you don't like the flop, now you're walking on eggshells, but these things happen. With anything down to JJ, you're going to like the flop more often than not. And if no one calls the over-sized bet then it's an unlikely parlay that anyone would have had anything they could call 50 with instead, make enough of a hand to pay you off with but not too much to outdraw you.

Bet more with good hands because they win a lot. Poker is indeed a game of never ending subtlety.

[1] Or if you're caked up, 10% of the typical stack around the table.

[2] I know they'll flop a set one in 8. But I have to like the flop too. If I have QQ v 44 and the flop comes AJ4, he's not going to bust me. Hopefully he won't get another shilling, although if he slow-plays it enough he might get one small bet at some point.

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