Wednesday, January 31, 2007



Before I start on the poor old eggs I'd like to point out that it's not really stupidity that I'm mocking here (and everywhere else). It's primarily laziness. A lot of clever guys play poker badly. Some of them (Clive Sinclair springs to mind) genuinely don't care and consider poker to be entertainment. They play for fun, and when they're not playing they have better things to think about. That's fine. As a corollary, there are some excellent players who have worked very hard on their game to bring it up to a good standard even though no one would call them math whizzes. The people I call eggs are the people who just don't put any effort in even though they play a lot of poker. I hate to kick a man when he's down, but Bluescouse is a great example. He can't be arsed to learn the ropes, build up a solid game over time and work up through the limits ; he just ploughs ahead playing as high as he possibly can, with the inevitable end result. I'm talking about the guys who can't be bothered working up a bankroll sufficient to play bigger tournaments - instead they just try to spin it up in satellites. The guys who never learn from their mistakes because it was always bad luck or the other bloke's fault. The guys who watch a bit of TV and think "who needs all this math bollocks when you can look into someone's soul". Books ? They're for nerds. Unfortunately this is poker, not high school, and the jock/nerd hierarchy has been reversed. Welcome to our world, buwahaha. Anyway, this is why I prefer "eggs" as the mot juste, especially ahead of "donkeys". Because donkeys are slow but hard-working, and it's primarily the laziness that makes bad players what they are.

OK, rant over. Eggs come in many shapes and sizes. Unfortunately, with the lack of Internet qualifiers, there weren't too many of them on show in Tunica. The vast majority of them are satellite qualifiers one way or the other, but before I start on them there's one other type to be aware of and that's the ten-grand-so-what-I-wipe-my-ass-with-ten-grand rich guy. I'm pretty sure we had one of these at the table on Sunday. He tried to start a conversation with Vinny Vinh along the lines of "Hey Vinny remember that hand we played in Atlantic City". Vinh of course said he didn't remember, whether he actually remembered or not the clear subtext was "shut up egg, you suck". This particular guy went broke in an unraised pot with 76 on a flop of T98 when his straightforward opponent gave him every chance to get off the hand. And this is one problem that eggs of all varieties have. If they flop a big enough hand, they just won't stop to think about whether it could possibly be losing. I had a straight, what could I do ? Now you don't necessarily have to put down a near-nut hand but there are definitely times when even half a player will slow down and try to save some chips in the event that they're behind. Eggs will just plough ahead regardless. If you make a nut hand against an egg, resist the temptation to slow-play. Keep betting and if he raises you, raise him back (but don't over-raise, keep him on the line). Sorry, mixed in a fish metaphor there. Keep him, er, in the pan. Sunny side up.

So against a weak-tight egg you basically can call a small raise or limp behind him hoping, as Lindgren says, that he has Aces, so you can felt him on the right flop. Again, it's not just that they won't fold Aces on the later streets, it's that they'll keep betting and raising when it should be obvious that they're behind and most players would at least slow down. Then you have the loose egg. We had a guy on Sunday who was just all over the place. The biggest and quickest giveaway is bet sizing. In the Main Event here, virtually everyone raised sort of 3-5 times the big blind pre-flop. When someone regularly doubles the blind, or puts 8 blinds in, it sticks out like a sore thumb. This guy was doing crazy stuff like minimum raising on the river giving his opponent 8-1 to call, on a bluff. Sometimes it's tricky to balance the patience required to pick up a hand to bust him with against the need to get his chips before he murders them to someone else. Generally you call him a bit looser pre-flop and try to induce a mistake post-flop, which is often going to be him smashing all-in with an overbet. Don't set this up and then pass top pair top kicker ; these guys rarely have the wit to bet big with a big hand as well. In fact, watch out if an inveterate over-bettor suddenly gets cute. I once saw a Luton regular on mad steaming tilt go all-in 7 hands in a row during the rebuy period. Next hand he just called - with Aces.

When there's only one egg on show, a lot of the time you just have to hope you get them before someone else does, and not push it too hard. Don't forget that in multi-way pots you have other people to deal with, who might be trying to trap the egg only to inadvertently bag you. If you're lucky enough to have two or more filling out the table, then happy days. I wasn't so fortunate this time. Just remember that sometimes the rabbit has the gun and he'll stack you with a hidden big hand or an outdraw - but there's not much you can do about this apart from take it like a man. Observation is key as well - you can't just lump all bad players in together. There are many, many ways to play badly and people usually employ some of them but not all. Also remember that people have reasons for the things they do, however absurd these reasons might be to a thinking player. They might be paranoid about being outdrawn or they might think everyone's bluffing them all the time. If you can work out what strange thought processes they are using, you're one step ahead of the people who just think "Idiot !".

Sunday, January 28, 2007


Guys Like Me

Cool guys. Guys who rule. Dangerous fuckers who will take all your chips and do your bird in the break while you're still telling bad beat stories in the bar. Well maybe not :-). What I really mean is experienced Internet players. It is, if you like, the Scandinavian style of play.

Of course there is still plenty of variation within this group. The biggest common factor is that I'm talking about guys who understand the math. Guys like me will not put 40% of their chips in and pass to a reraise pre-flop. We will not put 2/3 of our chips in and then fold when there are still cards to come. We will make reraises that are primarily based on stack and pot sizes rather than hand strength. We don't value survival in poker tournaments because we're used to playing 4 at once online anyway. And another 4 an hour later. We read "The Mathematics Of Poker" and say "yes I knew that" a lot while reading it.

The variation comes in with deeper stacks. Some, like me, are on the tight side when it comes to committing a lot of chips. I don't make the big bluff very often when I'm not short-stacked. If ever, come to think of it, which is maybe something I should work on. I also don't place a lot of faith in "reading" opponents, while some others do, very much so. These are the guys who will sometimes pass after committing a lot of chips ; it's a good idea to work out if we are "read" guys or "math" guys before you try to make us put it down when we have good odds to call.

We do, of course, have our weaknesses. Personally I have a tendency towards nonbelief if I have top pair top kicker or an overpair in a decent sized pot, and this is shared by a lot of GLMs. While this isn't maybe as much of a weakness as you might think, it is still exploitable. But then again someone has to make a better hand to exploit it, which doesn't happen too often. I can mitigate this quite a lot by passing likely second-best hands like AQ and TT to a raise pre-flop, whereas some others aren't so circumspect. We can also get a bit too frisky with steal reraises. It's best not to put in 25% of your stack in late position with GLMs in the blinds, but if you actually find a hand this kind of raise makes very tempting bait. And of course, don't assume that a guy like me necessarily has a good hand when I move all in from late position. Then again, don't assume that I'm at it again when I suddenly move in from early position after a series of late steals :-)

Friday, January 26, 2007


Local Rocks

There were 3 or 4 players at the first table who were clearly locals who had won their ticket in satellites. Most of them were total rocks for the first few levels. Basically, I reckon they had told all their buddies how they were in the main event, but they did not want to have to tell them how they busted out in level 2. Some of them were capable of being stubborn with one pair if it wasn't for too much of their stack, so you couldn't push them around too much. Basically they were just wasting a seat for the most part, at least to start with. After a few levels though, they would split into two camps. Some would stay as rocks, presumably throughout the whole thing. There was one guy next to me on day one and day two after the redraw who pretty much doubled up early on (with the nut straight against the under-straight) and never played another hand. Of course he raised a few pots but no one would call him, and he didn't raise enough pots to maintain his stack, so he just drained them slowly away. I dare say a few of these guys will sneak into the money if they win enough all-ins once the blinds catch them up, or find like Aces v Kings a couple of times, and maybe one of them might limp into the final just because there are so many of them in the field, but effectively they have no chance of making the real top 3 money. If you must play like this in a big event then for goodness' sake at least take advantage of your image when the blinds rise.

Those in the other camp would either lose patience, take a bad beat and go on tilt, or reach some point where they felt that honour had been satisfied and they could loosen up. I made it to Day 2, or so and so was on my table but I outlasted him, something like that. It's important to realise when this happens because it can happen in an instant. The guy who knocked me off Aces had been banging on and on about how he wasn't going to commit all his chips without a big hand this early, blah blah blah. If it was an act then it was a very good one, nh wp, but I don't think it was. He was doing stuff like overbetting the pot and showing a set when everyone passed. Then he raised and a nutter reraised him all in for about 6K. He thought and thought, showed an Ace and passed. The dealer grabbed his hand and exposed the other card (as they are now instructed to do), a Jack. The nutter then showed an Ace too. Either this was a cunning ploy or he was a complete fucking idiot because obv the dealer grabbed his hand too and exposed the 4. The very next hand, hero raised pre-flop, was called in the blind, and pushed for 12K into a 2K pot on the Ace high flop. Tilt. Sheer and utter tilt. The blind (who was still in rock mode) showed AK and passed, the dork. Hero claimed AQ and I believed him. Do watch these guys carefully to see when they crack ; once they do, they will often pay you off all the way with a moderate hand, or make some strange pre-flop move that their hand doesn't merit.

So these guys aren't giving you a problem but while they're playing like a rock you just can't stack them without a big hand, and they need a big hand too. Then again there's only a small window in which you can bluff them for any decent sized pot because if they're even in a pot they have a good hand. And if you can't reasonably get more than a portion of their stack in they're still liable to call you down. Just don't pay them off early on and hope they're still around when the blinds rise because if they're still playing tight at that point, that's great. If they're on your right you'll get more shots to make the first raise, and if they're on your left they won't play back at you without a hand. Just be careful reraising them, because they won't steal too much from late position. I suspect that the guy I busted to might have been a rock ; I just hadn't been at the table long enough to be sure. In addition, be a bit warier about calling them down when they move in with a short stack. Many of them (especially the older players) will allow themselves to be blinded off indefinitely, and you can't put them on the same range that you or I would have with a short stack. Often they will drop their normal standards just a notch or two, so they'll still only have AJ/88+.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007


Tough Circuit Pros

Here are my thoughts on the various player types I came up against in this event, starting with the faces. The kind of guys who play $10K events every week, often (if not usually) on someone else's money, whether it's corporate sponsor or backer. They tend to raise a lot of pots first in, defend their blinds liberally and look to outplay people. If they commit a lot of chips then watch out because they usually have a hand (with exceptions as noted below though). Individually, as follows :

Vinny Vinh - Noticeably not quite as strong as Giang, Corkins and Seif, if only because of his serious temperament problems. Became extremely irritable after being rivered in a fairly big pot and took most of it out on the dealers. Up until then he had been playing well, but then soon after he committed a lot of chips with a four flush on the board only to fold when his opponent moved the rest in. This was the coup described on Pokerpages where he called the floor to kill his opponent's hand because he stood up and moved back from the table a step, although in his defence (if there is one) he did tell the guy "Sit down or I'll call your hand dead". Incidentally the floor dealt with this really well.

Minh Nguyen - Was only on my table for a short time before he was also rivered in a massive pot. He didn't take it too well either. "Don't tell me nice hand when I just lost the fucking pot" he snarled when his hapless opponent mumbled something that was meant to conciliate. Although he had a point, he clearly meant it with some venom.

Chau Giang - Was a little edgy at times but I think this was mostly because he had fifty dimes on the Patriots and they were blowing a 21-3 lead. Did play well though. As I said, these guys usually have a hand when they commit a lot of chips but be sure it's really a lot to them. Down to 8K with blinds 200-400/50, most people would think this is still a playable stack. Chau went for the all-in squeeze raise with KJs, got called by AK and sucked out. He said "what's the point, 8000, I've got to get chips". A lot of these guys want to have a big stack so they can push people around and/or stack them with a big hand. The very next hand, he doubled up again with KK against AQ on a Q high flop. Once he had a stack that was worth playing, that probably wasn't going all in without a big hand. He also thought my 64 play was very amusing, laughing and saying "nice hand buddy" but not in an unpleasant way at all

Mark Seif - Came into Day 2 as 3rd chip leader in the whole thing. Played a ton of pots, took his time when he needed to and generally looked to get involved whenever he could. Unfortunately he wasn't quite the payoff wizard that Bad Beat and The Camel had portrayed him as to me, at least not today. Although I overheard him confirming the story I heard the day before, that he had doubled up through Vanessa Rousso with KJ against her AK on a King high flop. Anyway, on my table he said he was picking up lots of big hands but Corkins and a couple of others were highly skeptical :-). I was able to deal with him surprisingly well by limping on the button to his big blind (see below) but a couple of times I made big hands and couldn't get him to pay off. Mark was generally friendly and amusing. OK he was caked up [1], but even bearing that in mind he seemed like a really nice guy.

Hoyt Corkins - Unfortunately, although Hoyt played his share of hands he didn't show down enough for me to get a real line on him. The one time he put them all in, he had the nut straight. As did his opponent. He made a few comments about how he would be willing to gamble if he had to, but I'm not sure how much of this was just for show. Nothing much happened that might have ruffled him but he did give the impression that nothing at all could bother him in any way. He was very cool and has an awesome look with the hat.

How to play against these guys : in a word, don't. There are definitely better fish to fry. However, if one of them is on your left then you're going to have to because rocking up completely is not a good option IMO (see local rocks below), and when you come into the pot they'll be coming in after you. So I would say the most important thing is to decide pre-flop whether you want to play a small pot or a big one. With the right hand, make the pot big enough pre-flop so that you won't have any hard decisions post-flop. Preferably you should be able to get it all in on a favourable flop without over-betting too much. This is what I did with AKs against Chau Giang. Instead of just calling his 800 raise in the small blind (as I would have done against a weak, average or even moderately good player), I made it 3K out of about 12. If he calls, I'm either playing for all my chips or no more on the flop, one decision (although I'm not saying I push immediately if I want to play, I might check-raise).

If you can't do that, and certainly you won't be able to for the first few hours whatever, then keep it small. If you're going to be outplayed, make sure it's in a small pot rather than a big one. On the phone with Bad Beat we concocted a plan to limp on the button when Seif had the big blind, and try to set him up for something if I picked up a big hand later on. Surprisingly though, limping on his blind in position seemed to work very well in itself. He was clearly happier with calling someone's raise in the blind than he was with raising out of the blind himself after a limp. Four times I limped on the button and he didn't raise any of them, including once with K9. I won 3 pots without a showdown, although to be fair in 2 of them I had a pretty big hand, and split one with him when he was drawing very thin. The one time I raised his blind, I didn't fancy it and gave up on the turn after checking the flop.

If you raise into the field and one of them does call you, you're on your own. If anyone else calls too I'd play very straightforwardly. Mano a mano, you can't just give up every time. It's tricky to get the balance right but there's a lot to be said for betting the flop and checking the turn, whether in position or not. Checking the turn behind in position is definitely good a lot of the time, even with top pair good kicker. Re-opening the betting is just giving these guys more options to outplay you. If you feel frisky and the stacks are right, you can bet the flop and check-raise the turn out of position, but I'd probably only do this if the check-raise committed me. Again, cut down their options as much as you can. If either of you is relatively short-stacked, they might well snap off a move or make one themselves. If you're both deep, well it's difficult to give catch-all advice. All I can say is that if you want to gamble with these guys, get all your chips in first and put them to the decision. If they make the right decision, and they will a lot of the time, too bad. On the other hand, if you do make something big, try to set things up so that they have a chance to make a move on you, especially if they have you covered. This is what I should have done when I made a flush against Mark Seif.

The other point to note is how their presence affects the other players. The reason I was able to limp on Seif's blind so often is that no one else was raising it. They knew he'd look them up with practically anything and they didn't fancy it. So while I would often go for a steal reraise in the small blind, I definitely wouldn't do it with a player like Seif in the big blind, because there's a much greater chance that a late position raiser actually has a hand.

[1] Just to avoid confusion here, he was caked up with chips. Not coked up with coke.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007


Main Event Review

Something odd occurred to me this morning. Here's a quick list of all the hands I played, just to confirm :

Pots that I raised pre-flop :

- KTs, one caller. Flop Txx with flush draw, bet call, checkdown turn and river, lost to JJ LOST SHOWDOWN
- AA, two callers. Flop QJJ two hearts. Check, I bet, raise. I fold. Fairly confident he had trips. FOLDED
- AcKd, one caller. Flop three clubs. I bet, call. Turn I make flush check check. River I bet small he folds. WON NO SHOW
- TT, two callers. Flop Kxx. Check, I bet, both fold. WON NO SHOW
- JJ, two callers. Flop Axx two hearts. Check, I check, bet, I fold. FOLDED
- J9s, one caller. Flop AKQ two of my suit. I bet, call. Turn makes flush, I bet (too big ?) he folds. WON NO SHOW
- KT, one caller. Flop 9xx check check. Turn 4, he bets I fold. FOLDED
- AK, one caller. Flop A83 check check. Turn 8, I bet he moves in I call. AK/AK SPLIT POT

Pots where I called a raise pre-flop :

- Raise, call, I call in position TT. Flop Qs9sx all check. Turn Ts I call a small bet. River 8s I pay off a small bet and lose to JsJ straight flush. LOST SHOWDOWN
- Raise, call, I call in BB AK. Flop 442, bet, I fold, allin, call. JJ beats 88. FOLDED
- Raise, I call SB 99. Flop Qxx, I check, bet, I fold. FOLDED
- I think there was another miss with a middle pair somewhere along the line

Significant unraised pots :

- Limper, I limp JT, SB completes. Flop KJ9 all check. Turn J, small bet I call. River K, he checks I bet small he folds. WON NO SHOW
- Limper, SB completes, I check BB 89. Flop T98. Check, I bet, raise, check-reraise, I fold. All in all in, QJ beats 76. FOLDED
- 2 limpers, I complete SB AJ. Flop J8x two spades, I bet one call. Turn Q, I check he bets I call. River blank, I bet small he calls I lose to Q9. LOSE SHOWDOWN
- Limper, I limp 99, SB completes. Flop 863 two hearts. BB bets, I fold. FOLDED
- 2 limpers, I complete SB 7h5h. Flop QhQ6h. Checked around. Turn 3, first limper bets small, all call. River 9, all check to button who bets, I fold, last man calls with 86 and wins. FOLDED
- I limp on button KT. Flop QTx two spades, check I bet he calls. Turn K, check I bet he calls. River Q check check he has K9 argh. SPLIT POT
- I win 4 small pots without a showdown after limping. Two bluffs, one flopped 2 pair, one with QJ on flop J77. WON NO SHOWDOWN x 4
- Obviously I fold in a bunch of pots after limping or checking pre-flop

Pre-flop Coups :

- Mid pos raises, I reraise in the SB AKs he folds WON NO SHOW
- Cut-off raises, I reraise in the SB AA he folds WON NO SHOW
- Mid-pos raises, I reraise allin from SB 64 off. BB calls, raiser folds. 64 v KK I win ! WIN SHOWDOWN (SUCKOUT)
- I am reraised off 3 or 4 pots after raising pre-flop. Get shown KK once. FOLDED x 3
- Small blind raises, I reraise allin KJ from BB he folds WON NO SHOW
- Small blind raises, I reraise allin 62 from BB he folds WON NO SHOW
- Cut-off raises, I reraise allin KQ from BB he calls AK I lose. LOSE SHOWDOWN

Can you spot what's missing ? WON SHOWDOWN in a pot with flop betting. I didn't win a showdown in 8 levels apart from the 64 all-in pre-flop. Now, how much of that is just happenstance and how much could have been improved with better play ? Well, for a start, in 12 raised pots I flopped top pair or better 3 times. One of those I folded (AA against presumed split trips), one I lost (the minimum) to an overpair on the flop and one I split against the same hand. That's on the bad luck side I'm sure.

Did I pass the best hand ? Very probably with 99. The blinds were small at that point and I just couldn't think what would be a safe card on the turn. Even so I should probably raise with the intention of checking it down if he calls. Going nuts here to "protect your hand" is not a good idea when your stack is about 10 times the pot even after his bet. With AA, reading players isn't my strength but every indication I had pointed to trips, including a previous hand with exactly the same action where he had ended up showing the trip card.

Could I have extracted more with the best hand ? I could have given myself a better chance with the two flushes. Although this does demonstrate how difficult it can be to get paid off out of position. I checked one and bet the pot on the other, when I would probably have been better off betting 2/3 of the pot and hoping for a call each time. Pre-flop with AKs/AA, in the first case the raiser was Chau Giang and I did not fancy playing him out of position with AK. With the AA, the stacks were a bit too large to call out of position, plus my opponent was on the passive side. I think my best chance to stack him was to try to build the pot pre-flop.

Did I pay off too much with the worst hand ? Not with the set of Tens. A call was clear on the turn and the river bet was so small I had to pay to see it. With the AJ v Q9, possibly. When he called on the flop my plan was to check the turn whatever, keep the pot small and maybe snap off a bluff. When he bet the Q I probably should have re-adjusted and folded, he was a fairly straightforward player. If I had checked the river he might have checked back in the event, but had he missed a draw that bet might have saved me the pot so it was worth a blocking bet I think.

Was I unlucky ? Well, the one hand where I could definitely claim "bad beat" was the KT v K9. He (Mark Seif) confessed that he almost moved in on the turn. Still, a Jack would have scooped me so it could have been worse, and there are a lot of other cards that would have stopped me from winning any more on the river.

All in all, I'm happier with my play on that review than I was immediately after the tournament. It was disappointing to drop from 20K to 11K on the first day but I just had so many awkward situations that frankly I should be pleased for not losing more. The 64 coup, well yes that was pretty sick. Chau Giang had been really active around that point and he's obviously good enough to pass a hand. However, there was the risk that he might also be good enough to read the situation correctly and call. So Chau raised to 1400 in middle pos, making 2500 in the pot. I moved in for 11K and then the big blind woke up with KK and called. Now, at this point Chau thought a bit and said he would definitely call if it was just me. While this sounds like a genius read, don't forget this all happened after my all-in was called. At that point I'd have to be made of stone not to give some indication that I didn't like the call. Whether Chau really had AK (as he claimed) and whether he would really have called me - we'll never know.

As for the hand that crippled me, the geezer did think for about a minute before calling with AK. When I showed KQ he shook his head slightly. I'm sure he (and most of the table) believed that I had reraised him for value. But of course I hadn't. He made it 4500, bringing the pot to 8K, and I had 25K in front of me. This is just the perfect stack to steal reraise. I had already decided to reraise with anything that wasn't completely hopeless (anything suited definitely). KQ was simply a bonus in that now I had some extra equity if he called me with JJ, TT, AJ, etc. The problem was I had only been at the table for 10 minutes, but I only had M8 and there was no time to hang around and pick up lines on everyone.

Finally it does look kind of like I wanked off a lot of chips and then smashed the rest in twice with the worst hand. And that was my own impression in the immediate aftermath, which is why I was a bit disappointed. But on the first point, I had some tricky situations to deal with, and while I might have played a couple of them better I'm reasonably happy with them overall. On the second, I'm not buying it. You do win these hands sometimes, like with the 64. Sometimes you have to make these plays with no hand. In the event I won, I took down some very important pots with rag hands no showdown, 23 and 34 in particular. And if I hadn't won that I wouldn't have been in the $10K to start with. On Sunday I told myself that if I did it my way I'd have no regrets whatever happened. I did, and I don't. Later on I'll talk about the overall dynamic of the event and how the other players played as I have quite a few thoughts about that, and god knows nothing else to do but write them down.

Saturday, January 20, 2007


I Can't Believe That Worked

Well, it didn't work to the extent of winning me any money, but it was remarkably effective. I thought if I was going to play Kill Phil, I would go for it and play it more or less to the letter, at least while the blinds were small. If you pick up AA or KK in the early levels, your choices under KP are move in (which is overdoing it a bit) or raise to about 1/6 of your stack to deny everyone implied odds. Early on, blinds 25-25 and I have around my 3K starting stack, there's one limper and I find AA. Alright then, 525 to go. I did feel a bit foolish doing that. Until the button shoved for 2K with what turned out to be AK. Which is at least understandable to some extent.

An hour later, and in the meantime I've done absolutely nothing else apart from limp and fold a couple of times. 50-100 and I find the bullets again under the gun. 800 to go. Now bear in mind that all the protagonists here have seen the previous hand, which is effectively the only hand I played. Geezer agonises and passes very reluctantly. Another geezer calls. And a woman moves in on the button. I move in over the top, calling geezer flaps his jaw a bit about what a big laydown he's making (with Jacks), folds, and it turns out the woman was going for a squeeze raise with 77. So I rake that one in as well. As she's leaving the woman says "well I know my chips are safe there". I assumed she was going to say something about me only playing Aces but instead she said "you're the only one at this table who plays worth a damn". I was rather nonplussed by this but she seemed sincere so I said "Er, thank you". But no, I wasn't in there, in case you're wondering.

Go figure on that action. I'm not saying I'm going to chuck in 3000 on Sunday if I find Aces in the first level, but it's something to think about. Not much happened after that, I was able to keep my stack around 7K until I won a coin flip 99 v AQ to move up to 10K. At that point I thought "I've been running pretty good on coin flips lately". Naturally within 10 minutes AQ lost to JJ and T7 lost to 22 for the scratch. What can you do. A book on how to win coin flips, how much would that be worth ?

Friday, January 19, 2007


Main Event Preparation

So now I'm thinking about how to approach this main event. The structure is interesting, 20K chips, 90 minute rounds but it starts at 50-100. This would be exactly the same as 10K and starting 25-50, except that the antes still kick in at the 100-200 level, which in this case is level 3. So there are only 3 hours of play without antes. My fag-packet calculations indicate that the average stack is going to hover around M10-12 for some considerable time.

It's a good job I brought Kill Phil with me because it's possible that I may need to revert to some version of that. It really depends on the line-up. Last night's $500 was noticeably tougher, clearly the field was filled out with people who had arrived for the main event and so didn't need to play the super. If I find myself at a table without many, or even any, weak spots and good players to my left I can't really afford to play as I have been on this trip so far. Now it's a real possibility that late position raises will be met with semi- or even complete bluff reraises. So I should whack my all-in threshold back up to 8 or even around the 10 level, varying according to my actual hand. And I can think more about the steal reraise myself.

The endurance factor comes into play as well. It's difficult to play for 2 days at full intensity if you're not used to it, never mind 5. It's good to have some kind of basic fallback strategy for periods where I want to lie low. Tonight there's another $500 and I think it would be a good idea to play it in the same KP-like style that I may have to employ at times in the main event. Then tomorrow I can have a full day off before kick-off Sunday noon, 6pm GMT.

Friday, January 12, 2007


Random Thoughts

A few points of interest (or not) from the tournament this week :

Over the last week I had been moving in with a stack up to M8 (that is 8 times the blinds and antes before any action). However I decided that this was too much. Chen and Ankenman suggest M6 in early position and M7 in late, which I think is about right. I had upped it a bit to take into account the possibility of being (semi-)bluff reraised, but after a while I realised that no one was doing this to me anyway. It's rare enough to see someone make the first all-in without what would normally be considered a "good hand". So it's almost certainly better to make a normal raise with more than 6 early / 7 late and if you really think a reraiser might be at it, then call him. I switched to this mode of play this week and early results are promising :-). It's still worth noting that 6/7 is much higher than most players' all-in threshold. Over a drink with the guy I chopped with after the event, he said he had noticed that "you're moving in with like M6 or 7". As I said, he was sharp.


Every little helps when it comes to setting your opponents on their heels. I was very happy that Johnny Grooms announced me as "making his second final table here at the WPO" because a couple of opponents started noticeably on hearing this. I was even more grateful that Johnny didn't point out that the other final was in a rinky-dink 100 runner stud tournament :-). If it's anyone's business I tipped an extra 2% because Johnny Grooms is a top man, his staff are excellent and the tournament is really well run. I haven't seen a bad ruling yet.


Early on there was one guy at my table who seemed reasonably good but I wasn't really concerned about him as a threat. When he busted though, someone piped up "you just knocked out the best player at this table". I gave him "The Look" as he carried on "That was Jeremy Tinsley. Finished 3rd in the main event one year" [actually it was 5th, the year Devilfish won it]. Looking back I thought he was OK but he seemed to be creating more problems for himself than for anyone else, mostly by playing too many hands out of position. Just an observation.


Another point Snyder makes that I don't think I've commented on so far, and I haven't seen elsewhere, is that the most important phase of a tournament is not the final table, it's the "crunch time" as he calls it, the last phase in which you can press your opponents before it becomes an all-in fest. In this tournament we seemed to reach the final table quite quickly. Johnny Grooms commented that he wasn't expecting us to be finished by midnight on the first day, as we were. This was at least partly because there was no final bubble at all, 11th and 1oth were eliminated simultaneously on different tables. Even so, at the start of the final we were playing 3K/6K-1K (not 2/4 as I said on the other blog) with an average stack of 130K or about M7. Being ahead of the game at this point is so important that I'm inclined to agree with Snyder again. If you can move ahead of the game at "crunch time" then it makes the final table so much easier. All you have to do is steer clear of any other big stacks and you need to lose at least 2 pots to bust out.


The final table payout structure was rather odd, although I seem to remember that WSOP payouts were similar last year. 9th-3rd went up in even steps of about $3K, before the big jumps of 3rd-2nd $20K and 2nd-1st $40K (plus $10K counting the WPT seat). While I was ahead of the game this wasn't too much of an issue, but it was a sorry spectacle to see a couple of players nurse their small stacks and win 2 or 3 allins just to finish 5th or whatever. God bless 'em all the same, and what the hell, they were happy with their $16K so maybe who am I to argue.


Finally, what does this win mean to me ? Well, my plan on quitting work was to pay off my mortgage by grinding online (I was about £45K short) and then re-assess. This win basically saves me 7 or 8 months worth of Sit and Goes which really is a mercy. I'll stick to the plan, obviously it depends if I score another result on the trip, but I should be down to less than £10K to go. Cutting my interest payments from £200 a month to £50 is a nice bonus as well !


Oh, one more thing, I know this is a bit up myself but anyway I was flicking through like CardPlayer and Pokerpages and their ranking lists just to see if I dominated any of them. There's this list on Pokerpages called "Pro Rank 2" where I'm 12th. I clicked on the guy in the lead, who has twice as many points as me, and he has one result : a $29,000 win in a $300 rebuy with 160 runners. So that's apparently twice as good as $81,000 in a $500 freezeout with 600 runners. Just as I was wondering about this I saw the explanation. Their algorithm was developed by Paul Samuel :-)

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