Wednesday, June 27, 2007


Where I'm Going Wrong

My biggest mistake in preparation for the WSOP was not playing some live tournaments beforehand. I walked straight into a $2000 NL and busted out with an internet play that was completely inappropriate for the live tourney situation I was in. I've mentioned the hand before, I raised the button with AJ for 4500 out of about 35K, small blind made it 20K, I had a brain freeze, shoved and lost to QQ.

What was going on subconsciously, I now think, is that the unexploitability devil was sitting on my shoulder going "You can't raise any 2 on the button and then fold everything less than AK/TT to a raise ! That's horribly exploitable !". Like all the devil's promises, it's a half-truth. It is horribly exploitable. If there's anyone behind you capable of exploiting it. Which there wasn't. The small blind was telling everyone how tight he was playing, and the big blind had just arrived to the table but was basically the picture in the poker dictionary next to "old nit". Sure, if he reraised me twice in a row I could re-evaluate, but up until then, unexploitable poker was not what I should have been looking for. They were playing exploitably (too tight) so it was my job to exploit them (by raising frequently but dropping to reraises until I changed my assessment of their play). It's not the same as playing on the Internet where everyone's just an icon and you play the percentages.

A less extreme case came up a couple of days ago. If you've been following the other blog, you'll know about the hand, anyway it's here. Matt made the following comment in a later post :

"Could your style be a little too aggressive? The QJ hand where you busted to AQ on the Q-high flop? I liked the plan of checking the turn so as to be able to check-raise if you smelt a weak stab at it but when they weighed in big-time couldn't you fold? Hellmuth would have folded and he must be doing something right. I completely understand the reasoning behind not folding, and I'd do the same myself in a $50 online donkament, but you don't seem to ever get away from these. Sometimes a player is just telling you that your hand's no good."

Again, creating a 1400 pot pre-flop but declining to put in another 4000 without two pair or better would be horrifically exploitable if anyone caught on to it. But no one has had time to do that, least of all the villain who has only just arrived at the table. Interesting that Matt should mention Hellmuth. For all that I dislike his constant self-aggrandisement, Hellmuth does do a lot right in tournaments against weaker players. One of the things he does is he inhibits the bluff by verbally cowing his weaker opponents. Then when they do move their chips, it's easier for him to fold. In this case, if I can give the guy JJ and 99, or a small chance of being on a total move, it's a borderline call. In the event, maybe a discreet pass would have been the best option that time.

I probably need to lean towards folding a little bit more, at least the first time or two at a particular table. If I start making a habit of folding after taking the lead earlier in the hand, people will pick up on it, and then maybe I can go back to being a non-believer. It would be best to try to fix this before the main event, better late than never, so I should try maybe the Bellagio evening tournament a few times if I'm not in action at the Rio (or even the Rio second chance itself), which applies today, so I think that's what I'll do,

Well you really are getting it quietly... aren't you. 2nd place in the limit shootout losing only to ram vaswani and no post?? When did you learn to play limit, anyway? You've been holding out. Congratulations.
It's all here :

Oh the irony.

After thinking about this post for
some time, I've come to the
conclusion that I don't quite agree.
I would argue that depending for
your decisions on factors other
than chips and cards opens up a
channel for deception. A clever
fellow who looks like a duffer
could do some kind of "wow, this hand is a winner" tell, a few
times running, you pick up on it,
and the next few times he does it,
nobody calls him. Did he have
cards those times?
I like the idea of maximized
guaranteed returns, basically
sort of a self-insurance policy
against being fooled. You can
enhance your short term profits
if you guess right about people,
but if you guess wrong it can be
quite exploitable. If you play
by cards and chips alone (as if
you were one of the robot players
in UKTP but with a somewhat better
strategy) then you can't be
beaten by that kind of deceptive
Generally I find that it's a safe
assumption that some of my
opponents are more clever than
I am, so if I try to be clever
about things I'm likely to come
in second best.
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