Sunday, September 28, 2008


Vic £1500 (Standard)

This was a B-list field if I ever saw one. That's not meant as an insult ; there were quite a few of the decent/sensible players skipping Leicester Square to play this one. This was a double chance format where you can take the extra stack at any time in the first 2 hours ; I elected not to, in order to avoid doing the lot on a massive brain freeze and general deep-stack sucking.

Apart from launching 100BB in pre-flop vs Skalie when we both had AK (gambooool), not much happened until I open-raised AK UTG, 2 callers, flop QJT, kerching ! The small blind then went call/call/allin for the 5K, yum yum, he had either T9 or 98 (the river came an 8), what do I care :-). Another win for the fast-play. 15K drained down to 8 thanks to every flop missed and every bluff called. Then at 200-400, Alan Vinson raised the cut-off, the button (AK payoff guy) moved in and I called fairly promptly with JJ. Button 88, but Alan had QQ, WCYD. Took the sidepot for 4K.

I play about one tournament a year in the Vic, and I swear, every time Lawrence Windish is on the table and every time he gets the lot. When he made it 5BB from his monster stack, I shipped my 10BB with AKs, to be up against AQ. It's funny the tricks your mind can play on you. I considered this a coin-flip. Flop Jxx. Turn K. He taps the table and just as I'm thinking "that gives you an extra out", bink the T. IGHN. Not to worry, better to burn out and put a session in online this evening.

Edit : Last sentence should read "better to burn out and do another grand online. Marv."

Thursday, September 25, 2008


How Not To Play a 20BB Stack (Part 143923)

Today I was watching the latest heat of the TV tournament on Channel 5. It's the one with Catgirl in it, although that's completely irrelevant to this post. I'm only half way through it but it's really struck me watching this episode how many players, some of whom have very big reputations, are making basic stack mistakes with 20 BB or less. Going through them briefly, and in order as much as I remember :

- Devilfish raises with A4, Surinder calls with AQ, Tabatabai calls with AJs and Flood makes it 40K to go with 77. Passed back to Tabatabai who, either because he's done his homework on Flood or because he doesn't give a fuck (or both), shoves all in over the top. Flood passes getting almost exactly 2-1. [1]

- Devilfish raises with AT, Surinder calls with AK this time, Woodley with 99, 16BBs and a perfect squeeze opportunity, just calls. Flop comes Q high checked around. Turn makes a possible flush, Devilfish and Surinder get into a dick-waving bluffing contest that Devilfish wins, Woodley passes the best hand.

- Catgirl raises with 22, Woodley again with something around 12-15 BBs calls with KQs, Catgirl flops a set and check-calls, Woodley turns a flush draw and busts out, albeit he was practically committed on the flop anyway

- Surinder inexplicably makes it 2.5BB out of a stack of 9BB with AQ, allowing Devilfish to defend his blind with 65s, flop a 5 and check-call to knock Surinder out.

These hands really aren't very hard to play correctly, it's just that the players back themselves into all sorts of corners with their reluctance to move in pre-flop or, in the first case, Flood's incorrect read that no one's going to push back at him without a monster. Cases 2 and 3 Woodley can shove pre and either take the blinds or be in a coin-flip, with a perfect stack to do this efficiently in each case. And as for Surinder, why he's encouraging people to outflop him holding AQ and 9 BB you'll have to ask him because I have no idea.

If you watch any of these programmes you will see people making these mistakes time and time again. IMO it's not just lack of fundamentals, it's ego as well. I don't have to go allin, that's what Internet kids do. I can make soul reads and outplay people. Er, actually, no you can't. Not with 15BB in front of you. Even when Catgirl flops a set on you, by the time you've "read" that a model who just about knows the hand rankings has a complete monster, you're committed.

As I say, it's not that hard, and if some of the better players just took the time to work this stuff out they really would have a good chance. One player who has is Neil, we played together in the semi (coming up on TV in 3 weeks I think), and he knows how this stuff works. I'm sure it's a major factor in his great success this year, even though running like Usain Bolt does have something to do with it as well :-)

[1] Yes alright, this isn't 20BB, and Flood shouldn't move in here. The similarity is that the stack sizes are perfect for an aware player like Tabatabai to make the re-re-steal. Flood is closing the action and has a great spot to just call and set-mine.

Addendum : Fantastic post on Terrence Chan's blog here. It's only tangentially related, in that it talks about the inherent uncertainty of live reads, but it's well worth a read !

Monday, September 22, 2008



I manned up to play the $5K last night, probably because I was still post-flu delirious :-). I busted out 40 from the money but there were some interesting points arising.

Before the tournament, I wasn't really planning to play but Stars had these hyper-turbo double shootouts that seemed worth a look. They turned out to be awesome. Basic double shootout, $215 entry (no rake !), $5200 packages to be won. The twist is 750 starting chips, 3 minute levels and antes from the off ! The later ones in particular, which offered 4-5 seats, were awesome value. Not least because correct strategy is so different from round 1 (winner take all) to round 2 (10 players, 4 seats). Anyone who just turned up and played their "normal game", or didn't adjust enough, was going way uphill. I won a seat at the 6th try and ended up 1/10 for $3K profit. Then I decided spin it up, I'm in cheap ! LOL.

Huge swathes of the event itself were unremarkable. I pretty much doubled up KK > QQ to 50K and KK > TT to 90. In the other players' shoes I would probably not have stacked off with the QQ and definitely not the TT. The most difficult part was adjusting to different tables. It was mostly tight on the first two, then I suddenly found myself on a table with lots of open-limping, min-raising and even that-min-reraise-from-20-BB-which-is-always-AA-or-KK but turned out to be 33. Finally I ended up on a tough table with around 80K (playing 1500-3K), and I busted with a bad river call which you can see here. Pretty annoyed with myself for this call, I'm still trying to think of a hand I can beat now, with no luck. Live and learn though hopefully, this kind of call may be my biggest leak at the moment.

In the aftermath, it's no big deal. Some of the guys posting on 2+2 seemed like they should be calling the Samaritans after busting, but you have to keep it in perspective. Going through to 400 players from 2000 sounds like you've done 80% of the job, but it doesn't work like that at all. I peaked at 100K, 4x my buyin. Average chips for the final would be about 5-6 million, 200x the buyin ! That's how far I still had to go. At the end of the day, I lost $2900 on the Sunday, and had $20K equity at one point but lost it. Practically standard.

It was good to play though, it's always good to extend your upper buyin, selectively of course. If nothing else you're more relaxed about playing $1Ks online in future, and so on. Onwards to the EPT, I'm definitely playing the £1500 and the main event, and have a few % still available if you're interested. Best of British to Neil in the WSOP-E £1500 today, although this is a strange one. If a friend was in a WSOP final in Vegas I'd be really stoked, but this just seems like another tournament with a £150K first prize. Is that unfair ? I know these count as bracelets for records and prop bets, but it doesn't seem the same. Maybe the only problem is I still attach too much value to Vegas bracelets. Yes, even me :-).

Monday, September 08, 2008



As Rupert pointed out below, Pokerswat is going to be launching soon and I'll be making some tournament videos for the site. In fact I've already made about half a dozen ; I'm really pleased with how they've come out, it's a good mix, there's some live video of me shipping $60K on Party which is quite exciting, some $50 rebuy Pokerstars action and at the other end of the scale a video of turbo multi-table SNGs which goes through basic pushbotting (and luckboxing :-)) for beginners. Once I know the launch date I'll pass it on, and hopefully I'll have banners and stuff up so you can register from here.

As for the "coaches in the car park" angle I appreciate that point of view, but I think there's a big difference between helping those who make the effort to find the information online and dispensing "wisdom" to all and sundry in the casino. It's nice to give something back to the poker community (really) and I have found it helps me to improve my own game, not least on the spot because I have to actually verbalise and think about what I'm doing instead of going "I'm shipping this in whatever he does" which is a tarp I fall into sometimes.

While I'm here I whiffed the $1500 on iPoker last night but recouped my buyin through a swap. I think I'm getting the hang of how these big comps work ... Finally if you're thinking about trying to satellite in for WSOP-E or EPT online, check this thread first. The jist is that Betfair, for example, are giving prizes as $24K packages, $20K of which goes to your tourney buyin. However, since they started these, the pound has dived to $1.76 (not that I'm complaining ldo) and so you're losing $2400 on the deal. You could always ask Alistair Darling for a refund. It's not really the sites' fault, after all, as pointed out, if it went the other way no one would pay the site the extra back, but bear it in mind. Unless you have a fetish for satellites, it might be better to just play a WCOOP or a $100 rebuy or something and buy in if you cash for enough. Just don't tell me "but then I won't play" or I'll hunt you down and kill you. I promise.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008


EPT London

It's nice to know that I can play well throughout a 10-hour session online, if there's a carrot of a big pile of cash being waved in front of me, but it does kind of turn me into a gibbering zombie for the next day and a half. Or more so than usual. Now I'm able to think straight again, of course "windfall" is the wrong word for Sunday's result. It's much better to think of it as a wage that has been earned over all the hours of play in the year/decade/lifetime, and just happened to be paid all in one go. I don't claim credit for this point of view, I first came across it in a piece by Daniel Negreanu (when he used to be a poker player).

Also, as Pete B gently points out, the concept of it being "rude" not to spin it up live is faintly ridiculous. Nonetheless, I wouldn't mind a quick spin-up. So I've decided that, while the WSOP-E can GFI, Stars are actually adding some money to the EPT London and this is such a rare event nowadays it's the best choice to play. I'm thinking about playing the main event and also the £1500 tournament on the previous Saturday/Sunday, which happens to clash unavoidably with the WSOP-E main event. Hopefully this will keep some of the better players out of the mix.

If I play, I'm looking to sell some action. As Victoria Coren points out (from experience) [1], half a million quid is plenty to be getting on with if you win. The two tournaments are £5200+200 and £1500+75 which comes to £7000 near as dammit. If you'd be interested in buying some action at £90 per 1% [2] then Email me. T+Cs on request, but basically money up front and return does not include any residuals, sponsorship $, bonus prizes like future seats or anything like that. I'll also consider swapping % with anyone who doesn't suck.

[1] This isn't the wrong link, the specific part I'm quoting is in the comments.

[2] Or dollar equivalent at the time of purchase.

Monday, September 01, 2008


Late Drama (August wrap)

When you're playing past midnight on the 31st of the month, it's sort of like poker injury time. The board goes up, the crowd cheers or groans at the announcement of the crucial extra minute and it's time for the late substitute to make himself a hero. So it proved this morning as I turned another OK month into the best ever online by shipping 3rd in the Ongame Grand tournament for $80K.

I'm not a structure nit but the combination of half-hour levels and players with $6 average buyin throwing themselves onto their swords made for super deep stacks almost throughout, despite being constantly hand for hand from 30 players out. I was under 20 BBs just a couple of times in the whole thing (this being a two day tournament that started on Friday), and well over 50 BBs for long swathes of it even in the early hours of this morning. There was a point 3-handed when we were almost all dead level - with 80 BBs ! It's a bit frustrating to think that I could have picked up another $100K in half an hour with a break or two 3-handed, but obviously no complaints overall. I certainly won my share of flips, and a key hand where I put the "go and go" on this geezer with AK, he called 1/3 of stacks pre, I jammed the KQJ flop and he called with KQ ... Ace on the river kabongggggg !!

So that was nice, being the second time I had played that tournament and the 3rd, in total, $1K+ online tournament. I think perhaps I should try a few more. Given this unexpected windfall, it would be kind of rude not to spunk some of it off at WSOPE/EPT London as well so stay tuned for that. Up until last night the month had been much like July, grinding it up for about $10K profit on $25K buyins, but of course it's the big scores you play for and one of those sends your short-term stats through the roof. Anyway, for those of you thinking "must be nice", it is, very. Especially with the dollar down to $1.80 to the pound, I didn't even realise that till a couple of days ago when I deposited £100 into an iPoker skin and thought I'd been ripped off !

What I Learned This Month

Apart from play more $1K tournaments, I've kind of slowed down a bit with 20-30 BBs, where I was pushing too hard, and focussed on finding more ways to win chips in the 35-50 BB zone. Picking up spots to 3-bet loose raisers with anything down to complete air, and then half-potting the flop irrespective, is working well and also of course gives you good balance for getting paid with a big hand in this zone.

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