Wednesday, February 25, 2009


When Reads Go Wrong 2

Devilfish is at it again in this week's Premier League. Holding 42cc on a board of 99xxx three clubs, Devilfish bets his flush only to fold to Juha Helppi's min-raise (with Ace high) getting better than 5-1 odds. I'm going to give Juha full credit for knowing his opponent here ; he knows that Devilfish backs his reads 100%, as I said last month, and he wins the "battle of levels" by knowing that Devilfish will think that the minimum raise can't be a bluff.

Sometimes people knock the "math call" on the river when you sigh and pay someone off getting these odds, but if opponents know you'll make that call, then they can't pull this cheap bluff. On top of that, if they do try to bluff you when you have the nuts (or as good as), then you stack them because they know the min-raise won't do the job.

The Premier League has been quite entertaining so far but this was a pretty tilting episode, we had Hellmuth on commentary again (I thought they all did one each ?), and Annette was understandably annoyed with Devilfish when she reraised him 12BBs allin with AQ and he's like "lol, KK, I tarped you with my live pro speech play mind games". Hellmuth of course makes some retarded comment about "if you have to go allin with AQ there, which I don't". These guys are just so full of themselves, they still seem to think that it's all about advanced psychology when everyone has 15 blinds. Oh well, it sets a good example to the masses I suppose :-)

Saturday, February 14, 2009


Beat The Clock

I said I hadn't learned anything from playing in the latest TV tournament, which is technically true, but I did think of something while watching the turbo heat. The way this works is, all the runners up from the heats go into this second chance turbo, 7 hands per level and 20 seconds to act on any decision. I was just reading Stuart Rutter's blog and he said that commenting on these turbo heats in a poker blog is like commenting on blindfold Subbuteo in a football blog, which is a good line, but there is still plenty of scope for making mistakes in this format.

How to handle 7 hands per level is something I have thought about before. Just play one hand at a time according to what blinds you're on now. A lot of people go nuts and overplay their hands massively in the first couple of levels just because it's a turbo, which is quite bad. But don't underestimate how much of an issue 20 seconds to act is as well.

The key point here is that this is live poker. You don't have numbers popping up with exactly how much is in the pot, the stacks, and the bet(s). So a hand came up where I think the cut-off raised, the button pushed with Ace-bit of something and the small blind found Jacks, with the stacks between 20-30 BBs. The player with the Jacks seemed to lose focus while he was trying to work out the size of pots and bets, and allowed his hand to be counted down and killed.

Now maybe he was going to fold anyway, although it seems unlikely to me. His real mistake was that he didn't do any thinking in the other players' time. Consider chess, for example, playing with clocks. When it's your opponent's turn, you're not staring out the window. You're using his time to think about what he might do and how you would react to it. In this format, players should be doing two things while the action's not on them.

Firstly, they should be making every effort to at least estimate how many chips the other players have, particularly the players on their right (who might move those stacks in before them). If you have to flat out ask them in between hands, then do it. Secondly, while I normally don't look at my cards until it's my turn, in this format you should absolutely look at your cards as soon as you get them, so you can start to plan ahead. This occurred to me in the shower the next day (as these things do) and I thought, wow, that's just so obvious now, but I wouldn't have thought to do it at the table.

Finally, as a measure of how costly this kind of mistake can be, the player with Ace-bit, who would have been covered by the Jacks, took the pot down and went on to win the entire tournament for $200K !


EPO Wrap (Spoilers)

I'll keep it brief, you can find hand details and so on in the Matchroom Forum if you're interested, and I don't want to spoil the eventual broadcast for anyone else. Binked the semi to go through with 290K (average 230). At one point in the final I had a great position, 40% of the chips in play 5-handed. But then it all went spectacularly tits up and I ended up 3rd for $50K.

Which is nice but anyone who plays the tournament circuit will know it's frustrating to be that close and then fall short. Still, when I say "at one point I had a great position", at one point 72 players all started off even, including a lot of better players than me. I thought I played OK, nothing inspired but no serious mistakes over the whole tournament.

I can't think of anything much I learned at the table, but the apartment was a massive succeed [1], it probably paid for itself 10 times over in terms of EV. I could sweat the morning semi online and be at the studio in half an hour when it looked like it was winding up. Whereas this morning it took me 90 minutes to get home from Liverpool Street alone. Nice apartment too, it's basically like a good hotel room with your own kitchen to boot. Worth thinking about if you're planning to play a festival in London.

Finally I went out with Neil and Karl for a curry afterwards, the food was great and while Neil was a bit down over his 5th place finish, he told us all about which sounds very exciting and one to keep an eye on, you can sign up for Email updates via that address.

[1] massive pass ? what's the opposite of a massive fail ?

Update : You may notice that I have tidied up the links on this blog. Please don't send me a request to swap links unless I know you because unfortunately 99% of poker blogs really suck, so the odds are against you ...

Sunday, February 08, 2009


Finding Some Form (contains EPO spoiler)

A couple of good results this week ; on Wednesday I shipped the $150 freezeout on Full Tilt for $15K. Which was nice. Key pot, I think this might have been around the cash bubble, but anyway I thought some guy was trying to push me around so I insta-4-jammed it in his eye with KTs. He even more insta-called with AK but I binked a Ten. I played pretty well 4- and 3- handed to amass a big chip lead and shipped it.

Yesterday I played my EPO V Heat and shipped that as well. I'd like to think that this was mainly due to my tenacity and selective aggression in the first 3 levels which kept my stack around 100K even though I had nothing to work with in terms of hands. In truth, it was partly due to that, but a bit more to going 3/3 on allins from that point.

As an observation, this event is clearly tougher than last year, by a distance. I was pretty lucky with my draw, I had two good players to deal with but many of the other heats have 4 or 5 tough spots. I stuck around to watch the heat after and that was a good example. There was some really good play, especially from Dave "Dubai" Shallow who absolutely played the spots off the cards and was unlucky. A lot of people are catching on to how much value these tournaments are which means, of course, that they aren't going to be so much value in future. It's evolution baby.

The semi-final is on Thursday. Last time I was so wired after the semi I could hardly sleep at all and really wasn't at my best in the final, so I have booked an apartment in Liverpool Street for two nights. I estimate the EV of two more hours to at least doze as being way more than the cost of the apartment ... in the event of making the final of course. That's why I've booked two nights though, it's so it's like a mini-holiday whatever happens. So it's not a bok. It's not ! Alright, it is. The biggest bok ever. What can I do.

Finally, I know there isn't a lot for beginners in this blog, at least not since the very early posts, so if you're quite new to poker or tournament poker then I must pimp my videos on Pokerswat. I've just finished a 5-part beginner series on the site, I'm very pleased with how they've come out and the feedback I've had so far is very good. These are all available on the Silver membership, which is $19 sign-up fee and $11/month. Ok I'm biased but that's tremendous value IMO.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009


When Reads Go Wrong

There was a very interesting hand in the recent coverage of the WSOP-E main event. It was about 3 places off the money, and I think all the relevant players in the hand had about 25-30 BBs. What happens is, French guy limps in EP, then it's passed around to a Finnish player on the button [1]. He finds the Kings and limps behind.

I think this is a great play because he has just the perfect players in the blinds to do this to : Devilfish and Matusow. Devilfish swallows it H, L and S by raising to 8BB with AJo. Matusow and Frenchman pass, Finn moves in and now Devilfish realises what's happened but (more or less) correctly calls, given the spot he's in now with 1/3 of his chips already in the pot.

This is the thing with players like Devilfish IMO. He's a great reader of hands in live poker, one of the best, especially when picking up tells and indications of strength/weakness. The problem is, I think, that he is so confident in his reads he doesn't seem to consider the potential cost of being wrong. In this case, he's backed his read that a limper behind can't have anything, and so making it 8 BBs to win about 4 BBs in the pot is clearly a winning proposition. Which it would be, if he hadn't inadvertently committed himself, and so was really risking 25 BBs to win 4.

So when you're playing against this kind of player, it can be worth making an unorthodox play to give them a false read, because they're so confident in their own reads that they tend to over-commit to them. And it's not as though the hero is risking all that much here. If the blinds just complete/check he's playing a 4BB pot with 25BB behind. He still has no problem committing on a non-Ace flop and if the EP limper hits a set or a blind catches two pair, that's still unlikely enough to just take it on the chin. NH WP IMO, and to be fair Devilfish, not always the best loser, compliments him on the play on his way out.

[1] Mustn't say Scandi because Finland isn't part of Scandinavia LDO !

Monday, February 02, 2009


On The Other Hand ...

Free To Be Free

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