Friday, December 29, 2006

Playing the Medium Stack in a Large Field Tourney

If your enemy is secure at all points, be prepared for him. If he is in superior strength, evade him. If your opponent is temperamental, seek to irritate him. Pretend to be weak, that he may grow arrogant. If he is taking his ease, give him no rest. If his forces are united, separate them. If sovereign and subject are in accord, put division between them. Attack him where he is unprepared, appear where you are not expected.- Sun Tzu, the Art of War

I have played several live tournaments with fields of 200-500. A few times I have had bad runs and went out quickly and a few times I have had a good run early and found myself with a monster stack. The majority of the time I find myself a few hours in to one of these with a little above average stack. This is the position I would like to discuss.

There will typically be a solid player or two at the table with stacks at least as big as yours. There will usually be maniac that has just seemed to hit everything he plays with a very large stack. Then there is the rest of the table; a few that are obviously playing at a larger buy-in than they are used to and playing way too tight; a few that seem like decent players that just aren't getting anything playable and maybe one or two that who knows what they are doing (they sure don't). So how do you survive all this madness and make it to the money with a chance to make a run at the final table? There are several different strategies that will get you there and here is a favorite of mine:

1) First lets categorize our opponents:
A players: Solid players with big chip stacks
B players: Solid players with small to average stacks
C players: Knowledgable too-tight players
M players: Maniacs
? players: Who knows

2) I like to look for opportunities to "Stun" a maniac without confronting another player. If I can isolate the maniac with a great starting hand, I will use my "reverse tells" to give him all the wrong signals; trust me, he will think your tells mirror his.

3) I'm not looking to go up against another big stack, but if I find myself in that position with a super-premium hand I will be an "information junkie" and put my radar on full alert.

4) "The Squeeze Play" Look for an opportunity where 2 or 3 players get a large amount in early and you have an extremely strong starting hand. If you are a little patient you will find this sweet spot. This is the time to get your chips in the middle. Here's a great example from one of the WSOP Circuit Tournaments I played in September.

Final table of Event 2: This was an extremely talented final table with several pros including a bracelet holder. Chip stacks were fairly even around the table and play was excrutiatingly tight with the only move being an all in push every now and then which was never being called. Then the play of the tournament was made. Several players caught very good starting cards at the same time and a 5x raise was called by two of the larger stacks. It came on around with almost everyone folding......almost everyone....SQUEEZE PLAY!!!!! A player that had been very tight and quiet at this final table didn't fold; she announced matter of factly.."I'm all in". The other players each took about 5 minutes with all but one folding and the only caller having a weaker pair and she raked in about 70,000 chips when the hand was over. She went on from there to win the whole thing.

5) That's teriffic and I'll be on the lookout for that kind of situation but what if it doesn't come. The other thing you need to take advantage of is your position against specific player types. Be thinking about who will fold to a re-raise and be prepared to make this move when appropriate. Also look for spots to change gears and get a little tighter or a little looser than the table.

6) Most of all, be aware of what each player at the table probably thinks of your table image and maximize those thoughts.

Best of luck to all of you this new year. I am entering in to a new level of competition with a lot of bigger buy-ins. I hope I can make a big splash but either way it will all be right here for you to enjoy with

Friday, December 22, 2006

Goals for 2007

I've got several goals for 2007. These are my poker-related goals for the year.

1. Make a final table in a live event with a buy-in over $1,000

2. Play at least one event in the WSOP in Vegas.

3. Meet up with some fellow bloggers in Vegas for some fun poker times.

I can think of several more, but I am going to intentionally keep this list short because these three are all very important to me and I want to focus on them. I wish the best of luck to everyone else this year in accomplishing whatever goals you set for yourselves.

I will be posting my non-poker related goals in a few days.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Reunited With An Old Friend

When I was about 12 years old a new family moved in to the house next door. They had a kid my age in their family. He had two older sisters and a baby brother. We hit it off and became close friends. As we moved in to our adult lives, we went seperate paths and lost touch with each other for a while. I have talked to him a few times on the phone in the past 10 years, but havn't seen him in a long time.
His mother passed away suddenly this week and I went to the funeral home tonight. My friend and I picked up our friendship right where we had left it 22 years ago. I was so glad I went and stood beside my friend tonight.

This experience has left me pondering my goals for 2007. I plan on working on them for the next few days and posting them here in a few days. I feel more focused and ready than I ever have to take some shots at some big tournaments and cash games this year.

Thanks to everyone who has posted a recap of the Vegas trip. I've enjoyed everything I have read about your trips. I will not miss the next one!!!

Saturday, December 02, 2006

A Really Odd Experience Today

I had a really weird experience today. I don't know how to describe it without just telling it so here goes:

I worked today finishing around 4pm. I stopped by the convenience store to fill up my car with gas and get a drink for the ride home. When I approached the counter, I had a strange feeling come over me. I felt sort of....not dizzy...hmm.....sort of out of balance. I felt like I was there but it was as if I was watching a re-run, like I had experienced it before. The cashier rang up my drink and as he went to hand me my change he dropped it. When he bent to pick it up I already knew what was about to happen, but it would have seemed awkward to say anything so I just watched as he slammed his own forehead in to the counter as he bent down and knocked himself out cold. The girl that worked there ran to the back (as i knew she was about to do) and came back with a cold wash cloth, placing it on his head. The other employee at the counter dialed 911 and told them what happened.
I knew the rest already (because as I said, this has already happened in my memory) so I knew he was OK and would wake up and be sitting up when help arrived so I just left and went on home. Now I am realizing I left my change. This is bothering me because last time I stayed and when he sat up he asked another employee to hand me my change.
Have I thrown fate a curve ball here? Only time will tell.....................