Thursday, August 30, 2007

WSOP Circuit Countdown: 10 Hours

I'll be in Tunica in about 10 hours for the WSOP Circuit tournaments. PokerEnthusiast will be giving nightly updates for HuntsVegas and myself.
Here we go!!!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Tunica Countdown: 2 Days

I'll be in Tunica in 2 days for the WSOP Circuit tournaments. I'm joining up with my good friend HuntsVegas. Hopefully we'll get a chance to meet up with Jusdealem while we're there. Last year the top prize in Event 2 was 80 grand so I'm guessing the tournaments this weekend will be around $250,000 prize pools. PokerEnthusiast will be posting updates on our results.

My father is having surgery today. Best of wishes Dad and I know things are going to go great. I'll see you soon!

Congrats to Gcox25 for finishing 2nd in The Hoy last night. OmgItsPokerFool took down 1st and KatieMother continues to finish in the money in Blogger tournaments. She's on quite a run the last couple of weeks in these things. Way to go folks.

Best of luck at the tables this week everyone!!!

Monday, August 27, 2007

News Flash: PokerEnthusiast Rulez at Omaha H/L No limit!!!

Big shout out to my good friend PokerEnthusiast for taking down 1st place in an Omaha H/L no limit mtt on FT last night. He headed to the final table with a medium stack and a lot of determination and took the win heads up from a very solid player. Way to go!!!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Poker Cat Arena

I'm heading over to The Poker Cat Arena tomorrow night. It will likely be my last live play before I head to Tunica next week to participate in the WSOP Circuit tournies.
I will be heading out most likely next Thursday so I will probably miss event #1. I'll try to play some satellites that night and win my entries to events 2 & 3. I'll be meeting up with HuntsVegas in Tunica. If anyone else is going, let me know.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Notes on Opponents

Here is a list of the types of notes I make on opponents. I'm interested in hearing any others that I don't list.

Limit cash game notes:
wins and losses when at my table
Raise, Limp, Fold percentages
any odd hands at showdown
any noticed leaks in their game

No-Limit Cash game notes:
percentage of hands played
Raise, Limp, Fold percentages
odd hands played or any leaks noticed in their game
ability to fold

Tournament game notes:
% of flops seen and position played from
notes on any hands shown
note what tournaments i have played with them
ability to fold
bet patterns and what they held
how being at different M levels affects their decisions
tight, loose, or gear-changer

I use the colors on Full Tilt when making notes as well. It's based on how they
rank in the above mentioned criteria.
Here are the questions I have for you.
1. What notes do you take that I didn't list?
2. What is the most important stat to have on your opponents?
3. What stats do you track on yourself?
4. What has been the biggest leak in your game and what have you done or are you doing to correct it?

BrainMc's League Tournament

Eleven players attended BrainMc's league tournament last night. Four bloggers were in attendance. BrainMc, Kajagugu, Aposec72, and myself.
The blind structure and chip starting amounts were great. If you are setting up a home tourney and you need help with structure, I recommend you consult with BrainMc. Aposec had his aces busted early on. He raised the blinds about 3 or 4 times the big blind. I had KQ and came in behind him with a call. The big blind had small connectors and called with 3 4. The flop had a 3 and a 4 in it. Aposec led out with a bet of 100 and I called . The big blind re-raised and Aposec called. I got out of the way and they were all in. No help came Aposec's way and he was sent to the rail early with aces cracked. I was next out when I flopped top two pair against Kaja. I held 10 J and the flop was J 10 9. I bet out and he re-raised enough to hit my pressure point where I had to either fold or go all in. I chose to go all in hoping he had top pair with a straight draw or maybe he had gotten fancy with a big pair. No such luck as he was holding KQ for the flopped straight and I needed help. No help on the turn or river and Kaja took it down; nice hand sir. Kaja and BrainMc went a little further but both busted out before the money (top 3).
A few more busted out and we started up a short-handed cash table. I held my own and cashed out up just a bit.
I'm going to try and satellite my way in to the FTOPS main event today. I'll post again and let you know if I make it.
Edit: I didn't make it to the Main Event but Iakaris did. I'll be watching from the rail and cheering him on. Gooooooooo Iak!!!!!!!!!

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Live Tournament Tonight

I'm heading over to BrainMc's tonight to play a tournament with his neighborhood league. Aposec72 is going to join us and it should make for a fun evening. I've been running very well this week online and I hope to carry that over to my live game.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Been a While

It's been a while since I won one of these.
I offered Hoyazo a chop but he declined which was fine with me.
I am happy to finally win my 5th Mookie. Thanks to everyone that was cheering me on.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Dialing In

I'm dialing in on my MTT game. I've ran very well in several tournaments this week but I've fallen short of a big cash.
The first was a 10+1 with 424 entrants. I ran solid and went out in 11th just shy of the final table.
Next up was a 10+1 with a little bit bigger field of 1,312. I ran this one for a good little while going out in 36th.
The next night I won a token and played a 24+2. 1,309 entrants in this one. I stayed tight for a long time in this one getting no playable cards and the play was very aggressive. I finally managed to get it all in with a nice set and tripled up. Then I hit 3 or 4 really nice hands and got way up. I ran well for a good while but took a sick bad beat that nearly knocked me too low to get back in it. I somehow managed to climb back up and hang in for a while going out in 41st place.
I had another nice run in a 24+2 yesterday but got knocked out a little shy of the money when I flopped a club flush out of the big blind holding 10 7. I check raised a very loose player and he didn't buy it and pushed all in with more than my 20,000 stack. I called and I think he had something like pocket jacks. His jack was a club giving him four cards to a higher flush draw. He hit it on the river and I went home empty-handed.
I'm very happy with my MTT play right now and I feel a big win coming soon.

Best of luck at the tables this week everyone!!!

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Decent Run

I made a decent run in a multi tonight on Full Tilt. I was the chip leader for a little while and Gcox hit me up on Yahoo with "120 big blinds, you have a little wiggle room".
That's true. I had a good bit of wiggle room. So let's talk about that for a minute. We've talked a lot about how to survive and how to play with different situations and I noticed in this tourney it never felt like I had a big enough stack to just "sit back". The blinds were constantly going up and I was having to fight to not become an average stack. I ran for a long time with a big stack, but "big stack" status required some aggressive play. I got in ahead some and behind some and got sucked out on and did some sucking out myself. Once when I took a pretty big hit, I got some nice words of encouragement from BrainMc, Slb, PokerEnthusiast, and Gcox. Sorry I'm tired and not up to linking everyone but Thank You ALL!!!
Here's my question for you to think about so you will be ready next time you are in that position: How do you plan to adjust your game when you find yourself behind a Huge Stack mid-way through a multi-table tourney. I think it's important to have a good game plan to "take it to the house" when you get in this position. I don't think I did the best I could tonight. I'm going to take a few days off and analyze my play and be more ready next time.
I finished 11th by the way in case you were wondering.

Have a great week at the tables everyone!!!

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Low Stakes MTT Strategy

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 am going to discuss my approach to low stakes multi-table tournaments with large fields of 800 or more entrants. Some folks call these "mine fields" or "lotteries". I don't totally disagree with them but I can say from experience that these games can be profitable. I've been playing them for over 4 years and my return on investment of dollars is over 100%. I will state that your hourly return for time invested is probably not going to be huge but there are a couple of advantages to playing these vs. cash games or large buy-in tournaments.
The first advantage is: Low investment of dollars. You know going in you are not going to lose any more than 2.25, 5.50, or maybe 11 bucks even if you play your very worst poker ever.
The second advantage is: You are giving yourself a chance to win 500 or 1,000 bucks for a 5 dollar investment in a relatively short amount of time. That being said, more often than not you are going to play for a couple of hours and finish with nothing or very little to show for it. If you are looking for a consistent chance to win triple your buy-in you should probably work on your cash game, but if you are looking to play a lot of poker for a small investment of money with a shot at a nice payday every now and then, then small stakes MTT's may be for you. If so, read on and I will share some strategies with you.

Let's start where the game starts. You're in a dead even race to the finish with a full field of opponents after the same prize as you. Most people start out either very loose or very tight. I used to play very, very tight in the beginning to let the super-aggressive players kill each other off. I've opened my early stage game quite a bit these days and I like to see a lot of cheap flops as I feel I can outplay most of the players in the tournament post-flop and I like to get them in to some tough post-flop decisions when I hit a big hand. It's very important to remember that the majority of the players will not have a fold button so save your fancy bluffs for someone that will appreciate them. Straight up post-flop aggressive poker with made hands is where it's at. You can slow down if you hit a huge monster and let them do the betting for you. Here's a few of my favorite moves early on that work well. If you are the raiser and you have a caller or two behind you and hit a set on the flop, do not slow play. Bet out a "continuation" sized bet. This will often get a re-raise from an aggressive player that thinks they can buy the pot. If they bet big enough to get pot-commited go ahead and get them all-in. If not, I like a smooth call of the re-raise and a check raise on the turn. Another of my favorite early moves is to get in from the blinds cheaply and the board pairs missing you entirely. I like to check raise here. It will work a lot. Just be careful not to overcommit because there is a small chance they will play back and you have to be prepared to let it go if they do.
Middle stage: When you get to the first break, you will be in one of three positions. Huge stack, average stack, or small stack. If you are a small stack just play very, very tight and look for chances to double up. If you are a medium stack, you can still play around a little but you have to be a little more selective. If you are a huge stack, then you need to continue to be aggressive. Don't tighten up too much or you will be an average stack very quickly. If you are a huge stack, you can broaden your range and see a lot of flops and/or pick up a lot of pots uncalled.
Re-evaluate your position to the rest of the field at the second break. Watch table conditions. I like to say "Observe the masses and do the opposite." If they are going crazy, tighten up. If they are way too tight, loosen up.
Approaching the bubble: I'm not playing for the small win, so I'm looking for hands to play near the bubble. If you have enough chips to buy some pots, look for medium tight stacks to pick on. Watch out for any stacks that will consider you small and don't tangle with them unless you have a really strong hand.
In the money: I like to tighten up a little right after I'm in the money, as you will see about half the remaining field fall out within 15 minutes or so. After that it will tighten back up again and you can go back to work. The money will start to go up and people will want to make it to the final table so you can pick up a lot of "orphan pots" with a nice scary raise. If you lead in to a pot with a raise and get re-raised, you almost have to give them a little respect this late in the game. I think it's a huge mistake to stay involved in a re-raised pot with a less than premium hand at this point.
End game: When it gets down to two tables you will be approaching the final table bubble. A lot of these players will probably be in new territory for them and they will want to make it. Just watch out for the huge stacks and don't tangle without a nice hand. Do not slow play a strong hand at this point. In my opinion, the biggest percentage of suckouts are from fancy play of the strong hand allowing someone a cheap flop.
Upon reaching the final table, expect the smaller stacks to be looking for a hand to push with. If you are a decent sized stack, I like to sit back and let 3 or 4 players get knocked out before I tangle with the big stacks. If you are a big stack, weigh your odds and if you are getting anywhere near a coin flip against a small stack take your chances. Just make sure it's a small stack and not a medium stack that you are racing with. If you can get in to a 3 or 4 way call to see a flop, I broaden my range and look for a chance to quadruple up. If it doesn't hit you hard though, you have to be ready to let it go. As it gets down to 5, 4, and 3 handed broaden your range of all in hands and get your chips in when you have position and a good starting hand. It will get a little loose and crazy and you can't get tight and let them blind you down to nothing. You have to go for it a little if you want to stay up.
If you make it to heads up, just play optimum heads up play. I would practice some heads up sng's to work on your heads up game. I almost never limp in heads up. I almost always raise it up 3-4 times the BB when I play a hand...and I play a lot of hands. Keep the pressure on the other player and force them to make the tough decisions. If they are weak and let a lot of hands go to a raise, steal away. Just lay it down when they play back at you and keep picking up 80% of the pots. They will be short in no time. If they are strong and play back, then it's going to be a little tougher. You may have to pull out some of your very best moves. If I get heads up against someone who is obviously good heads up, I like to change gears entirely and start placing bets that make no sense as related to my previous play in the hand. Keep them off guard and throw out weird amount bets. It will frustrate them and hopefully throw them off their game. If you see you are outclassed heads up then you have to push or fold pre-flop. This takes away most of their advantage and gets you back on an almost even playing field.
Best of luck and I hope this helps you wade through the huge mine fields that are the low buy-in multi table tournaments.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Introspective Ramblings and Such

Miami Don recently posted here and here about multi-table tournaments being gimmick poker and that not many people can make money at them. He states that you have to make it to the top 3 of 1,000 players to make any serious money at them. Then he points you to this site and asks you to check the stats of your favorite bloggers.
I along with I am sure several of you checked out other's stats as well as my own. I must say I was very happy with what I saw when I checked my own. It's good to look at your numbers in black and white sometimes and look for leaks or room for improvement, etc.
I saw 3 important things when I looked at mine:

Number 1: I immediately noticed my ROI% is a healthy 86.76%.

Number 2: I used the data to estimate my current hourly rate in MTT's to be a positive earn rate of about 5 bucks per hour spent playing.

Number 3: I also once again had to compare that to my cash game results and acknowledge that it was probably higher than my cash game earnings.

So what does this mean to me? It means a lot of things. I completely agree with Don's estimation that 90-95% of tournament players lose money. Looking at my stats I find myself among the 5-10% that don't. This is not surprising to me as I have been tracking this particular stat for 4 years and have made money every year. My ROI% in live tournaments is over 200% and my 4 year ROI% online is near 110%. I attribute this partially if not entirely to good money management and playing tournaments within my bankroll. The neat thing I discovered by looking at that site and different people's stats are the clear boost you get from one big win (what Don describes as a top 3 finish). I have some of these and my stats go way way way down if you take out my 4 or 5 MTT wins and 2nds and 3rds.
The next thing I discovered from looking at this is that I am "maybe" playing too low. If I increase my buy-in per tournament and it doesn't completely devistate my itm% and/or my ROI%, then I stand to make a lot of money. So thanks Don if it works, because I am definitely going to play a little bit bigger buy-ins here and there and see how it affects my numbers. I will do this with some caution as I am not willing to push it too far too fast and I will still be playing within my bankroll.
Last but not least, I do agree with Don that the most consistent money to be made is at the cash tables, so a lot more studying of cash play and time at the tables is in my near future as I push myself to get better at cash games. I'm not terrible at them, but I have to say I am more at home these days in a MTT so I am going to get out of that comfort zone a bit.

Don also asked for people that are successful or "near successful" at MTT's to post some strategies for the end game. I rate myself in the "near successful" category, so I will be glad to write up a complete MTT strategy guide including an end game strategy for reaching the final table as well as top 3. My writings will be based on what I play the most which is the 2-11 dollar buy-in range MTT's with 1,000 players. I'll try to post it tomorrow.

New Player

My daughter has asked me to teach her to play poker. She will be turning 21 on her next birthday and will be able to go to the casino with us so I guess she has decided she wants to know what she's doing when she gets there.
I have taught her some basics and it's so cool to see her eyes light up with excitement and accomplishment as she learns. I feel I can teach her a lot about the games that I had to learn on my own and give her a great foundation to start with. I know some things she will have to learn from experience, but I'm sure I can help her accelerate the process.