Monday, February 20, 2006

Folding big hands...

So I played in the $100K Party for Free tournament yesterday and didn't last nearly as long as I would have liked. As an aside, I really like the changes Party has made -- their tournament structures are now quite good, and I was surprised to see that the PFF tourney gave you 5K in chips to start with blinds of 20/40, antes later on, and 20 minute levels. Very nice structure.

Hand #1: 15 minutes in my table had been playing very tight and I had taken a few pots to chip up to 5.6K. Then I picked up KK in MP and raised to 120 (3xBB). It folded to a late position player who re-raised to 400ish and folded back to me. I didn't take much time and pushed, hoping to get a loose call from AK, JJ, or QQ -- instead, I got an instant call from AA. Now, if you know Party, you know how quickly the cards come out. I was quite numb as he rolled over his AA and almost simultaneously the flop came out with a king. But a second later he rivered an ace and the universe returned to normal. Surprisingly, I got very little tilt from the whole thing (maybe more after fighting with the 500 chips I had left only to be knocked out with AA when QQ turned a queen). But whining is not the point of this post...

Point #1 is that I actually could have gotten away from my kings. At the time, I didn't even consider it, but once I thought about it more I realized that not only was I capable of folding kings in that spot, I might have done it. That's a weird thing to say, because I've never, ever been in a situation where I could fold kings. Never. I know you're thinking: "You can't fold kings pre-flop in an online tournament against one player!" But hear me out...

If I had re-raised to about 1K and he raised again, that fourth raise is probably going to be 90% aces. Assuming both of our stacks would be in, I'd be putting in 4K to get 10K with 20% * 90% + 10% equity ~ 2.8K equity. Folding would give me 4K equity. Not really close, especially since I'd still have 90% of a starting stack after the fold and the structure is nice and slow. So, I believe if I had made a reasonable raised and then thought a bit after he raised, I could have folded kings in that spot. Usually I go by the assumption that you can't fold kings pre-flop online, but that has now changed. Of course, if it was the next blind level or the starting stacks were a bit lower, I wouldn't even consider it. You really have to have 100 BB to be able to consider it, unless you are live and have some sort of tell (3BB->10BB->25BB raises to only put in 1/4 of your stack).

Before I get to the second point, and I have two more bust-out hands from yesterday:

Hand #2: FCP $20/2 6-max. 3-4 limpers, and I checked my T20 big blind with 69o. Flop was 66T rainbow, and I checked it through for the slowplay. MP bets 25 into the T80 pot, everyone folds, and I smooth call. Turn was a 2, putting a two-flush on the board. I bet into him for T100 (pot was ~130). He called. At this point, I thought it likely he had a pocket-pair or a ten, with a slight possibility of a 6. River was another 2, and I overbet the pot (400 I think). He let his timer tick all the way down and pushed, and I insta-called. He rolled over 22 for quads...
Hand #3: FCP $5/.5. Later in the tourney, I had just tripled up and was about par with 3.5K. Blinds 100/200, I limped in MP with QJs. I actually got what I wanted though and 4-5 more people called to see a flop of 68T w/ two diamonds and one club (I had clubs). It checked around, and the turn came 9 (bingo) of diamonds (damn). Early position bet 500 into the 1.2K pot, and I raised to 1500. Guy to my immediate left cold-called and the rest folded. The river paired the 9, I pushed, and he called with 88 for a full boat.
In hand #2, I like my play until the overbet on the river. At the time, I was trying to make it look like I was stealing the pot and hope to get called by a 2 or a 10 or some pocket pair. But, honestly, that board is a tough call for any of those hands. After he ticked his timer down and pushed (huge tell that I ignored) I'm probably going to need to call. Only T6, TT, or 22 beat me and the way the hand was played ruled out TT pretty easily (most people put in a raise at 6-max in early position).

But, an overbet on that board is probably not going to be called by much except a 2, and I can't figure him for a 2 with his position and it not being present on the flop. So my overbet didn't serve much purpose except to chase out hands that may pay off a smaller bet and overcommit me to the pot. If I had raised less and he didn't push I may have just called (probably not) and remained alive.

My play in Hand #3 is much worse. First, QJ is a nasty trap hand and I was out of position so I'd need to drop it to a raise. I'd be much better off coming in for a raise and getting it heads-up. Second, while the board was such that someone with a 7 for the straight would pay off my nut straight nicely, the presense of the flush possibility would kill a lot of action. Furthermore, I could be putting 40% of my stack in totally dead to a flush. So I probably would have been better off re-raising smaller on the turn or just calling to slow down. Not horrendous, but kinda bad. Finally, my push on the river was worthless. Often even the dominated straights will fold in that situation, and the pairs/flush draws will definitely fold, but a made flush or better will call. If I had checked and called a small bet I would have been better off. The raise on the turn also committed me more than I would have liked.

So, now we come to Point #2: I'm playing too aggressively in dangerous situations (this goes for all of the hand examples). On a dangerous board, unless I'm bluffing, I need to slow down. The side effects of playing too fast are:
  1. Most sentient players fold to big bets on nasty boards. I'm getting very little value for the bet, unless I am playing with huge idiots. So I win less when I win.
  2. The people who call me will likely have me beat. So I lose more when I lose. Usually my whole stack. Not good.
  3. I rob myself of further information. By betting big or moving in I deprive the other players of information, but I also deprive myself. If I make normal raises I can usually see another action or two from my opponent which can help my read A LOT. Not knowing what my opponents have is -EV.
So, the moral is I really need to slow down when I have a big but non-nut hand. Granted, I've run into some nasty situations lately, but nasty situations are where the good players excel. I'm fine with getting outdrawn, but beating myself is something I need to fix.

My theory as to where this tendancy has come from is my "Can't lose if everyone folds" mantra. It is also rooted in fear -- fear that I'll be outdrawn or that I'll put myself in a tough spot and make a bad decision. The problem is, by playing big second-nut hands so aggressively, I've committed to the bad situation instead of giving myself a decision. The end result is I bust more.

Thursday, February 09, 2006


Just lost $210 at 2/4 on Euro over 1.5 hours. Ouch. I've heard of -50BB sessions, but this is the first I've experienced it at this level. That hurt. Gotta finish the bonus though, I'm only a few hours away.

Worst part is this is continuing a pretty bad run, and my overall bankroll is now a little over 1K. Not good for bonus chasing and playing 3/6 at the casino. Lets hope I can pull out of it. The worst part is I wasn't playing that poorly today -- I really just hit very little and every time I put money in the pot someone came over the top of me. Maybe I could have limited my losses to $100.


This after last night where I managed to lose $25 in a $10 freeze-out tourney. They let me rebuy after a bad beat, so I made it to the bubble seat, but it wasn't meant to be. That and I obviously lost my last-longer bet when I went out first.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Bits and pieces...

Well, I'm going to do another post where I try to catch up on a weeks worth of entries that I wanted to write but don't have the time and desire to do it. Might as well just use a little list format:

  1. Online tournies have been going well lately. I was burning off my Party Points last weekend and generally was donking them off until I found myself in a 1,000 point qualifier for the $100K Party for Free tourney. Neglecting details, I made a conscious decision to focus on the tourney and do my best, and I ended up qualifying for the tourney (1 in 30 made it).
  2. Online ring is going ok. Part of it is I've really been focusing on keeping consistency and control -- avoiding large bluffs in situations where they probably won't work, and betting for value a bit more. It also helps I haven't been playing much. I wouldn't call it an upswing, but I haven't lost money...
  3. My body is starting to feel the effects of lots of coding at work and a lot of button clicking while I'm grinding. Specifically, my elbows of all things have been sore lately so I've been backing off the online grinding by quite a bit. It has also helped my mental sanity.
  4. The superbowl party yesterday really hurt my bankroll (more of a "OMG, I can't believe I lost every single bet I placed" rather than a "F___, where did my bankroll go"). Still, it was demoralizing and depressing and I felt it all last night and this morning. On top of that, I ended up running the big tourney and took a lot of grief from pretty much everyone. Yes, I realize that a single rebuy (only when you are out of chips) sucks and messes up the game a bit, and I realize that the ante structure I set up was fast, but I was attempting to get the tourney over before the game started (which failed miserably). By the end, I just wanted to say "F___ you" to pretty much everyone. You know, running a tourney with 18 players and rebuys is not easy, let alone trying to play in it too. Then to have everyone bitch at me because they disliked one thing or another (often contradicting bitching) is pretty annoying, especially since I get no benefit (financially or otherwise) for showing up early, setting up for an hour, jumping up out of my seat every five minutes, and all the other crap that goes along with running a tourney. Maybe I should locate another poker group in the area and just play a few tournies as an unknown player. That'd be cool.
  5. My live tournament game is officially in the toilet. Seriously, the past two months, I have not made the money once and lost over $120 (pretty hard to do with $10-$20 buy-ins). Furthermore, I know I am playing poorly. Part of it may be that I've been hosting about 50% of the games -- hosting really screws you up (I limped KK UTG the second hand yesterday because I wasn't thinking straight). But more than that, I've become super-duper weak-tight in my live game, afraid to play anything unless it is the near nuts, not bluffing, not raising. The end result is I call off most of my chips, many times with the worst hand. I've really got to go back to basics and adjust my game. Probably a bigger post is due on this in the near future (maybe before the Wednesday game).
  6. I'm eager to get some live 3-6 again. Hopefully I'll plan a trip pretty soon, but it is definitely a game that fits my style and that I can beat pretty easily.
  7. Six Feet Under is corrupting my mind. It is an excellent show (with many characters matching my family a little too well), but they use the F-word so much that its starting to creep into my mind and I keep finding myself wanting to use it in conversations throughout the day. I'm generally not one to swear much (long story behind that which involves Christianity and campgrounds) but the past week or so I've definitely noticed a change. It doesn't help that my wife and I have crammed three seasons into about two weeks. And one guess what I got at the library on my way in to work today...
Ok, that's it. F___ you all!