Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Yip ... winning feels good!

So my friend and I entered the ANZPT Teams Event on Sunday. The entry was a modest $550 per team and my partner was all psyched up. I on the other hand must confess that I was a little blasé about the whole thing. After a couple of hours of treading water from our 6k starting stack, I'd played 1 hand in almost 3 blind levels and my partner had played about 8, up and down. Luckily a few spots came up to steal a few pots near the end of an orbit and we had scraped together 7100 when the blinds hit 200/400. Then everything came together ...

Jim was on the button mid-level with about 4BBs left and shoved on an unraised pot with QTo. BB wakes up with an A and calls. T hits on the river and we aren't out! A couple of hands later, he doubles up. His JJ survived an inocuous looking flop of 227r. Only problem was that opponent had 23o. Thankfully justice prevailed when the J fell on the Turn which he flat-called and then called the river AI.

Then a couple more hands and UTG he puts in a min-raise. UTG+1 goes AI with a short stack only to be followed by UTG+2 with an AI to isolate with his AK. Folds around to Jim who thinks for a nano-second before shoving with his AA. His little tap to break the inertia had set off a very lucrative snowball effect and we tripled up! Happy days, we're suddenly well above average with 30 something left out of a field of 96, I think.

Breathe deeply and go back to solid play. A few spots came up and to be honest for the rest of the evening almost all of our hands held up AK vs AJ, JJ vs TT etc. We were getting our money in good and the hands were holding. We sat on 57k for the longest time as the field went from 18 to 12 ever so slowly, maybe 2 hours. Then on my break I went for a stroll to keep fresh when I receive a Text "Better come back, sry". I then tried to practice my best false smile and trite "Don't worry about it" lines. Sure enough the final table was forming and Jim was standing up. Then I noticed, cradled securely was the 57k intact. With 600k in circulation, we were average stacked going into the final table with blinds of 2k/4k.

We were happy with our guaranteed $1k payout and then just looked to climb the ladder a couple of rungs or get lucky. Well lady luck was shining and a couple of runners fell by the wayside. With $500 increments we were up to a massive (for us) $2k payout. Now we were freerolling. The final table played out 1 orbit each. I sat down one time and shoved KQs from MP, no callers. Partner believes that wasn't in the script. Very next hand, the most active annoying stealer leads out with 17k. I look down at A9o and decided to 3-bet as he can't always have the goods, everyone folds and suddenly we're running level 2nd in chips. Then a couple more drop out and we find ourselves 4-way. As the others had doubled up, we're now shortstacked again.

With 3 equal stacks, surprisingly, we wielded the biggest threat for a couple of orbits with our potentially damaging AIs. Then before we know it, we're up in the running again without a showdown. Our hands continued to hold up until we were Heads Up with last year's ANZPT Player of the Year Runner Up, Chris Levick and his wife Danette (the TV dealer). They were undoubtedly the best team in the Event and I'll be honest, very intimidating. Chris was raising nearly every hand from the SB to 55k with 4k/8k blinds. I decided to do the same as did our partners. I was surprised at not facing a small ball approach because I thought that a coinflip suited us. Then came the crucial hand, Chris raises AI from the SB, clearly a hand that he's happy to get it in the middle with. I look at the first card, Kc. I comment "halfway there". Then squeeze out a delightful 2nd K. I CALL! Board runs out something, who cares. A $6k blank, blank, blank. And then the very surreal moment of realising that we were indeed ANZPT Teams Event Champions.

It's still a little surreal. So much so that it was almost 12 hours later that I even realised the value of the blank board. From 4th place, they were just chips, pot sized bets and a desire to come first. Even drinking beers with our friends at 3am on Monday morning in Star City, the money jumps in the top 3 places weren't considered or discussed. We had the title, the trophy and of course 75 pristine unused $100 notes each. The $40 extra was already converted into Stella Artois.

Winning feels good and tastes good!

PS Star City did an excellent job of running the entire series extremely well despite the above gorund dungeon that is the poker room these days. And a big shoutout to Pokerstars who sponser these affordable poker tours. This amateur got to play heads up with a formidable foe - thank you Pokerstars. Maybe now I can learn How to Play 8 Game Mix and How to Play Badugi too.

My final shoutout may sound corny but Mike and Adam at the 2+2 Pokercast deserve a lot of the credit for our win. We've listened to every episode including the original BigPoker.ca ones and had visualised being at a final table many times. We'd heard so many pros describe the experience of every stage so often, its like we had been there. When we got there we'd already rehearsed the future. especially the heads up combat. Thanks guys ... you're the nutz.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Winning feels good ... or so they tell me.

Ah well, my ANZPT run is almost at an end. Just the fun run Teams Event to go. The Deep Stack Event was even shorter lived with a very early bath. Didn't even see the Button. BB in Seat 7, 11 handed. Internet kid in Seat 1 had 80% VPIP and 60% PFR, after 5 hands. I'm UTG with AKs. No need to go broke on a draw. Limped around. Flop comes Tc7c2d. Happy days, NFD and 2 overs. No need to go broke on a draw. Check, check, internet kid makes it 300 to go. Passive lady calls. Old guy (me) makes it 1200 happy to take it down. Fold, Internet kid makes it 2600. Bugga that wasn't in the script. Could he be making a move. Sure he could ... but then again maybe not. Are my two overs probably not. Let's assume that he has a set, I'm drawing pretty thin - 36%? Will I find better spots with my 4800 if I fold. Probably. Good enough to win, maybe not. How much did the tourney cost - $300. I'd seen this guy play PLO the night before for thousands. It's like a freeroll to him. Bugga ... go hard or go home. Sure enough 77 for a set. Turn came a K and the river a 9 with no clubs. Didn't even get to play my button.

Luckily, I was first on the list for the cash tables which soon had a 2-hour wait. I like playing when a new table opens and everyone has the same stack. We had about 6 AIs in the first 2 orbits and suddenly the $1/$2 table was playing relatively deep for Star City. I was card dead for a couple of hours and treaded water. A couple of big hands approaching tea time let me pocket a small profit before the dinner break. 40 mins and I come back at the start of the list but back to my $100 BI as a short stack at a lively deep table. Pleased to report a few hours of trappy limping later I walked away with $600.

A win for the day overall, but somehow didn't replace the feeling of exiting the ANZPT. I showed discipline in not entering either of the remaining two mega-satellites. I had a qualification plan going in and this wasn't my year.

Experiential learning. Having thought through my two early exits rationally for some time now I absolutely know the answer to the question, would you risk all of your chips in the first hand of the WSOP with AA preflop? I've always said that I would, but now I know without doubt that I snap call ... even a 9-way AI. Until next time ...

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Quick ANZPT update

I had an early exit from Event 1 last Thursday not even making it to the first break. AQo when the flop came AJ5r. I check/min-raised to take it down on the flop but got re-min-raised. Mega alarm bells. Turn comes a Q. I bet, he min-raises so I decide to go with it hoping for the AJ or AK. I can't put him on 55 or AA because he called pre-flop. Sure enough, he had the dreaded JJ ... gooooone.

Yesterday was a lot better, just missing out on the money. 12th out of 99 in the PLO, final table get paid. I was just under average stack at the time. With A787ds in BB, flop came 69T, so I had the nuts (sounds good) but with 2 hearts out there, no redraw (very vulnerable multiway in PLO). Blinds are 500/1000, I had 33,000 chips. I potted to 6000 but got re-raised AI to be pot committed and shoved hoping to hold on with slight edge and go 3rd in chips. In fact, I was in better shape as the shove was a fishy 9TJK for top 2-pair and a gutshot. With 75% equity, I quickly went to 0% when Q fell on the Turn. Ah well, played well and just missed out.

Should I have folded my way into the money? With $5.5k for 1st and $575 for 10th, I think that the answer is possibly "no", but I'm open to comment. What I should have done though was check OOP and it might have been checked around. Then I can get away when the Q flops and someone pots it. Assuming the top 2-pair pots it, this becomes a more interesting spot. What should I do in this scenariodo you think?

Another experiential learning experience under my belt, I'm looking forward to the Tony Haschem Deep Stack today. At $330 for a Bounty Tourney with 30 minute blinds its another good value tournament. Hats off to PokerStars for backing the ANZPT.

Friday, April 16, 2010

ANZPT Event 1 - short lived

Reflective of my short lifespan in Event 1, I'll restrict my update to a very disappointing single hand. Starting stack 10k, dropped to 9k, clawed back to 11k, elderly gentleman joins table with 15k to my left, guy to my right says watch this guy bleed off his chips. Sure enough, his 15k was soon 7k.

I get dealt AQs UTG+1. Had been relatively tight to this point and with blinds of 50/100 I made it 600 to go. Only 1 caller, elderly gentleman to my left. Flop AJ5r. Decided to get a few extra chips, so checked, gentleman bets 600 and I min-raise to 1200 expecting to take it down. He min-re-raises to 1800, I call. Bugga, he has a strong hand, probably AK or AJ but maybe a set. Turn brings a Q, happy days.

At this point, Dan Harrington is ringing in my ears. He says that it is worth taking chances earlier against fish because the chips are easier to get off them than it will be later from the shark who would otherwise end up with his chips. So I bet 1800. He raised to 4000 which was effectively AI and I pushed in the rest to put him AI. Needless to say, I was crippled when he showed me JJ.

An hour later, I'd doubled up with a nice squeeze play, gone AI against a shortstack QQ vs AA and very next hand decided to push what little I have left in the middle with 44 to find consecutive AA and exit stage left. All in all, very disappointing.

Stepping back, I have been running good and am now even more revved up for the PLO Event on Monday.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Two semi-interesting spots late at night and tired.

I hope that I haven’t used up all of my good luck just before the ANZPT which starts here in Sydney tomorrow, because I ran pretty well last night. My first outing was our local pub league which has introduced a $55 High Rollers Event on a Tuesday night. I was leading the Skill Leaderboard (Main Leaderboard includes multiple other donkaments that I don’t play in) as I play infrequently but have been lucky enough to win twice this month. Last night, I played pretty solid to get into second with 24 runners. Heads up was short when I shoved with TT second hand to a limp and was insta-called by JJ, relatively equal in chips. Ten on the flop was definitely very welcome and provided for the usual groans from the gallery only to be subsumed by the cheering that accompanied the J on the river. Best hand won, no complaints.

Then the action really began with a last minute home game arranged. 9 runners turned up and all bought $100 stacks to play 50c/$1 blinds and casino rules. Long story short, the bet sizing was pretty aggressive. $5 was a common initial bet, 3-bets to $16 weren’t uncommon and there was probably an AI clash every 1 to 2 orbits. I lost my first stack when my 77 ran into 9T on an 78J board on the 4th hand. No cooler here, to be honest, I was lucky not to be in a set over set scenario given the play. $25 in middle, $10, $10, I limp knowing I’m ahead of these two and happy to keep it 3-way, internet kid makes it $35 I think, fold, fold and I shoved my other $65 hoping to pair the board because getting a double stack early in these home games has its own implied equity, I think. Against this particular player I am always up against 9T, JJ or 88 here which I knew at the time. We ran it out 3 times and he won all 3. Replaying the decision in my head, it should have been an easy fold and just topped up.

Fast forward to last 5 hands of the evening and I’ve given over 1 hour notice of my departure time 2am at which point I declared 2 more orbits with a $250 stack from a $200 buy in. UTG and UTG+1 are both loose and straddled $5 and $10. First to act folds and I’ve got A8s. Seems like a reasonable isolating hand on the short stacked re-straddler (or pick up $17) so I make it $50. Folded around and we do indeed get HU as he chucks in $50 to call. Flop misses me as expected but I’m in position. LAG counts his remaining stack $63 and puts it in the middle AI. Across the table says “you’re sick, you haven’t even looked yet”. LAG says that he has, but it’s obvious to me that he probably hasn’t. I replayed my peripheral vision as best I could in my head and sure enough I was 100% sure that he hadn’t. Without running a simulator – do you think that I should call in this spot knowing that his range is a random hand?

Needless to say given that I’m running good, I won the hand and now find myself a couple of hands later with $355 in 5 neat piles ready for cashing out. Last hand, pocket AA. Happy days (maybe). I threw in my spare $5 to even up my stack and tempt someone to try and take Caro up on his advice, paraphrasing, “make them break their psychologically locked in chips to confirm real strength or force marginal hands to fold”. Alas, no-one raised and I’m 4-way to the flop, OOP. KJ7r, could be better, could be worse. I now have 4 piles and took the half pile of $50 and over-bet the pot to find out where I was at. Fold, fold, other loose player from before, call! Bugga, I’m now none the wiser, probably ahead to top pair. Turn 9s, now the TQ gets there and a back door flush draw appears. Ah well, if I check, he bets always. So as we’re both deep, this may be a bet/re-evaluate situation. This particular player, I’m probably getting it in if he shoves but I’ll factor in reads. What can only be described as a tentative suspicious call could have been worse, could have been better again. A 2h blank on the river was very welcome, but now what to do? $200 in front, $500 in the pot. Biggest hand of the night, very last hand. AA on a board of KdJc7d9s2h. What do you recommend and why?

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Online : The training ground for live

Long ago, I realised that I would never make it as an online pro. Thankfully, I've been able to comfort myself with the challenge of staying a winning player, even if it is only a few dollars. Then came PLO and I ran good early (as I've since found out). These days, I am struggling to keep my head above water at PLO100 but just managing too which has always been my goal. Still waiting for the influx of new players to the game which seems to be more of a trickle and the more experienced players. I must say that the standard has got noticeably better over the last 6 months and the CardRunner-type 3-bet aggression has well and truly come to the fore after what was a very passive old school style until recently at the lower stakes.

What has improved with PLO is my thinking about poker in general and this has undoubtedly help improve my offline play. My home games continue to be lucrative beyond what I think can be considered positive variance. That said, the number of hands I will play live in my lifetime is unlikely to exceed the 100k that is needed to be confident in PLO of being a winning player.

I dipped my toes back into pub poker with better results. If you can't beat them, join them, so I take a lot more aggressive lines early in the tourney. Go hard or go home. Luckily, Ive been running good when it matters.

I invested ($12) in Poker Income for my iPhone to track my Live results and the graph is very positive indeed. In BB/100 it is probably well over 100 for the last 60 hours of record keeping. My roll is up to the point where I can comfortably go to the casino within my BR and drop a few BIs if need be and reload. Not playing with scared money is very liberating indeed.

Finally, I am looking forward to the ANZPT which rolls into Sydney this week. I've registered for 3 x $330 tourneys at this stage. Will be disappointed if I get sucked out on early in the PLO, otherwise, I'm just going to give it my best shot to win the $2200 required for a Main Event ticket. Fingers crossed.