Thursday, 30 April 2009

April results

Its the first month since switching to cash 8 months ago that I've had a losing month, finishing down $600 overall :( There are numerous reasons including mistimed aggression, some bad luck, some tilt, too much results-orientated thinking, lack of discipline, not enough studying etc.. Tournament play has been ok and has made overall results better than they would have been otherwise.

On the positive side I feel I'm past the stage of throwing money away and I'm ready to address the issues in my game and am confident I can come out of it a better player. Not much else to be said for now...

Saturday, 25 April 2009

Office poker - 6th / 35

I was really pleased with my play today - I picked all my spots pretty much perfectly, very aware of my M and everyone else's making some good calls to shortstack allins and pushing at the right times and with the right hands. It was just a little disappointing to finish 1 away from the money after going in with best hand :(

I started out by winning some chips on the first hand but dropped back a little then finished strong before the break to have around 9.6k chips (average stack).

After the break I probably made my one mistake.. I raised from the button with AK and was called in the SB by a guy who hadn't played in many hands at all, but earlier had called down on all streets to the river with 66 vs a bluff from a player on an AQ725 board with 3 clubs. At the time it looked like an amazing read and call but I really don't think that was the case judging by his later play. Anyway, I didn't hit the flop with my AK and decided to cbet on a Jxx board. He called and I probably should have either been more aggressive on the turn when a Q came (or just checked back on the flop) to get him to lay down, but checked with my straight draw. River was a blank and he opened so I had to lay it down and my stack was down to 6k.

Soon after I had a decision to call a shortstack allin (M of around 3) with 56o in the BB (my M around 11). With antes in the pot and my BB already I just about had pot odds and was pretty sure my 2 cards would be live so I called and his A8o hit two pair before I made a straight on the river. I made another call from the BB with K7h to another shortstack allin and he showed K6d and I won. It was a pretty marginal call, being suited probably just inclining me towards the call and the range I put him on. I finally got a decent pair (KK) and had my raise called by 2 players. One of them opened on the Q32 (2 clubs) flop and I took it down with a re-raise to grow my stack to an around average 20k with around 15 players left. I didn't get too involved and made it to the final table of 9 (two eliminated on the bubble) with around 18k chips (7th) - most of the chips were on the other table.

The blinds and antes grow pretty fast at this stage and I managed to hover between and M of 4-6, taking down pots uncontested as the first players were eliminated. With 6 of us left the villain above (sitting to my left) and I were the shortstacks. Earlier I'd raised from the CO with AJd to which he folded - he then said to the table that he'd folded AK much to the bemusement of everyone left. Soon after he did push allin with AK, was called by the chip leader also with AK and they chopped. With my M of 4 and his M of 2 I pushed into his BB with Q8 and he called with 89. He spiked a 9 but in the end we chopped, both making a straight with our 8. The next hand I got AQo on the button and pushed. One of the larger stacks called with AJ from the BB and a J ended my tournament.

I might have been able to keep folding my way into 5th knowing that the rest of the players would be attacking the other shortstack, but AQ was too good to lay down so was happy with my final table play. Calling down with weaker hands than I normally would definitely had some benefits.. I could feel others being more wary with me, and it meant my premium hands were nicely disguised .. the villain with AJ certainly wasn't expecting my AQ when our hands were shown.

The office poker league leader went out before the final table, but another who was 3rd= with me and the player in 6th were at the table when I left along with perhaps two others further down in the league so I think there will be a few of us bunched near the top once the results are published.

I'm not sure what happend to Jas but he was gone before we were down to the last two tables, so I definitely have the edge on our bet so far (my 23 pts to his 12).

Friday, 24 April 2009

Final table improvement

I played 4 MTTs tonight (buyins of $9-$15), making it into the money in the $9 one only (180 entrants). There were some pretty bad players which helped me to around 6th when the bubble burst at 18.

I had a super-aggressive Dane two seats to my right which restricted how much I could play in late position as he was calling down with a pretty wide range and getting lucky, but a couple of well-timed 3bets kept me in contention. By the time I reached the final table I was last in chips although with a pretty low M, with the Dane still in the same position and playing the same strategy.

A couple of orbits passed and with an M of just over 5 I got 99 in the BB and with a raise from the Dane I 3bet him all-in. He called with A3o and a 9 on the flop was very welcome! The blinds and antes kept eating away and with an M of around 4 I shoved in late position with QTh. It looked bad when I was called by AA but the board came 2K5T with 2 hearts and a river Q saved the day.

I knocked out the players in 4th and 5th with AQ and A3 as they were very short and we were down to the final 3. The eventual winner knocked out 2nd place and we started HU - he had a 3:1 chip advantage. I got it back to just above 2:1 but dropped back and in the end my open-ended str8 draw lost to his KK and I finished in 2nd for $244.80.

I'm much encouraged by my play tonight - reading some of Harrington's wisdom definitely kept me more focussed and I picked my spots much better. Luck played its part, but it has to in tournaments and I was happy to be on the right side of it this time.

I'm fired up and ready to play in the Office Poker toruney tomorrow and hope I can improve my 3rd= position in the league.

Cash play has been pretty terrible this month, particularly the last week but the win above has given me some hope that I can manage to turn what was looking to be an overall losing month into breakeven at least if I can keep my focus. I'm realising that the increased aggression I've been playing with over the last 2-3 months is exposing weakness in my hand-reading and post-flop play and its all part of my evolution into a better poker player. I haven't been studying as much as I should - either with hand analysis, video training or reading 2p2 and the other good sites which I need to address. I also hope to get my coaching with Kush (his new blog linked to on the right) soonish and I'm sure he'll be able to help me seal up some leaks.

[For anyone that doesn't know what 'M' is try the wikipedia entry on M here]

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

I ended up playing a $24+2 PLO Knockout MTT last night with 202 players. Things started well with a couple of early double-ups seeing me chip leader with around 150 players left. I then dropped away before risking my tournament for 15 outs which I won. I was moved to a new table and as I was resizing the table I accidently 3bet an UTG raiser just before the bubble burst. With a large chunk of my chips commited I pushed all-in as a complete bluff and luckily he folded. Phew!

I had a few nice hands in the next orbits and was chip leader again with 14 left, 40k clear of the rest. There was a break when we got to 12 and it was all looking good.. 2nd in chips had closed the gap and was seated to my left. Then things started to go wrong...

Almost straight after the break I had AAxx which I raised to the max preflop, with 2nd in chips calling my raise. The flop came 88x and I Cbet pot which he called. We both checked the turn and then i bet pot on the river to see him call down with an 8 and for me to lose most of my stack.

This seems to be the common theme with my end-game issues.. get a big preflop hand and then push push push without really thinking. There was no need for either of us to get into such a big pot but it was me that forced it to that point. There was no need to raise it to the max preflop.. sure AAxx is a good hand at this stage but I wasn't at the point of needing to risk my tournament on it. Similarly there was no need for a pot sized cbet, but when I did and he called it was a pretty strong call. My river bet was the most stupid of all given his response to my bets so far.

With 20k chips left I managed to double up from him (I raised TTxx in late pos, hit a T on the flop and then sealed it with a T on the river) and made it to the final table 6th in chips.

My tourney exit wasn't as bad as the hand I lost above, but still not good as I was out first. I had AAxx 3 times in 4 hands - the first 2 saw me gain a few k, but I was called on the 3rd one. I had AA9x single-suited and the flop came 99T. It looked pretty good for me but my pot-sized cbet was called pretty fast. There was only one hand I was scared of - TTxx and sure enough he had it and I finished 9th after we got allin on the river.

I was glad to cash but I only got $80 when 1st prize was $1k. It was pretty criminal to throw away such a good tournament position and again finish below expectation.

On one hand I'm annoyed, but on the other I'm happy that I'm starting to acknowledge and accept I have a problem in these situations so can only do better in the future. I have to get into the habit of thinking longer and re-evaluating my decisions before acting in the latter stages, especially when tiredness becomes a bigger factor. I'd only read a few pages of Harrington before this MTT, so back to reading about my M and anything else that might help.

I think there are some parallel issues in my cash play too where I grow the pots too big when I perceive I've been ahead at any point in the hand and can't seem to accept that my hand may have become 2nd best or worse.

Monday, 13 April 2009

Final table meltdown

It was a beautiful Saturday and I should have been playing golf, but I descended into the basement that is the the circus casino instead, on the hunt for more league points in a field of 42.

The first 4 levels were fairly dull.. the best hand I got was A8o and not a single pair. I stole a few pots and managed to almost keep my 7k starting stack with 6.9k at the break. First hand of the tournament was interesting : Player in early position raises preflop and gets a single call from the button. Flop comes J73 with 2 spades, PFR makes a normal-sized CBet and button throws his KK face up into the muck! (It transpired it was his first live tourney so just some early nerves I think).

Our table was broken up shortly after the break and I finally got my first pair - 44!. Decent player had raised from CO so I called from the BB and flop came Q84 :) I check-raised the flop and got a decent amount of his stack, although I probably should have taken it to the turn with such a dry board. A couple of hands later the same player, being short thanks to me, shoves allin and I have to call from button with AKc. He shows K8 and an A on the flop sends it my way.

I then got a little lucky, making a play that I normally wouldn't but it payed off big and I grew my stack to around 40k. Large stack raises from CO, small stack calls from button and I call from BB with T9h. Flop come Axx with 2 hearts.. original raiser makes large Cbet, short stack just calls making the pot a very decent size. I put the original raiser on Ax, perhaps making a move on the shortstack. I felt I had enough chips to be able to make him lay it down and shoved allin. He called pretty quick showing AK and the shortstack gives up. Qh on the turn makes my day :) We were down to the final table after an orbit or 2 more and I was 4th in chips with 35k, chip leader with 60k and shortstack on 10k and only 9 players as 10th/11th went out in the final hands of normal play.

As things stood I was in a great position, especially as everyone in the league above me was already out and it was a real chance to move up. However it didn't go according to plan... early on I get TT and raise and am called by the BB. Flop comes K83 which I Cbet and he check-raises me pretty much allin. I'd already commited over half my chips and made a reluctant call to see his flopped set (888). From this point I was pretty active trying to claw back chips and luckboxed my way to a FH with 66 to knock out KK but it didn't last long and I finished 8th for 3pts and no money (6th+ paid).

I left feeling disappointed with my final table play - I should have been able to get away from the TT hand - I didn't have history with the opponent but I knew he was good. I had to raise preflop and was too deep to shove all-in, but definitely could have CBet less especially on that board so that I could have folded to a check-raise. After that I was definitely in gamble mode and even after recovering some chips I was shoving quite a wide range and was in blind twice (it wasn't worth looking based on the stacks) so my exit was inevitable. I had a chance of real recovery on one hand that would have had me back at 40k but that pleasure fell to another shortstack - I shoved A4o from the button after it was folded to me and SB calls with TT which held up.

I've been on a quite a few final tables recently, both live and online, haven't got into the top 3 for some time and always seem to finish worse than I should based on stacks and quality of opposition. I've been ahead in quite a few of the hands that I've lost with but taking on the chip leader isn't always the best move. Tiredness is obviously a factor at this stage and I'm probably not thinking clearly enough when its most important to be. Definitely time to re-read Harrington on Hold'em: Volume II: The Endgame and see what else I can find about final table play (suggestions anyone?).

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Pepsi 1991-2009

It was with huge sadness today that we had to end the suffering of my cat Pepsi. She had been bravely coping with an inoperable tumour for a few months but had reached the stage where she had lost a lot of weight and was barely eating along with some other complications and the vet agreed it was time.

She has had a good long life for a cat being around 18. We got her from the Cat Protection League in 1992 when she was around 1.5 years old and she's been with me ever since. Even when I was away I would inevitably find cat hairs amongst my belongings so in some way she has been with me all of those years at home and everywhere else from LA to Hong Kong.

Once she managed to win some gig tickets in a magazine competition as Miss J Pepsi (name taken from the song 'Jack Pepsi' by TAD) which she graciously allowed us to use!

Even now I'm looking around expecting to see her... but at least her pain has gone.