Thursday, May 31, 2007

Be that as it May

During May, I've played almost all of the tournaments at a site that count towards a ranking. Points awarded for 1st to 15th place, usually between 20 and 30 participants and your best ten placings count.

The last tournament was played Wednesday, and I was already in the top ten in the ranking, but I came to the conclusion that I would have to play this last tournament as well. I came to that conclusion after I looked at the scoring and who were registered for this last one. If that player placed very high (1-3) thus giving him many points and this other player also placed reasonably high, out of four players who were a threat to me, then there was the possibility that this would knock me out of the top ten. So I had to play, and relax first when they were knocked out or placed such that they wouldn't score enough.

I outlasted all of the threats and actually finished third in the tournament and finally third in the ranking.

This was important because the top ten in the May ranking will play a ten-seat Sit'n'Go Thursday (May 31) evening. The winner will get to join a pokersite team (Team 5050Poker) which will eventually be nine or ten players, who will go to EPT Barcelona in September to play in satellites to the main event. Also sharing possible winnings 50/50 with the team.

So, there's a shot for another big live tournament. (I've already played in the WSOP, *yawn*. Been there, done that, got a T-shirt and a cap). It's going to be tough though. All players in this SnG are good, otherwise they wouldn't be in the ranking. This is different from some one-shot freeroll donkfest. Of course I think my chances are better than one in ten to win it, but nine other players also think their chances are better than one in ten.


Kind comments, best wishes and "good luck" have been expressed between the players on the discussion forum. We'll see what happens with that when the first bad beat or suckout happens tonight...

Monday, May 21, 2007

Do the right thing

I had gone far in many satellite attempts for getting into one of the big satellites for the FTOPS Main Event, but not won. The subsatellites I played were all with only one prize, winner goes on to a bigger satellite. I had managed many final tables out of six or five tables starting, quite a few fourth places, some third places and one second place (with a good fair beat in that one, making fives full of Kings on the turn versus fives full of Aces with pocket Aces).

The last of the big satellites are nearing and I think strategically. I really want to get into the big one.

I buy in directly to the $100 satellite. Buyin for the Main Event is $500, meaning that about one in five will go on from the satellite. Definitely doable. If I can make a final table in a five- or six-table tournament, I can finish in the top 20% of a multitable tournament, and I don't have to win the whole damn thing, just reach top 20% and we're done.

When it starts, it's 1412 participants and 263 get a seat in the Main Event. Three other players will get a booby prize of dollars instead.

To the right of me is the classical online poker expert, commenting everybody's play and trashtalking. "66 lmao" when chip leader loses a small pot against a set of fours. One comment is "he only has those chips because he hit aces and played an idiot". I can't refrain from commenting "So, what you're saying is: He has more chips because he played and had the best hand?".

I mini-raise with TT and fold against a reraise from the chip leader and bully at the table. Not time to gamble yet.

"The expert" is out. Raises in middle position, big blind reraises, expert goes all in and big blind who covers him well calls. Big blind has AK suited. Expert trashtalker has... JK off suit. No hit and goodbye. So I comment "JKo lmao".

Wait for it. Wait for it. Yes! There it comes! "play me heads up p###y @ss donks". Uhm, no? We're kinda busy here with an important tournament.

He seemed to be the kind of player who absolutely can not let go of a hand once he's in it and sees it as a personal insult if someone challenges his initial thinking. "Ooh, suited connectors (89 spades). Against this and that, it is such and such favorite. Flop TKA rainbow. Heck, they're not holding any of that, I'll bet them off. Oops, two callers. Turn another diamond, I put him on a flush draw, bet him off dammit! What, he called? But but but, he doesn't have implied pot fold odds equity, I'm in position, his stats say he has a 18% thingamabob XLA and Jupiter is ascendant. OK, I'll checkfold the river but tell everybody what a great player I am."

It's a turbo tournament and blinds are going up. Lots of folds all around. And then the pivotal moment comes. I'm in the big blind and have AT diamonds. Fold all the way around and small blind whom I very barely cover thinks for a while and goes all in. Is he trying to steal? If he had something, and we're the only two involved, he won't gain anything more than my blind from going all in. He would've called or min-raised with a pair, A-something, connectors.

I call. And oh my how right I was. He has J8 off suit. Flop is 7x9, not too worrisome. More cards help me than help him. Turn a blank.

Fukitol tahelweit. The river is a Ten filling a gutshot straight for the bastard. Smooth move, ex-lax. J8 ftw... "J8 lmao".

When I've posted the small blind of 60, I have 25 left. Surprisingly everyone folds and it's only a matter of protocol to toss in the rest with my 58o. And big blind who can't act has 24 and I "double up" to 170. Fold, fold, fold until I get somethng playable, which is 55 in UTG+1. Called by big blind with AT suited (hey, I recognize that from somewhere) and a ten on the flop, no fives come and I'm out at 966th.

Isn't it a b*tch when you do the right thing and lose like that? Someone, David Sklansky I think, wrote something along the lines of that you shouldn't play differently from how you would play if you could see all the cards the players have.

For fun, I checked it in an odds calculator. Preflop I was a 65% to 35% favorite. Likewise on the flop. On the turn, 80-20.

Would I have called with ATs versus J8o preflop if I knew what both of us had? Very very probable. Of course, he wouldn't have played J8 against AT, and if he did he would be the object of general ridicule and scornful fingerpointing from everybody at the table. Even if he is getting short, he has a whole orbit before he has to make a gambling decision again.

Would I have played the flop if I knew the cards and we assume that he just called with his small blind and I checked? Yes, and any sane player would've folded if they also knew what each had.

On the turn there's no question about it. He would then still have about 1000 chips left.

So, what's next? Some long shot attempts at WSOP satellites and if all else fails, try the one on June 17th at Full Tilt with 100 seats guaranteed.

Trying to play my way into a team which will go to EPT Barcelona.

Maybe some more live play.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Going for it

Working on the FTOPS... I continued with several attempts at getting into a satellite to the final by way of cheap satellites (counting the buyin in points or dollars). Almost, but not quite. More final tables but by then the blinds are so high (Turbo tournaments) that there isn't much play anymore, what brought me to the final table, just "all in or fold".

The worst of my bad beats was: Dealt AA in very first hand. And a player before me goes all in, yesss! Insta-call. But a player after me also calls, that worsens the odds. All in-guy has 44. I AA and last one QQ. OK, not too shabby. Flop and turn nothing special regarding draws. River Q and a split last place.

An interesting one: Everybody played carefully after the flop AA4, and I river a flush. Hopefully someone has a naked Ace or a pocket pair? Hell no, opponent slowplayed A4! I'm down to a third of the starting stack but I manage to turn it around (don't give up until it's over, a poker tournament is generally a zero sum game) up to finishing in third place. Of course another bad beat. 88 short stacked all in before the flop and the one caller has AQ, classic coin flip situation with overcards vs pair. Flop 9x9, good, good. Turn K, liking it, liking it. River another K making my two pair a counterfeit. My hand is then KK998 and opponent's KK99A. Any other cards than K, A or Q on the river would've kept me in the tournament. But you only remember the losses in great detail. My AJ against AK preflop and riverring a J soon fade from memory.

So, now I'm tired of trying to subsatellite into the Main Event. So my plan is this: To heck with trying to get in cheap. I've made it far in many of these tournaments.

The buy-in for the main event is $500. There are satellites for $100, meaning that one in five goes on from the satellite. So I'm gunning for the big satellite with many participants. You could play very passively and reach the top 20%. Strategy and tactics. There are many other tables where players can get knocked out, whereas if you play a five- or sixhanded Sit'n'Go where the winner goes on, you can't make any mistakes. So the big satellite it is. Wish me luck.

Oh, by the way. At the flea market this morning, I found and bought a Laughing Buddha figurine. Quoting from the Wikipedia link: "One belief surrounding the figure of Budai in popular folklore is that if a person is to rub his belly, it brings forth wealth, good luck, and prosperity."

I'm covering my bases with a Bible quote as well:

A slack hand causes poverty,
but the hand of the diligent makes rich.

Proverbs 10:4

It even has more "oomph" in the King James version.

He becometh poor that dealeth with a slack hand: but the hand of the diligent maketh rich.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

More FTOPS attempts

I've still got it in me. Made more attempts at by way of satellites getting into the satellite to the FTOPS Main Event at Full Tilt.

Out of 54 starting players and only one (1) winner I placed 11th, 21st, 46th, 4th, 15th and...

The 46th place was AK and hit an A on the flop which had two diamonds and I went all in for him not to try to draw, but he did, and he did have diamonds, and he did hit the flush. And another fourth place for the statistics.

The and... maybe the last one for today. Shall I stop trying, or shall I make a push all night? I made some miracle recoveries in that one. AJ vs AK and hitting J on the river for example. It's only a bad beat if it happens to you, not someone else. :-)

At last we are TWO left, heads up. Could this be it? I hit QUADS Jacks and I don't scare him off, I want him to bet into me so I don't waste the monster hand but he doesn't so I have to make a move on the river but no call. I show it and tell him to "BET!" and he says he almost did, he hit the 7 on the flop.

I lost fair and square, what else can you do? K something and I hit a K on the flop K55 and then a 5 on the turn and he plays carefully. Not many hands can beat me and heads up you have to play a made hand.

One of the hands is AA and that is what he had. 2nd place and no consolation prize. Couldn't it be so that you could get a second chance when you've placed so well often as I have. X final tables and you get to play a shorthanded table, for example six players and two qualifiers?

OK, at least one more. Gotta play, gotta play!

Edit, footnote: Man, oh, man. Once again, I get dealt AA in the very first hand. And YES, someone to the right of me goes all in. Instant call! But... one player after me also calls. That worsens the odds. Oh well, let's see what they have. The one who went all in first has 44, hah haw. I have AA and third player has QQ. OK, not to shabby and the flop and turn show no danger. River is a Queen and we're out at a split 53rd place. Out early in another one, turning a Jack-high flush with a straight draw out there which was what I was hoping someone had hit. Nopers, winner of that pot and knocking me out had a Queen-high flush.

Now I'm calling it a night.

I see that a DrPauly is already registered for the FTOPS Main Event. Is it, and I think it is so, the Dr. Pauly? Yes, it is.

Funny, he writes in his blog that "I'll have a quiet weekend to myself where I can finally get some sleep, work out, read, write, and mentally prepare for seven weeks of WSOP insanity.". Pffft, huhmmph, lying through his teeth *mumble* *grumble*.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Not quite there

I've been neglecting this blog for a while, but I'm preparing a longer posting (a.k.a. an "uber") where I mostly will whine about bad beats and suckouts, something I'm sure you are very eager to hear about from a low-stakes player. OK, there will be some poker philosophizing and rambling as well.

What else has been up? Started playing at a new site in March, where the rakeback (of sorts) is that you get shares according to your rake and bonus level. Shares are also added to the prize pool in some tournaments. At the moment I own 0.0008% of the company. The first/next shareholder meeting, if there is one, will be interesting. Since we're a group (and not "the public"), it's perfectly legal for us to play live poker, something that is otherwise a gray area in Swedish gambling law.

Playing above your comfort level makes you sharpen up. I played in a $25 Deep Stack tournament (I mostly play $5 to $10 SnG and multitable tournaments with the occasional foray into $20 if I'm "up") and whaddya know, I won it! Nervous at the start because... Very first hand dealt to me was AA. In a Deep Stack tournament, starting with 5000. You'll either win a small pot or lose a big one. And I don't want to go out in the first hand in a Deep Stack. I played it somewhat carefully and won it, up 1000, although it was a troublesome board. Not any obvious draws, but since it was DS, there was always the possibility of "any two". "Jack Six off suit? Sure, I'll look at a flop, I've got plenty of chips".

And I played in a live tournament also above my comfort level. About $140 buy-in to a freezeout, usually it's $30 rebuy. Twenty participants, five paid and I wasn't worried at the final table. I know some shortstacks will knock themselves out, out of necessity. Yup, third place and a small win at the post-tournament cash game meant I left with three times as much cash as I arrived with. A good day. It goes into my "poker kitty", where I'll get cash for the next time I'll play live. A nice feeling, having (thin) wads of cash lying around the apartment. I also have a (very) small bundle of dollar bills left over from my trip to the US and Vegas and the WSOP last summer. Some day, somehow, I just know I'll go around at home gathering it all up for That Big Score, like in Rounders.

I coulda been a contender. I wrote earlier about trying to satellite into the monthly $750.000 Guaranteed at Full Tilt but not making it. I got to the satellite by way of a 54-seater SnG that I won. Now I'm gunning for the FTOPS IV Main Event with $1.5 million Guaranteed.

Yesterday I played four supersatellites, 54 players and the winner goes on to the satellite with the standings yesterday at 45 seats guaranteed to go on to Main Event and 1900 participants. My results: Fourth, fourth, twentyninth (bad beat, AQ vs JT all in preflop and him hitting trip Jacks) and third. Three final tables and good results. At the times I made it that far, the blinds were so high (it was Turbo tournaments) it was mostly "all in or fold" and all knockout situations were classic coin flips; two overcards (AQ) versus a pair (99) or face cards against face cards with shared cards (KQ vs QJ) and someone hitting or outkickering.

But I feel confident. Three final tables out of four. The satellites I've played have been bought in for with frequent player points, there are also $ buy-in satellites. I've got a good "bankroll" of points, so I'll keep trying Friday night, making a push towards the Saturday satellite for the Sunday final. I really would like to strike gold again.

Also trying WSOP freerolls. And I'm doing well in another grind at the site where you get shares, they have Ranking tournaments where the top 15 in each of the 17 Ranking tournaments get ranking points and the top 10 points rankers meet in a SnG at the end of the month. Winner gets on the team which will go to Barcelona in September to play in the EPT, in a live satellite to the main event, and team members splitting possible winnings 50/50. 50% to the player, 50% to the team. I'm in the top 10 and will probably make it to the SnG if I don't mess up. Like if I play in more ranking tournaments and don't get enough points, or someone lower in points makes a big rush and passes me. Ya gotta play to win!