Friday, September 24, 2010

No French for weirdo

Early on in day 1 of the European Shorthanded main event, one of the French Winamax pros asked me what it was like to be the only Irishman at a table of French.

I pointed out that with a French wife it wasn't exactly a new experience. In truth while it has become sadly fashionable in some quarters of late to belittle the French, I'm a genuine Francophile. I love their food, their country, their attitude to life, their culture but most of all I love the fact that the French are at heart non conformists and not only tolerate genuine eccentricity but savour and celebrate it. My wife tells me that there's no French word for "weirdo".

Anyway, my shorthanded campaign was, well, short and not particularly sweet. Just one of those days when I hit nothing and ran into something every time I tried a move. By level 6 I was short and became shorter after I made a bad fold. I reraised a cutoff raise to 1500 on the button with 99. The French lady in the BB flatted, which sent the other guy running for the hills. She donk led at a T42 flop for 2K, leaving me with a decision that was effectively for my tournament life. Her previous donk leads had all been strong, or at least what she thought was strong. I couldn't rule AT out as she was playing an ace from any position for any amount, so I figured her range was 77+, AT and folded. I showed the 99 and she showed 88. Ugh.

After I'd drifted back a bit, she gave me a partial refund. I shoved A9s and when she snapped in the SB I figured my goose was cooked so was pleasantly surprised to see 65s. A while later I shoved 77 into AQ and the lady popped up on the river to send me packing. Shorthanded with antes is an awful time to find yourself shortstacked so no regrets about the exit: you pretty much have to take every plus Ev shove to avoid being eaten alive by the blinds and antes which race around.

Came back on Saturday for another short run out. Lost a chunk early on with AK v T9s in a 4 bet pot, then the rest reshipping AK over 99 and losing the race. Highlight of the event was Feargal Nealon coming over to tell myself and Rory about some bad beat Rory had put on him. I was just lurking in the background when this was going on apparently. Feargal launched into a detailed hand history of a hand that never actually happened. He just dreamt it. Feargal's a pretty unique character.

The best thing about an early live bust out is getting home in time to play the online nightlies, and Saturday night was very good to me, as I scooped the 6K gtd (for $1800) and the 7K gtd (for $2800). I'd also scooped the 7K gtd the night before so online continues to go very well for me this year. Thanks almost entirely to online, this is already easily my best year ever.

Came back on Sunday with a similar plan to the UKIPT charity event the previous Sunday: gamble early to get a stack or be home in time for the Sunday majors. I should maybe stop approaching events with that plan as it never works. I was short early after Rory sucked out on me (to be fair, he kinda deserved to as he played very well) so the bust early was on until I remembered how to suck out live. Folded to me in the SB, I shoved K3s. The French BB looked at his hand with obvious disgust and a Gallic shrug, went to throw his cards to the muck with a demonstrative "I fooooooooo" before suddenly changing tack to "call" and turning over jacks with a gleefully grin. So basically I was proper slowrolled, or maybe fastrolled is more appropriate in this case since the whole thing only took a few seconds. I'm not someone who gets worked up over slowrolls, but it was quite funny watching my opponent jumping around in an agitated fashion after I binked the king. There may be no French word for weirdo but there is one for donkey, ane, and I got to hear it several times Monsieur Le Fastoller's mood wasn't helped by one of the beautiful French ladies at the table telling him the suckout was karma.

Got moved go a table, pick up the aces in the BB, short stack shoves button, SB flats and calls my shove. I'm up against A4 and AQ and hold and suddenly, boom, 32k. I motor from there up to 50K before I get moved again into a car wreck.

Dave Whitaker shoves utg, I look at his stack and see he has only 3 1K chips and a few clumps of small denom chips. Thinking his shove is for 6 bigs, I reshove AQ in the SB. Up against AK, I lose, fair enough. I ask the dealer how much I owe, she starts counting and to my horror I realize that what I thought were 25 chips are actually 500's!!! He must have had every single one of them on the table for some reason. I made the mistake because I'm colour blind but really the bigger mistake was not asking for an exact count before I called a 30 BB utg shove with AQ.

Bad time to lose nearly half my stack as the tourney was now 6 handed and blinds and antes were racing aroung. A lack of good spots and card death saw me dwindle further until I eventually found a plus Ev shove with fours. A blood relative of the infamous Chief who was having to contend with the great man's coaching and constant "you're playing too tight" tirades called, Dave tanked and called too (with a shorter stack than mine), as did the French SB. I was up against the Chief's protege's KJo, Dave's K4s and the French AQ. So technically I got it in ahead but as I remarked to IrishPokerBoards blogger Brian (LaoLao), it would have been a sick hold. As it was, the KJo scooped. I did at least benefit from getting to hear words of wisdom from the Book of the Chief being imparted to his protege ("OK, so I raise, K4, he reraises me big, I call, I'm hoping he has AK obviously"): the poker world's in real trouble once I've fully absorbed it.

Another good thing to come out of this weekend is I finally dispelled the nasty rumours that have been circulating about me only owning one tie, with not one but two new ties making their poker debuts. Although after their performance both will probably be immediately retired to the Unlucky Textile wardrobe.

Great event overall and if all live events were like this I'd probably leave the house more often. I've decided to play the D4 Event in Slovenia the week after Killarney: Mireille's coming with so it's doubling as a holiday.

Well done to all the organisers and especially the Irish Poker Boards bloggers Danny and Brian who did a brilliant job covering the action and conveying the atmosphere. Every festival organiser in the land should hire these lads: it's the best way for folks back home to follow the action and get the atmosphere. Also a big well done to mt Bruce teammate Wally for cashing in the main event, and to Alan for keeping the title in Ireland against the odds after we were greatly outnumbered.

Next up for me live is the Bruce-sponsored monthly game in Newbridge's River club, and then Killarney.

I haven't done much blogging on strategy of late so just to mix it up here are a few thoughts on small ball as an MTT approach compared to big pot poker. I was trying to explain to someone recently why I thought small ball is a more optimal strategy in deep stack slow structure soft field events. In these events I always try to avoid big gambles for my wholer stack on the basis that I can more safely and steadily increase my stack using a small ball approach. Having gone home and thought about the maths, I came up with this (admittedly very simplified) model.

Imagine that in an MTT with a 20K starting stack, you have two choices in level 1:
(1) At some point a 70/30 will present itself for all your stack
(2) At four different points, four 70/30s will arise but you'll only be getting 5K in each time

Which of these is preferable? (1) is essentially big pot poker, and (2) a more smallball approach.

(1) has a fairly obvious outcome. 70% of the time you'll double up to 40K, the other 30% you're bust. Overall expectation therefore is 28K.

(2) is a bit more complicated. You could still have 40K at the end of the level, but this will now only happen 24.01% of the time (you need to win all four 70/30s). You could also be bust, but would have to be really unlucky and lose all four, which will happen less than 1% of the time (.81% to be exact). Most of the time you'll be somewhere in between. The most probable outcome is you'll have 30K having won three and lost one. This happens 41.16% of the time. 26.46% of the time you'll win two lose two to be on starting stack, and 7.56% of the time you'll lose three win one and be on 10K. As you'd expect, overall expectation is exactly the same as for (1): 28K, but essentially you've reduced variance. Almost two thirds of the time you'll have either 30K or 40K, and less than 10% of the time you'll be below starting stack. You'll also almost never bust, unlike the big pot gambler who will either be chipleader or out the door at the end of the level.



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