Tuesday, October 5, 2010


Last weekend was a real rarity in my life at the moment: spent at home. I played the WCOOP main event after satelliting in the previous night from (of course) a 3x turbo.

I slept late to be as fresh as possible for the year's biggest online tourney. After a false dawn start that saw me edge up past 30k, I basically didn't win another pot. I'm not too happy about my exit: I thought at the time it was marginal and on reflection I don't really like it. The loosest player on the table opened utg, another guy playing very solidly flatted behind, and I'm in the small blind with A9o and a reshipping stack so it looked like a reasonable squeeze. I clicked the timebank while I tried to decide whether it was a good spot. I reckoned I was miles ahead of the opener's range (and he's folding the vast majority of it) but the flat from the other guy who was playing well was more of a worry. Eventually I clicked the Allin button and my worst fear was confirmed when the first guy folds and the second guy snaps with queens. He flops a house leaving me drawing more or less dead. Wp sir!

I don't think it's too bad: I had a major leak until recently involving passing up too many reshipping spots. In fastish structures with antes and aggro opponents you can leak a ton of equity and find yourself short stacked very quickly if you do this. However, I don't think this was that good a spot: I should probably have trusted my gut instinct suspicion at the flat from a player playing tight and very rarely limping or flatting, who seemed very capable and would therefore be aware that there was a reshipping stack lurking in the blinds. Stayed up a bit longer to rail Feargal Nealon who was flying til he got sick coolered headsup against the BB (he flopped a 9 high flush only to find his opponent had a J2 flush). I was curiously philosophical about my exit afterwards which I guess says something about how well the year has been going online. Essentially I felt like I was freerolling with no real pressure to get a result. It's a nice change from last year to be playing the bigger events with that mindset, but at the same time you don't want to be complacent and I am hungry for a really big one. One of the more interesting hands I played early on was posted by my opponent in the hand on TwoPlusTwo and reposted on IrishPokerBoards: some interesting discussion and points raised.

Apart from that, I won't bore you by reciting a list of online mtts won in the last week (that's what Twitter and Facebook are for imo) but it has been an extremely good (read profitable) week. Highlights included winning the same tourney on the Merge network back to back (consecutive nights), winning a couple of Bruce nightlies, and winning BPO event 5. BPO is Bodog's version of WCOOP/FTOPS and after finishing third in the 6 max the night before, I took down the rebuy for just over 6K. I ran ridic good for most of the last two tables to have an imposing chiplead until headsup. Some very good difficult players on the last two tables so a bit of run good was needed and on this occasion the trademark Doke gear shift from small ball to big pot poker at that point in tourneys got the job done. I got headsup with a guy from Bucharest. He wanted to deal after he chipped his way back to level in the early going and I was amenable but it doesn't seem to be possible to deal on Bodog. I was cursing this fact when he worked his way up to a 3:1 chiplead but we were still very deep so I wasn't pressing the panic button just yet. He was following a curious tactic of stalling: using the maximum time allowed for each decision. I saw this tactic quite a bit when I used to specialise in headsup stts: it generally signifies an opponent who feels outgunned when it's deep and wants the blinds to go up to the point where the only decision is push or fold. Sometimes with a twist of "drive my opponent mad and tilt him" thrown in.

We toed and froed a bit more to no great effect when suddenly my opponent switched tactic and started overbet shoving a lot. This happens quite a bit when you play headsup the way I generally do (smallball hyperaggro): there seems to come a point when a switch gets flicked and the other player goes "I'll show him: I'm allin. How do you like them apples?". This isn't the worst tactic in the world when the stacks aren't deep but isn't as effective when they are. I've seen and heard this tactic hailed as "taking a free shot" by people who really should know better. I think it's more accurately described as giving the shorter stack the chance to sit back and wait for a very good double up spot. Under normal circumstances someone with a 3:1 chip deficit headsup can only expect to win 25% of the time, but if the chipleader is going all in willy nilly a likely 70/30 spot will eventually arise. So the chances of the shortie winning increase from 25% to almost 50% (the chance that they'll win two 70/30s). This is more or less what happened, except in the second big (and final) hand, the guy called it off as an 18/82 dog. I love headsup as it's the ultimate psychological game that often boils down to getting into your opponent's head and deciding why he's doing what he's currently doing and what you can do to get him to start doing what you want him doing.

My only live outing this week was the Fitz End of Month and I managed to be out within an hour which I think is a new personal worst. My exit was pretty marginal to say the least: I needed 30% equity against my opponent's range to justify the shove (which was essentially the same as calling as Barry can never fold for the price he's getting after I shoved), and after a minute pondering what the range might be and another of couple minutes calculating my overpair's equity against it, decided I had the bare price needed (32%). In a slower structure I'd probably fold but in that tourney I'm happy enough to get it in with some sort of pot odds justification rather than folding to a 20 bb stack. There's no worse place in the world of poker for a 20 bb stack than the Fitz.

This is being written on the train to Killarney where I'm hoping for a better showing, if for no other reason that myself and amigo Feargal have lumped on some side bets. I'm not really a big sports better these days, well not compared to most of the degens knocking round the upper echelons of Irish poker anyway, but more on those bets (maybe) in my next blog

Well done to a couple of Facebook friends, Brian Barnes and Adrian McCarthy, for good showings in a couple of Bruce mtts. It's good to see more people taking the route I constantly advise of tackling the small and medium stakes on Bruce which are savage value. My friend Rory Brown very quickly graduated from crushing them to crushing the bigger nightly games I play: it can be done if you go about it the right way. I never deposited a cent online: my entire online roll and the money pulled off the last two years for the life roll was spun up from $171.42 I got for luckboxing second in a 2000 runner online freeroll. I moved from there via $5 tourneys to where I am now, not getting too worked up when a $5k buyin online tourney doesn't go to plan.

Finally, I met Gary Clarke for a chat before the recent Dublin UKIPT and the fruits of that meeting are a really insightful piece Gary wrote on me for Poker Ireland. Probably the highest praise I can give it that those who know me best think it sums me up perfectly. Thanks Gar.



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