Monday, March 28, 2011

Doke's equation: E + V = +EV

I've yet to make day 2 of an EMOPS, my second attempt wheezing to a halt late on day 1 in a manner resembling my first. I never got much past starting stack and the deck was complaining of a headache and therefore not in the mood to help me out. The few big hands I got failed to win big pots, my light opens and three bets got snapped off more often than not. Some funny hands and unorthodox play throughout though proved the value in these events if you can only avoid the minefield.

The tone was set on my table early in level 1. Folded to local on the button, he 4x's it to 200, and the BB defends. He led at a J83 board for 200, which got raised to 800, before he raised to 2200. Call. Turn an 8 and the blind almost had an orgasm and bet 6K. Snap call. River's a 3 and the blind snap shoves his remaining 12K. The button thinks for a little while, then bangs (literally: thump!) his chips in and turns over aces which obviously he can never seriously contemplate folding no matter how often the board pairs. The other lad had the nuts (quad eights) surprisingly enough given how little strength he'd shown throughout the hand.

I only got one big hand before dinner and that was literally the last hand before dinner. The best player on the table opened to 800 in early position and 150/300 and I found kings on the button and 3 bet to 2k. At this stage I had 60 bbs so I'm happy enough if we get it in preflop. He was playing pretty loose and the only other time I'd 3 bet I'd been light and forced to fold to a 4 bet, so I was hoping to induce a light 4 bet. As it happened, he flatted, and the flop came T52r, pretty good for my kings. He check called my continuation bet. Before he called preflop, he'd asked how much I was playing before he called, so his most likely hand is a pair he doesn't want to commit pre with. When he check calls my continuation bet, his range is pretty much decent pairs and sets, I didn't think he was bad enough to call with 2 overs. Turn was a blank (4) and I checked behind for a number of reasons:
(1) Pot control if I'm behind to a set or trappily-played aces
(2) To get value from one pair hands I beat. If I fire the turn, he'll almost certainly fold hands like 66/77/88/99 that I may get another bet out of on the river after I check the turn
(3) To protect future continuation bets. If I only check the turn with weak hands after cbetting the flop, observant players can float profitably against me (call a flop bet and fire a chunky river bet if I bet the turn). By showing I can check strong hands like big overpairs, I make this a less appealing proposition.

So my plan was to bet any blank river. Unfortunately the river was a rather horrible 3 putting four to a straight out there (any ace or 6 makes a straight). There's now no point in value betting as he won't call with anything I beat and if I get check raised it's horrible, so I checked behind (also, there are now more pocket pairs beating me than I beat). He showed jacks and as we got up to go to dinner said "that river saved me money" which is exactly right.

Card death and a few unwelcome table moves which meant I couldn't exploit my tight image when the antes kicked in made the next few hours tough going. The only hand of note I picked up was queens. A very good cash player I've played with before minned in early position and I found queens just behind. We had similar 30 bb stacks so my choice is between flatting and making a small raise to try to induce the 4 bet shove. I ruled out the flat because I thought a cold 4 bet from someone was less likely than a chain of callers which I definitely don't want. Queens aren't quite strong enough in the spot that I'm happy to let ace and kings rags in cheap, or give any small pocket pairs the odds to set mine. I'd definitely have flatted aces and probably kings, but instead I tried the small 3 bet. The problem with this is I'm not up against a donkey likely to 4 bet jam JTs but a very good thinking player who realises I won't be 3 bet folding very often with 30 bbs, and who won't be flatting "for value" either. There are many elements to tournament luck other than the obvious ones of flips won, suckouts or your big hands holding: factors like table draw and whether you get kings when someone else has queens or aces, and also the pertinent one here: when and who you get your big hands again. The fact that I got queens here with 30 bbs against a top class player meant I was a lot less likely to win a big pot with them. So it proved: quick glance at my stack and disciplined instamuck when it gets back to him.

The blinds kept rising, and I kept getting moved and seven highs, until I finally picked up AKs utg. I'd maintained my stack numerically but it was now only 15 bbs. Until quite recently, with antes, I'd just ship here (I still usually do online), but recently live have started making a smaller raise to try to induce action from hands I dominate. It's been working of in the sense that it's been having the desired effect (getting calls from hands like AT and KJ) but not in the sense that these hands seem to then proceed to suck out every time :)

So it proved this time with utg+1 asking how much the raise was before deciding to flat the 3 bbs playing only 11. Against a competent player the alarm would now be sounding, but he didn't strike me as the competent type. Yes, he was Scandi, but more importantly he was an aul lad. I say more importantly because aul Scandis seem to play as bad or worse than aul anything elses. Flop came QJx and with 2 overs and a gutter I'm never folding now so I led big enough to signal commitment and called his shove which amounted to a min raise. I figured his most likely hand was a pair so if he's setted up fair play to him, at least I charged him enough preflop to make it a mistake to call, and if he has I still have the gutter. Instead I was rather disgusted to see KJo which held. After a rather bizarre doubleup (I shoved an ace without bothering to check the other card in early position, and got reraised by the guy 2 to my right with QTo) and a period of treading water, I shoved ATo on the button into kings in the BB.

After a day's rest, I ventured back for the last side event, a one day turbo crapshoot. I walked up to the casino with Kevin Spillane and last year's main event winner Tim Timateou. Kevin's an instantly likeable person and was still in the main and therefore understandably chirpy. A lot of things are needed to be successful in the long term in this game and you see a lot written on some of them like technique, discipline, patience, tilt control and bankroll management. The one you don't hear so much about but is in my opinion absolutely vital in the long term is enthusiasm. It's very hard to maintain in a game where disappointments greatly outnumber ambitions fulfilled, where the bad beats just keep coming, where downswings are inevitable and luck the most important factor in the short term, but the ability to stay enthusiastic is a huge asset. If you allow the disappointments, bad beats and downswings to drag you down, it's almost impossible to put in the kind of steady graft and big volume you need to make your livelihood long term in this game. Taking a break to clear your head, change your luck or get your enthusiasm back is all well and good, but before you know it you can find yourself on a break most of the time, and that's not good in a profession where you don't get paid if you don't play. Managing to recover quickly from setbacks and regain the enthusiasm to get up and try again tomorrow is vital. Or to put it in quasi mathematical terms E (enthusiasm) + V (volume) = +EV.

Unfortunately, neither Kevin nor myself got much luck on the day. He went out on the second last table and my side event campaign just served to illustrate how differently I run live and online. The standard was absolutely horrific so it was another case of "if you can avoid the minefield" and the fast structure and stationy type opponents didn't leave much room for creativity. I gradually doubled my starting stack, then reshipped it over a loose mid position raiser with AJs. Having played with him on the first table I knew he was a real ace rag merchant so as he tanked I thought I'm a 9 to 4 on favourite here if he calls, which he eventually did. Unfortunately he proceeded to hit his rag. You know you're running bad when you look to see what rag he has and then "see" it on the flop in your mindseye before the actual flop is dealt.

I'm back home for a few days, then it's off to Malaga for the Estrellas there, and then straight on to Berlin for probably my only EPT before Vegas. As appealling as San Remo is, I really don't want to overdo the trips away before Vegas.


i think you are forgetting that you are a old fellow yourself and not a spring chicken and there's plenty of us auld fellows with still tricks up our sleeves haha

Bit of a generalization by me there and obviously there are always exceptions. Like in Ireland there's plenty of older players like Maurice Silke, Fitzer, Mccluskey, Jay Renehan who are more than capble of beating the young guys at their own game, and plenty of real bad young players too. But in general, I'd be more worried about a 20 yo I'd never seen before than an 80 yo. At last year's WSOP a German kid told me that if he sat down beside an old American who then told him he'd been playing for 30 years, he'd immediately assume the guy wasn't very good because if he was he'd have heard of him already. I thought that was a reasonable point. Whereas there are innumerable young guys out there who crush online and would be unknown on the live circuit cos they don't play very much.

Of course sometimes your initial assumptions are overturned. Played in Killarney once and this middle aged guy in a jumper I'd never seen before sat down beside me and I immediately assumed he'd play like most middle aged live players, but quickly saw from his bet sizing, his lines and his use of position and reads that he was different class. Chatting to him I found out he played primarily online (and did very well), only played live a couple of times a year, but had won the IPC a few years previously.


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