Thursday, March 28, 2019

Brazil and books

By the book

I sat down to play live in Brazil for the first time unsure what to expect. Obviously I’ve played quite a bit with them online but live tends to be different. All I had to go on was the assessment of Jack Sinclair who got there a few days before me:
“A new type of fish, but fish nevertheless. Like the one with three eyes in the Simpsons”

During my first day’s play, I got what he meant. I saw lots of fish, but a multitude of varieties. It was hard to generalize, other than the most common type was the macho variety you also find quite a lot of in countries with a Mediterranean coast. When you find yourself sitting at a table with fish, your primary thought should not be “Mmmmm, fish” but “What type of fish?” The type that calls or folds too much? The type that thinks checking is a one player per hand thing, not allowed once the opponent has done it? The type that thinks the game is all about bluffing, or not being bluffed? At this stage you want to be leafing through the Angler’s Guide to Poker, trying to figure out the best way to play by the book against the particular species you’re faced with.


On my last table I found myself looking at something I’d not seen before: a player with a tall statue of himself as a card protector. When I passed this information on to my study buddy Daiva, once she’d recovered from the giggles, she gave me a very specific list of reads based on that one small piece of information, all of which proved correct. So the next time Daiva soul reads you at the table and you wonder why, it was probably something you wore, said, or had with you.

One of her reads that proved correct was that I should expect statue man to play a lot of hands, and not like folding much. I might have guessed this anyway from the big messy stack he had amassed before I got there, but it was quickly confirmed by his 100% attendance record in pots and his 0% fold to threebets. A Winamax pro was unsurprisingly peppering him with threebets, when a funny hand happened.

After the standard statue man open, Winamax threebet, statue man call opening, they saw a flop of AJ4. Lots of glaring and staring from statue man before he checked, then an unconvincing looking check raise after Winamax cbet. Winamax ignored the speech and the glaring while he tanked before calling. A nine rolled off on the turn and statue man ostentatiously reached for chips like he was about to bet the farm before dramatically checking. Winamax seemed to recognize this for what it always is: a Maginot line designed to look strong but actually very weak. So he fired out a chunky shell of a bet, which was met with a stubborn looking call.

A queen hit the river and statue man reprised his performance of “I could bet the farm here but I’ll check just for lolz”. Winamax thought for a while before shoving, to the obvious dismay of statue man. A few minutes into a marathon tank he complained about having no kicker. A few minutes later he accused his opponent of having flopped a set of jacks. It took him a few more minutes to talk himself into folding his ace rag, showing us all the ace so as not to leave any doubt. At this point, Winamax examined both of his cards carefully, before turning over one of them, a ten.

Now anyone who has read my most recent free strategy newsletter (which you can sign up to here) or my latest Bluff column where I explain what it almost invariably means when someone shows one will already know what Winamax has here (for those of you who haven’t, it’s clearly the nuts: king ten). Statue man clearly isn’t a subscriber though, because he bought it hook line and sinker that he’d been bluffed, and proceeded to tilt off most of his remaining stack in the next orbit or so.

This was great news for me given I found myself down to nine big blinds at this point and in need of charity. Statue man provided it twice, and went for the trifecta when he just jammed 60 big blinds from the small blind over my under the gun min raise. Tens is not a hand I’d normally be thrilled about getting that much in with at this point in a 10k, but I called faster than a speeding Amoeboid, and found myself looking at sixes. A few seconds later I saw my opponent turn a gutshot, which he filled on the river to celebrations that would have done justice to Brazil winning the World Cup.

I have nothing against recreationals having fun at the table celebrating their wins, so I left him to it. That’s poker as that awful saying goes: the pre-tilted fish can get lucky, and without that vital element of poker, the action would dry up pretty fast as soon as we all figured out our place in the food chain. But you’d much rather see that theory play out in practice in a 100 dollar event rather than a 10k one. Especially one you’ve flown all the way to Brazil to play.

Buy the book

If you live under a rock you may not heard of this new book I’ve written (with Barry Carter) called “Poker Satellite Strategy”. It’s about poker satellite strategy (we are not blessed with imagination when it comes to titles).



It seemed like most people I met in Brazil don’t live under rocks, as they were quite keen to talk about the book, as was I. Enough people keep asking the same questions that I figured I really should have somewhere I put the information. This part of the blog is intended to be that somewhere: I’ll update it as appropriate so people can refer back to it.

Ok, so what is the whole idea behind the book? I talked about this in the following places:



Some related content I’ve made:

  • Video with Gareth James looking at an Ian Simpson hand from 25k satellite bubble
  • Hand history review with Alan Widmann (not yet released)


Some free extracts from the book:



The first time I ever saw Barry Carter was on Sky TV talking about his book with Jared Tendler. I thought he was a very good interview. He still is, as you can see from:



You can buy the books in the following places:
One guy who bought the book as airplane reading was legendary online grinder Marty "TheLipoFund" Mathis. I have to admit I thought Marty might be taking the piss when he tweeted this (he is after all currently leading the PPL leaderboard and as such is the biggest winning satellite player of the last year), but not only did he read the book but he also left the first glowing review on Amazon.com for the book.


I spoke to Marty briefly a couple of times in Rio: briefly because not only was he deeper in the main event each time, but he was usually multitabling a few PPL satellites at the same time. As most of you probably already know, he went on to ship the main event.



It was clear as Marty went deeper that almost every online grinder in the place including myself was rooting for him. One of the eternal debates in poker is who, if anyone, a pro should root for. The cool answer is "the recreational because it's good for the game" but human nature being what is (we relate to people we identify with ourselves), the more honest answer for most of us "the pro who has put in the work and effort honing his craft". Thus it was that as Marty told us in an interview in the next episode of the Chip Race, despite getting headsup with a Brazilian, he had the biggest rail.

Buy more books

The whole experience of writing my first book has been so rewarding I doubt it will be my last. I’m just not sure what the next one should be about. Let me know if you have any ideas or suggestions.

I recently got asked what the ten most important books in my own development were. Here’s my list (in the order I read them):

  1. Super System 2 (Doyle Brunson)
  2. Harrington on Holdem (Dan Harrington)
  3. Sit n Go Strategy (Colin Moshman)
  4. The Mathematics of Poker (Chen, Ankenman)
  5. Kill Everyone (Lee Nelson , Tyson Streib, et al)
  6. Mental Game of Poker (Tendler, Carter)
  7. Raiser's Edge (Elky, Nelson, Streib, Dunst)
  8. Zachary Elwood "Reading Poker Tells", "Exploiting Poker Tells" and "Verbal  Poker Tells"
  9. Moorman's Book of Poker 
  10. No Limit Hold'em for Advanced Players (Matthew Janda)

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