Sunday, March 2, 2008

The slump continues

Two more close-but-no-cigar second-last-table-but-not-final table nights.

First, Cool Hand Luke's EOM. Only 27 or so runners. Started very well, and eddied and edged up from my 10K starting stack to 30K with 10 left when the hand that crippled me arrived.

Willie, who I know well from the Fitz and elsewhere, raises 4BB to 3000 from earlyish position. I'm in the BB and see AK. I figure any decent raise pot commits me, or at least him if he calls (he's playing 24K, though I actually thought it was less, damn my colour-blind hide), and since I'm going to be out of position I might as well go all in. I know from past experience that Willie, who is a lovely guy and a comic genius to boot but also something of an Ace rag merchant, sometimes calls these with worse aces which would obviously be a great result for me, and I also know his range here is pretty wide (any ace, any decent king or queen, any pair) so to be honest I'm expecting him to fold, but I'm happy if he calls too as if I win an allin, I'll have a commanding chiplead. Back at Xmas when I was reviewing my results for the first 6 months I'd been playing, I noticed that:
(a) I made a lot of final tables (about 35% of the time), but more often than not I was short stacked
(b) My results with a short stack were slightly (but not greatly) better than could be expected. Only once did I win from an intitial short stack, and only one other time did I make the top 3 (which is really what you should be shooting for)
(c) My results with the big stack were much better. 6 times I was the big stack, and all 6 times I won the tournament

90% of the time I made it to the first break with well over the average stack, so why was I generally arriving short at the final table? I decided the problem was I was playing the second last table too cautiously and tightly, concentrating too much on hanging in there until the final table (and the bubble burst). So my new year's resolution was to take much more risks on the second last table with a view to getting a big stack, which I seem to play better late on in tournaments than the short stack.

So in short, I'm quite happy to stick all my chips in if I think there's a decent chance my opponent will fold or call with a worse hand, and at worst I'm probably in a race if he calls.

Anyway, turns out Willie has just about the best possible hand I could have put him on: jacks. He has a long dwell and decides I couldn't be making this move with Aces or Kings (not quite accurate: I did it with both aces and kings at the final table in Drogheda), so decides to put me on either queens or ace/king, and eventually makes a great call. He wins the race: c'est la vie. Next hand, down to 5K, it's folded round to my Q-10s in the SB, I'm all in, and the big blind calls with A4o. I lose and in two hands I've gone from almost chip leader to out.

Then tonight in the Sporting Emporium, sameish story, second last table, up from 7.5K starting to 30K thanks to some very solid play and some great (if I do say so myself) soul reads. Probably the best I've played since Drogheda, don't think I made a single mistake, and made some great reads and was picking up on physical tells all over the shop which allowed me to make a couple of hero calls.

Blinds are 400/800, antes 50, I'm playing 30K when the only bigger stack at the table playing about 40K raises 3 BB UTG. Folded to me in the BB, I have AQ, I think about reraising to define my hand, but any decent raise is quarter my stack, and besides, I know the guy has a hand because he's a solid tight player. I figure he has a medium to high pair, or AK, or at a stretch AQ. So I decide I'll just call, keep the pot small, and make a decision on the flop. I've successfully read the guy every hand we've played so far so I'm confident I'll be able to figure out where I am, even out of position.

Flop is A65. The two rags are spades, I don't have a spade, but I figure that's immaterial. He doesn't have trips and if he's on the spade draw, so be it. I check, he bets 4K, I call, figuring I'll check the turn no matter what comes, see what he does, and see if I can read him. If he bets big again he probably has AK. If he has a pair and doesn't hit his set, I think he'll check behind me.

I hit my bingo card on the turn, the Queen, and check. He bets 7.5K. I'm now 99.9% certain he has AK, so I move all in. He says something about being pot committed so he's calling even though he thinks he's behind, which he is because my read is spot on again, he has AK (with no spade). All well and good, until he hits his king on the river and I'm out. That's poker, baby. Again, if I'd won that pot, I'd have been in a commanding position with over 20% of the chips in the entire tournament, and almost half the chips at the table.

I was surprisingly philosophical about it all. I don't really have a problem accepting suck outs or the luck element in tournament poker. As my brother says, good players can only be unlucky as they always get it in ahead, though that's not entirely true since to win 3 70/30's in succession (as I did in Drogheda) is just as lucky as to win one 30/70. So long as I've gone out playing well, I'm happy I've done my job. If I go out to a mistake, it's much worse and the cat gets kicked (or would do if I had a cat). I know I'm still learning and have room for improvement at this game I took up less than a year ago, but my recent performances give me hope that more big results like Drogheda aren't too far away.

By the way, the reason I called this post "The slump continues" is that I realised I'm in the middle of my worst ever cashes/tournament run: only 1 cash in the last 10! Lucky for me it was the right 1 though. I'm putting the "slump" down to statistical clumping and some short-term pain from my new more aggressive second last table strategy which I think will pay dividends in the longer term.

I know, I know: this post has just been one long "I keep losing but I'm still not a bad player, dammit Jessie!" post.


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Hi daragh,
You should put a link to your blog at the end of you posts on Boards, you can change it in your Sig....

Report on Drogheda is an interesting read.... ps. Im colette Murphy, Not Colette doherty (she plays the €100 omaha, and is one of the owners of the Fitz lol)

Thanks Colette, I'll put the link on my sig at some point. For now I'm deliberately keeping a low profile until I get the hang of this blogging mullarkey and decide where I want to go with it.

Oops, sorry about the name mixup. I knew people were always getting you two mixed up namewise but it still didn't stop me from doing it myself.


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