Posts Tagged ‘tournaments’

Grinding Hard & The Mental Game of Poker

May 9, 2012 1 comment

Just over a week into the month and things are looking pretty good. My friend Dave and I made a bet with each other to help motivate us to put in some solid volume. My side of the bet is to play 150k hands this month which was already one of my goals but a little added incentive can’t hurt. Dave’s is to play 60k hands (his is lower for various reasons). The bet is won if one of us hits their goal and the other doesn’t; if neither or both make it it’s a wash. At stake is $500 to the winner and $500 to a charity of their choice. I felt comfortable when the bet was made but then went through a few days of “oh noes” when it dawned on me that a) I was already behind pace and b) the most hands I have ever played in a month was around the 130k mark – and that was a December month with SNE waiting for me at the end of the tunnel. Now though I am back feeling comfortable for a few reasons:

  • I have already played 30k hands and while this is slightly behind pace, I only need to get in slightly over 5k hands per day. Totally doable.
  • I have no travel plans for the month and no significant time consuming events coming up.
  • I’m feeling really good about my game and my health both physically and mentally – this is one month I don’t envision getting burned out in.
MTD May 9th 2012

Month to Date

Going into a bit more detail on that last point – I have been eating exceptionally healthy for the last few days and plan to cut out alcohol entirely for the rest of the month. Both of these add up to having far more poker energy and will help me stay alert at the tables for longer. In addition to this I have been working my way through The Mental Game of Poker by Jared Tendler. It’s a fantastic book. It’s not the easiest read – in fact I have hadThe Mental Game of Poker it downloaded on my iPad for a few months and it took my most recent and most concerted effort to get the book to stick. It’s not a book that you can just read cover to cover and expect to get help out of. There are exercises, writing tools, processes and learning models that require constant work. It’s worth it.

I now begin every poker session with a short warm-up which constitutes of getting myself into the right state of mind and looking over some pre-written notes about my overall game plan. I end sessions with a short cool down which is logging my results into a spreadsheet with a few ratings on my play and comments of the session. I focus more on keeping my attention on the tables and not on twitter, skype or reddit. 2p2 being down is certainly helping in this regard. I feel like I have barely scratched the surface of what is possible by applying the techniques within The Mental Game of Poker and am already noticing a marked improvement in my play. My results have been pretty good too but as they are subject to great variance I am learning to apply less weighting on day to day results and more on how well I play.

In other news it’s that time of year again at PokerStars and the SCOOP (Spring Championship of Online Poker) is upon us. Day 3 has just completed and I’ve only played two events – but all the omaha ones are yet to come and I don’t plan to miss any of them. I’ll make another post detailing my schedule a bit more. I also get to host two events as a part of my role as a part of team online – I will be hosting event #24 PLO 1R1A ($11/$109/$1,050) and event #36 PLO 6-max ($55/$530/$5,200). The structure is great in that anyone can give the SCOOP a shot starting out with their low events – so jump in and I’ll see you at the final table!



September 28, 2011 2 comments

WCOOP 2011

At the end of every tournament series you will see the exact same thing every time: 95% of people will be tired, burnt out, frustrated, and will have lost money. The other 5% will range from being fairly happy to utterly ecstatic over their results. Unfortunately this WCOOP saw me fall into the former category, so let me say for myself and my fellow tourney-hating comrades: MTTs are silly.

I stuck to my schedule religiously and I believe I played every event I intended to with a couple more mixed in for good measure, and a handful of 2nd chance events too. Coming into my last event (the $530 PLO HU) I was yet to cash. I did manage to amass a ludicrous amount of T$ playing the hyper-turbo 6max SNGs to the $320r 6max PLO event. The structure was that top 2 finishes got a seat. I must have played 30 of them and had a winrate of close to 70%. Good times. Outside of that though things were bleak.

The HU event started at midnight on a Saturday night here in Sydney. This meant either sleeping during the day and waking up early, or just staying awake for a really long time. I elected to stay awake. I sit in front of my computer at 11:59pm pumped and ready to go, load up the lobby, wait for my table and.. first round: Bye. This is good. I get a free pass on to round two but far more importantly I can sneak in a cheeky lil nap. I set my alarm for 1.5hrs which I think should give me enough time, but as a safeguard I turn my laptop sound up to full and turn the PokerStars “sound alerts” on. Needless to say neither worked very well in terms of waking me up. I can’t recall if it was the incessant beep beep beep from the Stars client or whether my alarm finally chimed away but I awoke to see my timebank down to its final seconds. Fortunately this meant that I woke up in time for the first hand, had lost no chips, and could get cracking. The downside was that for this match and all future matches I had no timebank. It felt like a disability at the time but the decisions I made were quicker and more “gut-instincty” than I may have made with more time to mull things over, and that appeared to be working out quite well.

I was down to being a decent dog very quickly in the first match, 12k to 3k chips or something to that effect. A couple of lucky double ups saw me in great position and I finished the match off shortly after. My next match was against someone whose name I can’t recall but was outrageously easy to play against. He would fold to almost all my bets, hardly ever 3bet me preflop, and overall play very very straightforward and face-up. I ended up chipping away at him and the match was over in no time. You know what this means right.. another nap! I set my alarm for 15 minutes this time, and kept checking the lobby and re-setting my alarm and getting short stints of sleep in. This was a much better idea.

The next round saw me pitted against the HU PLO Behemoth LuckyGump. I knew he would have an edge on me but with the structure of the tournament I was confident it would be small enough that lady variance need only give me the slightest nudge in order for me to break through. And that’s exactly what happened. I had him all-in twice and both times the money went in with me being a considerable favourite. Once I had him all-in on the turn with 20% and he sucked out (to chop or win, I can’t recall) but the next time the cards fell my way and I held to clinch the match.

We were now down to the final 32 and had made it into the money with one more round to go to make day 2. My opponent this time was someone I hadn’t heard of but some quick PTRing showed he was a slight loser over several hundred thousand hands at PLO 0.50/1, so I was feeling pretty good. To his credit, he played well, and aggressive, and the match was the closest of them all. It lasted over an hour and we were one of the last two remaining games to be played before the day ended. We each had the other down to 2-3k chips at one point or another and both managed to crawl back and then it flipped back again and again. I had him all-in 3 or 4 times to win the game and each time he binked it on the river to survive (though admittedly one of the times was a suckout-re-suckout situation, still icky though). Finally he had me down to 1.8k or so and it wasn’t looking good. Then I doubled up. Then I doubled up the very next hand again. We’re back to almost even stacks. I was feeling good. The blinds were huge. I pick up AQT9ds and open, he 3bets as he has been doing a lot and I make the standard 4bet essentially all-in. The money goes in and he turns over AA83ds, close to one of the worst hands I could see. I still had close to 40% equity though. The flop was about as bad as it gets: AT8 w/ his flush draw and he had me dead on the turn. Oh well, gg wp hf dd. It was close to 10am when all was said and done. I was happy to be able to sleep the rest of day away.

And on that highly anticlimactic note the WCOOP was over. I’m looking forward to going back to a more cash-game intensive schedule over the next couple of months. I’ve been downswinging a bit for the last few days but am feeling good about my game which is all that matters at the end of the day. Now it’s simply a matter about continuing to put in the volume required and outrun the devil that is variance. Hope someone out there had a better WCOOP – a big congrats goes out to the midstakes PLO reg MiPwnYa who came away with two PLO bracelets. Until next time..


PLO8 & NLO8 Tournament / MTT Strategy Post [aka “Why everyone sucks at PLO8 / NLO8 (but me!)]

February 26, 2011 2 comments

Full disclosure: I am plagiarizing this post. To be fair, though, it is from myself. The below is a strategy entry I made about PLO8/NLO8 mtts about a year ago. I went through a period playing almost every big bet o8 tournament possible in one man’s daily lifespan and after tremendous results (including a silly 2nd place in the 2k nlo8 SCOOP event last year – I say silly b/c I should have won, ofc) decided to make a strat post. It’s for the same reason I am posting that here – I haven’t made a poker theory/strategy post yet, I am planning to get back into playing more MTTs, and, well, everyone sucks at this game* and can use the help.

*obviously an exaggeration. I am not even a top player at the game (nor do I claim to be) but that doesn’t make my advice any less true in online MTT settings.

It’s been a while since I’ve made a strategy post and at the risk of shooting myself in the foot and divulging some of the secrets that I feel very few others know (that help me have such a large edge over the fields), I’m going to talk a bit about big bet omaha hi/lo. Pot Limit Omaha hi/lo and No Limit Omaha hi/lo. My advice is tournament specific (PLO8 and NLO8 MTTs specifically) and does not translate over to cash games very well.

Forget everything you know about PLO8/NLO8. Forget everything you have read. Forget every piece of advice anyone has ever told you. You will do MUCH better in big bet O8 tournaments going into them with a blank slate mindset rather than trying to apply PLO8/NLO8/LO8 cash game theory to them. Sit & Go theory is slightly better but still not good enough. So forget it all. Everything. Done? OK now we have something to work with.

Tournament poker is about two things:

1) Survival

2) Decimation

Some of you might be surprised to see this as one of the two things, and don’t get me wrong, I’m not one of those players who holds on to dear life trying to eek into the money. Having said that, the goal of any tournament is to survive the longest. You want to win and that means surviving longer than everyone else. There are times when you should be “hanging on” to try and make the money (I won’t go into that in this post — perhaps a future one) but for the most part you want to be constantly trying to accumulate chips, which brings me to…

I say decimation because it feels that way sometimes considering how weak the general field of a big bet O8 MTT is. In reality “accumulation” would be a better word. You are trying to get all of the chips. You want all the chips from every shortstacker and deepstack alike. Easy to say, difficult to do, you say? Actually no. It’s pretty fucking easy to do. People are horrible at this game (that probably means you are too, no offense, but there are like 7 people I have encountered playing MTTs that I consider “good” and all but 1 or 2of them is “great” imo).
You want the chips. You do NOT get them by sitting around twiddling your thumbs and waiting for the nuts. You do NOT get them by playing to scoop. You do NOT get them by playing a hand that has a lock on one side of the board. You do NOT get them by playing tight. You do NOT get them by freerolling someone. You do NOT get them by trapping a 3rd player in the pot.

Well, I lie, those are some of the ways you can get some of the chips, but none of them can even come close to the best way to get all of the chips: Bluffing.

It’s so simple. The entirety of poker would be nonexistent if not for bluffing. There would be no skill in the game. If you only played the cards you were dealt and went to showdown every time pitting your hand against your opponents having the best hand win every time, nobody would be a winning player. We would all lose to the rake. However add the simple element of bluffing to the mix and you all of a sudden have a skill game. A way to win the pot without having the best hand, without having to rely on getting to showdown and winning and without having to rely on good hole cards.

How does bluffing fit into PLO8/NLO8 MTTs? Quite well, actually.

1) There are millions of opportunities to bluff, yet almost nobody takes them.

2) You can literally create your own perfect scenarios to bluff.

3) Semi-Bluffing is an amazing tool that, again, nobody seems to use.

4) Bluffing will win you all the chips. Play aggressive, win every chip that nobody contests for, then when you do get all-in in a pot and have 40-60% equity you don’t care if you win or lose because you’re freerolling with the chips you won from bluffing.

This is not a new ideology. This is actually probably the most basic and straightforward piece of real advice to ever be documented in the history of poker. Doyle wrote about it in Super System. Play aggressive. Pick up the small pots so you can freeroll the large ones. Everyone applies this theory to poker, except, it seems, the big bet o8 world. Why? I have no idea. Perhaps it’s been drilled into their brains over and over and over and over and over to wait for a good hand, to play only the nuts, to play to scoop, etc etc blah blah fucking blah. YES that style is +EV. Yes you will make it into the money frequently and occasionally win a tournament. But you’re going to come 9th a hellofalot more often, and you don’t even come close to maximising your EV against a field as soft as ANY PLO8/NLO8 MTT available online today. My advice is as applicable to a $4.40 freezeout as it is to a $11 rebuy as it is to a $215 freezeout.

Posting this is only going to hurt me in the long run. It’s been a long time since I made a strategy post though and I need to post something to keep people reading this thing other than boring updates of my progress or photos of delicious food or ramblings about mandarins and ninjas.

Cliffnotes in Magic the Gaterhing image form for those too lazy to read textual gold: