Turning a corner (very long post)

U

UncleChuckle

Guest
Figured I'd give folk fair warning that it's a long one. I just had to get this down in writing, and here seemed like a good place. Not sure if anyone is interested, but what the hell...

What a strange day. My wife had a baby on July 15th. Labor had started in earnest right as I sucked out of a Poker.com tournament late on the 14th. Today was my first real day back playing poker since then.

The day started on Absolute. I registered in two tournaments. The first one was going well. I had 5000 in chips by the time the second started. The second went monster on me, and I had over 6000 chips in under 10 minutes. Tournament one ended about an hour in when I lost to KK when I had 9J suited. Didn't mind too much as tourney 2 was where it was at. Besides, pocket kings... Can't call that a bad beat.

Only took down small pots but had some staggeringly good hands. Best of the day was when I had A9os. Went all-in. Only player to call me had pocket kings, and three times the stack I did. In other words, if I lost, it was game over. Flop came xAx. I felt good. Pair of aces vs pair of kings. Turn comes... Ace... River... ACE! In the few months I've been playing, I scored my first four of a kind!

What made it doubly sweet was my stack being low. I was two hands from going under due to the big blind. I survived two more goes around the table, pulling off another lucky win on what would have been my very last hand. 59os, and amazingly won when a 5 came on the flop. Wound up getting eaten by the bb and finished in 50th place after about 3 hours or so. Sucked to go out so high up and not place in the money, but it was a blast, and really blew the poker cobwebs away. I tried a tournament a week ago and failed miserably and really wondered if my time had been luck, not skill.

The 50th place on Absolute boosted my confidence. The only place I have any real money (other than my free $15 at Vegas, which I'm not touching for a while yet until I get past the obstacles detailed below) is poker.com where I have a whopping 40 cents.

So I sit down to their 1am EST freeroll. Early on I tripled up. I was playing with so many distractions, I don't even remember the hand. Blinds go up every five minutes on there, so tournaments get pretty frenetic.

40 minutes in, disaster. While carrying my laptop, something goes wrong. System locks up good and hard. Only option was to pull the battery, which I did. Upon rebooting, my wifi network didn't come back. CRAP! Had to quickly fumble on my desktop computer and sort things out. Get it up and running, fire up the software... And amazingly, I'm still in. It hasn't bankrupted me or anything. I'm still in it. The crash occured right after I'd been small blind. It used my all-in, which was my fear. Guessing everyone most have folded. I settle down and refocus.

At this point I had 1690 in chips. Blinds were up around the 100/50 mark or so. I basically kept my head down until the break. When we came back, I went to work. Kept my head above water. I checked and saw there were around 200 people left on the next break. I had stagged into the break with only 380 in chips. I had JUST missed being bankrupted by the blinds being raised. Upon arrival after the break, I realised I had to keep my head together and I could place in the money. (Top 100 get paid on Poker.com). I had placed there once before, and I had failed in multiple attempts since, leading to my confidence being shake, and more "Was it just luck?" talk.

I started doing what I hate, which is taking all the time allowed to post blinds etc... Which admittedly on there isn't long, but I knew if I could keep it together and maximize my time, I could maybe do it. With 123 people left, the last of my stack disappeared to the small blind... I had 95os... Then, the miracle flop. x95... I held my breath... And took down a 3000 pot. I almost went on tilt I was so happy! However, it wasn't over yet. The players left was taking forever to go down. Several other people at the table were in the same boat and kept dragging it out. I hated doing it, but it was a matter of survival. Finally, the total hit 106 left... So close. I knew two players before me were going down most likely. One pulled a miracle flop and went from a few hundred to over 4000. The next guy wasn't so lucky. 105... Then it pauses for hand for hand mode... It seemed to last forever. I closed my eyes with 105 people left...

I heard the sound to signal the new hand... Opened my eyes... 96/1770 left. I'd made it!

From there I stayed on and finished 63rd. Scooped 40 cents. Yep, I now have 80 cents. Need 30 more for my plan. SNG with a $1 buy-in. (10 cent rake.)

My big problem is playing too conservatively later on in the tournaments. That strategy works well early on, but starts to bite me later. I rarely go in with anything other than a high pair, or something like AQ. It's holding me back. It's like I've hit a ceiling and can't get beyond that. Nor do I know how to get past it, which is incredibly frustrating. I know I'm, potentially, a better poker player than I am now, but I think the fear of losing is crippling me in the later game. I've placed in the top 100 on Absolute so many times now without getting into the money that I'm getting sick of it. I never make it with a good stack. In both AP and Poker.com, it's always a war of attrition for me.

I do feel like I turned a corner today, though. (Hence the post title.) I've never played as well as I did today. I went with my gut. The one time I didn't, with pocket 5's, I folded, and lost a 5000 pot. Sickening. When I fold a seemingly good set, it rarely comes back to haunt me.

I followed the wsop this year. I read Wil Wheaton's blog on his experience. "Don't play like a pussy" was repeated a lot. I'm trying to live by that, but in the late game, perhaps I get too obsessed with the prize. I'm worrying about the destination when I should be enjoying the journey. Regardless, it's killing me, and I wind up limping home rather than striding confidently.

So, anyone have any sage words? Commiserations? Anything at all. I'm hooked on poker, and I'm getting hooked on this message board as well. I just wanted to share my tale from today with you lot, as none of my friends even understand poker, let alone play it. My wife is up on the lingo now, but really doesn't get the nuts and bolts of it.

Apologies for the long post, but I'm a writer, and since I'm paid to write about video games, I can't really weasel poker into that gig sadly. (Since I don't actually give a crap about video games. Writing about something I'm passionate about makes a change.)

Thanks for reading this far. Hope to see you in the Noble freeroll soon. Unfortunately I'm in a poor position financially, so winnings are my only bankroll. So I have to place in the money on Noble so I can buy into the $5 one:)

I've got Super System 2 out of the library, but I'm debating getting both Brunson books from Amazon to add to my "Everything poker strategy Book", which seems surprisingly good, and the crappy WPT book which pimps the WPT every other page.

One thing: Anyone know a good way to remember how to figure odds, outs etc... My brain just fries on the math side most of the time. So much so that when multiple players are all-in, I have a hard time figuring out whose won. Any tests, exercises, websites etc... To help with this aspect... I'm not a maths dunce by any stretch, but calculating all this stuff in just a few seconds drives me nuts, so any help appreciated.

Right, I'm done now... Thanks again for reading. Hopefully the good folk who read this far can help me improve my game.
 
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ChuckTs

ChuckTs

Legend
alright i'm gonna try and help you to the best of my abilities (which may not be that great but it'll at least help a little)

from the way i see it, you tend to be a middle or small stacked (having 380 chips when there are 200 ppl left is definately not a way to hit money) when in the middle/late stages of a tourney
a factor important to placing in the money and essential to going all the way is a big stack
it sounds like you play premium hands early on and don't really loosen up later on
loosening up is exactly what you should do
instead of playing strictly the top 10, start playing hands like KJos or even down to K8 if you're confident enough
i don't mean raise them like you would AA AK or KK, as very few of us have the post-flop skills to represent those perfectly, but if you feel that people are getting really tense and are playing fewer hands ( like around the money bubble) then start raising, then representing the flop and stealing blinds.
this will be easier than you think.
when you see all the big stacks raising all the time it leaves you folding then wondering 'how can they be getting such better cards than me?' but they are only betting in an aggressive way to represent a bigger hand than they actually have
in order to play these hands this aggressively, you have to have chips to throw around though, and if you weren't aggressive enough in the early-middle and middle stages of the tourney, you won't have a playable stack, as in your case.
so be tight-aggressive early on, and in the middle stage start being even more aggressive.
then later on around the bubble, play aggressive but start loosening up some.

my suggestion is, just once try to play this way all out and see how it turns out. If you have confidence and are aggressive, it should work out

some poker math:

to calculate odds of your hand hitting, use the rule of 2:

take # outs, multiply by 2X number of cards left ie (# outs X4 after flop and # outs X2 after turn)

or you can take # live cards : # outs to give you odds of hitting your hand

then for pot odds, take amount of money in pot : size of bet

if your pot odds are bigger than your odds of hitting your hand, then a call is favoured

hmm.. what else
oh here's a chart for the most common pot odds:

*odds column means pot odds as described above must be at least as big as this number

POST FLOP:

approximate prob. of hitting hand odds*
4 to flush 34% 1.86
4 to outside str8 31.5% 2.18
4 to inside str8 16.5% 5.07

POST TURN:

4 to flush 19.6% 4.11
4 to outside str8 17.4% 4.95
4 to inside str8 8.1% 10.5

well i think i might have beat you length-wise with posts, bud

- if i'm wrong about any of this info. please tell me and i'll correct it...i know it's probably not perfect

BTW if someone could PM me how to calculate implied odds or start a thread that'd be great.
 
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S

StackThemUp

Guest
Hi,
First of all congratulations on the baby!
My advice would be to loosen up early on in the tournament. when the blinds are so small compared to your stack,you can afford to see a lot more flops. By presenting this image to players that you play a lot of hands works in your favour later on in the tournament.
When its getting close to the money a lot of people will be folding..take advantage of this...make large bets with strong positive hands and also do some blind stealing. Getting back to playing loose early on.. in the later stages you should tighten up and whenever you do play the flop people will find it pretty hard to put you on a hand as they saw you earlier playing a lot of hands. An excellent thought is this: People won't want to be going broke early on so as you have been, they play tight...by playing looser you can take advantage of their tightness by winning lots of small pots.
I would suggest learning the GAP theory too which is researchable on the net or in David Sklansky's books.
Chuck has got the right method for calculating hand odds quickly,over time these will come like second nature, however i would add that once you've worked out your hand percentage you need to convert this into odds to compare to the pot odds. For example...lets say you have a flush draw on the flop, there are 2 cards remaining to be seen so you have 9 outs. 9x4= 36% (actual % is 34.95) Now to get your hand odds simply divide your % into 100 and minus 1 ie. 100/36= 2.77 -1 = 1.77/1. So now you now that your pot odds need to be bigger than 1.77/1 to make your call worth while.
Hope this has helped you in any way possible..any questions fire away.
John
 
Dorkus Malorkus

Dorkus Malorkus

HELLO INTERNET
UncleChuckle said:
My big problem is playing too conservatively later on in the tournaments. That strategy works well early on, but starts to bite me later. I rarely go in with anything other than a high pair, or something like AQ. It's holding me back. It's like I've hit a ceiling and can't get beyond that. Nor do I know how to get past it, which is incredibly frustrating. I know I'm, potentially, a better poker player than I am now, but I think the fear of losing is crippling me in the later game. I've placed in the top 100 on Absolute so many times now without getting into the money that I'm getting sick of it. I never make it with a good stack. In both AP and Poker.com, it's always a war of attrition for me.
The thing is, in most tournaments the play in general tightens up in the mid stages, and the general rule is if the table is tight play loose and vice versa. As soon as the antes kick in (assuming your tournament structure has them) you should be looking to steal blinds from late position if it's folded around to you, and generally playing aggressively to the tightest players blinds. You will get caught once in a while, it happens, but tight players won't play back at you with nothing. It's best to usually try steals with hands you wouldn't mind seeing a flop with if called (Ax, suited connectors etc), but with the tightest players you can try with anything. Remember if you're in the cutoff on a 10 person table and it's folded around to you, you're essentially playing at a 4-handed table for the hand, and should adjust the range of starting hands you'll play with accordingly.

Here's a routine one. SB and BB are weak, I have an average hand, they will fold unless they have a big hand in which case they're coming over the top and I'm folding. The chance of them having a hand they won't play to a raise with is much greater then the chance of them having a hand they will raise with though, so in the long run you win, and the blinds are big enough compared to my stack to make winning this pot quite a big deal.

pokerstars No-Limit Hold'em Tourney, Big Blind is t600 (6 handed) converter

CO (t6121)
Hero (t5247)
SB (t10030)
BB (t4501)
UTG (t6242)
MP (t2012)

Preflop: Hero is Button with Qs, 7d.
3 folds, Hero raises to t1850, 2 folds.

Final Pot: t2100

Results below:
No showdown. Hero wins t2100.

You can't be afraid of not making the money - you should be aiming to win. This way you will make the money probably less often in the long run, but will place higher when you do, and your net gains will be higher.

Basically, lose the fear and play to win. If you're playing a freeroll, you've lost nothing but a few hours of time if you don't make the money - and you haven't even really 'lost' the time as you've gained playing experience from it.

Good luck.
 
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Grumbledook

Grumbledook

Guest
I have to say I disagree with seeing lots of flops when its cheap, its worthwhile if your sure you can out play your opponents or if you flop a monster hand, but chances are others are doing the same and you could come unstuck in a set over set situation or something.

The worst point about it though rather than the above is you are calling your stack off small bet by small bet. Its the worst way to play poker, like Will says don't play like a pussy.

A basic bit of advice that is worth trying is to either raise/bet or fold. If you can't open the betting or raise with the hand, then its probably worth folding.

Being the aggressor will give you twice as many ways to win than being the person calling.

Also I would recomend playing on some play money sit and go tables, this will give you the experience on how to start playing short handed and when it gets nearer the money. People will tend to tighten up in similar ways, still get some all in donkeys on these so maybe 2 table sit and goes might be better.

When people tighten up though you need to take advantage and start stealing those orphan pots.
 
titans4ever

titans4ever

Legend
Everybody has their own stategy for winning in tournaments. Sounds like you were mopping up early on and getting a good stack and then seems to coast in the early stages of money. You may have a solid game and not got cards or there is a leak in your game. By that I mean there is somewhere (hands you play, betting, not raising enough to steal) that is costing you chips and you become short stacked instead of maintaining or increasing your position middle to late in a tournament when the style changes.

I would recommend getting some books from other writers if you have Super Systems already. Everyone has a different style and I think I learn more by reading from different people and not just the same one. I would have you get David Sklanskys "Tournament Poker for Advanced Player." Very math/odds heavy but gave me alot of poker theory to chew on. He talks about the Gap Theory and has a different take on how to play in a tournament than Doyle.
 
U

UncleChuckle

Guest
Thanks for the advice and info. As I said, I know I'm a better player than I'm playing right now.

Anyone else want to contribute? I'll ultimately save this page out for reference:)
 
Grumbledook

Grumbledook

Guest
As I said really give the sit and go tables a try, nothing compares to experience at the end of the day.

I played loads of these for a couple of years before I even considered the notion of playing for money.
 
S

StackThemUp

Guest
Hi
Grumble..i am left confused by your post..you say you disagree with seeing alot of flops then go on to say its good to be the aggressor? Surely the aggessor will see a lot of flops early on?
And you say its the worst way to play poker? I am left speechless by this comment. All great tournament players see a lot of cheap flops early on and tighten up later i really don't know what book you've been reading!! Ask any decent professional poker player and they tell you to take cheap flops early and avoid large pots when opponents show strength. I use this method and i have many MTT including the 100k. Would you like to explain why you think seeing a lot of flops is bad except for the rather poor excuse of dwindling your chip stack?
I don't mean to sound rude but i am quite simply amazed
john
 
A

ausamer

Guest
I, like StackThemup, think that you should see as many flops as possible at the start of a tourny. I have the opposite problem that UncleChuckle has. I have trouble getting started in a tourny but if I manage to build my stack I can compete fairly well in the late stages. I see as many hands as I can but rarely seem to get anything that is worth playing or raising. Even after the flop the cards are not worth playing. Certainly since I am playing mainly freerolls, if I bet or raise after the flop some idiot goes all in and beats me with junk. So, after reading this thread and having the opposite trouble, can anyone advise me on how to maybe get started in a tourny. I dont know how good (or bad) a player I am, but I know I am learning all the time. Just get frustrated by not being able to get started early. I have finished 2nd twice and 3rd three times, so as I said, when I get started I have had some success. The main freerolls I am playing at the moment are on Absolute but any advise would help in any tourny I play. By the way, congrats on the baby UncleChuckle.
 
U

UncleChuckle

Guest
Thanks for the congrats those who did.

Maybe we should merge. My early game with your late game. We could get a big coat and enter the WSOP as one person:)
 
Dorkus Malorkus

Dorkus Malorkus

HELLO INTERNET
I find playing overly loose early on a recipe for disaster if the table is loose, which most are.

Say you're in the cutoff with Q9 and you limp in after 2 other players, pot is unraised, 4 players to the flop.

Flop Q73 rainbow.

First to act checks, next player bets 3/4 of the pot. What do you do? Playing loose with a loose table leads to lots of these awkward situations where you'll flop something and either find yourself folding the best hand or calling with the worst. Playing Ax suited, suited connectors and premium hands on a loose/passive table early on preflop is fine, as once in a while you will hit a monster and get paid, but I wouldn't go beyond that.

Different people have different strategies that work for them though of course. If they didn't then everyone would be playing the same way, and poker would be bloody boring. :)
 
A

ausamer

Guest
UncleChuckle, It would be great if we could merge our games. Wouldnt it be nice to get out there and win the thousands of dollars these guys are getting by using our methods combined. lol. Oh well, I guess if we keep working we might one day get there. One can only hope.

Dorkus Malorkus, you are so right that awkward situations arise early in the tourny. I dont play loose, dont normally call a big bet or all in unless I have a monster hand after the flop. The problem I have is I cant seem to get a monster hand after the flop. I could sit there for an hour and still not see a good hand. Hard to believe but it happens. When I get a half decent hand, which is more often than not, some idiot bets big or all in (good play I suppose) and then the awkward situation arises. If I call, I get beat by junk. If I fold, junk wins and the outside straight I may have had comes out. So, what do you do? I do not have the answer, but if anyone does, it would be appreciated as I said in a previous thread.
 
U

UncleChuckle

Guest
My aim on Poker.com, after getting to 80 cents, was to win another 30 to get into the $1+0.10 SNG.

Signed up for tonights freeroll... And tapped out in 71st place. 30 cents in the bank. Goal achieved exactly. Sure a bigger win would have been nice, but it's almost spooky that I sat down saying "I need 30 cents". Figured that goal would keep me going for a while:)

Chased more hands tonight. Tournament went MUCH quicker tonight. Hadn't even got to the ante stage when I placed. Went with more connectors and it paid off. Pulled down the pot with 3 straights tonight. I usually avoid the connectors, but it paid off tonight. Tripled up on several occasions.

The plan now is to get on Pokerstars, and do a play money SNG, to win more money, to get into the freerolls on there, though I get the impression Pokerstars has a higher calibre of player.

I just really don't envision myself spending six hours on Absolute to win, at best, $10 anymore.

Fun night. Highest pair I had all night was a pair of Jacks. Worst hand was near the end. I had AT... Going in would have ended my night out of the money had I lost... So I folded it... Guess what the flop was... Yep, JQK... Nearly cried. As it was, it wasn't as harsh as it could have been. 19,000 pot went to someone with the exact same hand, so it would have been split. Still, annoying.
 
S

StackThemUp

Guest
Hi,
I feel i need to clarify 'see a lot of flops early on'...i don;t literally mean see every flop with crap and hope to get lucky, obviously play suitable hands that later on will be harder to play due to the size of people's bets. for example i like to 5 7 suited, don't ask why i just do,lol. I wouldn't dream of playing this type of hand later on but it serves me a good purpose early on.
You need to be aggressive too,get out people who like me want to see a cheap flop but don't over bet the pot as that will entice people to hang around due to the large pot. Position is everything. The GAP theory explains this beautifully,if your going to become a profitable MTT player you must understand this concept.
John
 
A

ausamer

Guest
UncleChuckle, I too played in the tourny last night. I finished 102nd. I have $1 in my account and was trying to finish in the top 100. Unfortunately, the blinds eventually beat me as I wasnt able to get my stack big enough. You are right, it is a lot quicker than absolute. The blinds go up very fast. Good luck in the $1 tourny.
 
diabloblanco

diabloblanco

Guest
When others are tightening their game toward the bubble or near the end of a tourney, it is in your best interest to begin to loosen up a little and do some pot and blind stealing to pad your stack. You have to build your chips up during some point of a tournament and it should be done with as minimal risk to your tournament life as possible. Doing pot stealing/blind stealing doesn't risk your life like an all-in double-up attempt, but a few of these are just as good as doubling up.

In a tournamnet you can look at it not in number of players, but from the perspective of you only playing the players at your table at any one time. You've only got to worry about the people at your table and how you can maximize your gains and minimize your losses against these players. During the tournament there are always times when you can pick up pots, steal blinds and play hands that win pots without risking your tournament life. If you identify correctly these opportunities and capitalize on most or all of them, you will put yourself in a position to minimize the number of times you must win a race to stay alive. Not to say that it wont happen, because you will invariably have to be all-in with even odds or a slight favorite, maybe even a slight dog, at some point during a tournament and you will have to obviously win this race. But you can minimize the need to do this to stay in the game by capitalizing on as many of these opportunities to take the money that other people aren't willing to go in and get and stealing peoples blinds as often as possible when play is tight.
 
robwhufc

robwhufc

Cardschat Elite
UncleChuckle said:
My aim on Poker.com, after getting to 80 cents, was to win another 30 to get into the $1+0.10 SNG.

Signed up for tonights freeroll... And tapped out in 71st place. 30 cents in the bank. Goal achieved exactly. Sure a bigger win would have been nice, but it's almost spooky that I sat down saying "I need 30 cents". Figured that goal would keep me going for a while:)
Mate, I'm skint as well, but you really can't deposit a few dollars and play properly? It must have cost more than that in electricity whilst you were playing.

If you want some proper freerolls try daily Betfred ones ($750 and $250) and Bet365 $5,000 on Saturday. If you think you're at least average (you should be if you take advice from site), you can also earn bonuses by playing a certain amount of raked hands in ring games (e.g Noble Poker). If you play tight you should be able to reach binus without losing your stack, and everything left is free money.
 
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