Friday, August 18, 2006

Birthday Poker

Last night I got the OK from my girlfriend to play some poker. It's not that I need her permission, but more so the reassurance that it's not going to bother her (especially considering it was only the week before that I promised to abstain from poker as I was having a hard time showing restraint). I told her that this was "my birthday present to myself." She game me her support and I sat down to play some poker.

And boy did I represent the title of this blog well. Overall I played in the following events:

$22 NL 2-Table SnG
$33 PL Omaha Hi-Lo 1-Table SnG
$33 NL 1-Table SnG
$22 NL 1-Table SnG

I really didn't play well in any of these except for the 2-Table SnG. I'll probably post some hand information later (it's not like anyone is reading this, but it will be good for me view at a later time), but here's a quick synopsis of how the play went down.

$6 MTT

I played this because it was a cheap buyin and I wanted to see how I would fare in another large tournament. The problem is that I decided to play the 2-table SnG at the same time, and I should know that I lose concentration when I work more than one table. I really didn't get anything to work with early on except AKo which I reraised preflop with 2 limpers and flopped a K. In fact, I think that was the only pot I took down. My undoing was when I was in position with blinds at $30\$60 still (UTG limped) and I raised with Kh10h. Two callers, and a rainbow flop comes Jh and two rags. It was checked to me and I made somewhere between a half pot\pot sized bet. I get 2 callers. Since both players limped and both cold called, I'm thinking that I can either push them off the pot if the flop doesn't appear to help anyone. I feel like that my play is representing a big hand, and I think that if I'm against a set or an overpair, that I would have been reraised.

The turn is the 9h. This gives me the Qh for a straight flush, any heart for the second nut flush, any Q for the straight, and maybe any K for top pair. It is checked to me AGAIN, so I push for about $1500 approximately, and I get one caller. He has QQ for an overpair, eliminating 2 of my calculated outs, and the river does not help me.

Looking back on this play, I feel like the person with QQ UTG really misplayed his hand, but he got my chips so I can't really criticize him too much. Even UTG, I hate to limp myself with QQ since it allows others with hands like suited connectors to see flops cheaply. And, he checked it to me with a J high flop and didn't play back. Granted, his play worked perfectly for him, but I can't see that person doing well in the long run (especially considering the blinds were so small in comparison to the stacks, as there were were at least 3 stacks with nearly 25BB). I think that you have to at least come in for a raise there and eliminate some limpers. If you get one or two callers and an A or K comes on the flop, it's a relatively easy fold.

In regards to my play, I think I got too aggressive and it cost me dearly. I felt like I was representing strength with my play, but I just as easily could have checked the flop. When the 9h comes, based on the way QQ played his hand to this point, he's either going to do one of two things if he bets:

  1. Make a small bet to build the pot (he's got two of the Q, so he really should only be afraid of a flush)
  2. Make a huge overbet to force out the flush draws.

If he makes a small bet, I can call with my draws and fold if I don't hit the river. If he makes a huge bet, I'm probably not getting odds to call and all I lose is my initial preflop raise.

I feel like this is one of the holes in my game. I felt like I was representing strength preflop and made the continuation bet to take down the pot when it was checked to me. The tough part was that both players cold-called, and I didn't put them on a strong hand. But could I really? It was checked to me twice: a J high flop and a turn with straight and flush possibilities. I feel like it was poor of them to check to me twice if either of them had a hand, and I tried to use my aggression to get them to fold. I was trying to win the pot on agression when maybe I should have conceded the pot and checked the turn for a free card.

I'm trying to do this all from memory; I'll have to revise when I can see the hand history later.

$33 Omaha Hi-Lo

Nothing special here. I just basically donked off all my chips when I couldn't lay certain hands down (ie. medium pocket pairs with nut flush possibilities) despite reraises on the flop and not having any Lo options. I was screwed from the start when I chased another straight flush draw when the board was Jc7s8s and I was holding the 5s6s with QQ. I lost when my opponent made two pair, but was also holding the Js10s, so the 9s was a poison card for me. Lost half my stack on that hand and couldn't rebuild.

$22 1-table SnG

I honestly don't even remember how this table played.

$33 1-table SnG

I wasn't getting any hands early on this table, which I feel is necessary to play these the way Party structures them. Granted, the structure is better than previously, where the blinds went up every 10 hands, but I still feel that if you can't pick up any pots early, then you're just hoping for cards. I was down to about $1500 with blinds of $50\$100 when I pick up 10's UTG. I limp in with the expectation that I'm going to push any raise. The button raises to $300, the SB and BB call, and I push. Everyone folds and I'm finally above the starting stack, but the blinds are going up again.

Two more rounds and I'm in a similar spot: about $1350, and I'm UTG with A3o. Not my ideal hand, blinds are still $50\$100, but when they hit me next hand it will be $100\$200. Decision time: do I want to take a stand with A3o or do I want to wait and try to build my stack when I'll be at only 5xBB? The table has been pretty tight, so I make a standard raise to $300. The button calls, SB and BB fold. The call is curious; it seems obvious to me that any reraise is going to pot commit me (it doesn't make sense for me to fold to a reraise when I'm down to 5xBB and could potentially lose 30% of my stack on the upcoming blinds). Unless he's trying to trap with AA, I can't see him having a strong hand, maybe some connectors.

The flop comes 2dKd and some rag. I don't put him on a K (maybe he called with something like KQ-K10, but he didn't have any chips committed and he didn't seem like he called those hands). I employ the stop and go tactic, and it backfires horribly as he had AK and I'm down to runner-runner miracle, which doesn't come.

The biggest decision was playing the hand preflop. I probably would have been better off waiting and risking the blinds and pushing with cards that had better straight or flush possibilities (unless I actually picked up a hand). I look back on this hand and hate the way that I played it. The 3xBB raise isn't going to force any of the stacks off a mediocre hand; I may as well pushed in preflop. Did I really want action if I'm holding A3o? I'm not upset with the push on the flop; if I'm beat I was beat preflop anyways. I should have just waited for a better hand.

This post is getting long; I'll post the thoughts from my only success of the night, the 2-table SnG, later on.


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