Saturday, 26 January 2008


So I haven't played much in January -- busy with work -- but I'm enjoying what I have played a lot more than I did in December. As badly as I ran then, I'm running well now. I don't really feel that I'm winning that many more races, or sucking out much, but my general play feels a bit sounder. I'm a bit less nitty fivehanded, and a bit more nitty on the bubble, and that's working well. The only tourneys I'm unhappy with are ones in which I make risky plays against the big stack. But these things are a matter of judgement anyway. ICM might say fold, but there's a point at which you have to push, which depends on the game flow. If the other players are doing ridonkulous things, you are stuck with it.

The kind of thing I mean is this. You're at t300 and the stacks are something like 3700, 2100, 7500, 1700. Say you have the 2100. You have to fold a lot because when you're the small blind, the bigstack is the big blind, and the next biggest stack is pushing into you a lot. So the smallstack is in the big blind and it's folded to bigstack. He pushes, right? Nope. He walks it. Round after round. So after this round, the stacks are 3700 (BB), 2100, 7350, 1850 (SB). You're dealt trash and fold. The SB completes and the middlestack, to your horror, checks. The flop is whatever and the SB checks. The middlestack makes a minimum bet and the SB calls. The turn is meh and the SB leads out. Middlestack folds. He was clearly stabbing at the flop and has the sense to give up. So the stacks are now 3100 (SB), 2100 (BB), 7350, 2450. The middle stack pushes into you and you fold. (Sometimes it's worse and shorty pushes.) So you're at 3400, 1800 (SB), 7350 (BB), 2450. Very quickly the situation has changed, and now you're desperate. Give it another couple of rounds and you're really up against the wall, so you need to take a stand.

The problem always is, do you make it at the first opportunity or let that pass and hope you get another decent one? Say you pick up JT. Do you push into the big blind? He's played tight and probably folds a lot, and if he calls, it's not desperate because you'll probably be live. If you fold, what are you going to make your stand with? Are you going to try to ride it out?

Now, this situation is resolved for you if the bigstack plays aggressively. Instead of folding everything, he pushes tons of hands, as he should. Now everyone is suffering and he's growing at all of your expense. In the first scenario, you lose because you daren't be aggro without cards while the middle stack is having it folded to him often and can push just about anything into you. In the second, you lose in proportion, so the smaller stack is not gaining while you lose.

More often, the bigstack doesn't shove much, but raises with all sorts of shit. This helps the middle stack, who can call sometimes and outplay the bigstack often. It's not much help to smaller stacks because you're at push/fold anyway, and don't want to invest chips that would give you fold equity in trying to get lucky. Of course, other shorties don't think like that, call raises when it makes no sense and do sometimes get lucky. So the bigstack has found another way to fuck you up.

I probably lose more money because of bigstacks who play clownishly badly than I do any other way. Obviously, if I pick up cards, I'll double up through them just like anyone else, and sometimes it works out for me because the middlestack will stupidly bust himself out when he could have made the money easily with a modicum of smart play. But overall the bigstacks give up EV to the shortstacks far too much, and less so to me because I don't play loosely enough. Whether I should play more loosely, or more aggressively is an interesting question. The latter doesn't make much appeal, because what you tend to get is a player who is risk averse when it comes to getting into pots, but once in, feels he has to call a lot. So they will limp big blinds with their big stack, and then when you push over, call you fairly wide. Looser also makes little appeal because you are constantly gambling when you play with bad hands against a raiser, or even when you complete from the small blind. Your hand often can't stand heat, and as I said, you surrender your fold equity by playing too many flops and calling too many bets on them.

Thursday, 3 January 2008

yes I do

So this is a $5 tourney. I've played the fish before, and I know he's basically clueless. But this is horrible:

TEXAS_HOLDEM, NO_LIMIT, T4-57441207-37
Fishtard posts blind ($75), Dr Zen posts blind ($150).

4 folds Fishtard calls $75, Dr Zen checks.

I have A5s and could play it harder, but this fish is likely to call anything and I'll never know where I am in the hand, so I play it safe.

FLOP [board cards:TSJD7C ]
Fishtard checks, Dr Zen checks.

TURN [board cards:TSJD7CQC ]
Fishtard checks, Dr Zen checks.

A king would be nice.

RIVER [board cards:TSJD7CQCKS ]

That's nice. I have the nuts, of course.

Fishtard bets $300

Hello? You have the nuts too.

Then it strikes me. The nuts is not the only hand this fish will bet.

Dr Zen bets $1,855 and is all-in

It's a longshot but fuck it, I have the nuts and cannot lose, whatever happens.

Fishtard calls $1,555.

Dr Zen shows [AH5H ]

Yes, I have the nuts, fishy.

Fishtard shows [3HKH ]


Dr Zen wins $4,010.

Double me up, biatch. The mind boggles at how bad a player can be. Even if you think I might be bluffing there, you still fold. Calling is insane because I can so easily have an ace. Maybe Fishtard always bets ace high on that flop, and doesn't understand why I would play it so weakly, I don't know. Maybe he just sees his pair and nothing else.

Sadly, I still bubbled in this tourney. The other players traded chips for a few orbits as I ran completely card dead. Then I pick up QQ raise and one of the tards pushes his AT. I snapcall and he rivers the ace. Sigh. The worst of it is that the other players conspired to play so badly that they got Fishtard into the money. Double sigh.