Saturday, 13 February 2010

Warning: this is a bit of an analytical post, so skip over it if that's not what you're looking for!

Normally grinding tournaments online you rarely come into spots that really challenge and get you thinking as most spots I've been in numerous times before and are pretty simplistic just based on bet sizing and ranges. However, in the live arena you're exposed to so much more information and the stacks are often significantly deeper particularly in these deepstack tournaments that I'm trying to increasingly expose myself to.

So despite a relatively early exit, I did have a few interesting hands which are probably worth mentioning.

Due to the nature of the UKIPT Manchester having significantly more online satellite qualifiers than your typical tournament, the standard of play often seemed weaker, but due to the nature of most people qualifying online through stars, I had a much greater idea about peoples ranges and playing tendancies just due to my hours playing such similar players on the online felt. I found that I had a pretty good table where I had the opportunity to open a wide range of pots and significantly increase my stack without showdown. Which is always an aim in tournament poker so that when the inevitable flip does occur, it hopefully won't be for the whole stack!

Anyway onto an interesting hand that happened in the first level. I was dealt 3c5c in the small blind and there were 3 limpers from middle position to the button. I completed 300 big blinds deep and the big blind checked allowing us to see a flop.

The flop came a pretty decent A24 giving myself the nut straight. I have two options here, lead out here to "underrep" my hand or go for the check-raise that over-represents my hand. Of course this also relies on someone betting the flop with something strong enough to call a check raise with. Leading out will keep in many weaker hands such as A8 or a similar hand that is likely to be limped, while I expect a check-raise here would fold out many of these weaker holdings limiting the calling range to strong aces (unlikely to be the case here due to limping pre) and two pair hands (also pretty unlikely). So leading out seems like a better choice. However, with leading it's unlikely that I'll ever be able to get all 300big blinds in which is an aim, but similarly it would be very difficult to get this anyway with any one pair hands unless the opponent was a complete drooler. So I decided to bet out on the flop around 2/3 to 3/4 of the pot.

I got one caller from the big blind and a raise from the button. At this point I can assign a range to the buttons raise from 2 pair hands, medium-strong Ace X hands, 22/44 or complete airballs. Due to the flop being very dry (no flush draws or obvious other straight draws), I elected to flat this raise with the intention of check raising any non-paired turn card. This allows me to keep the pot under control out of position and will keep in holdings such as Ax and quite possibly hands such as 2 4 or A2 which may hero fold a raise here. So I called the raise and the big blind folded.

The turn came the 2 making the board Ac2x4x2c. I picked up the straight flush draw here and checked to the button who led out again. I have to flat here. Folding is too weak, remember I still have the nut straight, a redraw to a flush and straight flush and it is quite likely that I'm still ahead of a lot of the hands that the button is betting for value such as A3, A9 etc. Raising here would fold out these hands and I would only get called by hands that beat me, such as A2, 24, 44 etc as well as folding out any bluffs that may be in the buttons range. So I elected to flat.

The river was a brick, an offsuit 9, giving the board Ac2x4x2c9x. There is an arguement for me to bet out here folding to a raise as many of the hands I beat such as A8 would likely call a bet but check behind on the river, whilst all bluffs would fold (I think this is only a small part of his range though given the board texture). I checked, the button led out 1/2 pot and I called. In retrospect now, I really don't beat much of his value range and considering he doesn't have too many bluffs in his range here a fold would probably be better here. But I called and he turned over 2 4. A small dent in my stack, but a dent I could have probably avoided due to his likely polarised range in this situation.

Time to rebuild and refocus....

A second interesting hand occured just after the second break. With effective stacks at 13,000 and the blinds at 75/150, the cut-off opened to 400 and I 3bet (reraised) the button with 7h5h. The cutoff was a young internet qualifier from Holland who seemed to know what he was doing but was playing pretty ABC and somewhat unimaginative poker. He had been opening quite a lot from late position and this was a good spot where I can 3bet/fold to a 4bet (which I think given our limited history he rarely does) and when I do get called with a strong hand I have the potential to win a big pot and manipulate it in position. So I 3bet it to 1150 and after some deliberation he flat called this. At this point I don't know exactly what his range is as this varies from player to player, but given I have position throughout the hand I can take control of most flops profitably.

The flop came Kc7c2x. He checked and I led out between 1/2 pot and 2/3 pot. I can represent an AK/AA sort of hand which without history he could expect is a large part of my range here. When he flat called this flop bet I was almost shutting down on the hand as it would be very unlikely for him to call this as a float out of position and he has very few flush draws within his range of calling my 3bet I would expect (most suited aces he would fold to the original 3bet preflop as I would expect many 79suited kind of hands which play badly out of position in large 3bet pots). So I put his range here weighted towards 3of a kind, strong Kx (KQ) etc.

The turn came an offsuit 7 giving the board Kc7c2x7x. He led into me 3000, around 1/2 pot. Initially, it would be very easy to just muck my cards, we were caught bluffing and now he's showing strength on the turn. However, thinking a bit more indepth about my percieved range vs. his holdings there are very very few hands that can legitimately take this line which can handle a reraise. I feel a lot of people would bet into me here with QQ-88 kind of hands, possibly to see where they are. I wouldn't expect a 7 to bet into me here almost ever, especially considering we have little history and my percieved range would make little sense for him to lead into me with a king (as I have so many stronger kings in my range such as AK/AA/KK sort of hands). Now of course he could have slowplayed kings, AK or AA preflop yet this is such a tiny percentage of his range. I elected to shove due to his weak leading range and some floats that could be in his range. I shoved 14,000, making it 11,000 more for him to call. He folded and claims to have folded AcQc. I won't comment too much on his play, but I really don't think that this was an optimal line for his hand.

The stack is rebuild and up to around 19,000-20,000 from the 15,000 starting stack when comes my bust out hand. I'm pretty disapointed with this hand as in retrospect it does seem very spewy, and typically I'd like to think that whilst being an aggressive player I'm not the kind of player that gets myself into such bad spewy situations particularly in deepstack events such as this where there is so much room for play given the fantastic structure. Anyway, onto the hand...

Middle position, some young online looking kid with his hood up, who had been opening a lot of pots and playing very aggressively opens at 100/200 to 500, his usual raise size. It folds to me in the big blind and I look down at AcKs. I elect to 3bet for value to 1850 due to the potential difficulty of playing a hand such as AK out of position to an aggressive player. He deliberates a few seconds and calls the raise. We are around 100 big blinds deep effective so I believe he has a fairly wide range here and will be willing to float a lot of flops and generally be a pain. When playing in live deepstacks such as this, I think it's quite important that you pick on the many weaker spots at the table rather than going out of ones way to battle the tougher opponents at the table in some sort of levelling war. This just significantly increases variance and really there is little value as although a lot of spewing is likely, it's so much easier to pick up chips from the weaker opponents at the table. So I decided to not run multiple street bluffs or get too attached to my hand.

The flop came down 2s3x8s. I checked with the intention of check/raising as a semi-bluff. I often have the best hand here regardless and can fold out a lot of hands that might stab at the flop which have quite good equity vs. my hand which are likely to float any Cbet i make here (such as J9, 67, 55, Q10 etc.). Villain checks behind here. I'm not too shocked here. To a thinking player, my check here actually reeks quite a lot of strength as without any real history, I'm likely to bet almost my full 3betting range on such a board possibly with the exception of AA/KK/88 kind of hand which I was trying to represent.

The turn came the 9s, giving the board 2s3x8s9s. I now have the nut flush draw. And this is where I'm not really happy how I played my hand. I have a few options here. Check/raise as a semi-bluff, check/call (wayyyyy too weak and gives my hand strength away way too much), betting out. I really really wish I had bet out here. I can represent the same AA/KK/88 sort of hand that I had projected on the flop whilst in fact semi-bluffing the flush draw and possibly live over-cards. This would give me a much greater idea of my relative hand strength and still folds out the kind of 9J, 67, 66 type of hands that may well have called my 3bet pre.

Instead I went for the check/raise. There are some merits for this play, but it is effectively turning my hand into a complete bluff. Of course villain could also check back and I could get to showdown cheaply vs. an AJ/AQ kind of hand. However, given how I had observed this villains tendancies I found it to be very unlikely he would check back the turn given the action and would likely bet it with his entire range, hence check-raising gaining a lot of fold equity. What was so spewy about this play is though that given his betsizing and my intentions once I check-raised his 2.5k bet to 8.5k-9k I had committed far too much of my stack. Afterall, this isn't a cash game where I can just reload after such a move. I would be much happier making such a play 200bb deep.

Regardless, I made the not-so-optimal check-raise turning my hand into almost a complete bluff and villain tanked and tanked. For literally 5 minutes he thought about the hand. I was observing him and he didn't seem to show much emotions but was certainly genuinely thinking. After so long I felt I should be excluding sets/flushes from his range as even people hollywooding such hands never seem to think for THAT long. And trust me, at the poker table waiting 5 minutes when half my stack is in the middle seems to take an eternity...

He eventually shoved the remainder of his stack in, a further 9k for me to call. If he had acted within a couple of minutes I would almost snap fold. Recently watching Daniel Negreanu in the WSOPE he highlighted the importance in tournaments of avoiding marginal spots. But as this guy had tanked for so long, and it seemed like a genuine tank I had to believe he didn't have a strong made hand such as a set/flush but could even have some bluffs in his range despite the circumstances. I deliberated and getting 4.5-1 on my money made the (bad - awful) call and met his pocket 3's to see myself drawing very thin. I think he played the hand well, and his huge tank thinking really pushed me more towards a call. I was under the assumption that it was likely my ace and king were live and a very likely holding of his was something like AsQh, two overs etc.

In hindsight and after going over the hand many times in my head (trust me, I'm pissed off with how I played it), his range is in fact much wider and far less bluffs than I had imagined. Not only for a lot of people getting it in with a set here may be a tough choice given the flush (as I could have AsKs in my c/r percieved range, despite myself not believing it was a significant chance), but there are other hands that if he's not thinking on the same level he could be committing with such as 99's/10's/J's or even 89 for top two pair. I had outs and equity and was getting around the right price given the range I assigned him. But still, in such a tournament, there is no need to be getting in SUCH marginal spots, where I could have folded on the turn given how I had played the hand and nurture my remaining 30 odd BB stack picking on the weaker players.

Anyway, the river was a blank and his bottom set held for a monster pot. He played it well, so I can't fault him there.

I'm looking forward to the side game action tomorrow, probably playing some cash, having a lie in in this nice hotel, working out and making money! Despite my day 1 exit, I still had a great time and I really am looking forward to the next UKIPT main event on the tour..

..Played a little £2/£5 cash yesterday. Really juicy table and I won £400 so pretty happy there! Went out in Manchester last night with some friends but feeling the effects now haha. The £300 side event is today at 7pm, so I'll rest up til then and be ready to crush!


  1. real good analysis mate, interesting post than can be learned from, thanks! link up??

  2. nice post. sucks that it couldn't go better for you but maybe one of these side events has your name on it? gl.

  3. Nice post.
    Good luck in the side event.