After yesterday's not-entirely-lucid "Airing of the Grievances," today's missive will be a variation on the "Feats of Strength." For our purposes, the "feat" in question will be the ability to lay down a "strong" hand.
"Why did I just win that tourney?"
That was the question I posed to The Mrs. after winning my lone $20 SnG attempt last night. She didn't know--or particularly care about--the answer, but I told her anyway:
Because I FOLDED!
Right. Not because I isolated and picked off the fish one by one. Not because the deck smacked me around. Not because all the players were terrible, but because I held on to my chips in situations were I had little or no edge.
To be more specific, I was pretty much the short stack the entire game. Found nothing to play through 3 orbits. This did, however, give me plenty of looks at my fellow players, a loose/weak group by and large. Six or seven to the flop and all would fold to a significant bet. The hands that did go to showdown were generally of the check-check on the river variety. Once the blinds got to 25/50, it tightened up pre-flop considerably, a couple times even folding all the way around to the BB.
It was under those conditions that I finally got a hand. AJo, one from the button, and I was first at the pot. Of course, my 3x raise was re-raised all-in by the button. The temptation was so strong to call. I figured I might not get the chance to double up again with my dwindling stack (now down to T530). I then figured I might be dominated. At best, two overcards. And folded. Don't know what he had.
I was still at the same chip level when the BB came around, with the table down to 5 players. I see Cowboys. All fold and SB completes. I check, because I need to double up. Flop is Q87 rainbow. SB bets 100, I raise to 200, he calls. Turn is another Q and he puts me all in. Now, I had a momentary fear of the trip Queens, but quickly flashed back to a previous hand he'd played EXACTLY the same way with nothing but unpaired big cards. I didn't think he had big cards with just the call pre-flop, but I was quite confident he wasn't holding a queen. Furthermore, with my stack size, I was pretty much compelled to call. He showed 96o for an open-ended straight and, contrary to the laws of party poker, did not make it on the river.
I was back in. But I was not done folding. Got to the bubble with one huge stack (over T5000) and three minnows. Big stack didn't have the slightest idea how to use his chips and doubled up both the other players, raising their blinds all-in with 32s and 85o. Dumbass. Meanwhile, I continued to fold my bad cards until I had no other choice. Went all-in with A6o. Managed to double-up over a J9o call from the BB. Then I dealt a severe blow to that same player the next hand when he raised my BB from the SB, I re-raised with AQ and he folded, leaving himself only T150! He folded! A first-ever play on party poker. He soon went out. Big stack eliminated the other remaining player and we went to heads up with me at more than a 4-1 chip disadvantage. I worked my way a little closer with a couple steals. Then put him out, doubling up in two straight hands. My A10o all-in gave me a slight lead and then inthe subsequent hand, I made a gunshot on the turn, beating his second-pair.
I should mention the guy who finished second is the guy who re-raised me all-in when I made what I consider a crucial lay-down. Bastard was also sitting im my lucky seat.
After that, I returned to Cloutier and McEvoy and ran across one of their "Tips from the Top." I'm paraphrasing here, I think, but I went something like:
If you can't lay down a winning hand, you can't be a winning player.
It seems a little counter-intuative on the surface. But I certainly know from my own experience since becoming a regular player that the most difficult thing to do in poker is lay down a big hand. Especially when already heavily invested in a pot (I know, it's not my money any longer). For me, it was not something I could learn in a book. I read Jones before I'd ever played a single hand in anger and the words still echo in my head: "Find a reason to fold." But I had to experience the situations where this advice applies--and make the WRONG decisions, incorporate the WRONG thought process--before it clicked. This has been the biggest improvement in my game, by far.
Speaking of which, my party poker acct. presently sits at an all-time monetary high after last evening's win. Furthermore, in the month that I've been writing this blog (Happy Milestone to me!), I've had my biggest monthly win ever in December (yeah, it's only been 6 months since I started playing online, but still....). Having a place to talk about my play--and, in the process, further analyze it--has been a real benefit. Tapping into the vast knowledge of the poker blogosphere has also been a boon to my feel for the game, not to mention a laugh bleeping riot reading all the Vegas recaps.
Now, I need help. Anybody have a general idea about what kind of in the money and win percentage I should strive for in SnGs? What's a solid ROI? Yes, 100% would be great, but not exactly realistic. Is there a barometer? A benchmark?
As of last night, I've cashed in 34 of 81 $20 single-table SnGs since I began the blog, for a ITM rate of 42%. 15 of those were wins for a win rate of 18.5%. ROI is just under 30%. Now, I'm aware that's probably not enough sample size, which begs the next question: What is? 200? 300? For now, I've moved permanently to the $20 level and my record-keeping from prior months is spotty at best, so 81 is all I've got. My personal feeling is that the numbers are decent, but lots of room for improvement. I've got too many bubble finishes (15), for one.
Any help would be appreciated.