Thursday, June 15, 2006

First Dump of the Day

Okay, so the poker is at an all-time Frustration high. I went out of the $9K last night without winning a single pot in 6 levels. I finished 5th in a $30 SnG, hamstrung by a rivered 5-outer which was the difference between Chip Leader with 5 left and less-than-average stack with 6 left. And then I went card dead, which is a familiar refrain 'round these parts and should really have a more evocative label, like Card Famine or Scorched Earth.

I was lamenting how this statistical anomaly of Card Castration has affected my game, basically making me gun-shy and passive, as it seems no matter how far ahead or behind I am, the cards fall the other direction. One of the examples I used of my passivity was something that happened in the $9K. I raised two limpers with AQ (this is Level 4; 30/60 blinds) who called. The flop came 9-high and the the limpers went to war with 98 and K9. Now, getting out-flopped is nothing rare against these types of hands. What I commented was that I was HESITANT to raise with that hand because of all the bullshit I've beeen putting up with the last 6 weeks in regard to losing with these types of hands versus lesser (and much lesser) holdings.

The well-respected Absinthe responded to my comment by saying he will rarely raise with AQ there in the first hour. Which set off a 45 minute discussion that kept me up past my bedtime AND caused me to lay awake for another hour pondering the points and counterpoints that were raised.

The issue is whether to exploit/risk chips on small edges early in these low buy-in MTTs when the blinds are small and stacks are "short."

Now, I've written about this. In my Low Buy-In Online Tournament Mainfesto Version 1.0 (scroll down), I talk about playing EXTREMELY tight in the first hour, the primary reason being you will get paid off when you have a monster hand, because people suck and you don't. I also talk about being willing to limp. The easiest way to build an early stack is to get cards and have dummies pay you off.

So what happens if you don't get cards in that first hour? Well, I'll tell you, because I have a wealth of recent experience with this. What happens is you end up with less than your starting stack in the second hour and are forced to push with 66 or KQ into an 8K stack who will call with almost anything and out-flop you send you to the rail. You know, as an example.

I heard Howard Lederer say the following few months back, concerning playing online or live against the internet kids: "You have to get cards to beat them," implying that they won't lay down a hand. This is certainly true. So, that raises the question, if you don't get any fucking cards early in an MTT, you're done?

Probably. And maybe my present zeal to raise with my AQ is precisely because it's the purtiest hand I've seen in a month. Perhaps my frustration has caused me to lose patience. It's possible I'm trying to force the issue with less than dominating hands because I'm unable to find dominating hands to play. In which case, I've let the cards alter the way I play, let them take me out of my comfort zone and thus make sub-optimal decisions. And I'm stacking off with these hands (because the RNGs of the world lick balls) with chips that might be useful later on if I do catch a pocket pair higher than 44.

But there's still the larger question. Will you take a chance on a coin flip early? Gamble with a small edge/deficit to amass a stack, which you can hope to grow exponentially? And does doubling up early really give you that much of an advantage, since 3K chips ain't a whole lot once the antes kick in? Is the risk worth the reward? Is the reward really a reward?

So, I dump that on your plate this morning. Maybe more trip report later.


At 10:33 AM, Blogger Daddy said...

I personally don't like pushing small edges early in MTTs. There is too much equity in those things to not take advantage of. Survival is of the utmost, and you're assumption is correct that a T3k stack really isn't a whole lot different than a T1.5k after the first hour.

I take more chances in the middle levels by putting pressure on small stacks with marginal hands, and jamming my quality holdings into big stacks. The second and third hour of a 500-1000 person field tourney is where it all happens. Go card dead here and that's where the frustration kicks in because you've already dedicated valuable time to something that has no return.

This is why I always continuously masturbate when I play MTTs. Raw pecker or not, at least I'm gonna get something out of it.

At 10:34 AM, Blogger Daddy said...


I really need to start proofing my shits.

At 10:53 AM, Blogger Donkeypuncher said...

your write their daddy. i agree with ewe all the weigh. oops. i meant whey.

At 11:50 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Think about it this way. There is no structural difference between the early levels of a big MTT, and a cash game. This is because chip EV and $EV are indistinguishable until you get high enough in the tournament that the payout structure starts to matter. I don't understand the comment about a T3K stack being no different from a T1.5K stack. Again, at the early levels chip EV is king, so you have twice the equity (OK, maybe 1.99 times the equity) with 3K as you do with 1.5k.

My advice is to play the early levels the same as you'd play a cash game. If your opponents are loose passive, which is often the case early in low buy-in MTTs, then play tight aggressive. (IMO this means raising hands like AQ preflop but being willing to dump them quickly if you don't hit.)

I just wrote about this in my LJ:

At 1:41 PM, Blogger ToddCommish said...

I'm gonna disagree with Daddy here, partly because he's wrong but partly because I want him to have to put his wang down long enough to castigate me.

Time is money. If it's a LOW buy-in tournament with shitloads of players, you're gonna need a lot of coin flips to win. Might as well test them out early before you've committed half of your evening to make the top 40 when only 20 pay more than the hourly wage of a sugar cane picker in Cuba. All this crap about making it to the second or third hour merely add to the frustration because now you're committing TIME and money. If you lose an early coin flip, you've only invested money.

At 2:45 PM, Blogger Huge Junk said...

I often ponder these sorts of questions while playing the extremely large buy-in tournaments that I've grown accustomed to crushing. In fact, the other day I was playing 7 tournaments at once, final tabling in every single one of them, when I got a phone call from a well respected professional who was calling for my thoughts on just such a subject. We talked about it, I of course had the correct answer for him, and we quickly moved to other important subjects like bankroll (of which I have an enormous one) and dating poker playing women. He complimented me on my mad crazy poker skillz and asked if I was still offering lessons to pros at the usual rate. Hey, what was the question again?

At 1:31 AM, Blogger StudioGlyphic said...

You should play cash games. At least they give you the opportunity for revenge.


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