Sunday, May 20, 2007

Journey to the Final Table. NL Hold'em.

I made two final tables this weekend. One in NL hold'em and one in PL Omaha H/L. This post is a little insight into my game and should explain why i make some of the decisions i do in tournament poker. IMO, the most important part of the tournament is getting a good start and some chips together. With chips you can do damage but without chips you are nothing. I hope this is an interesting read, and it should give some indication of the magnitude of things that need to go your way to make a final table. Any thoughts, comments or criticisms welcome.

My stats from this tournament are:
You finished in 7th place (eliminated at hand #10007081214).

400 hands played and saw flop:
- 10 times out of 48 while in small blind (20%)
- 14 times out of 46 while in big blind (30%)
- 27 times out of 306 in other positions (8%)
- a total of 51 times out of 400 (12%)

Pots won at showdown - 14 out of 19 (73%)
Pots won without showdown - 39

    Which obviously shows very tight play. Often my style(tight/loose,passive/aggressive) can be mood dependant, or card dependant. I didn't get a particularly great run of cards, but what i did get were some great situations which i was lucky enough to be involved in and take advantage of. My stats for the PLO8 tournament are more loose aggro, playing 33% of hands.

    The average chip count for the final table is ~$650,000. So once i had a stack of $10,000 the aim was to run it up to approximately $650,000 gradually.

A Good Start.
-Up to $10,000 by the $75/$150 level.
    By the $75/$150 level i had tripled my starting stack of $3000 up to $9000. This run started with one of the luckiest folds i have ever made. Whilst holding QQ in the BB the action before me went loose limper in EP, then a strong raise and a strong button re-raise. I folded after some pain and both showed AK (river coming an A) to split the pot between them.
    One of a very few bluffs i made all tournament (aside from steals) was with J3o in the cop. My brother was beside me at the time and he dared me win the blinds, then UTG+1 raised 3x. Willing to give it a go anyway, I re-raised, he called, and i was lucky enough to catch a K on the flop to bet, which was enough to take down a $3000 pot. I assume he had a pair of some sort.

Double up and double down between $100/$200 and $200/$400 level.
    Holding AJs in the big blind i flat call a button raise and unknown to myself catch a very lucky flop. A26 with two hearts. Obviously the button will bet here 90% of the time, with or without an ace. I reasoned my best play in this spot was to check raise all in. By doing so i represent a flush draw(and take it down if he has no piece) or i just might get called by a weaker ace which is what happened.
    Two levels later i make a raise with AJo from MP and get a caller in the sb. My continuation bet gets check-minraised on a paired board. I really should have let go now but fearing i might be getting bluffed, i re-raised. There are really no hands i can beat that the sb would call and check-raise this flop, so an obvious overplay on my part with this hand.
-A missed doubling up opportunity.
    In the same level i flat call a raise with AA from the sb, and lead at a K high flop. I am really praying he has a K and comes over the top but he says he has JJ and folds. An easy double up missed if i had pushed all in pre.

$10,000 to $40,000 in the $300/$600 level.
    I'm dealt A3o in the sb. It is folded around to the button who has been raising a lot of hands recently, and he has doubled up recently aswell. He raises the button as expected. I reraised all in here. Two reasons: I want to take the pot down there and then, ie a steal, and i feel my ace is most likely good to the buttons range. He insta-calls, so i obviously assume i'm way behind, but he show KQ and i win the race and double through.
    In EP i'm dealt 75d. The bb is all in in this hand and i limp. This is worthwhile as i get to see a cheap flop and the likelihood of someone bluffing me off the best hand is low. The sb completes and we see a flop of J86 all diamonds. He checks, i bet my flush and he raises all in!! I call, fully expecting to see a jack with a A,K or Q of diamonds. He shows a black 64!! I guess he wanted to steal the sidepot, but that was free dough for me.
    That brings me up to the $35,000 mark. I win a small pot with 45s in the sb, and there is not much more action for me till i get dealt KK in the bb. I got really frustrated with this player. He is rather loose aggro and raises my blind. I reraise and he calls. After flopping top set i try slow playing but he doesn't bite, and ends up making running flush cards for a 6high flush with his A6o!! For fuck sake, what kinda donk calls a reraise with A6o and then doesn't even use his position once?? For this kind of stupid play i steal a nice pot off him when he min raises utg. Most likely some suited trash, probably Jh9h given his interest after calling the turn raise, otherwise a pair like JJ or QQ are possible too.

A courtesy double up and a tight fold.
-Just stack maintenace till the $800/$1600 level.
    After a raise with 99 and a call i see a flop of Q92 oop(out of position). Begging for some action i make a weak continuation bet, which gets raised. With some hollywood i let the timer run down. He says "will show u" and i reply "f it" and ship. I assumed he had a Q, but he called with JJ and i double through.
    Not too long later the same player makes a strong raise utg, and i have AQd in the bb. I could assume he is steaming and give him some action, but i gave him respect and folded.

Excessive action from trueye
-$65,000 to $120,000 in the $1000/$2000 level
    A loose aggressive player who had built a stack without showing down many hands was on the button when i raise AQs in EP. He's probably the player i am most happy to see call, as im pretty sure i've the best hand. Being oop i really need to hit the flop, else it'll be hard to play. The flop is good, AK7 rainbow. There is ~$15,000 in the centre and i make a weakish looking continuation bet. Its a small enough bet that he might call and try take it off me on the turn if i check. This is exactly what happened, and exactly what i hoped would happen (unless he has pocket 7s). I then check-raised the turn all in. I assume he had no piece of it. Later i make a flush against him that gets paid.

No cards survival.
-A lot of folding from $1000/$2000 till $4000/$8000, stack size oscillates between $120,000 and below $100,000.
    For then next three levels i run completely card dead. Survival is of paramount importance so any opportunities to take blinds i took advantage of. The entire time there was a really loose aggressive player directly on my right. This killed a lot of hands i could play and really i was looking for something big to double through him asap. Unfortunately this never happened as i couldn't get dealt anything strong enough to play him. He eventually went broke with 88 vs JJ. I'm then in the cop when the player who just bust him and doubled up is in the bb. Players who have just won pots are very vulnerable to stealing. Since they've just doubled up/won a big pot, they don't want to get involved and give it all back with a sub-premium hand. Taking advantage of this (along with my super tight image) and stealing their blinds is absolutely essential. Else if they limp the next hand, ill raise pre-flop to isolate, and then steal on about 80% of boards.

Another cdu and winning a race.
-Finally some hands in the $4000/$8000 level.
    Later i get lucky and someone randomly donates chips to my cause. I call a min raise with J7s in the bb and get excessive action from K high. Why does everyone assume checking the turn is weakness?!?. Luckily the board blanks on the river and i double up.
    Then came the essential race. I raised with JJ from utg+1 and the bb pushes. Its not my tournament but i really could do with winning this one. Luckily i do and i'm in a great chip position for making the final table.
    With $300,000 in the $4000/$8000 level, i'm up in the top 5 chip spots so i use my stack to accumulate some more chips with medium strength hands until i reach about $500,000 by the final two tables. The average for the final table being ~$650,000.

Tightest fold of my life!
-The final table bubble and under pressure from the big stack in the $15,000/$30,000 level.
    After some winning some small pots and avoiding big confrontation i'm up to $500,000 on the bubble of the final table. I'm dealt AQo on the button and make a standard raise. The bb is the chip leader and has been playing excellent big stack poker pushing everyone around. He was re-raising a lot and putting people to a decision for their chips on numerous occasions. He hasn't been playing with me long enough to observe my tight play but i doubt he cared really! His range for reraising me here is very large. I'll guess any pair, any ace, two paints maybe even a suited connector. I can't believe i caved to the pressure, but i really did want to make the final table so bad, and there was about three/four short stacks left. Its definitely a hand that will haunt me but a mistake i won't make again. Maybe it was a good fold or even a lucky fold i don't know. But when playing for first i think this is exactly the type of hand i need to lay the hammer down with.
  If anyone has any opinions please share.

Losing a race at the final table.
-A walk on my first big blind and then no cards till i see 66.
    My final hand came with 66 in the bb. This was the first hand i had seen after folding for 3or4 orbits. The villain from before raised from the sb and i shipped. I'm pretty much guaranteed a call unless he's raising absolute dirt, so maybe a fold could be justified. If i did fold, I'd be left with playing push-fold poker for survival. But if i double up ill have a good chip stack and position on the most aggressive player at the table. His A9o made a pair of aces on the turn and that's game over.

Any thoughts, comments or criticisms welcome.

Current Balance: $2640


Kenn said...

very nice mate sounds like you played some awesome poker well done, myst confess you made some big laydowns but thats probably how you got that far anyway

well done

20kmission said...

Yeah the final table bubble hand is killing me, guess ill have to get over it.
Thanks though.

sag said...

depends on your goal, if it is survival it's right, if it's winning probably wrong. depends on the size of your stack and the size of the blinds.

20kmission said...

Well winning is always the goal. I guess there's not much else to say other than the AQo on the button should have been an easy ship.