Monday, February 19, 2007


Today I'd like to take a break from the apparent uber-post I'm composing regarding last week's O8B tourney and put up a quick post that's a little more strategy oriented....and I know what you're thinking; considering there is virtually no strategy discussion in my last post, that shouldn't be a very difficult task. Hey, it's my blog, and if I wanna ramble on aimlessly about my daughter, or my lack of enthusiasm leading up to what would be the biggest cash of my life, then that's my prerogative, right? Besides, I happen to believe that there's a helluva lot more to this game we love than just cards and probabilities.

Anyway, I was hoping to solicit some opinions regarding a hand that occurred very early-on at my table in the FTOPS Main Event. For those who don't know, the main event was a super stack tourney--a rarity as far as I have seen at Full Tilt--as everyone started with T5000 as opposed to the usual T1500 of nightly guarantees or T3000 of the weekly double stacks. Personally, I had never played in a tournament of this structure, and part of why I found this hand interesting the role that structure played in how the hand evolved. Also, I would like to initially present the hand in as generic a fashion as possible so as not to bias the responses. OK? Here goes...

As I said, this was very early on, inside the first level of the tournament in fact. The table to that point had been playing decidedly tight, and all players involved had roughly their starting stacks. Blinds were 15/30 and the action went as follows:

UTG player A min raises to 60
Player B, to UTG's immediate left, re-raises to 240
Pot is now 345, action is folded around to the small blind, player C
Player C re-raises to 810, making the pot now 1050
Big blind and player A both fold
Player B pushes ALL-IN

Assuming neither player has demonstrated any particular tendencies and this is the first time they are playing against each other, I would like you to consider the following:
(1) What range of hands do you put each player on given the action thus far?
(2) If you were involved in the hand how would u play:
AA? AK? KK? QQ-JJ? smaller pairs?
*for this one I'm interested in how you would play them from
either seat*

So if anyone happens to read this, I look forward to your thoughts. And I promise to get to the point about my FTOPS tourney soon.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Valentine Validation
Ahhhh...Valentine's Day. The original "Hallmark Holiday." A day for lovers to express their undying devotion in the form of chocolate and greeting cards. Its also the day when, as my dad once told me
"You better come home with flowers....or don't come home at all"
Funny, dad never said anything about poker.

This year's V-day was a little different than years past. Dinner was out from the word go thanks to my daughter's dance lessons, so the possibility of playing that night's FTOPS event was never in question. Although, I have to admit it was fun pinning the blame on explain, a quick seque if i may.

About a month before Valentine's Day, I was as I am every night, playing on Full Tilt, when hoy pops onto the IM

Hoy: hey man, jump in this FTOPS sng sat with me
ME: i don't know, im kinda tired
Hoy: c'mon it'll be fun...its O8B
ME: ugh...u know I hate O8B
Hoy: you'll be cool if u do....

Now, I should point out that I was not a big fan of O8B at the time, and hoy frequently uses the peer pressure large part because he knows it irks me. But, i figured what the heck, and signed on. About ten minutes in he adds

Hoy: oh, btw, its on Valentine's day....that's not a problem is it?

Greeeeeeaaaaaattt. So now I'm in a satellite that if I win I get into a Wednesday night tourney that's sure to go late AND as an added bonus--there's a pretty good chance the wife will be none-too-pleased.

Well, needless to say, I did in fact win the satellite seat. I'm also happy to report that my wife handled it like a pro...

ME: Uh...honey. I..uh....won a seat into one of those FTOPS tourneys last night.
Mrs.JECIIMD: That's great honey.
ME: Yeah....uh....there is one glitch tho.
Mrs.JECIIMD: Oh...(growing suspicious)
ME: It's on Valentine's Day.
Mrs.JECIIMD: Oh.....(pause for guilt inducing hug)...That's ok..(kiss)...
I don't need some Hallmark Holiday to know how much
you love me. (another kiss)
And then, the kicker a'la Adrian from Rocky II...
"Win" pressure.

The passing weeks did little to improve my enthusiasm. My game was on life support, as was my bankroll. Thanks to a UIGA-induced reluctance to keep any significant amount of funding online, as well as a frustrating stretch of non-cashes, I found myself in the days leading up to FTOPS#6 playing in a myriad of low-stakes sng's and...sigh...full tilt point satellites. It was a true low-point in my young online "career."

When the day finally arrived, a snowstorm closed the dance dinner was back on the table. And for a brief moment, I actually considered skipping the tourney in favor of a late reservation. Like I said, I was in a bad frame of mind when I sat down to play....and found Toto Leonidas sitting to my immediate right.

Now anybody who watches poker as much as I do knows that Toto's a dangerous, aggressive pro. And though I'd never seen him play anything but NLH, I figured I was in trouble. Two thoughts immediately popped into my head:
(1) At least he's to my right
(2) Maybe I won't miss tonight's episode of "Lost" after all.
I realized that the table was giving a lot of respect to Toto pretty early the random donkage was kept to a minimum. Noone wanted to mess with him unless they had the goods, so i was able to play a fairly textbook style (yes, i've read some on it) throughout the first hour or two. I even won a few hands off him in the early rounds, building confidence and accumulating chips. He too managed to build a big stack early, but I used my position effectively to chip away some. Eventually, he took a few beats and I found myself with a fairly decent stack....which i tried to donk off in an ill-advised fit of bounty hunting....and soon he was gone.

That's when it got really fun.

[to be continued...]

Thursday, February 01, 2007


I have a secret...and it's a doozey.
Fortunately, noone reads this blog--so I feel its safe to share it here.
But if you happen to have accidentally come across these words, please, I implore you--don't tell anyone.

I'm a fonkey.

Or at least that's what my boy would have you believe. And you know what else? He makes some very valid points. As a general rule, playin' AJo against an allin reraise is a loser. Plain and simple. No Sklansky-esque typeset necessary--but nice touch just the same. Then again, I can't remember the last time I peeked at my hole cards and thought,


Now before this turns into one of those he said, hoy said "rant battles"...I need to be clear about a few things; first and foremost, there are few blogger opponents whose game I respect more than Hoy's. My own game has improved on practically a nightly basis from the day I first started playing with him. For that my good friend, I can only begin to thank you.

Second....and this is the part that's gonna sting.....he overplayed his hand and got caught.
There. I said it. No takin' it back.....Now I know what he's thinking -

"I couldn't possibly disagree more"

But its true.

Not because the hand I was holding was so good, but because I was able to accurately put him on a range of hands that told me that I was not likely that far behind, if at all. And that he was banking on the fold that never came. At that point, the cards became secondary.

A simple fact that often gets lost in our blogger discussions is that we tend to overemphasize statistics in order to make sense of the play in question. We do this because its tangible and reproducible. But we forget that playing better cards does not make us better poker players. Recognizing good situations to get our money in the middle and acting on them is what makes us better players. And stringing together a bunch of those situations mixed with a little luck, that's how we win tournaments.

So was mine a great play? Not especially. But a solid one nonetheless, given the circumstances. And if that makes me a fonkey, well a fonkey I be.