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Friday, March 03, 2006 

MTT dilemma and Hand Analysis

The past few days i've been playing tournaments, mostly the bar tour, some home game SnG's. I don't really know how i can gauge my performance in these things, especially the MTT's that have fast structures. The last two 2-table SnG's i've played in i placed 2nd and 3rd respectively (too bad they were small buy-ins so not much help to the bankroll there), but in the MTT's i just find myself playing tight and ending up with a short stack almost without having really played a hand the whole time. I try to make some plays to steal raise and take small pots, but there is rarely a hand that someone does not want to play in these tourneys, the limpers will call your raise anyway.

Most advice from the pros say that you should play tight, wait for the good hand, be patient, etc. It gets frustrating though that you see these limpers and calling stations hitting their flops and rivers and raking in the big pots while you sit there patiently waiting for the right hand or the right opportunity to make a play, but end up struggling to be alive in the middle stages and ending up in a push or fold situation in the late stages. Putting your tournament hopes on flopping a monster is not a winning proposition i think.

sometimes i feel tempted to play the K-4s and the A-6 off and limp in those KK and AA hands like they do!

Sometimes a bad run at the tables will really get your head spinning, making you question the sound fundamentals that you have been adhering to, the same concepts that are blatantly and ignorantly violated by the players who are stuck in the land of TV poker (and they seem to get rewarded for it).

But like the grouch said, poker success should be a long-term plan. You can't really expect sound fundamental play from limits and games like the ones we have. The level of variance especially in low-limit games is very high due to the fact that the stakes dont usually matter.
I mean, i've heard some players who win at their regular ring games that position doesn't matter, that they love playing rags, that they'll chase a flush draw no matter what the pot odds are, and other things like that. They consistently win in their regular home games too.

but like i've said before, winning does not mean that you are a good player. Most of these "winners", when faced with a full table of high caliber players, usually disintegrate and end up scratching their heads not knowing what hit them.


I love analyzing hands that i played after a good game of hold'em. There are some hands that just makes you smile and pat yourself on the back for their flawless execution and quality play. There are also some that makes you want to kick yourself in the butt for allowing yourself to be owned by your opponent, the kind that you just know that you were played for a fool.

I'd like to share such a hand, which i played in a friend's place. It's a 25-50 NLHE game and i'm playing pretty good, doubling up three hands into the game with JJ that hit a set, and a caller to my all-in. Playing really tight, i even folded another J-J pre-flop when someone pushed all-in and the guy on my right re-raised the all-in to about 3X the bet. Sure enough, one had Q-Q and one had A-x. Then this hand comes along.

I get 10d-8d in early position, a hand i love to play. I limp in and so do 5 other players. Flop is Ad-6d-7s or something. I have a flush draw and gutshot, but i decide to check, since i was first to act. Guy on my left bets over bets the pot and puts in 500. everyone folds to me and it takes a while for me to call, and it now seems obvious that i have a draw. I put him on an A-x hand, since it seems like he's protecting his hand against a flush draw. (he seems to be a good player by the way.) i reluctantly call. Turn is a 10. i now have 2nd highest pair and my big draw, but i decide to check, and the guy promptly bet 1000. i think for a long time, since my outs have just increased since i hit the 10. i dunno why but i reluctantly folded my hand. I know that odds were against me although i had about 15 outs because he bet the size of the pot. They chased the river and 9 hit, which would have given me a straight.

I dont know what the hell i was thinking not calling that hand, he probably didnt even have the ace and just sensed my weakness and went in for the kill. i called pot bet on the flop, but folded another pot bet on the turn with additonal outs in my favor! The psychological effect of calling a bet half your stack (i had 2000+) probably had something to do with it. Looking back, it started the downhill spiral for my game and i ended up playing with that hand in the back of my head all night, and it really affected my game and i ended up going home with a loss to make things worse.

There were so many things i did wrong in that hand. I shoud have bet on the turn when the 10 came out, since i could have represented the straight right there. I should have pushed and gotten additional fold equity on top of my 15 outs, leaving me with a good chance even if he calls. it doesnt really matter to me what the river was, my big mistake was checking the turn.

It's hands like those where you learn big lessons. It would be great to hear your opinion on this particular hand, and in my later posts i plan to have more hand analysis situations too.

Till next time..

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Quote of the Day

  • The best poker I've ever played has always entailed peace. A relaxed comfort. Eyes open, ears open, radar up. Absorbing my opponent's every message. Taking them as they come. Not mixing what those messages are with what I want them to be. It's like an aerial view. A view from above the myriad luck-dependent reactions of those many people who never gain such a peace. And when you gain that view, that peace - when you'd rather have the truth, no matter how disappointing, over a false hope, no matter how desirable - then you're a player. The hand you're on slips into a stream of thousands of other hands, no one of which, because of your lofty view, seems unduly important, no false fearful emotions rise within you. When you gain the peace of lofty perspective, you're a player, and when you're a player, you're free.- from "King of a Small World" by Rick Benett
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