Saturday, January 10, 2015

WSOP online

Sometimes I just like to relax and play poker for no money at all.  I have recently been playing the WSOP iPad app, which is well done and easy to use.

Often these play money games are pointless because everyone is all-in either pre-flop or after. It doesn't matter what they have, they just push all-in, making it more like roulette than poker.   That's absolutely the case in this case too, but I've found that if you play the low blinds games ($2K Big Blind and under), the players are more apt to be acting like they would with real money.

I believe that those players deliberately choose those limits just as I do to avoid the silly "everyone in the pool" of the bigger games.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Playing tight

I stubbornly played TAG today in our tournament.   Unless I had suited connectors or face cards/A, I folded.

I kept track of hands I would have won had I been looser.  There was only one, where I had 10-3 off and 3-4-5 of hearts was on the flop and runner-runner 10's after.  There was no way I would have stayed in after the flop even if I had been in.

There were two bluffing opportunities.   That was it.  I hung in to the next to last hand and lost.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Pushing the Blinds, Part II

As I mentioned at Pushing The Blinds, some of us wanted to advance the blinds faster and for longer than we do now.  At Tuesday's game, someone pointed out the downside of that:

If you play in a tournament at a casino and bust out early, there are other games for you to play. If you bust out early in a home game, there's nothing to do.  We could have a separate cash game for that, but nobody seems to be interested.

As another suggestion, I thought we could only start raising blinds again only in the last 15 or 20 minutes.  That might work.

Tuesday's game had a full table right to the end.  We need to do something.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Pushing the blinds

I took third place in Tuesday's tournament.  I wasn't entirely happy about that, though perhaps not for the reason you might think.

When these tournaments started, there were not many players.  The blind structure was capped at 20/40 an hour before the end time, and hasn't been changed as more players have joined us.  As more players equals more money in play, this means that there are often five or six players still left in the last few minutes of the game.

This of course means that the low stacked players will choose to go all-in with whatever they have either on the last hand or just before.  In my opinion, that isn't poker, it's Bingo.

I think the blinds should keep increasing every twenty minutes all the way to the end.

I can't say whether I would have finished first, second, third or not at all were those rules in effect, but I'd rather play that way than have that craziness at the end.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Money or glory?

Friday's Holdem reached the final table 45 minutes from tournament end. I found myself to the left of the chip leader, who had twice the stack of anyone else.  However, within half an hour I had cut him to half that and now I was the chip leader.

As the minutes dwindled away I maintained my lead, but there were six of us still in when we reached the final hand and the combined sum of their chips exceeded mine.  I was in late position with the dealer on my left.   Two players had enough chips to guarantee themselves second and third place, the others did not.

So here's how it looked:

Dealer:  less than 1,000 chips
Small blind: less than 1,000
Big blind: appx. 1,200
UTG appx 2,300
Former chip leader: appx 1,400
Me: approximately 2,900

The player under the gun threw in his cards.  The former leader went all in and I folded.  The dealer and the blinds all called, making a $3,500 pot.

My fold guaranteed me second place.  The only way I could take first would be if there was a split pot, but second was locked.   I think that was a no brainer, but the UTG's fold is more interesting.

Third place would only pay $2 more than his buy in, so it certainly wasn't worth much. If he had any rebuys, he was losing money already.   That he had been dealt bad cards is a given, but he may have been counting on the former leader to fold.  But that was unlikely as he would be pushed out of third without a split pot.

As it turned out, the former leader won the pot, giving him first place.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Low stake tournament strategy

I play in two low stake MTT's weekly. Both are five dollar buy-in with $4 rebuys up to an hour before the tournaments end.

It's difficult to bluff effectively in these tourneys. Once in a while you can do it, but because it is low stakes, even pushing all-in is likely to be met by several callers and of course something like a 4 times blinds raise is likely to be called by everyone.

Bluffing becomes a little more possible after buy-ins end, but there is still the mater of low stakes to contend with: because it is small money, there are almost always callers even then.

My strategy for these games has been to play tight, avoid rebuys and then push hard in the last half hour. That works somewhat and I am ahead overall, but not by much.

Other players don't seem to mind two or three rebuys. Of course that affects their overall profit, but I wonder whether it matters long term. Do they win more often because they are playing more loosely and risking rebuys?

I'm going to pick two players and see if I can remember to track them over a few months to see how they do.  Should be interesting!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Playing the wrong game

I play in two different weekly tournaments.  One is a standard holdem game an the other is.. well, the other is just plain weird.

It's dealers choice, though it has to be some variant on holdem.  What they usually play is what they call "four and keep 'em", in which you get four cards and play all of them.  Of course this causes hand inflation: two pair or a straight will almost never win.  Flushes and full house are expected and four of a kind and straight flushes come up often.  As your opponents are holding four cards, what's on the board is almost meaningless.

Not entirely meaningless, of course, but you do have to strongly adjust your thinking when raising or even calling.  Even aces full of kings might be beaten by somebody holding an invisible four of a kind.  That's not likely, of course, but it can happen.

Tuesday was this game.  I don't know what was wrong with me the first two hours, but I was playing normal holdem, not four card holdem.  I think I was distracted by email from a customer that I was dealing with between hands, but it really was stupid: I was holding four cards in my hand and betting on the board as though it were only two!

Of course I bled money.  After my fourth rebuy (I seldom make any rebuy, never mind four!) I woke up and changed my strategy.  That let me get to the final table and ultimately i took third place.  That doesn't pay much, so I still lost money, but not as much as I would have otherwise.