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LIVE SCORE, 10.7K at APPT Sydney

I've never had a 5-figure score until a week ago, when I played the initial tournament at the APPT Sydney. They started the series off with a 1K Deepstack Event with a starting field of 268, split into two "Day 1s".

I played the second one, got off to a great start when I 4-bet for one-third of my stack preflop holding AA, the other guy called (lol) and couldn't get away from KK on a JT4ss flop. He tanked for 4 minutes and eventually called... GG sir.

Other than that my Day1 was a rollercoaster. First table was great with only a few guys who knew what they were doing (or so it seemed to me at the time at least) and I built my stack without much risk.

Halfway through the day the tournament director came by our table and was eyeing stacks at the table - I could kind of feel him looking at me, but thought perhaps if I sit really still... lol. Nope, no such luck - and he moved me... to the table... of... death. Or... you know, something less dramatic.

Well, in comparison at least it was a horrible table draw. I refused to consider myself the soft-spot, but it was obviously a tough table and a lot of pressure was being applied in various spots. One such spot came up after a couple of orbits.

UTG, 9handed, with 32K behind I open QQ to 1800 at 300/600/a75. Folds to young guy with a hoodie, big shades and huge earphones in MP who lifts one of his earphones and asks me how much I'm playing. I tell him (he covers), he considers for a few seconds and then flatcalls. Not sure what to make of that. Heads-up to the flop which was Tc 8c 4s. I consider for about 10-15 seconds and bet 2650, only to have him stare at me and make it 7K. Puke... Either I made a good laydown or... well, the other option. Still annoys me.

I finally get moved to my third table of the day, which was a lot softer except for one spot - last year's winner on my left. He seemed to leave me alone though and I chipped up by picking spots against what I perceived to be some of the weaker spots.

I ended Day1 in the bottom third of the field with 27K in spots (starting stack was 15K) and blinds at 600/1200/a200.

Day2, I got off to a good start busting someone even shorter than myself when my TT beat his AK. From there, things really took off with a rush of decent cards and pretty soon I was sitting on roughly 85K. I kept this going until the money bubble slowed play to a ridiculous pace, at which point I went absolutely card-dead. I had enough to kind of maintain a stack, but never found too many good resteal spots and dwindled as a result.

Once the bubble burst I was down to about 13BBs and made my one questionable play of the tournament when I got it in with Kh9h against an EP raise. I was 'lucky' enough that the other guy showed AsQs and I ended up making a flush to stay in the tournament.

Nothing too interesting until we were down to two tables. I had been abusing the others a little bit here and there with my 17BB resteal stack (everyone was opening light it seemed - I never got called) and finally had a chance to get some real chips when the button shoved 11BBs into my BB. I snapped with JJ only to see the flop come down 325, giving him a set of 3s. FML...

As is the case with these things, they even out and I was to catch lightning in a bottle myself only shortly thereafter. From the HJ, 8-handed I shove 66 with 13-14BBs only to have the SB call me with TT. Flop: 689, Turn: 9. River: 2. Oh well...

When the final table came together, I was 8th in chips with Lee Nelson on my immediate left. Lee was sitting on a gazzzilion chips and looked primed to win the whole things. The fact that he had position on me was pretty inconsequential, as I was in fold/push mode anyway, but we chatted a bit - nice guy and a solid player for sure.

I stole, re-stole to the best of my abilities throughout the final table, but finally with 6 left my A9o was unable to best 77. Disappointed when it happened (cause I really felt I had a good shot if only I could get some chips) but being handed AUD 10,760 in the cage softened the blow considerably.

My biggest online win was for USD 3.5K so I felt this was quite an achievement and I'll probably be looking to play more live when I get a chance.


Posting on 2+2

Posting on 2+2

The whole reason for writing a blog is – for me at least – to have an outlet. You know, to broadcast victories, losses and everything in between. Also (and I’ve said this before), it’s one of the ways in which I’ve been able to improve my performance, because the nature of having to, truthfully, broadcast your play to an audience after-the-fact, leaves you a little less inclined to do something stupid! After all, nobody WANTS to admit that they 4-bet-shoved 96o into QQ because they hadn’t been paying attention to the villain’s tendencies!

Now, since it’s been quite a while since my last blog – one might speculate that I’ve had nothing to brag about/confess to as of late. One would be wrong though, as both (unfortunately!) hold true for the undersigned. I’ve simply found another way of working through both challenges & upsets.

The answer is 2+2. I’ll admit, I found posting on the site pretty intimidating the first time I tried (under a different nick) back in 2006-7. My understanding and reasoning back then was even more flawed than it is today and the few times I ventured a response to a question or even posted something myself, I remember being met with condescending responses like, “LOL dude. mg, ez shove ftw ldo. Next!” and annoyed feedback like, “this has been covered in thread #u67xqd19. Please don’t clutter the forum!” I remember feeling pretty exasperated by the tone in the forums and after only 30-40 posts, quit the forum entirely.

It’s a shame really, because my return to the infamous forum has shown me what so many others have raved about already. If you’re willing to put in the hours, read a lot of threads and build up a presence (I suggest start in one of the forums, e.g. MTT or STT), there’s a lot to learn. The tone can be pretty harsh at times (and perhaps feel even more so if you’re asking questions that some might consider elementary knowledge) but I’ve found that most are less insensitive than what I thought they were a few years ago – just ignore the baboons.

Taking Stock

Time to review my results once again. The last time I performed this excercise, I had a meager 190-200 rows of data to work with, whereas I'm now at a more considerable 731 rows, ranging from MTTs, STTs, a few cash game sessions, rakeback etc etc. If you don't know what I mean, I'm basically talking about a massive excel spreadsheet, in which I record every tournament & session I play. It keeps me focused and I find it valuable in terms of keeping myself honest. Let's be frank, most of the time you're not able to say EXACTLY how much you've spent in buy-ins after a session of sitngos, am I right? Yeah, me neither and unfortunately, it's almost always more than one might think.

So, I've got 731 rows in my spreadsheet. My action has been split as follows:

Rakeback/Bonus Rows: 25 (Total Profit: USD 293.74)
- that's obviously a lot of money. Money that you'd be pretty stupid not to claim for yourself as a player. These days, it's so easy.

Cashgame Rows: 15 (Total Profit: USD 81.01, split across 1227 hands)
- this is actually a bit of everything. Boredom led me to play 4 tables of NL20 at one point, which went absolutely disastrous! Lost more buy-ins than I care to remember. There is however also a quick $1/$2 Pot Limit Omaha in there, in which I clawed back most of my NLHE losses. According to the spreadsheet, 178 hands and 300 bucks profit.

Double Stack STT Rows: 8 (Total Profit: USD 66.50)
- this seems silly now, but right when I started tracking myself I was getting into these sitngo's where they start you off with double stacks. It was on the ipoker network and basically the only kind of STT I wanted to play there. Felt I needed to differentiate between normal sitngo's and these.

Matrix STT Rows: 8 (Total Profit: USD 13.28)
- same as the above. You're probably familiar with the 'Matrix' STTs on FullTilt. If not, it's one sitngo, in which you play the same opponents but on 4 tables simultaneously. There are then prizes per table, but also for how you do overall. Mostly when I'm bored, I'll change things up a bit with one of these.

MTT Rows: 319 (Total Profit: USD 2,306.62)
- well, I've done quite well if I have to say so myself. I feel more than 300 tourneys is enough of a sample size to give an indication of ability/skill. I'm sure downswings can last for longer than 300, but still - I guess I must know a thing or two about poker. I'll break this one down even further later on.

$4, 180-person STT Rows: 22 (Total Profit: USD -11.84)
- same as before. Felt this was a very particular type of tournament. Always the same number of entrants, low buy-in on PokerStars with a pretty high level of skill. 22 is nothing to go by, but I kind of got tired of them and moved on. Eehh...

STT (sitngo) Rows: 334 (Total Profit: USD 688.85)
- This is pretty much anything else. Varying buy-in sizes, a lot of 2-table, 3-table & 45-person STT alongside the 'original' 9 or 10 player sitngos. Before adding these up, I was seriously unsure whether I'd get a positive or a negative figure in the end. Glas it wasn't the latter.

I'll break apart the MTT and STT rows a bit in my next blog. Feel like I have enough information in order to derive some conclusions. If not conclusive, at least some insight into which pokersite I should be favouring, what buy-in size has yielded the most success etc etc. I have an idea, but perhaps the figures will surprise.


Making sure you're not spewy

If you - like me - feel that you're a fairly accomplished poker player, who knows his/her own game very well, but also recognizes his/her own limitations, I think you'll be able to recognize one of the following sentiments, after you've played a session:

- Damn, that was just one beat after the other.
- Wow, variance really bitch-slapped me today.
- I guess I'm happy he called me with Q9 offsuit, but still hard to believe.
- Phew, need a break after that. One more suckout and I would've started to tilt.

...or something along those lines! :-) The point here is that you're the sort of player who recognizes how ridiculously small the edges that we chase sometimes are - thusly also resulting in extreme swings. You've come to accept this fact and still choose to play poker, because you're certain that in the long run you'll come out on top.

That's all good. But HOW SURE are you that it's all variance after a session? Most of us don't have time (or the willpower) to go through hand histories and dissect every single time we defended from the blinds with 87 of spades. I don't and yet I do it sometimes - just to make sure that it's them - not me, whose to blame.

So, I just played out 9 sitngos on FullTilt at a total buy-in of $49.50 and cashed for a total of $36. As I write this, I haven't looked at what went wrong, so I might have to fess up to some spewyness here - I hereby promise to do so, if that's the case. Won't leave anything out.

1st STT (18-person): Finished 13th. Final hand.

7-handed, I'm in the BB with KcQd (stack 1620). Blinds 20/40. No SB in this hand. UTG (1650) limps, UTG+1 (910) limps. Folds to me. I check.

FLOP: 3s Qc 3d
I check, UTG bets 120, UTG+1 calls and I raise to 385. UTG calls, UTG+1 folds.

TURN: 9h
The pot is a little more than 1000 and I bet all-in for 1195. He snap-calls with 99.

Oh well. Against these types of opponents ($5 buyin) I would play this hand exactly the same way. Chalk one up for variance here.

2nd STT (18-person). Finished 5th. Final hand.

5-handed (obviously). My stack is 4470 and blinds are 200/400, going up to 250/500 in less than a minute. I'm in the SB with QcJc. Folds to me and I shove on the BB (stack 7680) who calls me with AsTs. His hand holds up.

Again, this is pretty standard. I'm not folding this hand, so of course I shove. Minraising or 2.5xing accomplishes nothing.

I will say though that prior to this hand I did 'suck out' once, but it was all standard as well. With blinds 150/300 I was in the big blind with Ts6d and the shortest stack at the table moved in for 830 total. Fold to me, I call (getting nearly 2.5:1) and beat AK. Shrug?

3rd STT (18-person). Finished 4th. Final hand.

Blinds 200/400 and I hold 4c6c in the BB with stack of 4455. Chipleader (cirka 12K) is first to act and limps. Folds to me. I check.

FLOP: 6d Ad 3s
I check, he bets 400 and after some deliberation I move allin. He snaps me off with AT.

Obviously not my finest moment. My only defence is that he had done the limp-bet thing once before against me (also A-high flop) and I'd let him have it then. Still - call and evaluate on turn should've been my move. Folding isn't horrible either, I think.

4th STT (27-person). Finished 23rd. Final hand.

7-handed and I hold 6h6d UTG+1 (stack 1040). Blinds 15/30. UTG folds, I raise 3x, CO (1350) calls and the BB (1500) calls.

FLOP: 4h 5s Qd
The BB leads 200 (pot 285) and I should've thought twice about this. Weak players lead flops all the time with marginal holdings, but they give it away with their bet sizing. Some will just min-bet (i.e. 30 at a pot of 3o0) and others will fire one-third of the pot. Those situations are so easy. Just raise the crap out of 'em, no matter what you're holding and they go away 95% of the time. The subtle difference here is the 2/3 pot bet. At this level - it means he has it and I shouldn't be moving in with 66. He calls with KQ and I don't suck out. Poor play.

5th STT (18-person). Finished 9th. Final hand.

This tourney had exhibited RIDICULOUSLY tight play, to the extent that the final table had just gathered and blinds were at 200/400. That's 7.5BB average stack (!) for those of you who don't know the structure. I had just been keeping afloat, stealing as much as I could, but never really getting any big hands.

In this case I've got 3490 chips to start the hand with and pick up 55 in the CO. When it folds to me, I shove and the button happens to wake up with QQ.

Variance 3 / Poor Play 2

6th STT (27-person). Finished 18th. Final hand.

I've got 1730 in my stack. Blinds are 40/80 and 9-handed. UTG I raise AhQc to 200. UTG+1 calls, as does the BB.

FLOP: 2c 4h Ts
2 hands before this I had raised AJ and when the flop came KQ4 with a flush-draw (that I didn't have) I had check-folded, so I figured I should get more respect this time. I lead 390 at the pot which was 640 total. UTG+1 calls very quickly and BB folds. In my opinion, small/medium pairs that haven't connected are now a HUGE part of his range - just from experience. So....

when the TURN is: Kc
I move in for 1140 (about 80% pot). He snaps me off with AK.

*sigh* I don't regret this play one bit, as I think it has a high success rate - the KING being a great card for me (from his perception, normally). He just happened to play AK really oddly in this spot. This is variance to me, but if you disagree - voice your opinion and I am happy to discuss.

Variance 4 / Poor Play 2

7th STT (18-person). Finished 2nd. Final hand.

Ok, so heads-up play at the end of a sitngo can be pretty swingy, due to the low stack/blinds ratio and this was certainly the case here. My stack: 10540, his stack: 16460. Blinds 500/1K

He limps from the button and I check Qh9s from the BB.

FLOP: Ts 7s 6d
I check, he checks.

TURN: 8c
I bet 1K, he calls.

I bet 2K, he raises to 4K. I guess you could make a case for just calling, but if I do and lose, I'm practically dead anyway. I move in and he calls with TT for the boat. Nh sir. At these blinds, variance again in my book.

Variance 5 / Poor Play 2

8th STT (18-person) Finished 9th. Final hand.

Blinds are 120/240. My stack: 2350. I hold AcJh in the BB. UTG, 8handed (stack 3915) minraises to 480. Folds to the CO (stack 10K) who calls. Folds to me, I reraise allin. UTG deliberates briefly and calls. CO folds. UTG shows AT.

FLOP: 8d 3s Td

Lights out pour moi. Normally, my reraise shouldn't buy me much fold equity if you do the math, but based on the level of play that is standard in these tourneys it does surprisingly often, which is why I confidently shipped it in with AJ there. Also, the player in UTG had been making some horrendous plays, so I was quite confident that he was raising a wide range.

Variance 6 / Poor Play 2

9th STT (18-person) Finished 18th. Final hand

Stack 1455, blinds 15/30. I hold 5s6s on the button. UTG+1 opens to 120, HJ calls, I call and BB calls.

FLOP: 7h 6d 3d
BB checks, UTG+1 checks, HJ checks and I bet 325. Only BB calls.

TURN: 2s
BB bets 1010 and is allin. I call, which is kinda spewy - I know, but his line didn't make sense to me and at this level he could just as easily have 44 as AQ. He happened to have A6 (hmm?) and I was out pretty quickly.

There you have it people. So, definitely some things that could've/should've/would've, but also a few others over which I had more control and should have done better with.

Struggling on FullTilt

It's the weirdest thing (or perhaps not, in case someone knows something I don't) but out of all the poker sites, I struggle on Full Tilt the most. Since I started this challenge, I'm down $891 on the site and a week ago had almost completely depleted my funds.

Bear in mind, $891 in the red is actually worse than it sounds, because for the past few months I've also received $158 in bonus/rakeback, so the true state of affairs is much more dire. As a result, I decided something had to change and dropped my buy-in to $5 or less on FullTilt alone. A technical aspect concerning rakeback made me not wanna deposit (essentially shift funds) on the site again, so I figured this was the only way of rebuilding my bankroll.

Now, as a result I've been focusing most of my attention on the 18 and 27-person STTs ($5) and trying to come out on top there. So far, it's going above expectations as I'm able to muster a 154% ROI but because the sample size so far is laughable, I'm not even gonna tell you over how many tourneys that is. I chose the 18&27 over the regular 1-table STTs, because I simply can't stomach (edit: I lose patience) the tight-ass play that occurs once play becomes 5-handed. Essentially, the players are waiting for JJ+. You might argue that a skilled player would be able to take advantage of that and I might actually agree with you, but for whatever reason it doesn't suit my playing style. I can change gears, but going uber-uber-aggressive has never been my thing.

Anyway, I've also taken a shot at the occassional $3 rebuy or - as was the case today - try my hand at something completely different. A $2 6-handed freeze-out. I urge everyone to sign up for one of these at some point - if for nothing else, then the laugh-attack you get from some of the plays you see, should be reward enough! Sidenote: I came in 10th out of 381 and cashed for 14 bucks! WOO-HOO! Score...

Anyway, better fire up another $5 STT - where else can I see someone limp J8o on the button & bubble with 7BBs and fold to a shove? LOL. You gotta love it and for the record:

- Yes, I showed him the K2ss
- and Yes, I figured I had about 85% fold equity, which is the best part.
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