Poker Through the Eyes of an Amateur

January 27, 2006

Putting The Pieces Back Together

If you've been following this blog at all recently, you're probably aware that I hit a bad run at the very end of December/beginning of January. At one point I was down to $6 I believe. I've been slowly putting the pieces back together since then. I've been playing almost strictly 45 player $1 SNGs and finishing in the money more often than not. Last night I played one while waiting for my wife to come home and came in 5th. I tried to make a move on a guy, but he actually had a hand, and I was out. I still won $5, though. Anyway, I didn't think I'd have time for another SNG before my wife got home, so I bought in for $4 at a .05/.10 (6 MAX) NL game. There was some fluctuation at first, but then I hit my stride. By the time I was done, I had more than quintupled my buy in.

I'm at the point now where my bankroll is secure enough to play at least two 45 player $5 SNGs. I will probably do these tonight. If I can money in either one, then I will probably be able to stick to that limit level. Otherwise, I'll need to money in a couple more $1 games.

Believe it or not, I think it was a Good Thing (TM) that I hit my bad run when I did. The following things have come about as a result of playing close to the bust out line:

1) It has forced me to play nothing but my A game, which is what I should have been playing from the beginning. I don't know why I wasn't. I was probably either being cocky, being stupid, or underestimating my opponents. It was probably a combination of all three.

2) It has also forced me to learn more, to make myself pay more attention and pick up reads on other players. This is something I've struggled with online, but I have gotten a lot better at it recently.

3) It has forced me to drastically improve my short-handed play. I've learned to drastically widen my hand ranges once the final table is down to six or less. I've also gotten better at reading others in these short-handed games and stealing when I can.

4) My first goal in MTTs is no longer to just make the money. I used to be happy with just making the money, satisfied that I'd beaten so many others for a little profit. Sure, I'd want to win, but finishing in the money was the most important. No more. This simply is not going to give me the ROI I need at the limits I currently play. I can't be happy playing for four hours and just making $2. My mindset has changed in terms of MTTs so that my first goal is going deep. I played a limit MTT about a week ago where I was on the bubble with a semi-short stack. I had a really good drawing hand (12+ outs), but I knew I was behind after the flop. I could easily have folded into the money, but that was no longer my goal. My goal was to go deep, so I went for it. I missed my draw and bubbled out, but I was very happy with my decision. If I had won that hand, I would have been set to go very deep into the money.

To sum it all up, I think I'm playing the best poker of my life right now. Granted, I've only been playing for a year, but I think that I have learned a lot. I know that I'm nowhere near where I could be; there's tons of room for improvement. I think the major difference between now and a few months ago is that I'm really ready to learn. We'll see how it goes.


  • I haven't tried the $1 SNG's. After the hits I took last night, I think that's a safer option. 5 SNG's. 2nd in one, 8th, 7th, 2x 5th. Fugly. All of your noted comments I can apply to myself, but the ones I can relate to the best are 2 and 3. I'm trying to learn to read the online players...too many times I'll see a straight or flush on the board, I'll have top 2 pair, and get an over the top raise. Do I call? Do I fold? That's the area I think I need to work on the most. The other is playing short handed. Inevitably you tighten up as you approach the money, and again as your stack shrinks. I need to be able to convince myself that A9 or Q8 sooted might be an acceptable hand in this situation. Part of the learning curve, I guess. If you haven't been there today, check out Wes' post on his SNG strategy. Good stuff. Good luck. See ya out there.

    By Blogger iamhoff, at 1/27/2006 1:12 PM  

  • Yeah, I read Wes' SNG strategy post. Good stuff. I'm pretty set, I think, as far as SNGs go. It's the MTTs that I still have a lot to improve upon. Sorry about your losses recently. I recommend the 45 player $1 games if you need to build up your bankroll some. They're amazingly soft, almost like guaranteed money.

    By Blogger Matt Silverthorn, at 1/27/2006 1:50 PM  

  • Hmmm, I can't resist guarantted money.

    By Blogger Wes, at 1/27/2006 3:44 PM  

  • Hey Matt, one piece of advice is to play the 1-table 6-person sng's from time to time. I dont know if theyre in your bankroll or not (I know they have a 6x$12 sng, dont know if the buyins get smaller than that). but the 1-table sng's, in particular the 6-person sng's, are the best way there is of improving your shorthanded game overall. And playing short well is absolutely crucial for tournament players, especially now that you've learned cardinal rule #1, which is that you Play To Win The Game. You can't play just for the money or you will make poor decisions from the perspective of getting where you really want to be, which is the top of the leaderboard.

    Congrats on the performance in the 45x$1 tourneys recently, and im looking forward to when you expand into the large $5 and $10 tourneys so you can get to watch me get runner-runnered out by lots of gill-having, fin-flipping, big-eyed FISH.

    By Blogger Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo, at 1/27/2006 3:48 PM  

  • I've not seen any single table six player SNGs at my buy-in level, but I will keep that in mind for when I move up. If they do exist at my current level, they are probably turbo games, which I don't enjoy too much.

    By Blogger Matt Silverthorn, at 1/27/2006 3:57 PM  

  • I haven't tried the 6 player games...I may have to so I can also work on my short game. Unlike you, though, I like the turbos. Regular SNG's just seem to take way too long, and they just seem to drag. At least with the turbos, players are focused on doing the game. As such, there's plenty of fish play out there...people who get time-crunched and make poor decisions. Still, go with what you're comfortable with. Keep grinding away.

    By Blogger iamhoff, at 1/28/2006 4:53 AM  

  • geez, I wish I could place in the money on those $1 sng's 'more often than not' these days. I haven't seen a return from an SNG in what seems like weeks.

    But I'm doing really well at 6-max micro NL ring games! Like yourself my problem is cockyness, being stupid, underestimating and _overestimating_ my opponents. You know, like expecting a few people to fold preflop to my big raises. If 5 people call my raise and I'm holding pocket aces, collectively they have a LOT of outs against me and more often than not I'll get sucked out.. *sigh*

    Here's hoping your recent bad run means you're now on the upswing!

    By Blogger huma, at 1/28/2006 8:26 AM  

  • FYI Matt, I also do not prefer turbo tournaments, because I think they play to the strengths of the less skilled players, the ones who like to push in preflop with any two strong cards, the people who don't like to sit and wait for the good hands to come to them. But they do have a regular continuous 6-person, $12 buyin tournament that is NOT turbo, which was the one I was suggesting. Sounds like that might be above your range, but you should give it some thought. Even a turbo event that is shorthanded would be great practice for shorthanded tournament play. And hoff, you said you like turbo...they have those $3 buyin turbo tournaments running continuously on pokerstars i think, no?

    By Blogger Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo, at 1/30/2006 12:28 PM  

  • Hammer,

    Yes, they have the $3+.50 turbos running. They also have $6 and $11 (the ones I play) running. You may be right, that they play to the strengths of the less skilled, but that is part of the fun, realizing what their M.O.s are. I've been taking notes on the players I face, and I'm starting to see more and more of them again, and it's great having the data on them before the start of the tourney. I have no problem with the non-turbo (normally aspirated?) games, I just find myself time-crunched in the evenings, and this is the way I have an adequate opportunity to play.

    By Blogger iamhoff, at 1/30/2006 3:00 PM  

  • hoff, you are right about the time crunch. my problem is that i end up doing well once in a while in these large tournaments, and then im stuck staying up until 3 in the morning. granted it is to win some nice coin sometimes, but still. 3am is not good for us working stiffs.
    i do think, however, that playing a turbo game and playing a regular game (which itself is already turbo as compared to most live tournaments ive played in) online is a big difference, and just doing turbo because of time crunches is fine, as long as you are adjusting your strategy for the fact that its turbo, that you cant wait as long for the good hands, and that other people will be playing more aggressively as a general statement, since the blinds move up so quickly.


    By Blogger Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo, at 1/31/2006 5:31 PM  

  • Matt, what happened last night in WWdN? I was looking forward to seeing you at the final table or at least getting my revenge for 5 weeks ago when you eliminated me from one of these things. First time I looked at the leaderboard, you were already gone. Maybe Thursday night 11:30pm ET?

    By Blogger Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo, at 2/01/2006 9:09 AM  

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