Wednesday, March 25, 2009
Last night was the Skillz Game, one of the weekly blogger tournaments that make up the BBT4, or for you non-bloggers, the Battle of the Bloggers 4. The series of tournaments provide bloggers and readers an opportunity to compete not just for the usual prize pools but for a leaderboard awarding prizes for the top 20 spots and a tournament of champions made up of players who have won BBT events.
A couple of weeks ago, I won my seat into the ToC (tournament of champions) by winning the Mookie. Last night, on a lark, I decided to play the Skillz Game, which was Limit Hold'em this week, in an effort to make some more cash.
The leaderboard wasn't particularly on my mind because I still do not have a full grasp of it's importance. I don't plan on playing every event, so I figure that I will be severely handicapped compared to some of the other competitors. For instance, not including last night, I've played 5 events, still more than I expected. I'm currently in 27th place. However, none of the 26 players above me have played less than 8 games, and only two have played less than 10. That's not to say much of anything other than the fact that unless I cash or win each tournament I enter, I don't stand much chance for the big money spots on the leaderboard against players with 3x as many tourneys under their belts.
Limit Hold'em is an interesting game. It is the checkers to No Limit Hold'ems chess. Plays are finite, or as I liked to say during yesterday's tournament, "This is easy. I only have three buttons." That's Fold, Call, or Raise for you non-online poker players out there.
With limited betting, Limit Hold'em necessarily becomes about preflop hand selection because there are less opportunities to push opponents off of superior hands. That is not to say, however, that the correct strategy is to play tight. Several players at my earlier tables can attest to me doing some pretty aweful-looking things, like re-raising preflop with crap cards, but when the blinds are tiny compared to the stacks and the game is tournament Limit Hold'em, there is a decent amount of flopping around one can do in the early runnings without significantly damaging one's stack.
Another benefit, and in fact one that was crucial to me, was the fact that its hard to go broke on second-best hands, provided that the blinds are not too high. On two ocassions, I ended up with set under set. The first time, my QQ flopped a 9QK board, but I was facing KK. We capped (made the maximum bets) every street until I lost at showdown. In a NLHE game, we would've been all in on the flop, if not sooner. Later, my 44 flopped a set on a 489 board, only to lose to 99. Once again, it started off capping, but by the time we got to the big bets (post-turn and river), I had caught wind that I wasn't necessarily in the lead and check-called, saving myself some money. Once again, though, if it were NLHE, we'd likely be all-in on the flop.
I benefited once again in this game with my loose image. Repeatedly, players who knew my game decided to call me down when I was holding strong cards. To the untrained eye, that was luck; to someone viewing the entirety of the game, it was the early looseness paying off (or in a greater sense, it was my general reputation paying off). Of course, the relative limit on the amount my opponent could lose probably helped their decision making; but it also helped my play.
The number one factor, though, that helped me reach the final table and, as it were, end in second (to MiamiDon, to whom I say congrats), was my experience with short stack poker. The beginning of these limit tourneys are just crap. You can't really bust anyone and you can't even accumulate chips enough to make it worthwhile. You could literally sit out the first three levels and probably lose 0 equity. On the flipside, the game kicks into high gear as the blinds escalate and the stacks get comparatively shorter. That is when it is important to know who you can push around for one bet, and who is going to be pushing light. I've had a lot of experience with push-fold poker for a variety of reasons, but it paid off last night. At least it mostly paid off.
The HU battle with Don was tough. This is now the second time he's bested me heads up in a blogger tourney, the first time being a Mookie probably over a year ago. He had me outchipped from the get go, and then I saw a string of 8-or-under cards. 26, 85, 73, etc. It makes for a tough game, heads up. It took a while though, and Don finally got his win with the hammer, no less. His 72o actually had me beat preflop. I was so short, I ended up pushing with 63o.
Rumor has it, there is a prize for being atop the leader board for the month of March. I don't know if that's true, but if so, I should probably play the Mookie tonight. It'll be a gametime decision though, because even with everything, I'm not in this thing for the points. I'm in it for the poker (and, of course, the cash).
Until next time, make mine poker!
posted by Jordan @ 9:47 AM,