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Thoughts Aplenty

Protecting the Blinds

Thank you for your comments in response to my extremely long tournament recap. A comment by Dr. Pauly suggested that I needed to work on my blind play. I respect Pauly's opinion, but in this case, I am going to have to respectfully disagree.

In my first blogger event, Pauly's Noble Poker freeroll, I "met" GCox for the first time. I was on his right, and I kept stealing his blinds, often with crap cards. When he finally got wind of my plan, he began playing back at me. But either I knew he was making a play so I came over the top, or I actually held good cards and slowplayed him or came over the top. Either way, his blinds defense was ineffective in that situation. And for your reference, I am a big fan of GCox's game and skills, and I do not mean to suggest otherwise. In fact, it was GCox's style that helped me placed 4th out of 1008.

My point is this. Blinds are like taxes. You have to pay them, so you budget. You know that the blinds are coming. You hope to be able to see a cheap flop with crap cards, bluff at the other blind and maybe one limper at most, or hold solid cards and make a good show of it. BUT if you hold crap cards and someone raises before you act, you should fold. This is specific to tournaments, of course.

Let's look at a simple example. You hold 29o in the BB. Someone in mid-position raises three times the big blind. SB folds. Lets say, for simplicity's sake, that the blinds are 1/2, and you have 100 chips. Well, you've already put in 2, and now you have to put in 4 more. This doesn't look bad, but would you take a prop bet with 4:9 odds that two dueces, nine-high, two nines or a duece and a nine were coming off of the deck? If my math is right, you only have a 12% chance of hitting any pair on the flop, let alone any of the combinations that I listed above. And with cards like 29o, you need a stronger hand if you are facing a raise. Remember, this is a tournament, where one slip up can cost you anything. So don't give yourself a chance to slip up.

Which brings me to the next point. What if you have JKo in the BB? Suddenly, you are thinking, okay, maybe I have two overs. Maybe he has AQ and if I hit top pair, I can bet out and win this pot. Not so fast, buddy. Because what if he has KQ or AJ or AK. You hit top pair, and bet out and he bets back. Now you have a decision. Are you going to be able to lay it down when he might be holding 99 or 77? The entire time I played, I was cautious about getting into this situation, because this is the situation that breaks you.

Mind you that this isn't to say that you should always fold your blinds. That would be stupid. When I got in cheap with 93o and a J96 flop (3:40), I bet out from first position and took down the pot. On other occassions I might bet back when I feel someone is trying to steal. But I better have a deep stack, and I better be able to lay down the hand if he comes over the top. Otherwise, it's a recipe for disaster frittatas.

As you probably know from reading this here blog, this is not how I always play. In fact, I rarely play this way. But when I've won big tournaments (2nd, 1st and 1st with 180+ people, 3rd with 100+), this is the style I play. It minimizes the luck factor. It's like something I once heard Hellmuth say. He was at a final table, WPT I think , and he said that he hadn't put more than 25% of his stack in any pot. That really hit home. You can't lose half your stack to a suckout if you don't have half your stack in the pot. Something GCox recently told me stands out too. He suggested that he only likes putting money in the pot if he thought he was a lock to win (in my words, not his). Simple enough, but effective. Give variance the ole middle finger by only getting in there with the best of it. That's why I pushed so often with premium pocket pairs. I didn't want variance to get a chance, but if she did, it was going to be on my dominating terms.

Now, onto other things.

Bankroll Decisions

After my win, I joked with the people on voice IM that I would have to lie to wifey Kim so that she didn't want me to withdraw it all. Of course, I kid. I told her the great news and we got into the light conversation of what to do with the cash. She wants to spend some of it on the new TV we are about to purchase. In a perfect world, I would parlay that win into other big wins. In this world, I will compromise. Fortunately, wifey Kim has not been pushing anything. This is where my anal retentiveness comes into play to control my addictive personality. Thank you Jewish grandparents for inflicting these dueling nueroticisms upon me.

The plan is to withdraw $200 for the TV. I can consider that definite profit, as my accounting system for yearly wins/losses only counts online money once it has been withdrawn (I consider any online deposit an out-and-out loss immediately (thankfully I haven't done this in a while). The rest of the money will stay online, at least until my annual Atlantic City Christmas Spectacular. I figure that if I lose more than $300 there, I will deduct up to $200 more to offset those AC losses. Let's hope I don't need to do that.

Interestingly, I don't have a separate cash bankroll. I know how much I'm up for the year, but I don't keep that money separate, and truthfully, I don't see how I could. Is it necessary? Is it smart? I don't know. I'm just trying to enjoy the ride.

VPP Surprise

I sign on to AOL yesterday and get an email from the folks at VegasPokerPro, congratulating me on finishing the Royal Vegas promotion and informing me that my gift, a $50 gift certificate to Best Buy (more TV discounts!), was on its way.

Thank you VPP. Now that I have completed a promo there, I will give a more detailed review of their site. Assuming I get my gift certificate as expected, I could not be more pleased. Unlike PSO (referral code: HighOnPoker), I didn't have to inform VPP when I was done. In fact, they informed me! To make things better, I don't even know how I completed the promo. True, I did play on Royal, but it was very lightly, when I was either in the mood for a MTT and their timing and game selection was best (maybe 2x at most) or some grinding in the background (2-4 hours probably).

Damn, there standards must be low. They are definitely lower than PSO. I started PSO's Paradise Poker promotion in early to mid October and I just finished it AFTER the VPP Royal Vegas promo. So, two thumbs up for VPP. Check it out. And use one of my links while you are at it (or send me an email letting me know that you signed up at VPP) if you want to hook it up! It would be greatly appreciated.

Live Game Action

Damn! I thought Lost was going to be a rerun again. Well, too bad I scheduled a poker game on Wednesday in casa del Jordan. I'm looking forward to flaunting my online win and hopefully making a live game score. Besides that, it is always fun to spend time with my buds. If all goes well, we'll have a 2nd game on Saturday afternoon. Any NYC area bloggers or readers, please feel free to contact me if you are interested in either. The Wednesday game is a $20 rebuy tournament, but may be changed. Saturday is purely speculative.

Thanks to Joaquin and Dawn for inviting me to Dawn's home game in NYC last night. I felt like a jerk because Joaq hooked it up for me and then I couldn't attend. Mother High was in NYC last night and I was too pooped from the MTT anyway. Good looking out though, Joaq, and thank you Dawn for being open to new players. Hopefully, I can get in on the next one. My apologies and thanks to both.

I think that is it for now. Have a great day!

Poker, the final frontier.

posted by Jordan @ 9:04 AM,


At 10:22 AM, Blogger GaryC said...

As always, J, another damn good post. My thinking on protecting blinds has definitely changed since our first encounter so many months ago. Count me in your camp now of laying down everything but a primo hand to a raise.

I was incredibly proud of the way you played yesterday. Fantastic read and decision at every instance. Nice job.


At 11:11 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would have to agree with Gary. Good post. I have been chasing people who attempt to steal my blinds as of late. In the past I have played tight and let them steal unless I hold a premium hand.

At 11:17 AM, Blogger Pauly said...

I'll take careful notes and be sure to steal your blinds the next time we play togther, Jordan!! Defending your blinds is as much a pyshcological weapon than a mathematical one. A former WPT champion told me that once after he had been picking on my stack all day. Poker is a war and sometimes you have to fire back.

At 11:28 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"He was at a final table, WPT I think , and he said that he hadn't put more than 25% of his stack in any pot. That really hit home. You can't lose half your stack to a suckout if you don't have half your stack in the pot."

"Remember, this is a tournament, where one slip up can cost you anything. So don't give yourself a chance to slip up."

I think most players will find that the more experienced they become, and the more able they are to discern their strength depending on the texture of the board, the smaller the pots and the more flops they want to see.

I think playing small pots in tournaments is an excellent strategy... that's why when Jordan was at the final table yesterday, I suggested raising $30k preflop with blinds of $6k/$12k rather than $48k.

There is a catch. I mentioned playing smaller pots is a good thing, however, relating to the second quote, there will be many more sticky situations. If you don't have enough experience in these situations, it's best to tighten up.

The 14 hour live commentary from the 05 WSOP helped my tournament game a lot...

At 11:35 AM, Blogger Jordan said...

All I have to say is, Bring it Pauly. Bring it! My win was a huge boon for me. But overall, I'm still the same uppity player I've always been. I changed things up and won. But I hang sling chips with the best of them. It's sorta like how in my recap I kept telling myself not to bluff. As a result...I STILL BLUFFED! The key, for me, was keeping my natural impulses in control. Blind stealing/protecting is included in those impulses. So, of course I folded a lot of blinds, but that isn't my usual game. But maybe I should keep my mouth shut and let you steal. I'm grinning from ear to ear as I typed that.

At 12:02 PM, Blogger Pauly said...

Look at the biggest hand of the WSOP main event for Joe Hachem. I hope ESPN shows it. With 5 players left, Hachem was getting picked on the entire night by Aaron Kanter and defended his blind with Q-7o and a short stack. Sometimes you have to make a stand and Hachem did that. He flopped a Queen to Kanter's 9-9. If Hachem folds, he doesn't win that crucial hand and ends up getting blinded out. Sitting in press row, we all sensed that Kanter was a little off after that hand and Hachem went on a run to win it all.

At 12:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah, you can't blame Hachem for making a play there. Kanter could have easily found reason to lay 99 down since Hachem was sitting back biding his time until that point; however, both players made good plays and Kanter got unlucky.

At 12:27 PM, Blogger Jordan said...

But inherint in Pauly's statement is the fact that it wasn't a full table. When you get down to less players, hands are more valuable. Also, it is less likely that whoever is 'stealing' actually has anything. When we got down to a shorter table I stopped blogging all of my blinds because it got to be too much. However, I was loosening up and stealing from the button. I was also stealing the BB from the SB, and vice versa.

My point is I am aware of the benefits of stealing blinds. I just think in large tourneys you would be better off saving yourself from second-best hands by folding the blinds when faced with a raise. Now, if you are getting pot-odds (specifically, when people were making minimum raises and there were antes), then I'd make the call. But overall, fold that J9s in the BB if someone in MP raises it 4x the BB. You don't want to hit your J and lose to KJ or AJ or QQ.


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