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Sloppy Aggression

I played in the Wall Street Game last night, taking 3rd place for $10 profit in the first game, and taking 4th in the second game after setting up a 4th place save, for even money. Overall, I won $10 on the night, and spent $8 on my chicken parm sandwich. Yeah, so I won a sandwich. Hurrah for me!

Tripjax recently wrote about the abundance of third place finishes he's received recently when playing SNGs. I suppose I am dealing with a similar issue, if only a tad more long-term and wide-spread. I can think of a handful of situations where I've gone out at the lowest money spot or on the bubble, way more than I can think of clean wins. In one weekend in AC, I bubbled a tournament at Showboat and then immediately took the last money spot in a tournament at the Resorts. In both instances, I felt like I played well, but I got taken out late when it was just a push-or-fold situation. In the Showboat tournament, I pushed preflop with AQ and was called by KQ, who hit his King by the river. In the Resorts tournament, I pushed with 77 only to be called by a VERY drunk, VERY bad player who happened to have JJ. Last night, both of my losses came when I was willing to bust out or double up. And in all of these instances, I am left with the feeling that, frankly, I wasn't wrong.

So, what to do? There is a fine line between cleverly aggressive and sloppily aggressive at or immediately after the money bubble.

On one hand, there are a lot of factors in favor of aggressive all-ins at or just after the money bubble bursts. By then the blinds are usually pretty high, so a push-or-fold strategy is often unavoidable. Then you have the fact that the other players likely want to fold into the money or into the next money spot, so there may be a lot of opportunities to win pots uncontested. Finally, there is the argument that you should always be playing for first. Aggression makes that possible in the late stages, since you could potentially build up a stack to put you in contention, assuming of course, that you are one of the shorter stacks. You may bust, but that is a risk that you might be willing to take if it provides you with an opportunity for the big first place money.

On the other hand, pushing all-in works every time but the last one. I've advocated reducing or elimitating all-in situations to maximize big MTTs. The basic argument is that you want to win parts without risking an all-in, since sooner or later, you will suffer a suckout or lose a race. In early stages, that means making small bets/raises. In late stages, once you enter push-of-fold mode, it means folding a heckuvalot more than pushing. When you have a reputation as a loose player, pushing with reckless abandon in late stages can be even more dangerous, since some players will call you, assuming you are full of crap. So, pushing all-in at the bubble or at the low payouts can be, at times, foolhardy rather than clever.

It's a tough balance and not one that I can figure out right now. It could be that I am remembering the near-misses moreso than my successes. It could also be that I merely have not played enough to even out the luck in these late stages. The fact that I'm even able to consistently make it deep in live tournaments is a good sign. It puts me in contention for a big win, even if I haven't hit that big win in a while. Perhaps I'm due and if I keep to my usual play, the luck will change and money will start rolling in. But I cannot accept that on its face without more support. I can only change myself, so if there is anything worth changing, that should be my only focus.

This is all a very tricky thing, especially since I am just discussing it in the abstract. But my poker calendar looks pretty busy going forward, so I'll have lots of time to test my ideas.

This weekend, I'll be likely heading to Atlantic City Saturday with Dave Ruff for a day trip, and playing at a mixed game homegame on Sunday. And a week later....Vegas.

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 10:19 AM,


At 9:52 PM, Blogger carvingCode said...

All of the tourney pros I've heard comment on this say that there are long periods of no cashes. It's easy to get confused by the news hounds' reporting of the amazing run of cashes from the Johnie Unknowns.

For me, I'll take the pros' views and keep playing a good game. Results will come when they do.


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