Saturday, March 12, 2011

New Adventures...

It is never great having to make an announcement like this, unfortunately this blog post will be my last as an Irish Eyes Poker sponsored player. A new deal could not be brokered between both sides and I completely understand Irish Eyes point of view on the topic. Of course this is sad news as I enjoyed my time wearing the Irish Eyes badge but all good things come to an end but I am looking to the future, the sky is the limit for me I feel so I am eager to move on to bigger and better things.

My live results in the last year have been normal at best in my eyes and this I hope to change immensely. I have done so online with my 2 big results and I am really hoping to take that form to my live game, especially with the 3 biggest tournys of the year coming up, Ept Berlin, Irish Open and of course Ept San Remo all within a month, eh so some run good plz lol. I will continue the push on big tournys and will be booking soon 2 months in Vegas, so like I said at start of the year I'm going for broke or millions ;).

Who knows anyway maybe soon I might get picked up again which would be great for obvious reasons, If I hit Ept and Wsop for big money I'm sure that would increase my chances. I must say I am looking forward to the future whatever it holds, all I know is I'm going to be putting all my effort into these big tournys and I'm driven for success!

Finally, I would like to thank Irish Eyes Poker for their backing and confidence they showed in me over the year which I have been with them. Also hats of to Steven Merrick top guy and just would never let you buy a drink for yourself when on trips abroad, top guy and I wish himself and Irish Eyes Poker all the best in the future.

I will leave on a good note, I am delighted to say I'll be featuring in Bluff magazine's next issue with thanks to Ciaran Corbett for his generous mention, I know Ciaran a while now he is a top guy and this gets him into top class guy status in my book now ha.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Views on no limit hold'em tournys.

Just so everybody knows, these are just my own personnel views on how I play or choose to play nl tournies in Ireland, I am not saying I am 100% correct in anyway. I just hope even if 1 person takes something from this then it has been all worth while because we are all different and 1 thing is for sure we all play differently too.

The way I will structure this will be step by step, I will do it just like a 3-day event, day1 day2 and day 3 but also while I am writting about each days I will go through alot of points so hopefully it doesn't go all over the place and I can keep some sort of structure to this piece. I am totally 100% self thought ever since I started so this will consist of my very own style of play that I have developed and I think has become very effective for me on the Irish scene. It probably won't be to every one's taste but I guess everyone is different. Ok let's get started.

Day1
This should start as you approach your table, you should be looking to profile people in what way you think they might play soley based on their appearance, this is very good for making sure you really pay alot of attention to your opponents and in doing so after an hour of play you should probably be able to work out whether or not your first thought on how each individual plays was indeed the right guess from when you first sat down, this is a great way of focusing yourself for the early stages as they can be quiet boring plus if you pick anything up on one individual and later on day 3 your back at their table it could mean the difference in winning an event to just min cashing.

For the first few levels I would play very tight only playing pairs high connected cards unless in position with suited connectors also, pretty much I would be doing my best to convince people who know me and also people who don't that I am not an aggressive player as it will be worth more to me later levels than playing loose in earlier levels, you don't have to over speculate to accumulate trust me and this should help in building a tight table image for the 150-300 level because this is where I normally like to change gears and begin to mix it up a bit with some preflop raises trying to amass a stack, even just taking down blinds is great because these days an ante does be introduced on this level or close to it and this is essential to building your stack for the rest of day 1 so you should now be applying pressure with preflop raises. Try to be the first to open pots or to single out the limpers. Obviously do not be in there with any sort of spanners, stick to suited connectors suited one gappers 67 connectors and upwards, A5 off a9 off and upwards nothing inbetween, any suited ace and of course any pair.

When taking control in pots you should remember your always repping a big hand preflop so you should adjust your c-bets accordingly to the right flops and board textures. For example 1 limper for 300 you should be making it around 900-1k to go (me personally I make it 800 at the most as I am very comfortable post flop even taking on 2-3 other players but I would not advise it, 800 norm does the trick to single out the limper tho) which will get out most thrash from the blinds and leaves you hu in position v the limper which you can put his hand range on the normal 10j qj kq small pair or suited aces just rough estimate, you should be studying what players limp with in the early levels as most of them do not change their range but everyone is different remember that. Ok so flop comes down and norm is they check to you, you should be c-betting most flops but also depending on your hand it is ok to check back some flops, like if you flop 2nd pair or top pair bad kickers pretty much hands you think are not in danger of being sucked out on to easily like qj on a k j 5 board, your opponent rarely limps with kings in his hands plus also you might get them to bluff 2 streets. Anyway c-bet most flops and if you feel your opponent is week do not be afraid barrel the turn aswel you will be surprised how often ppl fold on the turn, also look out for bluff cards which you can rep.

Flush flops to lead outs you can float these flops as if another club or whatever it is comes you can raise any bets or barrel turn and river all because you have raised preflop. Your preflop raise reps high cards like Ac etc. I am just trying to give you situations and board textures you can play aggressively on there are alot of board textures inbetween the 2 I have mentioned above which you can exploit. Obviously I cannot tell you them all or I will be here for weeks, you will just have to figure those out yourself.

I am telling you to play aggressively but also have a handbreak to stop you from making bad bluffs, always tell a perfect story when bluffing think it out as your doing it. You do not have to win every hand it is only day1 you can never win the tournament on day1, I see to many guys with all these big stacks but they do not have a notion on how to maintain them because they are always playing high variance poker. 1 gear is not correct nor will it help you win more than 1 decent tourny in your life.

As the blinds keep increasing so should your willingness to keeping up the pressure with preflop raises, sure you will get played back at but it's to let hands go pre, I don't see much point in being too adventurous on day1 as tbh day2 and day3 is where all the adventure should start. You do not need a huge stack ending day 1 but with the way I have said above you should not be too far behind the leaders, an above average stack is more than enough or close trebling your starting stack should be roughly the same. 30 bigs come the end of the night is enough also to use this strategy I am about to go into for day2. Before I do tho I want to track back to reinforce some earlier points. I can't stress enough the power of position and singling out players/limpers all of it will give you more power and control over your opponents. For day1 also it is a huge thing for me to soften the variance as much as possible even if it means sometimes sacrificing big stacks at end of the night it is ok with me because it is more important I'm still in the game more than anything else mostly because I have huge confidence in my all around game whether short, awkward stack, medium stack or big stack. This does not ruin my chances of winning overall as it's end of day 2 where you can calculate your stack size to your chances of winning, not at the end of day1 imo. Oh and also for day1 I would rarely 3bet unless I actually had a big hand, I leave that for my day2 strategy.

Day2
This day will always be known as 3bet day, quiet simply what you should be doing is 3betting ppl who you feel might be weak or who open too much, also do not be afraid to 3bet tight players with holdings like kq or sooted cards something to fall back on if they decide to take a flop, also make sure you do this in position as most times this will discourage players from even taking a flop. The kq is a good spot for a 3bet you could call them blockers lets say, if you flop a king or queen I would check back incase your are flatted by ak or aq, if you get the green light to bet the turn do so and make it a chunky one and also same for the river,sometimes this play works out much better than betting the flop,checking back turn when called and then only flatting a river bet by your opponent plus you do not know where your are in the hand when you play it like this so I much prefer the check back if you flop 1 pair and over betting turn and river which would make it look like a steal. Most average players will be set mining so look out for that, also double barrel flop and turn to get rid of the medium to small pairs that might get a little stubborn on low flops to see if your serious or not.

Breaking tables, it does have it's importance, this is where you should take a few rounds to adjust to your new table before picking up the pace, if however players are bring moved to your table if any big stacks come in and open pots straight away I would instant 3bet. This will play with their minds and make them really dislike their new table draw instantly, also they will be prone to a blow up towards you as so many ppl with big stacks suddenly get big ego's and just do not like to be outplayed and if you keep playing in position they will have to risk so many chips just trying to win a pot v you. Get in their heads and set them up, trust me your chance will come if you mess with them enough early. Obviously after your early aggression as they will see it you can they lay off and pick your spots better v them, if you pick up a hand you really have great chance of getting it all v them as they will be making moves light or calling down light, all in all their range v you comes down considerable difference where you can over value hands v them, really makes poker alot easier to get ahead!

Use the structure to your advantage, pay close attention to the structure and work out how flexible it is so you can have spells of playing fast then really tight sitting back waiting to spring into action again just when everyone is starting to forget your at the table. There is no point playing fast for a couple of hours if the structure is very slow and then speeds up later, you will be left behind. I recently just went deep in 2 high profile Sunday events coming 1st and 3rd respectively, while I was deep in both tournaments I was using 2 totally different strategies, for pokerstars game I had decided to play tight because the structure was so good and this allowed me to pick ppl off with ease pretty much coasting to the final table, a nice low variance strategy paying off plus I was given alot of respect,my plan was to make the final table and go for it, this is exactly how it panned out, a bit of a cooler 3 way saw me finish in 3rd but I was happy with my over all play because no1 was none the wiser and it even took them a good while to adjust on the final table. As for the Boyle's tournament my tactics was to rob every blind and pretty much play gun-ho style of poker, this also ended up working as I took down that tourny. I will have a blog post soon on those 2 tournaments so I'll wait to go into detail then. Finally Day 2 mainly consists of consistently adapting to your table dynamics and the structure of the tournament. 1 more thing always 3bet medium stacks this is huge as most of your 3bets pre should be targeted on these player as they have to shove all in pre for their tourny life and most of them are very unwilling to stick the loot in with their normal opening hands like aj kq 77 88, so take advantage of that, these ppl will normally have between 25- 40 big blinds. If you have done enough for day 3 it is ok to step back for the last couple of rounds as most short stacks in Ireland will be shoving for sport as most of them have the train of thought 'I need a double up here or it's not worth coming back for' that especially goes for travelling players. I think the preferred term is 'shit or bust' excuse the language ;).

Day3 (probably the final day)
Normally this will be down to the last 2 maybe 3 tables. Here I would use 1 of 3 strategy's and all are designed for making the final table with big chips or with the intent of harvesting chips thick and fast. If I have aggressive opponents who will be competing for every chip I might employ same tatic I did on the stars game last Sunday,(sometimes the structure can be so good that there is no need to play fast and furious just because you can 4bet or 5bet, this doesn't mean you have too, much less variance playing the structure and adapting like this) sit back get a great feel for the table and every now and again pick ppl off in spots that look certain to having a hand, using this tatic has to be a good structure and also once you reach the final table many of the aggro players will be surprised at how tight you were playing and that's when you can kick into gear and begin to play fast, normally I would do this when it gets 7 handed on the final table. The amount of respect I have received before makes it worth while as normally come the end of a level or 2 I have amassed a pretty big stack before ppl begin to play back at you! First person to 3bet I would instantly 4bet them sends everyone else at the table a message before trying it light again or even with a marginal hand.

Another choice you have is depending on the aggro players at the table of course, if you feel you can out agrees them well I'm all for this, but you will need pretty good post flop skills aswel as it will be short handed lots of defending and flatting raises. For this you have to be in total concentration following how many times each individual raises, where they raise from, which blinds they could be picking on (these are 3bet spots for you now), passive players in the blinds who you can exploit (I would not even be looking at my hole cards preflop if they were even the slightest bit passive, only slows you down) and finally also look for where one guy steals and the next aggro guy tries a 3bet resteal, this is where a cold 4bet steal should work close to 100% of the time unless you are very unfortunate to have him reshove but it's ok to fold you know but obviously make sure you have enough to fold equity when doing these plays.

Choice 3 I'm keeping to myself, like come on I've given enough away already, I may keep some stuff to myself or I'll be easy to read lol. I do not mind sharing info or thoughts because in tournament poker you always have to be thinking of new plays and adapting to new table dynamics, so this is why I don't really mind blogging about this sort of stuff although I don't think I have really given too much away because I would assume most ppl would already know pieces of this from experiences. Ok so for these strategy's they should put you in a position that if your good at shorthanded play you should be making top 3 at least, just bang away if you get 4 handed totally try tip the table dynamics almost make yourself look like a crazy person. You would be amazed at how often it intimidates ppl. I have done it playing Moorman(1moortime on ipoker) so even some of the best have to give into you especially if there is at least 1 fish still left in the game, again table dynamics.

Ok so I guess that's it for now but I will have a blog coming soon about the 2 tournys I managed to win 87.5k in, all in 1 night. I will be replaying all of my hand histories from these games which is a great idea and seeing what interesting hands and topics I can come up with etc etc. Should be more detail in this upcoming blog than this one here itself, you be amazed how hard it is to go into detail, there is just so many spots and situations you would be years writting them all out so ha fat chance of that! Hope you ppl enjoy this. I'll leave you with a few tips:

If folded round to you in late poistion and you look at your first card and it's an ace then go ahead raise on that itself, you are more than likey way ahead of flatting ranges anyway. C-bet flop but if it's an ace high flop check your kicker as you might have to check back which is ok it pot controls and creates value for your hand to call down ppl.

Try to play more hands without looking at your hole cards, really zone in on your opponent, this will allow you to become better at reading hands postflop, plus tbh it's a great buzz after double barrelling then river appears an you look back and see you have the nuts lol done this few times.

Lastly play with no fear, do not be afraid to make these plays, you can never evolve as a poker player if not.

Ok that will do it from me for now guys. Gl to everyone in the sunday million this weekend, one of us Irish ship it plz!

Cheers
Jason