Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Tournaments, Where Your Business is My Business (And Vice-Versa)

Tournaments, Where Your Business is My Business (And Vice-Versa)Was playing on PokerStars yesterday and after sitting at the cash tables for a short while decided to jump into a small SCOOP (Spring Championship of Online Poker) satellite -- just a $5.00+$0.50 limit hold’em tourney that awarded tickets to a “low” level (i.e., $22) event. Sometime last year I’d won an FPP sit-n-go and had exactly $5.50 worth of $T in my account, and so used that to enter.

LHE tourneys aren’t too popular -- only 17 registered for this satellite, meaning just three tickets would be punched, with the next three finishers getting $5.50 back and $2.50 going to the player ending in seventh.

I played okay, I guess. I mismanaged a couple of hands along the way -- and got very lucky once (Q-Q vs. A-A and flopping a queen), saving my tourney life. Eventually made it to the final table, then the cash, and then, ultimately, landed a ticket (to Event No. 18-L).

I don’t play tourneys often. Indeed, when first starting out the tourney yesterday I screwed up a hand early on, then realized I’d played it as if it were a cash game, thereby causing my mistake. Got acclimated quickly, though, and by the time we reached the final table was more comfortable with my decisions. Was feeling better about judging the relative abilities of my opponents when it came to decision-making, too.

With six players left, there was one player in particular -- I’ll call him Butterfingers -- who had accumulated some chips but who had made several missteps. For instance, there was a player on his left sitting out who had nearly run out of chips, and one time the table folded around to him in the small blind and he instantly folded to the absent player. I was getting low at the time, and so was slightly bothered he’d given the player sitting out another round of hands while we were on the (tiny) cash bubble.

Got me thinking a little about how in tournaments -- a “zero sum” game where there are finite number of chips for which all are fighting equally -- other players’ mistakes can affect you as much as your own. This fact became even more glaringly obvious a little later when we were down to four players and I watched this same player play a hand not-too-cleverly against an opponent in a way that looked like it might sink my chances at landing a ticket.

Blinds were 250/500, stakes 500/1,000. The chip leader had 9,885, Butterfingers had 7,905, I had 4,045, and the fourth player -- I’ll call him Snickers -- had 3,665. The hand began with Butterfingers limping in for 500 from UTG/cutoff. I folded my Td2c on the button, and the chip leader completed from the small blind. Snickers then raised to 1,000, Butterfingers called, and the chip leader folded.

The flop looked like it might evoke some action, coming AcQcKh. Snickers checked, Butterfingers quickly bet (500), and Snickers made the call. The rapidity of Butterfingers’ bet -- coupled with the fact that he tended to play very straightforwardly (betting with something, calling/folding without) -- made me think the tourney could be ending on this hand.

The turn was the 8h, and again Snickers check-called Butterfingers’ bet (1,000). The river brought the 8d, pairing the board. Snickers, who now had just 1,165 left, thought a moment before checking. Butterfingers also paused before acting. It occurred to me he could perhaps have K-Q and was worried he’d been counterfeited here when the second eight arrived. Finally, he checked.

Snickers surprised me a little by showing ThTs. Butterfingers surprised me even more with his hand -- 3s3d.

Now I was in fourth, Butterfingers in third, and Snickers had new life, climbing with that one all of the way to second. The break came right after that hand, giving me time to think about how Snickers might well have folded to save his small stack had Butterfingers again bet the river. In any event, all eventually worked out, and in fact Butterfingers would ultimately be the one to eliminate Snickers a couple dozen hands later.

As I say, it is interesting to consider how in tourneys others’ play can so directly affect your own fortunes or misfortunes. Happens in cash games, too, of course, though not in quite the same way.

When two of my opponents square off against one another in a cash game and one donks off a bunch of chips to the other, their new stack sizes may potentially affect me in a future hand (esp. in NL or PL games). But in a tourney, where we are all playing with the same, finite number of chips, every hand could be said to affect everybody in some way. Worth thinking about when talking about the variance of tourneys (and the skill and/or luck needed to succeed in them), and comparing such elements to cash games.

Got over a month before SCOOP happens. Probably try to play some more tourneys. I think I will stick to LHE, and probably need to start thinking more specifically about LHE tourney strategy. Any tips?

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Blogger pokerpeaker said...

"I think I will stick to LHE, and probably need to start thinking more specifically about LHE tourney strategy. Any tips?"

Yes. Go find a long whip, with serrated edges, and use that instead, preferably while listening to some Enigma.

3/30/2010 2:46 PM  

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