Monday, September 21, 2009

My Biggest Tournament Poker Win: Learning...

My Biggest Tournament Poker Win: Recap and Learning

I thought I would share with you my notes that are a recap from my biggest cash at a poker tournament. My objective is that it may help you improve your game. (As I have suggested, it is important to write down your learning from playing--and I do practice what I preach.) This recap is rather long, so I will break it up to make it easier to read.

It was the the day before the WPT main event at the Reno Hilton many years ago. It was a $1,000 No limit buy-in. First place was $80,000. To get into this event, I chopped a one table satellite the night before.

It began on a Monday at noon. There were about 250 players. A number of the pros were in town early and played in this event as well.

Part 1

Always an intimidating figure, T.J. Cloutier, ...Image via Wikipedia

"The first 2 hours, I don't recall playing a hand. But that was okay since the rounds were 50 minutes long, and I had $1,500 in chips to start.

Key hand... I am on the big blind, and Hon Lee--a pro--and another player called my big blind. I had K-8. The flop came 8-6-5 with 2 spades. I bet $100. Hon Lee raised to $400 and the other player called. I thought for a while and decided the best play was to move in...and gamble here.


1. Both player knew I was a tight card player and wouldn't make this move unless I had a big hand.
2. I needed some chips--I was down to $1,100.
3. Hon Lee had about $1,000 chips..and would not want to go out of the event on a hand like this.
4. Hon Lee is a pro and will be aggressive when a flop looks scary.
5. The other player I thought was on a flush draw--and had lots of chips.
6. On an unraised hand, the big blind (me) could have anything---even the nut straight.
7. It is almost always better to raise or fold, and not call in poker.

Anyway, Hon Lee took a lot of time, and decided to fold. The other player says, "well if he called, I would have called." Yes, he was on the draw. Big win for me.

So, I start to get a few hands and play the players and not my cards. How?

There were three general types of players at this event:

1. Pros--who are aggressive and take chances. They will almost always raise on the button or small blind if first in the hand. But, they don't want to be taken out of the event and will lay down their hand if you re-raise them...why? Because they understand table image and saw or thought I was a card player--tight and only play my cards.

(Actually, in the entire event, if I raised pre-flop and a player re-raised me, I folded...there will always be another hand.)

Also, there are some variations on a theme among the Pros:
-Some pros defend their blinds with zeal/
-Some pros like TJ Cloutier play like his book before the flop--but changes from the flop on.
-Some pros like Layne Flack will look to play almost any 2 cards--even calling a raise with bad cards--hoping to hit his flop...or if his opponent checks (a sign of weakness) he will bet and win.
-All pros try to intimidate you with their bets--if you show any weakness on the flop--and they've never seen you check raise on the flop--they will bet.
-All pros will attack your blinds--so, attack back once in a while and they will behave. Again, raise or fold.

A general rule with Pros--they don't like moving all-in on the flop, unless they are trying to get you out of a pot thru is not that they don't have a hand, but they know they probably don't have the best hand at the moment and prefer you would fold.

2. Card players who are solid, smart players and are aware of what is happening to them--they are slowly losing because they are not getting cards, but they don't adjust their game to this fact.

When these players raise before the flop, fold. They have a hand..they play by the book. If it cost more than 5% of your chips or you are out of position, don't even bother calling then with a pair.

They like to think they are smart by mimicking the pros and raising on the button as a steal--if you think he/she is doing this--just re-raise them and they will fold. Or call, and see what happens on the flop...but when someone else bets into them on the flop, and they missed, they fold.

3. Card players--these guys not only play by the book, but you know where they are based on how they bet. If they bet on the flop, they hit their hand. If not, you bet...they fold.

I used the above knowledge to win pots when I am in a hand. In fact, I notice that I almost win every pot I playing the players and not my cards. Of course, I don't need to enter a lot of pots since if I play only a few hands, I get lots of respect whether I raise 2x's or 3x's the big blind. How much respect? I get 5-6 suited under the gun--and raise 2x's the big blind--everyone folds!

In fact, it was funny, but later in the event when I was building my chips, one player turns to the player to his left and says, "I wish I had his seat, he is getting all the card." Funny thing was that most of the time, no one even saw my starting hands...I just made them think that I had a big hand, because I was always betting the flops as if they were hitting my hand.

To be continued...
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1 comment:

GiJoeValdez said...

I am looking forward to part 2. Very good read.

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