8/22/2005

8-22-05 [poker] - 1

8-22-05 [poker]

I've been playing a lot of poker since I've been bed-ridden the last few days. I'm playing the 2-table sit & go tournaments. One thing I've noticed is that everyone in general has gotten a lot more aggressive over the last year or so. I blame this partly on TV, people watching Phil Ivey and such, the glory of moving all-in, and partly it's because everyone is getting better. The annoying thing for me is that it means I need to play a lot looser and faster in calling. It also means I usually can't be the aggressive table captain, I have to play a trapping game. When everyone is pretty tight, I like to be the frequent raiser, but most of these tourneys have guys who are going allin with things like A6 preflop and things like Ace-high on the flop. Those are very extreme examples, but even the pretty good players will do things like go allin with middle pair on the flop, or a pocket pair below top pair, or just a draw (flush or straight). My game then is to try to hit a big hand, trap them into going allin, and just call and beat them. The problem is the blinds get big so fast that I can't be very selective. With how aggressive they play, I have to call with almost any top pair. In fact, the tournament I took 1st place in recently, a big part of how I won was calling down a super-aggressive player with *bottom* pair several times when he went allin with no pair. Now, that's all well and good, but the problem is the variance on these plays is just horrible. It's very easy for the super-agressive player to just happen to have a hand when you call, or even to hit something on the turn & river after you get allin; when you call with bottom pair it's likely he has over cards, and maybe he had a flush or straight draw as well.

One thing I'm trying to do now is avoid playing hands early in the tournament. I just can't play well until I get a read on the opposition. Frequently I'll lose big pots early where I'm doing something like betting top pair, then the guy moves in on me. I don't have a read, so I have to fold. Playing the same pot later I should have a read if the guy's tight, bluffing, etc. and have a better idea of whether a fold is warranted or not. I like to just watch for a while. This sets you up with a very tight image initially, so once you start playing more it's good to kick into high agressive gear and steal a bunch of pots. Unfortunately, I'm giving up a lot of value doing this. The first few hands of tournaments online are usually where the absolute donkey gives away his whole stack with some nonsense hand, and it's great if you can be the one who takes those chips, but it might involve calling with AT when he was A5 or something, which is hard for me to risk that early without a solid read. Most often it seems the early part of the tournament is when the really bad donkeys give away their stacks to the moderate donkeys. Then comes the slow grind phase where the better players take the chips off the big stack moderate donkeys (who are usually loose/aggresive).

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old rants