Friday, November 23, 2007

Gimmie a break and Working on my endgame

So I”m sitting in a big, easy chair, fighting sleep, with a belly fully of turkey, stuffing, cranberry AND pumpkin pie.
I’m content.
That’s unusual for me, considering I busted out of the Mookie last night in 13th place and ran just under 24 minutes in the Turkey Trot today.
Normally I would be more upset at the 5K today. The Turkey Trot just might be my favorite race, and 24 minutes is a horrible time for me. Just terrible. I haven’t ran that slow since, well, I started running semiseriously three years ago.
Last night’s deep run in the Mookie wouldn’t bother me nearly as much, but still, it was disappointing not to cash, considering I had a pretty sizable stack through most of the night and it was one of those nights where everything seemed to go right. I was making great reads, catching good cards, flopping flushes and generally playing my ass off. That is, I was playing well until the end.
More on that in a moment.

So normally I’d be mad at myself on both counts.
But I’m not.
I’m giving myself a break.
I’ve been fighting a pretty horrible cold, as I said last time, and though I’ve started to feel better today, where it should be completely gone by Saturday,
As much as I would love to think that I”m immune to things like that, I'm not. When I started, I felt weak, and I could not breathe once I ran faster than a 7:30 per-mile pace. So I didn’t. I smiled and ran a hard, tough but slower race than I’m used to. I don’t think starting out in 10-degree weather helped either.
The thing is, had anyone else, my running partner, a friend, IG or anyone who told me that they had a bad cold three days before a race (and had to take off a couple weeks a month ago because of a snipping, although IG probably wouldn’t tell me that), I’d say, “well, you ran all right then.”
But in the past, I’d just ream myself and refuse to give myself a break.
No more. I had a cold. I ran hard. Most, I don’t think, would even be out there, let alone finishing in the top 150 of a 2,000-person race.
No, I’m not happy with the time, but I was happy to be out there.
I’m liking this newer me.

And I’m giving myself a break in the Mookie because I’ve done really well in MTTs lately. I’ve either cashed, found myself in the points or gotten fairly nice scores.
But I haven’t won any of them.
I haven’t even really taken down a big score in any of them.
That’s a serious hole in my game.
And it will be fun trying to work on it.

I believe my beginning and mid-level tournament game is solid. I rarely bust out early in any MTT, and usually by the second hour, I’m in good shape. I’m patient, aggressive when I need to be and my post-flop play is probably better than average, even better than the average blogger, if there is such a thing. I’ve greatly improved my stealing and bluffing as well. Sure, I do ultimately need a few cards to get chips, but most players do, especially in those stages.

But my end game is weak. That’s where my patience probably hurts me.
Last night in the Mookie I had a great stack, and then Buddy Dank picked me to win, and my cards immediately went zombie. It’s a good thing they were virtual because I would have had frostbite.
And there’s my weakness. I continue to wait for good cards when the blinds are high, and every orbit takes a substantial chunk out of my stack, and I just let it happen. By the time it’s push or fold, I still wait for a good hand.
In fairness to me, it’s a tough time to expand your range. You’ve played for almost three hours, as I did in the Mookie last night, and you don’t want to put all that time in the trash by going out on, say, J-2 offsuit. You don’t want to go out on K-10 either. And if you’re playing with good players with big stacks, as I always do in the Mookie, they’re probably raising a lot, and I don’t want to call a raise with Q-9, even if it’s sooted. Last night, too, almost every time someone raised, they would show down a good hand, and many times it was a big pair. So I was correct to fold, even if it was costing me.
I live and die by the Gap Concept.
Finally, if you try to steal, and someone wakes up with a hand or catches on to what you’re doing or is a great player and simply decides to challenge you ( Hoy and
TripJaxare great at this) and you fold, at those blinds, you’re suddenly hurting.
But I can’t continue to play well and settle for a $5 profit in the Mookie after three hours of play. I really need to finish it off.
So here’s what I’ll work on:
• Stealing more - If it’s folded around to me, I need to raise it up and challenge the blinds more often. The great players do this consistently.
• Re-stealing - I barely do this at all. I honestly have no real idea how to know when to re-steal.
• Opening my range - If I’m pushing or folding, I may just have to push with mediocre hands, especially if I’m in late position.
• Taking better notes on players - Some players are obviously stealing my blinds, especially if they watch me play. I need to make those players pay while respecting others.
• Re-read Harrington's advice on Endgame poker play.
• Taking more chances - I saw so many sick suckouts last night. I hardly ever get one of those. Is my luck that bad, or am I never giving myself a chance to suck out? My luck is not that bad. In order to suck out, you have to take a chance every once in a while.
• Not go card dead at the end of an MTT - OK, this one is out of my control, but I’ve caught all my good cards too early in a tournament. I also need to make sure that doesn't happen. Tinfoil hat here I come!

The trick is balancing these plays with my usual solid game that’s done me well. Any suggestions on how to improve my endgame in MTTs would be much appreciated. Am I way off on what I need to work on? What's your endgame game plan?

Speaking of the end game, the time is here for my Kansas Jayhawks, No. 2 in the country, and they’ve got No. 3 Missouri, their hated rival, for a possible eventual chance to play for the national title.
Amazing. This will never, ever happen again. I’m still waiting for Rod Serling to appear and tell me it was all a dream. KU vs. MU in the game of the year.
Rock Chalk Jayhawk.

1 comment:

TripJax said...

"You’ve played for almost three hours, as I did in the Mookie last night, and you don’t want to put all that time in the trash by going out on, say, J-2 offsuit. You don’t want to go out on K-10 either."

Having this mentality in a poker tournament will kill you in the long run. I'm not saying you SHOULD play J2, but you definitely need to consider playing the players and the positions and not just your cards.

I wrote this already on another blog today, but I think it should be noted again here. You should consider reading Making The Final Table, by Erick Lindgren.

The book is really catered towards high buy-in live tournaments (like the WPT events), but I had no problem transitioning the thought process directly to small buy-in live and online tournaments.

The paperback version is pretty cheap on Amazon. I'd send you mine, but I'm about to give it to my brother when I see him for our family Thanksgiving get together.

Good luck on and off the tables!