Thursday, September 30, 2010

pokerstars this wee hours of the morning

Played strictly 10-player, double or nothing, on pokerstars, around 8 tournaments. Finished winning back my 30% :)

I'd like to share a strategy that I think is paying off - these tournaments are, as you probably know, shorter and kinda easier. You play to get only for the first 5 spots. There is no importance on who got the most chips, all the top 5 get double their entrance. Hence, it's survival of the least dumb, or "just try to not get too unlucky".

Thus, there are a lot of players that won't move without anything else than premium hands, and who even with 2 big blinds will hang on to them with the hope someone else goes unlucky before them and they somehow manage to get into the money.

The critical part is when blinds get to around 100/200, because if you haven't done anything for the whole SNG, your stack starts dropping real fast at this point. Plus, there's probably between 8 and 6 players remaining, so there's probably one or two players that have doubled up, but most players are still around 1500 and having the same problem - chips are running out and those blinds look real good. This makes people go all in when they feel they have a strong hand.

After a period of all-ins, people have normalized their stacks, and only around 6 or 7 people remain. This, is where the hand that's coming up is relevant - some people have gotten out of the critical low stack and are now confident they can go back to sleeping. This is where you start taking advantage of the incredibly unfavorable position that risky plays have at this point - you are one place away from the money, 20 minutes into a SNG, and you don't want to be #6!

Funnily enough, the easiest people to push at this moment is anyone smaller than you. Some big stacks will not play with you since they don't want to jeopardize their stack, but if they do, they are looking to take you out, so pick your spots. But small stacks? Punish them! In any way possible. At this point just 3 blinds will cover most small stacks, so you only need 3 successful attempts to cover any small stack that decides it's "show time" to push all-in. But what you will see is that those small stacks will claw their chips and rather fold in places where they probably would play if they had the chips, and continue folding those raises.

I was the big blind, folded around the table, and the small blind probably thought he could steal my blind to stack a bit. He was terribly short stacked, maybe 6 BBs, and I had like 15. He probably didn't like the call. Up came a board I think he totally missed, maybe 2 8 9 . I had called with JT so I had a open ended straight. He bet one blind (leaving him with about 3 blinds). Sensing he was weak, I called the one blind.

Out came a card like 3. he bet again. I called. Note he has 2 BB's at this point.

The river card I can't remember. But he checked. This to me was, "I've fired all bullets into this and it just seems you will flat call me. I'm done. Hope you don't raise!". And of course, even if I knew I was probably losing I put him all in.

Why? Because it was so weird. I was sure he was trying to steal. I was sure he hadn't hit the flop. He might have had a pair of 5's for all I know. And I'm pretty sure he was thinking I had him beat.

So incredible as it is, this person folded. He was the next one to leave of course, since he only had 2 blinds. I think he made a mistake in not calling there. I think he only had one good decision point - go all in on the flop or stop firing and keep your 4 blinds when your steal didn't work. But he didn't have the courage in the end, just because there where only 6 left.

So, lesson learned: be courageous when others are fearful, and the opposite. It pays well in these SNGs. (isn't that Warren Buffet's?).

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