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Saturday, June 26, 2010

My first real score!

It finally happened. I've been playing micro stakes online poker for 4 years and before this my biggest score was taking down a $3.25, 45-turbo SnG for ~$40. That was pretty exciting. But a couple of nights ago I eclipsed that excitement when I took down a $4.40, 135-man Rush SnG for a score of close to $140. What a rush!

I definitely had to get lucky to win, needing a suckout in the middle stages to stay alive along with a string of coinflips that went my way. But it also validates that maybe I do have some skill at this game. It may take a lot of luck to win a tourney, but you also can't win one without some skill and good decision making. I do feel like I played well overall, and was very happy with how successfully I was able to focus on accumulating chips and not think about holding on to my stack. I didn't even glance at the tourney info until we were down to about the top 23, close to the bubble.

Add that score to the handful of other cashes I've had in these 135-man rush tournies and I'd say I've found my new stomping ground. Onwards and upwards!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Another goal for Grade 2

While I continue with my Rush game development I've discovered another type of tourney that I really enjoy, but it has also highlighted a glaring weakness in my MTT game. It's a weakness that wasn't as evident in the 45-turbos because those are smaller MTTs that don't go through all the ebbs and flows and stages of larger MTTs.

The tourney I've discovered is the $4.40, 135-man Rush SnG on Tilt. I absolutely love them. Because of the structure, the size, and the fact that they are Rush tournies, these particular tournies have a real MTT feel about them. The major advantage of these over regular tournies is that you can cycle through crap hands much more quickly so you can really play a good amount of poker within the structure of the tourney. And the fact that it only takes an hour and a half from start to finish is great for someone like me with limited time to play poker. These SnGs are the closest thing I can get to playing a large-field MTT within my time constraints, and they are actually enjoyable to play.

So anyway, what I've come to realize about my MTT game is that I have a good feel for the early stages, and a good grasp of shortstack play, but where I really struggle is in the mid-late stages particularly when I have a healthy stack. The last thing I want to do is bust out before the bubble when I'm sitting with a top 5 or top 10 stack, so I tend to become very cautious against stacks that can hurt me. The result is that I miss out on value when I have decent hands and fail to take advantage of opportunities to potentially accumulate chips. In a fast-structured tourney, this can have a disastrous effect one's success - a healthy stack can quickly become a shortstack. So although I've gotten off to great starts several times, and have cashed a few times, I haven't been able to go really deep (my best finish has been 7th).

What I need to do is work at overcoming this psychological barrier and be willing to put my healthy stack on the line late in the tourney, even if it means the risk of busting out. What I need to do is learn to adopt the attitude that my objective in a MTT is to accumulate as many chips as possible, regardless of how healthy my stack is at any point in time. The only times that would warrant a less aggressive attitude would be at the final table and perhaps right at the bubble.

So if that's my goal, the question is how to train myself to change my mindset. What I've decided to do is to find some really cheap tournies to use as a training ground, where I can work on this aspect of my game and not feel the sting of busting out. Unfortunately there are no Rush tournies below $4.40 on Tilt, so I've decided to use the dime, 360 turbos and $1.10, 90-turbos on Stars as my training ground.

Monday, June 14, 2010

A 3-betting experiment

So there I was, playing some $1.10 45-turbos, and after busting out of the first two I decided to play a little 10NL Rush while I was finishing up my 3rd tourney. While I was playing Rush I noticed something that I had picked up on in the past but never gave it too much consideration: 3-betting seems to be very profitable. In particular, I was noticing how often people would fold to my 3-bets after raising. It was a bit frustrating because I was only 3-betting for value but never getting value from my 3-bets because the raisers seemed to always fold. Hmm, I thought to myself, I wonder just how profitable 3-betting can be in micro stakes Rush?

Time to test it out. The objective would be to 3-bet a very high percentage of the time in situations where the original raise was more likely to be a steal than a value raise and see whether I could make money doing that. The idea is to test whether a high 3-bet resteal strategy could be profitable on its own. Obviously this would never work in regular cash games because opponents would quickly pick up on my high 3-bet percentage, but Rush is the ideal environment to attempt such a strategy. To minimize the risk associated with my little experiment, I decided I would drop down to 5NL Rush and put in at least 10,000 hands before I analyzed the results.

The parameters of the experiment are as such. If the following conditions hold:
1) I'm either in one of the blinds or on the Button;
2) The original raise is an open-raise coming from a typical steal position (Button, CO, HJ, or an open-raise from the SB when I'm in the BB); and
3) The original raise is not coming from a <40BB shortstacker (more likely to be value raises);

I will 3-bet with any two cards. That's right, any two cards. My hypothesis is that this will boost my overall winrate in large part because a high percentage of the time the original raiser will fold. Of the times I do get called, I will win some pots through uncontested CB's and the times I actually hit a hand and the rest I will lose. I think the pots I win will more than make up for the pots I lose.

We'll see what happens...