Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Bust in Paris

I cannot deny going into the WPT event a touch short in confidence. I suffered pretty horrendous outdraws in 4 of the last 5 big tournaments I played, added to that all the snide remarks on the Hendon Mob Forum when I tried to sell part of my action at a small premium. Yes, five players whose abilities I respect greatly bought a share. But I also get on pretty well with all of them and the sneeking suspicion had entered my psyche that they were doing it to help out a friend, not as a value proposition.

Then 15 minutes before the start, with all these negative thoughts swilling round my head, along arrived the perfect tonic to my troubles. The greatest living Englishman (a self proclaimed title) bought a significant share at the same 5% for 4% rate. Now Devilfish has got alot of attributes. He is first to the bar to get his round in, he is remorselessly funny and he is about the best no limit holdem player you will ever meet. But acts of spontaneous generosity to fellow poker players is not generally part of his modus operandi. In fact he should be pretty low on your list of potential players to nip when they have a result.

Regardless, it did wonders for my confidence. If the 'Fish thought me worthy of buying a share, well, I am worthy of my place in this star filled field despite what KingOfFilth and various others think.

Psychologically buoyed, I drew my seat assignment and was pleased to find myself in the main tournament cardroom. That meant I wasn't going to get moved all day and had as long as I needed to get a line on the players around me.

It was, as I expected a mixed bunch. There was only one player whose play I really admired on my table: the WPT Championship winner Martin de Knijff. Two seasoned European pros with a handful of big wins apiece Ben Roberts and Phillip Marmostein were also there, as were 4 unnamed and semingly harmless Yanks, Cecilia Mortensen (The wife of Carlos) and an empty seat being anted away because it was owned by an Orthodox Jewish guy who could not leave his house on the Sabbath until sundown. So, at least 6 hours of free blinds for the rest of the table!

The first ninety minute level I tried to start to get a line on the players I didn't know. I must admit I liked what I saw. Two of the Americans were very poor, one being far too aggressive overbetting pots wildly (his first raise when the blinds were 50-100 was 800 to play! And he regularly bet 2.5 to 3 times the pot size). Another petrol was the ultimate calling station. I cannot remember him leading out to a pot once and I think there was only one occasion when he check raised. All his bets were calls. Cecilia certainly doesn't have her husbands aptitude for no limit holdem. She didn't ever seem to know where she was in a pot and absolutely no feel for the game. Survival seemed to be her only aim. I certainly think these 3 players had as near to 0% chance of winning the event as to be statistically irrelevant.

By the end of the level I had about 9000 but was feeling ok. Within an hour of level 2 (75-150 blinds) I was out and feeling decidedly not ok.

Three hands were to blame for my demise. I probably misplayed all of them to some extent.

Hand 1: Calling station limped in first position. But he had no small value chips to call the 150 so threw in a 500 chip. Mrs M believed he had raised to 500 and threw in 5 black chips. the dealer declared raise to 500. As soon as he did that she attempted to grab back her chips, but of course the raise stood. It was passed to me on the button. I held AQ clubs. I made it 1600 to go. The small blind passed. But fuck it! Ben Roberts in the BB made it 3500 to play. The other 2 players passed and the decision is up to me. Normally this is an easy pass. But, Ben knows that I saw Cecilia try to take back her chips because she didn't want to raise and he might have put me on a bare steal. But would Ben Roberts commit 2/5ths of his chips on a steal no matter how high a % success rate he imagined he had? It was a very close decision for me. I mucked. What should have I done? Answers on a postcard please...

Hand 2: I limped in early position with 89hearts I have approx 7000. Yank raises to 600. All pass back to me. I call. Flop comes 762 with 76hearts. I check. He bets 600 I raise to 2000. He calls. Small blank on turn. I bet 3000 he calls. Check check on the river. He wins. Against a strong player on a difficult table my play was probably correct. On this table with 3 players itching to give their chips away and mostly succeeding it was definitely the wrong play. I should have check called until I hit.

Hand 3: I have 2600. Marmostein raises to 700. I have often criticised players for saying "I put him on QQ or JJ" before the flop with no evidence except one piece of preflop action. Yet, on this occasion I felt sure for some reason he had AK. Maybe it was the fact he was raising the table chip leaders BB and was saying to him... I don't want to tangle with you but I've got a big hand. I don't how I knew. I just knew. I've got QQ. I move allin. He calls and spikes an A on the flop. I should definitely just call here as I am so certain of my read he's got AK and see the flop. If an ace or king falls I can pass and with 75-150 blinds 1900 is still enough to play with.

Three hands. End of me.


Blogger Andy_Ward said...

I'll have a bash just to get the ball rolling. Playing a big stack in these events is where I desperately need to improve so if anyone disagrees with my reasoning or conclusions, please let me know why, I'm all ears !

1) Many's the time I've done the lot in this kind of situation. Once someone makes a mistake like that it throws everything off. As you say, Ben might have seen Cecilia's mistake and believe that you saw it and are weaker than normal, or he might not. From his reputation, I would guess he did :-). But would he be bluffing here ? Once you get reraised you have to put it down. An alternative would be calling the 500 but Ben or anyone else might decide they can blast you all out of the pot with a raise. Given the info I have I think you played it right.

2) Monster draw. Out of position you'd love to get it all in on the flop. Getting it all in on the turn is not quite so enticing. On the flop I would do whatever I could to get all the chips in (and give him a chance to fold) without massively over-betting. The problem with a check-raise is that (as happened) he probably won't bet enough for you to check-raise sensibly. Nonetheless I would probably check the flop. In the event of him betting small (or checking), I just call and try to check-raise again on the turn. I don't like your actual bet on the turn - surely he must have either an overpair or Ace-big of hearts ? Check and await developments. Most of that is how I would play against a decent player ; if this guy will pay you off it might be best to check-call until you hit as you say.

3) There's no doubt in my mind that flat-calling pre-flop is best here. None whatsoever. You know what he has and you have position. See the flop and how can you go wrong ? There's every chance he will bluff a rag flop. If he does have KK or AA then the call loses nothing because obviously he would have called anyway pre-flop. Even without such a sure read I think there is a lot to be said for flat calling when you have position on an aggressive player and you hold QQ/KK/AA. Even JJ if you think it's enough. If you go all-in you solve all his problems for him with AK out of position. Now it's a coin flip (or 4/5 for you :-)).

Let me know what you think. And it's true, if the Devilfish wants a piece of you, you must be doing something right.


12:29 PM  
Blogger The Camel said...


Hindsight is of course 20:20. I *think* I was right to make the laydown with AQ, but I guess I'll never know. I believe Roberts thinks I'm a maniac and I think he gives me the chance to hang myself if he has AA or KK. AK is a hand he's very likely to hold in this spot.

The big draw is the hand I'm most annoyed about. I played it on reflex. I should have counted to 10 before raising. There was no way I could check raise enough to get it allin on the flop and playing it like a calling station was definitely the way forward.

And the QQ should have been flat called preflop. 1900 was enough to play with and if we get raggedy flop he may well move in with AK anyway.

There's more than one way to skin a cat. I chose the wrong ways!

Still, live and learn.

9:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Firstly Camel you shouldn't consider my remarks on the Hendon Mob Forum snide or anonymous. KingOfFilth is simply, as you know, my name on PokerStars. My remarks were not snide, I was simply questioning whether anyone could claim to have a 20% edge in the WPT event in Paris. I tried to make this clear in my original post but it seems you have taken this personally which was not my intention at all.

After reading your below post I can now see where your 20% edge comes from, and therefore admit I could have been incorrect. I am however amazed that players like the three you mention in your post are willing to stump up such an entry fee. I guess they must either have money to burn or egos so large that they can't see the reality of the situation.

I s'ppose this means that, if you take a (very) long term view, a large buy-in event where you have a 20% edge is worth, in this instance 2,000 tax-free euros. Not bad for a few days work.

As for the three hands you mention, well I'm not in a position to give advice as I am still working hard on my game, but for what it's worth I would suggest there's no other way you could have played Hand 1; Hand 2 is open to debate and there's many different ways to play this; and Hand 3, given your read, is an obvious calling situation.

That's all from me. Best of luck to you in the future


4:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Keith,

The first question I would have which relates particulalry to scenario 1, is did having backers affect your decision?

I can imagine myself in that position trying to explain why all my chips went in preflop with AQs. I'm sure the backers would understand, but you'd still feel foollish turning over AQ against AA. Without knowing the player its hard to pass a judgement, but if I felt as though he was making a move because of what he saw, then I'd come over the top again - I feel you would to if you were running better. Would you make his play with 88 or above, after seeing what he did ?

The second case I agree with you, given the table climate was good, you would have been better playing the hand low risk. Which I guess could add to the justification of passing AQs in scenario 1.

Well I'm not 100% sure that the play in Scenario 3 was wrong. If you are sure he is on AK, then I guess your question must be will he fold for a re-raise ? If not then I supose the call is right. Again I think the table climate is important - risk averse strategies are best here.

Good post Keith, hope to see more hand discussions.



2:35 PM  

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