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Wednesday, June 20, 2012

STYLES: NIT vs. MANIAC

Yeah...I got a sudden burst of energy to write back-to-back blogs. Chalk it up to either me being cut off in mid thoughts yesterday due to a major 'overrun' on my entry...or perhaps it was the case of VERVE! energy drink that showed up on my doorstep yesterday. Half diet, half regular. Man...I do not know WHAT it is going to take to get you people to buy in to this product...but it is T-H-E  S-H-I-T! I've been jamming down the little 5oz shots before doing the radio show, or going to run errands...or before going to grind cash game...and it really does energize me. Not BS'ing you. And the stuff is HEALTHY. For real.  Go read about it if you don't believe me. Click my link over there>>>>...ANYTIME...and order some. It arrives at your house in just a couple days. Stuff it in your refrigerator..and ENJOY!

I'm not lying...this stuff blows RED BULL away...and its not destroying your internal organs while you drink it like Red Bull does!
I managed to convince Carley Grace to let me go play some cash game at IP last night. I've actually booked 4 winning cash sessions in a row...so I've been kind of geeked to go keep trying to accumulate funds for the bills before I head to Vegas. Well, last night...I booked another winning session, but how I got there was a bit unusual. 

Within the first hour, and first buy in of $300 I was busto. Had a hand where I'd been trying to trap a couple of really aggressive players at the other side of the table...where I called a raise with 3d5d and caught a flop of 2d5c6d. I checked the flop hoping to check raise. Nothing. I turned the 7 of diamonds, giving me a flush WITH a straight flush draw (needing the 4 of diamonds for the nuts). The first bettor led out for 35. Hmmm. The kid next to me flats. Double Hmmm. I make it 85. The first guy folds. The guy beside me tanks a bit...hmmmmssss a bit more...then flats. The river was a damn 5...giving me useless trip fives...but more dangerously pairing the board. He goes all in, and there was just too much in there for me to fold for my last 100. Set of 7's...or boat on the river. Shitballs. Rebuy.

[dear readers. See these words in red? That are underlined? Those are links. I did not put them there. I don't know where they come from or how they get there. But I see them now everywhere, not just on my blog. Who are these pirates? It pisses me off. Just don't want anyone thinking that I've laid this shit in here!]

I spent, literally...the next FOUR hours stuck in neutral...hovering between 250 and 350. And getting very bored. Then our table broke. Finally...a full table. Well..this little Hispanic angel came flying down from heaven with $550 in his stack...and decided to make my night. I called the first time with 5h7h on a $12 raise...and caught a flop of Q-7-7. Well player number one had KQ. Player number two (my angel from above) had QJ. #1 leads out for 20. #2 calls. I make it $65. They both call. Turn is...bingo...a jack. It all gets in. I hold. Nice pot. On the next meaningful hand...I raise behind a bunch of limpers with 10-10 to $17...and get called by not only my whole table...but the other three tables in the room. (j/k) The flop comes A-9-10. Rainbow. I check. First guy bets $55. The 'angel' calls. I raise to $120. I figure I'm up against, most likely...A9....or QJ...or a set of nines. Thank god it wasn't that...since a nine hit the turn. Well...the first guy tanks forever...and finally folds A9. Good lay down sir. The 'angel' however...shoves all in for more than what I had....with ACE DEUCE!

The turn was a deuce...the river was a nine...and for a second he thought he won..as did the guy who folded A9...before he realized what really had happened was he had saved his remaining 180, cuz had I played that a little slower, I probably get doubled up by BOTH of them. But I wasn't complaining. I won a few more hands, lost a few more hands (on horrible coolers) and after Squirrel sent me a video of Carley asking me when I was coming home (I'm a sucker for that kid already) I racked up my $1200 chips and headed home with a nice profit for the night.

Looks like Miami and their 'Big Three,' that being Lebron James, Dwyane Wade and whoever has the whistle in their mouth...are going to win the NBA title. No way Miami loses three in a row. I told anyone who would listen to me...and I'm sure you can search on my blog posts last fall and discover it for yourself...that when Miami got off to that slow start....I still thought they would win the title. Some teams just need a little kick in the ass to get going. And for as much as a shitbird that Lebron was for how he handled his exit from Cleveland? The guy is an awesome freaking basketball player. Closest thing to Jordan I've ever seen. I like OKC's players...but the thought of Clay Bennett (that M#$&( F9873q4'er) getting to enjoy a championship with the team he ripped from Seattle? I couldn't stand to think about that.

Okay...to the subject line of this blog post. Nit vs. Maniac. And yes...I'm sick of the word 'nit' as it applies to supposedly super-tight poker players. You can lump that word in with a variety of other words you hear around the poker room, usually from guys between the ages of 21-31...words like 'spewey' or 'donkaments' or 'binked' or 'aggro' or....you get the picture. Bottom line...having a conversation with players who use these euphemisms is f-u-c-k-i-n-g   a-n-n-o-y-i-n-g!!!!

So...I have been accused numerous times of 'being too tight for my own good.' Whatever. Is it true? Some may say yes, some may think like I do. Let them think whatever they want to think. As long as you get results, who cares? Right? Well...yes and no. I'll be honest, there is something to say for beating the shit out of your table and piling up chips. For one...as long as you have your table covered, you never have to worry about any ONE person knocking you out on a hand that goes askew. And that is a nice luxury.

It is also a benefit to have your table terrified of you. Having a big stack also means your blinds aren't preyed on as much. It also means the guys from Poker News like to hover around your table more often if you are playing in a big event. If you're single...and playing in the WSOP...you might even attract some chip whores to the rail to sweat you...thinking you are about to be a big shot millionaire in the next day or so. Oh....there are lots of benefits to accumulating a big stack early or mid way through a tourney. In fact...there really aren't ANY bad things about having a big stack ever! 

The point that I would like to emphasize...is that having a big stack is completely NOT necessary when it comes to winning a tournament. And to a lot of guys who 'get it' this is really just Poker 101 shit I am throwing at you. But surprisingly, a lot of people might actually read this and say to themselves, "wow...that guy Monkey is really brilliant, what a great point he makes." And the fact that their are those of you out there who come away with that reaction? Frightens and alarms me.

I think men in general...have a problem with ego interfering in their game. Not quite as much with women. How many times do you see a guy limp in...or even raise...and refuse to fold to a much bigger bet? Even though he KNOWS the guy who raised (probably a tight player who you can put on one of three hands with his raise) has him totally dominated? To me...that is ego. I mean, what else would YOU call it? You know you are behind. You know you aren't getting a good price to call. You know your odds to make a better hand are bad. But yet...they still call. Some might call this a 'spite call.' I myself have been guilty of the 'spite call' many times. I might not like the guy. I might hate his outfit, or his hair, or his mannerisms. Or maybe he showed me a bluff earlier for a huge pot...and now I'm willing to call his huge raise with my pocket threes...and go set mining to ruin his tourney. We've all done it. But something about men...they do it more. And they generally are made to suffer because of it.

Back to my point. (uh oh...Carley is waking up...the crying has started...its 'bottle time' for the princess. Then diaper time. Then hold me cuz my tummy hurts time. It might be awhile before I finish this! Whoa...wait...I think she fell back asleep!)

Big Stack...vs I Don't Care How Big Stack tourney strategy:  The bottom line is this. Say you start out with 10,000 chips at 25/50? You have 200 bb's. Or 133 rounds worth of chips. You have NO reason to ever panic...for a LONG time. Why guys decide to raise anywhere from 4 to 8 times the big blind in these levels is beyond me. It's just fucking stupid. You will see the good players raising 2.25x or maybe 2.5x. Why? They want to play flops. They want to build pots. They want to get to know the other players at the table...to see how they play after the flop. Its what I like to call...laying the foundation. Bad players...they just bomb away with bets no one is going to call...except the guy who has their JJ crushed with QQ's or better. Then they never get away from their hand on a 10-high flop and go broke before the blinds even get to 50/100.

So...in my world? Anytime I play a tourney with 10k or more in chips...I love to see a LOT of hands in the first 2 or 3 levels. I mean...I'm talking, probably 20-25% of the dealt hands. And I do very little raising. If I do raise, I'm raising light. I prefer to do a lot of limp/calling though...which is great for masking the  strength of your hand. While also finding out who your super-aggressive players are post flop. Some of you might notice (those who pay attention) that I seldom wear my headphones and dilly-dally on my iPad in the first 5 or 6 levels, because I am busy studying the table. Everything about the table. And once I have committed all of their habits, patterns and tells to memory, thats when I usually escape to my own private mental resort.

If during these first few levels, I manage to catch some good flops, I try to maximize whatever value may exist in that hand. Bad players? They tend to run off their customers because they are 'scared' of getting drawn out on. I admit, I lose a lot of big pots early sometimes because I gamble on getting that max value...but end up letting guys suck out on me. I don't mind having this happen early in a tourney...since I've invested the least amount of time possible to that point. I will tend to protect my hand later in the tourney...with larger bets on all streets, to avoid the suckouts...and take down pots when I know I have them...because at that stage of the tourney? All pots are nice pots. The other nice thing about starting with 10k or more...and raising light....or limping and calling reasonable raises...is it makes it so much easier to get away from hands if you think you are beat.

How many times do you see shitty players commit so much to the pot preflop...or preflop and then after the flop...that once the turn arrives they just can't separate themselves from the hand? It happens a lot...and its where good players look to exploit the bad players.

So...moving on. Occasionally, this plan to accumulate chips through a fairly well mapped out strategy fails. And you miss EVERY flop. Or you miss every damn draw. Things...basically...just go like shit. You get to the 2nd break after level 6...and you have half, maybe even less than half...of your starting stack. Meanwhile, that annoying little German asshole with the skinny arms and the horrible hairdo is sitting on a stack that is 4 or 5 times the average...and you are hating his guts. But being on life tilt, and being on poker tilt...are two completely different animals. I go on life tilt a lot...and I credit my mental condition for that. My obsessive compulsiveness, my slight anxiety disorder...where little things about people that I find annoying will grow and grow and manifest.

Personally, I don't think its a bad thing to form a slight amount of hatred for your opposition. Often...guys who KNOW I hate them will sit over there accusing me of tilting. Hey...that's fine. I know I'm not. Not poker-wise anyway. And if they think I'm poker tilting...then they are liable to make a critical mistake when they think my raise (with KK) is me steam-raising...when they call me with KJ...and double my ass up when a flop of J-9-3 hits the board. Make sense? Thanks for the double up. Jerkoff.

So anyway...where was I? Yeah...your 'plan' for levels 1-6 didn't go as you had hoped it had. And now you are sitting on a small stack. But you, being a good player...who is patient, and has his eye on 'the prize' and not the cash tables 100 feet away...decides to regroup, to figure out where you are blinds wise. Okay...so you have about 15-20 BB's now. What you have is a great stack for 3-bet shoving all in. What you don't have a great stack for, is opening in lousy position with hands that aren't top ten or better. So you have to be a lot more careful, a lot more calculating, a lot more attentive. In short...you have to be a short-stack ninja! Which...through the years...I have earned a bit of a reputation for being. Do I like being in Short-Stack Ninja mode? Um...no not really. But I admit that sometimes I play some of my best poker when I'm short on chips.

Conversely, I also think I play pretty damn good when I am lucky enough to get a big stack. Why? Because I don't put my stack in peril. Which I happen to think is the downfall of a LOT of players who are good enough to pile up chips early in the tourney. They let their ego get in the way. Pure and simple. 6 to 10 levels of bullying the table and having their way with it...they can't allow themselves to slip into a gear that will see them protect that stack and pick people off when the chance arises, instead choosing to force the action, and often times spending a lot of time doubling up one short stack after another, until eventually they themselves get down to 20-30 big blinds and just start shoving every hand because they freak out at being so close to being short...and a lot of times will run smack into the guy with AA or KK and be gone. After having a huge stack all tourney...they are now OUT...often times not even making the money. I see this ALL the time.

Its a pretty simple formula. In levels 1-8...there really isn't that much to be gained from raising and stealing. Over and over and over. Other than the mental aspect you are gaining over some of the lesser experienced players. Personally? I could care less about the guy who wants to open 7 out of every 10 hands and win 60% of them. I used to. Now I don't. I could name 15 players who play with this style. Don't care. Get your chips early. You can't win in Levels 1-12. You can only survive. I might sit there and win 5 pots TOTAL in levels 1-10. My 10k might be only 12k when we get to 400-800. But guess what? When I look down at AKs at cutoff...and there is a limp for 800...another caller...and Mr. Late-Position-Limp-Punisher decides to make it 3000 on a total attempted theft of 3200 chips....as he's been doing all tourney long...what is he going to do when SUPER NIT over here (me) re-pops it...either shoving all in to pick up over 6k with 12k in my stack...or even wanting him to put me all in by merely re-raising it to 7500? I'm probably ahead of his hand 85% of the time there. If he 'gambles' like a lot of guys with big stacks who figure out the math and decide the math won't allow them to fold, and I win...I'm now well over 25k. Even if he folds...as do the other two...I've increased my stack by 50%.  

Know how long it would take me to get my stack from 12k to 25k in levels 1-5? Playing that same style of poker? Numerous hands.

The moral of the story? For those who like to accuse players like me of playing super tight...and just min-cashing? They just don't get it. Nobody is sitting there playing scared and folding their way to the money. I'll be honest, min-cashing rarely does me ANY good, since I am almost always backed, and min-cashing when backed is like almost not cashing at all. On the flip side, cashing at ALL...is always a better scenario than NOT cashing at all.  So when I am between 5 and 10 big blinds...and either in the money...or very close to the money? I am not going to shit the bed by moving in with some crap hand, just because I'm on the button and it folded around to me. If you play this game long enough...you will realize that you are NEVER out of it. Sure...with a small stack you might require a bit more luck. So be it.

Luck? If you took 18 players...paying 9 spots...gave them all the same stack...say 35 big blinds...I'm going to predict that the person who wins, is the one who simply got dealt the highest percentage of Top 10 hands...or who got luckiest. Skill will get you only so far in tournaments. I don't care what anyone says. Most of you agree with me. Granted, if you put a 'very good' player at a final table...against very inferior players...I think that good player has a decided edge. I think we have all been in those situations a few times...and it is a LOT of fun. But put 9 players at the table, all with equal skill levels...and I'd rather be lucky than good.

So...did I get my point across effectively? In regards to SUPER NIT style of play vs. SUPER AGGRO style of play? I think if I could choose one way to go about playing tourneys...I would play like the Dolan's/Smith's/Hallen's/Costner's/Taulley's of the poker world for the first 10-12 levels of every tourney...then switch into MY MODE the rest of the way. No one will ever be able to convince me that playing what I call a 15/15 method deep in a tourney is NOT the proper way to play tourneys. What is my 15/15 method?

Only open with Top 15 hands. And only make calls against short stacks with hands that are less than Top 5 hands...say something like 99....KQ...good, but not great...if the cost is LESS than 15% of my total stack. My feelings are that you have more to lose by losing that hand...and effectively doubling up a short stack...than if you win that hand and add a sliver to your stack. There are a lot of players who, if they have 3 times the average or more...will snap call any short stacks shove with a HUGE range of hands....for often-times up to 25-30% of their stack. I just can't convince myself that this is the way to win a tournament.

Okay...wow...this blog post is about the MOST poker-talk you will EVER get out of me. I welcome your feedback through comments. Please...if you want to leave some shitty comment...post your name. Otherwise, your comment means dick. Don't even waste your time posting it. 

Okay. Have a great day!

Monkey

5 comments:

Bob Talbot said...

Good post Sir, keep them coming.

Anonymous said...

Does this strategy differ from $80 buy ins to 10k buy ins? or does it stay the same?

Anonymous said...

Very good post....now stop educating the young Aggro superstars, who feel that it is their birth rite to win every tournament that they enter and let them keep throwing chips our way and doubling us nits up.

Anonymous said...

First, let me say I enjoy your blog. Why? It is fun and entertaining. You have a gift in your writing.

Most decent to good players, a category that I believe you certainly fall into, have a shot to win any individual tourney playing a variety of different styles. The only requirement I think is that the player is comfortable in that style.

SaintTino said...

Good post, quite an enjoyable read with several relevant pieces of advice. I agree with most of your early play tournament strategy, as I play a similar style. With 200bb or more, I like to see a decent amount of flops and since I feel I can outplay most of my opponents post flop, I'm not looking to chase them away too quickly. I may limp small pp's and speculatives like J9s in MP, while usually raising in the Hijack, CO or Btn.

I agree with the raise amounts too, I mean when blinds are 25/50 and some jerkoff opens to $1500 and basically puts a bright flashing neon sign on his stupid face that says, I HAVE TWO ACES!!!...I honestly don't know whether I want to laugh or cry. Then the real entertainment kicks in when everyone folds and he picks up the monster pot of 75 chips and flips his Aces over and says, "didn't wanna get drawn out on..." Seriously dude? WOW. Ok.

First 10 levels I'm raising 2.2 to 2.6 times the BB no matter what. If I come into a pot, that's the raise. If there's a few limpers in front of me, then I'll often bump it to maybe 3 times, but usually not more than that. I rarely find myself in super tough spots since I play aggressively in position, while my range is considerably tighter UTG through HJ. So many players say they understand the importance of position, yet they allow themselves to get exploited by playing "pretty" trash like 86s from MP then check folding 90% of flops. Burning money.

Never heard of Verve before reading this post, but I think I'll give it a shot. I'm always open to trying new things. Usually my drug of choice before a session is a Starbucks Americano, or a Vidration that I pick up from Tom Thumb. I enjoy Vidration although it's not a very well known product, and I've only seen it sold at Tom Thumb and Publix. Sweetened with Splenda, packed with vitamins and zero calories!

There's 4 different flavors, but the Yellow one called "Energy" is the one with 50mg of caffeine per 8 oz serving. There's 20oz in a bottle, so that's a decent amount of caffeine, more than a cup of coffee.

Ok, sorry for the long ass comment...you should put a cap on how long comments are so that idiots like me don't get carried away and type a novel. Just wanted to make one more comment...I saw one of your other posts about your daughter. She's beautiful. My daughter is 4 years old...being a dad is awesome isn't it???