Thursday, 31 December 2009

Silver medal

Not done much recently because of Christmas and everything but I did get the pleasure of a couple of hours cash poker in Manchester whilst Emma was at the Miley Cyrus concert.

Unfortunately lady luck decided that I wasn't coming home with any profit after a couple of hands of interest.

The first one involved effective stacks of £175 in the £1/£2 game that involved a lot of pre flop limping with multiple players seeing the flop.

I got to see a cheap flop in the big blind with J9 and about 6 checked the Th9d3s flop. When the 9h came I checked and it was folded to the button who bet £12 into the pot of about £16 I raised slightly less than I wanted to because I didn't pick up enough chips in my hand so the raise was to £25 and everyone folded except the big blind who went all in. I studied before calling expecting at worst that he would have something like 89. He turned over Ah2h for the turned flush draw and the dealer turned over the 6h to give him the flush.

I wonder if everyone else thinks along these lines?

I quite liked his bet on the turn with the flush draw but when I raised with 5 others still to act he must I must have either a nine of at worst a flush draw. By raising he is chasing away the flush draw that would get him paid and almost always getting a call from a 9.

The other hand involved what I now think was a bad play by me.

After limping I called a late position raise of £16 with QsTh, 3 of us see the flop.

The flop came KsJs2s to which two of us checked to the raiser who went all in for £50 holding what I thought was likely to be top pair maybe with a spade then the first player announced that he thought the raiser had a big pair and then called the £50. At this point I felt certain that the first player had a poor 2 pair because of what he said and so if I raised now he would "know" that I had him beat and I had the up and down draw with also the second nut flush draw so I went all in for an extra £70. He called with his K2 and the dealer dealt the 2d to give him a full house.

Afterwards K2 man told me that he knew he was behind when I went all in (even though he wasn't)

My thinking at the time was flawed because the play might have been right if there was extra money in the pot that the raiser couldn't have won, giving me a side pot and a free shot at the main pot. The other flaw is whether my raise was big enough for him to fold 2 pair to my reraise. I'm not sure how big the reraise would have to be in that spot to make him fold. I know that I am representing the flush but as he has outs/ I'm liking my play less and less now the more I think about it...

Feel free to criticise me here!

Another hand that comes to mind is where I was UTG and raised to £12 with AA only to be reraised to £35 all in by UTG+1 and then called in late position by a guy who was playing 80%+ hands. I reraised another £40 and he folded having another £100 behind. I lost the race against 99 but thinking now, I possibly should have called pre flop in the hope of getting some more money from the late position player post flop? He did seem to be playing all these hands but then playing carefully post flop with top pair type hands so maybe reraising was right considering the strength he showed pre by calling the rereraise.

Two other things I saw also made me laugh. One was a guy straddling his own big blind!!!! The second was overhearing a local who was thinking about playing the £30 freezeout tournamant saying that there was no value, but if it had been a double chance tournament he might have played for the value! I think he was totally missing the point of what value represents in poker!

The only other thing to mention is that I came second in the APAT online WCOAP stud tournament to win a silver medal and entry into the next live APAT tournament. I haven't played many stud tournaments but I really enjoyed it and I am thinking of playing a few more as even a novice like me could see loads of mistakes being made by players who I know to be competent at holdem.

Anyway, bed for now.

Thursday, 17 December 2009

It's a squad game

There have been a few instances in recent years where football teams have sent out sub strength sides in various situations.

Arsenal and the other big teams in the League and FA cups,

Bolton fielding a weakened team against Sporting Lisbon in the Uefa Cup

Everton and Celtic in the Europa League tonight

However, one of the most controversial decisions was made by Mick McCarthy on Tuesday when he made 10 changes for his match at Old Trafford against the champions Manchester United.

McCarthy has been widely criticised by many for, amongst other things, letting down the away fans, devaluing/cheating the Premier League, giving away points.

But was he wrong to do this?

Let's look at this problem from an expected value perspective.

Wolves were 18-1 to win and 6-1 for the draw with their first team. If we assume that the bookies are usually right then their chances of winning were around 6% and drawing they were 16%. With 3 points for a win and 1 point for a draw that would give them an expected value of 0.18 + 0.16 = 0.34 points for the fixture.

Even if we go to the extreme and say that the reserve team's chances of winning or drawing are halved. That means this decision has cost Wolves 0.17 points.

Now the chances of Wolves winning their next fixture against Burnley are evens - 50% and the odds on the draw are 3-1 - 33% giving an expected value of 1.83 points.

The question is how much more chance do they have of winning given the fact that Burnley played a difficult game in midweek and Wolves were able to rest their injury ravaged squad.

Clearly they only need to increase their chances of winning by 5% in order to break even. On top of that is the fact that the match against Burnley is a 6 pointer since they are both likely to be near the relegation zone in May.

My view is that this was a very brave and sensible decision by Mick McCarthy.

Similarly I can understand when the bigger teams use squad players in the Carling and FA Cups. Based on the premise that the players being used should still be good enough to win the games.

What I disagree with is when teams field weakened teams that have no chance of winning the match in these cup competitions. In particular the Bolton decision in the Uefa cup last year.

Bolton had fought all season long the year before to gain entry to this competition only to then give away their chances at the business end of the tournament when anything could happen to give their fans an opportunity to get to a semi final, final or even with the tournament - look at what happened to Greece in Euro 2004.

It's fine when there is nothing to play for, as is the case with Everton and Celtic tonight.
Poker wise I had a good night on Tuesday winning 1 and final tabling 2 of the other 3 MTT's I played for $800 profit. Didn't fare so well last night when I tried the deepstack in Bolton that was a nice little tournament which I will be trying again in the near future.

Monday, 7 December 2009

Under Pressure...

On Wednesday night Liverpool take on Fiorentina in what is predominantly a dead rubber. All that rests on the outcome is a mere £600,000 prize money since Liverpool have now qualified for the Europa League and Fiorentina are through to the group stages of the champions League.

The atmosphere is likely to be strange, compared to what would ordinarily be another special European night at Anfield.

There is, however, one other factor that will make Wednesday very interesting. That of the full home debut for Alberto Aquilani.

There has been a lot said over the last month or two relating to Liverpool's lack of form and the loss of Xavi Alonso (a fantastic player and one of the best passers in the world.)

There is an incredible amount of expectation being placed on the shoulders of Aquilani before he has even played 30 minutes of football for the reds, due to his delayed introduction to the team through injury and then lack of match fitness.

Liverpool clearly have a very good set up with the two holding midfielders Mascherano and Lucas, when they play the top teams. However, when they play teams who are happy to sit back, Liverpool suffer because Lucas and Mascherano are generally dropping off to receive the ball from the central defenders when Agger, in particular, is more than capable of bringing the ball out ala Alan Hansen in his prime.

Aquilani is seen as the answer to all these problems, but you only have to look at the problems Newcastle United have when relying on a new messiah to save the club (Kevin Keegan, Alan Shearer)

I am very concerned that the weight of all this expectation is going to be very difficult for Aquilani to bear. He is coming into a team that is struggling, without having had a proper pre-season, lacking in match fitness, and, depending on how Rafa plays him, potentially a new formation.

I only hope that our very knowledgeable fans bear this in mind and do not expect miracles immediately.

Poker wise, things have been going well in the last couple of weeks. I've started playing cash live again, and, apart from losing a pot with AA when I was reraised all in by Q9 (the reraise was less than a quarter of the actual raise) I've won some nice pots including the quad pot previously mentioned and another healthy pot with set over set.

What is more pleasing is that I have finally made a final table after a long run of missing out. Along the way I survived a huge limp reraise with QQ against AA when the flop brought 3 diamonds and his Ace of diamonds left me drawing to the only remaining queen which duly came. It makes a nice change when the odd hand like this comes out in my favour rather than against and even more pleasing because the guy slammed the table in celebration when I called his reraise as he turned over his aces.

I went on to come third in the tournament after having taken advantage of the short stacks on the bubble even though everyone had agreed to put £5 each into a saver for the person who bubbled. I was against this because I am not scared of busting out on the bubble and it is the time when people play really tight and real poker can be played.

I was also pleased with a couple of folds I made on the final table.

The first one came when a relatively short stack raised half his stack and I had AQ with plenty of chips behind. I had a think about it and asked him how many chips he had which he answered whilst staring at me. I was pretty sure he wanted me to call so I folded and told everyone what I folded to a couple of people saying I was stupid before the short stack showed his AK.

The second time we were 5 handed when a guy limped in early position which he had been doing all night with KQ type hands. I was in the small blind with K2 and 3 of us saw the flop of 665. I checked, as did the big blind and limper made a bet that I was certain was nothing but as I was contemplating the raise or out of position float, the big blind leaned back in his chair acting very uninterested so I folded and he called. When the K came on the turn Mr limp inevitably went all in and lost to the trip sixes!

Anyway, in typical fashion I busted out when all in pre flop with AK against A2 for £425 when second paid £650 and first was £1200 but as I've said many times, that's the way it goes in poker!

Finally, I have finished with badbeat after 9 months.

There were two reasons why I started with badbeat, firstly because I had run my bankroll down playing on the cruise, and secondly because I wanted to take advantage of their mentoring scheme.

My mentor was (I think) mainly a single table tournament (STT) player and we started out having sessions every week or two where he would watch me play a couple of STT tournaments. During this period he would watch my hands by using a screen capturing program.

As the weeks went on the gap between sessions grew a little bigger mainly because there were never any sessions in his diary during the evenings for me to book a session. I would book one whenever there was a spot free and I did e-mail him a couple of times to say that there were no sessions available for me to book a session on the online diary system.

In all the 9 months of this I never once had a single comment said to me about how I could have played a hand differently. The only comments that were ever said to me were along the lines of "Oh that was a really good move!"

When I went on holiday in August I was moved to a different skin on ipoker. My ROI on the original skin was around 10% over 1000 games with a profit of $4000 (and I don't think that included the 2 jackpot consolation prizes and a MTT win of about $2,000 in total.

For some strange reason, on the new skin I couldn’t win an argument and over the course of 500 games I lost all of the profit I had made over the previous 7 months. I wasn't doing anything differently and so I don't know whether it was down to having a different image on the new skin, whether it was just variance or because I was playing a lot more double or nothing tournaments. Anyway, about a week ago, I got an e-mail saying that my daily loss limit was being reduced from $750 to $500. At this point I e-mailed my mentor saying that I had got the message and was half expecting and talking about the point above regarding different skins, but I didn't get a reply.

The next thing I heard, was about 5 days later when I got an e-mail from the admin team saying that on the direction of my mentor they were dropping me from the trader scheme and I was more disappointed that my mentor didn't even contact me to let me know!

To be honest, I had already e-mailed a contact on another ipoker skin enquiring about rakeback deals because I was considering making the break anyway since I felt that the mentoring side of badbeat was as good as a chocolate fireguard and I had a big enough bankroll to play the levels I was playing at anyway.

However, that doesn't take away from the fact that the way things were handled were unprofessional.

After all, although my combined profits for bad beat were -$500, I had still generated over $2000 in rake and so they were still in profit from my stint there. The other factor is that, by dropping me they were, in effect, saying that I had become a worse player since joining, which says all I need to say about the mentoring system.

I was considering leaving before the holiday in August but they announced a series of online sessions where strategy would be discussed (I had previously suggested that they hold some live seminars similar to the ones held by Blackbelt poker during their audition process) but the one I attended was held online and was unsuccessful because of issues with connections and so got cancelled part way through.

Anyway, I'm not concerned but disappointed that, what should be a good concept, was unsuccessful.

The APAT online championship is on Sunday so I might have a run at that and some other MTTs because, since I joined bad beat I've not really played many MTTs which I think are my best format. I've also not played any satellites to the GUKPT or other tournaments either so I'll go down that route and see where it takes me over the coming months.