Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Monday, no, it's Tuesday

Man, I need a jumpstart this morning. Coming back to work from a three-day weekend is at least 148% worse than coming back on a Monday. I’m really dragging…

Took down an 18-seater last night for a nice little 575% ROI for one hours work. I had signed up for the HORSE tourney on FTP, but when I got down to the money in the two-table, I figured my time and focus were better spent on the sure thing. Besides, the HORSE tourney had 90+ people and I didn’t feel like three or four hours of grinding offered as much ROI.

I’m starting to figure out that I’m better at two-table SNGs than single table, and I think I’m finally getting a grasp of the reason. Most people playing penny-ante SNGs (<$25) view these games like “Survivor”. Their first goal is to “make it to the merge”, in this case, the final table. Last night, when it was down to 10-11 players on two tables, I started picking off blinds and pushing people around because I could tell that the aggressiveness factor dropped around me, like they were content to fold their way to the final table.

Once the tables “merged”, the aggressiveness picked back up while the two or three shortstacks went into desperation mode. Luckily, I picked up a couple of real hands here and took a couple out personally. But, down to six people (four cash), it went back to tight-passive play as people tried to dodge the bubble. Again, revving up the aggressiveness factor enabled me to chip up while tightening the noose on the progressively shorter stacks. When the fifth person finally went belly-up and the four remaining were guaranteed a profit, the lowest stack immediately went for broke (and made it… broke, that is). For whatever reason, this psychology seems to be consistent in the two table events.

So, within any two-table structure, there seems to be a definite time/chip/player continuum that will map out as follows:

18 players – 2 tables – Usually there will be one or two assclowns at each table who will go all-in during Level 1. If they lose their preflop all-in with Ace-rag, they will berate the other players, and then disappear to upchuck another buy-in immediately somewhere else. If they win, they’ll gloat and immediately lose half their chips to someone who slowplays a set or a flopped straight. Level 1 almost never ends without at least one bustout per table.

12-15 players – 2 tables – Blinds are still relatively low, allowing for more play. It’s good to pay close attention now, you’ll learn who makes continuation bets, who will overbet, who will slowplay, who will call down with bottom pair. Take your notes here because this is where you will figure out who your competition will be at the end.

10-11 players – 2 tables – Shitty players consider this the bubble. You’ll see more uncontested pots since weak players are trying to fold their way to the final table. Time to steal some antes, show some bluffs, and chip up. You’re building an audience for the endgame. You MUST show bluffs during this period. This will carry your table image to the end.

6-9 players – 1 table – Similar to the 12-15 player scenario since you’re learning 4-5 new players you might not know. See who’s got the big stacks and if they know how to push people around. It’s likely that the biggest stack from the other table will be pretty cocky and think he’s the Alpha male. After all, he’s got the big stack, he knows he’s the best. The problem is that you don’t yet know whether he’s been lucky or good. You’re better off avoiding confrontation with him until you figure out his style… unless you have a monster. Remember, Alpha-boy doesn’t know you either, so play it cagey and passive. By the time it gets to the end, he’ll have pegged you as passive. Then you can drill him.

5-6 players – the “bubble” – Top four pay, so it’s time to pick on the #3 and #4 chipstacks. By far the most vulnerable player is the #4 chipstack. He is terrified that he’ll become the shortstack and be targeted by the rest of the table, so he’ll fold most anything that isn’t a premium hand. Bully the poor SOB. Once he’s in fifth or sixth, he’s a eunuch anyway, start picking on the new #4. Done properly, you’ll have three guys who can’t cover their blinds. Typically, you end up with two guys with 20K chips between them leading the way, a third place guy with 5K, and three guys struggling to make their blinds. As long as you’re not one of those three guys, you’re fine.

No set patterns for the endgame. If you’ve been paying attention to the play up until now, you should have a good read on the last couple of opponents. You should know who’s gonna raise on the button on any two cards, who will fold to a continuation bet, who will push with a marginal Ace, who will slowplay big pockets, etc.

Single table SNGs don’t have as many dynamics to think about. I think the luck factor is ratcheted up a notch for those, so I might stick to the two-tables for now. There is some money on the table here because most people don’t adjust their play to account for the added complexity of the second level. It’s like only using a map that has the Interstates listed; you might get to the right city (final table), but you won’t make it to your final destination.


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