Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Letter from Doke (20th December 2011)


Doke here again. I thought I came home from Manila empty-handed, but actually brought some sort of Manila flu with me (or maybe just man flu: the jury is still out).I've been struggling with it since but have continued grinding away online, the highlight of which was winning the 8K 10r on Irish Eyes during the week.

I appeared on Dublin City FM's Sunday afternoon sports show, "On The Ball", which is co-hosted by my friend Breifne Earley. I was saying to Breifne this is probably the quietest time of the year as far as live poker goes, and probably my last live outing of 2011 will be the Fitz End of Month. It'll be a busy start to next year though, kicking off with WPT Dublin at the start of January. I'm heading to Madrid for a few days in the last week of January, for Estrellas Madrid (which I also qualified for during the week). The following week the first leg of the next EMOP season kicks off in Prague, preceded by the live final for the top 16 players from last year. My second in Dublin was enough to get me in. Satellites now running for Prague on Irish Eyes. Prague is one of Europe's nicest cities: I've never played poker there but was there in my running days (back in 2008, I won the World 6 Hour Running Indoor championships and set a number of Irish records in Brno, the second biggest Czech city).

This week's strategy section is on rebuy tournaments. There are a lot of misconceptions about rebuy tournaments. A lot of people think you have to gamble more than you would in a freezeout. While you certainly have the option to do so in the rebuy period without worrying about busting, this doesn't mean it's particularly sensible. The chips you gain early in a rebuy are worth no more to you at that stage that in a freezeout (in fact, they may be worth less depending on how the rebuy is structured: more on that in a minute). The correct way to play depends very much on structure. Some rebuys give more chips than starting stack to rebuys, or charge less for the same stack, in which case it is correct to gamble it up as you'll either double up, or be able to buy more chips more cheaply. Other rebuys (like the 8K I won during the week on Irish Eyes) give you the same chips for rebuys but double (or more) for addons. In this case, the correct strategy is to play very tight during the rebuy period, get to the break as cheaply as possible, and then add on.

Let's look at some of the maths here. In the 8K guaranteed on Irish Eyes every evening, starting stack and rebuys cost €10 for 1500 chips. You are allowed 1 or 2 addons, which cost €10 for 3000 chips. So if you take both addons, you can buy 6000 chips for €20. Someone who doesn't rebuy but takes the double addon has a total spend of €30 for 7500 chips, or 4 cents per chip. By contrast, if you have to rebuy four times and take the double addon, you're paying €60 for 12000 chips (5 cents a chip). Anyone who drops out before the addon break (or gets there but doesn't take the addon) is paying €10 for every 1500 chips, almost 7 cents a chip.

I'd like to wish you all a very happy Christmas, and good luck at the tables - unless I'm at the same table :)


Monday, December 12, 2011

Letter from Doke (12th December 2011)


Doke here again. I'm back from a week in Manila. Not a profitable trip unfortunately, but an enjoyable one, although I seem to have picked up some Mystery Manila Malady.

I didn't get too much to play with all day one of the Manny Pacquiao World Poker Open but managed to work my way up to double stack near the end of play by making the most of what I did get. It wasn't the kind of field where you could do anything fancy without cards, so I stuck to value betting much bigger than I normally would. A series of minor setbacks late in the day saw me drift back from 30k to finish with 21k, 21 bbs when we came back for day 2. We'd lost two thirds of the field so I was well below average but still reasonably optimistic as it was a very soft field.

Day 1 ended early, around 9.30 PM, a pleasant change from tournaments back home where you play til 4 AM and have to be back less than 12 hours later. I was in bed by 10 and slept straight through until almost 7 AM. When I woke and saw the time, I decided to try for another hour or two's kip, since we weren't due to start back until 1 PM. Next time I opened my eyes, I read 1.46 on the clock. I hurled myself out of the bed and into my clothes, and on the sprint to the Pan Pacific, I frantically tried to work out how much of my stack if any I likely had left. Up 5 flights of stairs and into an empty casino except for cleaning staff. I figured I must have blinded out but where was everyone else? Checking the time on my mobile phone (which was still on Irish time), I found it was almost midnight back home.

Subtract 8 hours, so it's 4 PM? No, wait, that's Vegas that you subtract 8 hours from GMT, here you add 8, so.......8 AM. I slunk back to the hotel cursing the clock in my room which I was convinced had malfunctioned. But when I got there, it read 8.15 AM. Somehow I'd read 7.46 as 1.46.

As bad as that false start was, my actual day 2 was even worse. I got off to a flyer, working my way up to 55k in the first couple of orbits. Then I picked up aces, got the lot in preflop against the only guy at the table who covered me. A king on the turn sent me packing back to my hotel. Had my aces held, I'd have been propelled into the chiplead, and strongly fancied myself to go on and win from there in the softest four figure buyin tournament I'll probably ever play.

I wouldn't be human if I didn't feel a bit sick on that walk back to my hotel. It's a long way to fly to sit and wait patiently for more than a day just for that to happen. One of the things I like about online poker is that no one tournament ever means too much if you do it right: it's ultimately just one in a sample size of tens of thousands. But live is slower and you play a much smaller number of them, so it seems like every tournament matters more.

However, I shrug these setbacks off quicker than most. My English mate Mark who arranged the whole trip, great friend that he is, took only a few minutes to learn of my demise and come over to check up on me. He said he expected to find me committing hara kiri, and was astonished at how positive I seemed. It generally takes 10 minutes or so for the mists of disappointment to clear, but once they do I'm done with it and already thinking about the next tournament. Maybe that's something I also learned in ultra running, where I pretty much destroyed my body in every race and crossed every line thinking "Never again" but would have recovered mentally within an hour and physically within a week.

Don't forget, Season 4 of the European Masters of Poker kicks off in Prague on 2nd to 5th Feb next. Satellites are on Irish Eyes Poker for EMOP Prague now.

Good luck at the tables - unless I'm at the same table :)


Thursday, December 01, 2011

Letter from Doke (1st December 2011)


Doke here again. I spent most of this week in the Fitzwilliam, playing their annual festival. First up was their end of month. The field seems to get tougher every month: as evidence of this my starting table had Andy Black (just back from representing Ireland at the Poker Nations Cup), former IPC champion Rory Rees Brennan, and top young Northern Irish player Gertard Harraghy. I ended up cashing but bubbling the final table, getting it all in with A6s versus Dave Masters A4o. The first card on the flop was a rather encouraging 6,but a 4 behind it was joined by another on the turn.

Next up was the main event. I emerged from day one 4th in chips, much to most people's surprise, not least my own. I managed to lose half my stack in the first few hands of day 2, but made one of my trademark recoveries from four big blinds to make the final table, and be involved in a six way chop for €8500. I also had a very hefty chunk of my good friend Rob Taylor who was also in the chop so overall it was a great tournament for me.

Rob and I were back the next day for the team event, joined by two top online players, Padraig "Smidge" O'Neill and David "Lappin" Lappin. I personally got almost nothing to play with in this but the nature of team events is to hang in there as long as you can as the winning team is generally the one with the best "worst" score. I busted in 19th, comfortably inside the top half and we were the last team to have all four in so early advantage to the Old Nits (our team name). Daragh Davey's Team Mongoose were specifically targeting us as their main rivals and unfortunately the draw meant that all four of them had direct position on all four of us. They lost Nick Newport early on which increased their determination to knock us out, meaning the first time I shoved Team Mongoose called with J3o to try to knock me out.

Luckily my fours held, but next time I shoved, my AT was not as fortunate against the Mongoose's Q9. Smidge then got dogged by another Mongoose to go out in 18th opening the event back up, but it swung our way again thanks to a brave and brilliant call by Lappin. Having raised with a pair of eights, after the board ran out T4465, Lappin checked to the Mongoose who had knocked me out, who then shoved for several times pot. After commenting "that bet makes zero sense", Lappin made the call quickly and the Mongoose sheepishly tabled K7. Overbet river shoves often get through against weaker players, but not against top players like Lappin. Lappin and Rob went on to final table, which clinched the team title for us.

This week's strategy section is in response to an email I got from a reader in Brazil of all places, Amanda Medeiros. Amanda was on the bubble of an online tournament recently with 11 big blinds. An aggressive player, thefarmer985, shoved for 60 big blinds on the button, and Amanda called with queens in the big blind. The button had J6o and after the board ran out J66J6, Amanda asks if it might have been more prudent to fold given that it was the bubble.
Well Amanda, while it's true you need to call a bit more cautiously on the bubble, queens is simply too big a hand to fold here, against an aggressive player. While it's always nice to wrap up the cash before having to put all your chips in, it's also a big mistake to pass up very advantageous chances to make chips just because it's the bubble. Aggressive players will look to exploit any reluctance to get involved, and the fact that your opponent showed up here with J6o illustrates that. You're just unlucky that your queens got cracked, but the call was definitely the correct play.

I'm flying out to Manila on Thursday for a week to take part in Manny Pacquiao's WPT there, an all expenses paid trip arranged thanks to my good friend English pro Mark Dalimore. That will probably be my last major live outing this year.

I was chatting to Big Iain today and he asked me to remind you that Irish Eyes are running satellites to Stephen Mclean's Super event. Apparently already 600 seats have been sold so it looks like this will be a massive event.

Also on Irish Eyes, their Advent calendar starts on 1st December and run up to the 24th December with a new promotion every day. The promotions are different every day and are revealed at 6am on each day.

And don't forget, Season 4 of the European Masters of Poker kicks off in Prague on 2nd to 5th Feb next. Satellites are on Irish Eyes Poker for EMOP Prague now.

Good luck at the tables - unless I'm at the same table :)