Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Letter from Doke (29th Feb 2012)

Hi everyone

Last Thursday I played the Fitzwilliam end of month tournament. The Fitz is where I cut my teeth on the live scene and is still one of my favourite places to play. The field seems to get stronger every month and this month included a double UKIPT winner (Nick Abou Risk) and a November Niner (Sam Holden). I made it to the final table with just below average stack, but as one friend remarked with average stack just 11 big blinds, it's basically a hyper turbo at that point. I won two of the first three hands but then ran nines into kings to exit in 7th. No matter how far you go in a tournament you're always disappointed (unless you win it) and before I was even home I got atext from a friend saying a four way chop had been agreed. Still, I feel like I've had a fairly barren start to my live poker year by my standards with just a second last table in the IPC and a 3rd in an EMOP side event, so it was good at least to notch up another cash and a final table.

I played the Super Poker event at Citywest on Saturday. The tournament drew a lot of criticism from some quarters (when I asked one young pro if he was playing it, he responded drily that he'd rather purchase three hundred and forty five Lottery scratch cards) but I enjoyed it (albeit not for very long). I always seem to run bad in Citywest: I haven't cashed in too many events out there and so it proved again. I also played an Irish Open satellite where I got it in on the second last table with two pair versus one on the turn but was not victorious. I did get a run in the last turbo side event I played but was hampered by getting kings cracked repeatedly and ended up going out next the bubble.

I recorded a brief interview with Iain Cheyne which I think you can see at the event website, and myself and David Lappin provided livestream commentary on the final table. I always enjoy commenting on the action and my friend David is a thoughtful contributor.

This week's strategy is a look at a key hand on the final table of the Super poker event. Folded around to eventual winner Vincent Buis, he covers Alan Mclean (father of tournament organiser Stephen) who has around 20 big blinds. This is almost the perfect stack size to reshove over a raise. Vincent is aware of this so he raises to induce Alan to shove if he has a strong but weaker hand (which he did with KJs). You sometimes hear players saying they'd prefer to just shove and get KJs to fold so they can take the blinds and antes without risking a suckout, but when stacks are this shallow you need to take every edge you can get. Let's imagine for a second that Alan would fold KJs to the open shove (which is not certain), then the gain from shoving including antes is about 2 bbs. Now compare this to what happens if Vincent induces and calls Alan's shove:

(1) AQ is approximately a 60% favourite over KJs, so 60% of the time, Vincent wins 21 bbs. 60% of 21 is 12.6, so when this happens Vincent can expect to gain 12.6 bbs.

(2) Of course, that means that 40% of the time Vincent's AQ gets sucked out on and he loses 20 bbs. So his expected loss is 40% of 20, or 8 bbs.

Subtracting 2 from 1, we see that on average Vincent can expect to make 4.6 bbs when he raises and induces a shove from AQ. This is greater than the 2 bbs he gains if he open shoves and gets it through, so mathematically raising to induce is a better play as it is more profitable in the long run.

The plan is to take a break from live poker until EMOP Lisbon. I'm looking forward to being able to devote myself more fully to online poker. One new feature I'm greatly enjoying on Irish Eyes is the introduction of a Preferred Seat option which allows you to always be placed at the same seat (table position). This is very useful when multitabling as your eye becomes accustomed to looking there and you can more quickly process your cards and make a decision.

On the promotions front, things to look out for on Irish Eyes in March include their WSOP Express promotion which will see 3 players win a package to this years WSOP (including entry to side event 56). Entry to try and win a package is only 1 earned VIP point.
Theres also a Sit & Go Most Played Race worth €22,500, an Endurance Challenge worth €8,000 and 6 EMOP Lisbon Iron Man Freerolls worth €2,000 each.

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


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Letter from Doke (21st Feb 2012)

Hi all

My UKIPT Galway campaign can best be described as pure misery. I did build a bit of a stack on day one to have about 35k (comfortably above average) with about an hour to go on day 1 and could have been up to over 50k after calling a shove with tens. Instead I lost a chunk to jt and after another reverse found myself bagging up with less than starting stack. That meant having to get busy early and either double up or bust on day 2. Unfortunately it was the latter. I could describe the side event misery in detail but let's just say I ran bad, and also made a mistake in the 300 side event (more on that hand later).

The event was at least very well organised and good craic with all the familiar faces and characters. When the dust had cleared it was a very high quality final table that included online beast Emmet "mully85" Mullin, defending champ Nick Abou Risk, and one of the most promising newcomers on the Irish scene John "jwillo" Willoughby. Mully is one of Allinstevie's Omagh crew and a great guy: when I switched from playing stts to mtts online he popped up a few times on the rail on some of my early Stars final tables to give me some advice on the regs which I greatly appreciated. So I was really thrilled to see him win.

This week it's back to the online grind for me. I'm hoping to fit in the nightly SharkRankings game on Irish Eyes at 8.15 most evenings. I'm currently languishing in mid table obscurity in the 10K league so it's time to do something about that.

Next weekend sees Stephen Mclean's Super Poker event in Citywest. While I'm feeling a bit live pokered out, this should be a pretty cool tourney with a very big prize pool. It would be a good time for me to start running well again live.

This week's strategy is a look at some of the maths of 3, 4 and 5 betting wars. In the 300 side event, I had 9K at 100/200 when I found jacks in the small blind. The cutoff opened to 450, I quickly threebet to 1150, he made it 3200 and I shoved. He had aces and held. At the time I didn't think too deeply about the hand as on the face of it it doesn't seem like that big a mistake to get 45 bbs in with a hand as strong as jacks against a player in late position. However, after analysing the hand, I think the villain here is opening top 20% of hands. That means the hands I can legitimately threebet for value are top 10% (hands that are stronger than the top half of his range).

Similarly, he can four bet top 5% of hands for value, and I can then 5 bet shove top 2.5%. Jacks falls just outside this range. Threebet folding a hand that strong seems a bit wonky, so on reflection I think the best play is to just flat the open and play the hand cautiously. Note that the maths here depends heavily on the opener's range. If he's a very loose player opening, say 80%, then the 3 bet range becomes 40%, and the 5 bet shove range 10% so I'd be perfectly happy to get it in with jacks.

Finally, today the new Preferred Seat option was launched on Irish Eyes Poker. For anyone wanting to multi-table and sit at the same postion on all tables just click on the 'Options' tab in the poker client lobby and choose your preferred seat position. This position will be applied to all tables you play at regardless of game or table size.

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


Thursday, February 16, 2012

Letter from Doke (16th Feb 2012)

Hi all.

Most of last week was devoted to the European Deepstack. I played the main event and a few side events, and kept running into aces, except in one of the side events where I had the aces. Sadly, they were no match for KTo on that occasion, the only time the aces didn't hold. I don't want to be one of those people who complains about bad beats solet's just leave it at that. :)

I had a spell on the feature table late on day 1A. I'd gone for dinner with Jason Tompkins (who had just won the High Roller - well done lad!) and his lovely girlfriend Joy, Daragh Davey, Nick Newport and David Lappin. I'd stated my intention if I did find myself in the last hour with a 20K stack to get it in a lot lighter than I normally would in the hopes of either doubling up or busting (so I could re-enter 1B). There was general agreement that this was the soundest strategy in a deepstack event where you think you have a fairly big edge over the field: any loss in equity taking sub optimal gambles being compensated by gained equity from giving yourself a second full run at amassing a stack. In the event, my shoves all got through (I had a very good image at the table), which at least saw me move from under 20k to over 30k.

Sadly there were no Irish on the final table. It's a worrying trend that we're having more and more major events in this country with few or even no local players on the final table.

After busting the main event and the turbo side on Saurday, I played a few online games in the room. I late regged for the nightly Night on Stars on French Stars and ended up winning it for over 10K, so once again it was a case of online to the rescue. The French at my table in the side the following day had heard of my win and were suitably impressed. Humble as ever, I pointed out that I'd actually won this tourney three times in the past few weeks, even though I've only played it about half a dozen times.

One of French commented wrily:
"You must like French fish".

This week's strategy section is a hand from my Irish Eyes teammate Connie O'Sullivan at the final table of EMOP Prague. Connie opened AQo utg playing just over 20 bbs and got reshoved from the small blind by a good player. Most people's instinctive reaction is you can't raise fold a hand as strong as AQ with 20 bbs and when Connie posted the hand in the theory section on IrishPokerBoards, a few people basically said this. However, Connie's not a man to act rashly, and after considering the hand carefully, he eventually folded. Apparently the live stream commentators thought this was a terrible fold. I disagree: considering all the information available to Connie, I think it's a fold too.

A very important consideration is perceived image. Because Connie was playing tight and would be perceived as very tight by the villain, the villain should not be shoving very many worse hands than AQ (in fact, he may be shoving no worse hand). Connie's more or less at the bottom of his perceived range. If he was a looser player with a wilder image he could expect good opponents to shove a lot of worse hands so AQ would be a call. Last night I was down to the last 6 of a final table and busted when in a similar spot where I reshoved AT and got snapped by AJ. A few friends who were railing were surprised at the snap call but I thought it was pretty standard as the villain was hyper loose and therefore had to expect me to play back with a lot of worse hands. When playing against good thinking opponents, it's very important to be aware of your own image and how that impacts on ranges (against unthinking players this is less of a consideration, as they either will be unaware of your image or adjust incorrectly to it: for example, a lot of bad loose players think tight players are good targets to reship light on, but a good tight player will call you as frequently as a good loose player and you'll be in bad shape when he does). To see a full discussion of the hand, go to

This letter is being written on the train to Galway where I'm hoping most of the week will be devoted to UKIPT Galway. I have a pretty decent record in Galway: I went deep in the main event last year (busting two tables out) and won the side event there the year before. I don't normally sell my action in live events any more but my German friend Max Heinzelmann asked if he could buy a "lucky 1%". Max won EPT Player of the Year last year for his achievement of getting headsup in back to back EPTs (Berlin and San Remo) so I figure his lucky 1% could be very lucky indeed.

On the Irish Eyes front the new software update due to take place on the 14th is now rescheduled for next week on the 21st Feb. The new update brings the awaited 'Preferred Seat' function to the poker client. This feature gives a player the option to choose a favorite seat on the tables. All tables will virtually be adjusted so the player is shown to sit at the same seat at all tables regardless of game, limit or number of seats. Great addition for multi-table play.

If you fancy joining the team at the next EMOP in Lisbon, Irish Eyes are running 6 VIP point freerolls between the 1st March and 22nd March. There is one package to EMOP Lisbon worth €2,000 in each freeroll. Each package consists of tournament buy-in of €1,100, accommodation for four nights and €350 in travel contribution that is credited to the winners poker account.

The VIP point buy-in starts at VIP1 on March 1st and increases for each tournament. It starts out being very easy to qualify but it becomes more difficult and rewards the higher value players. Earn as many VIP points as you can and get up to six tries to win a seat.

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


Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Letter from Doke (8th Feb 2012)

Hi all

This letter is being written on the plane back from EMOP Prague. A very good Irish contingent travelled including Connie O'Sullivan, Kieran Walsh, Jason Arthur, Richie Lawlor, Daragh Davey, brother Noel and Duncan Keane, Rebecca McAdam and her boyfriend Niall, Francis "Wally" McCormack, Kevin Spillane, Gary Clarke, and Mick Rossiter.

With such a strong turnout there were sound reasons to be optimistic that at least one of us would make the final table. In the event, we got two on, my Irish Eyes teammate Connie O'Sullivan, and Kevin Spillane. Connie, one of the most popular figures in Irish poker, played brilliant disciplined poker with a short stack for most of the tournament and was unlucky not to go further than 8th. Kevin, who went deep last year in EMOP Lisbon, also got unlucky on the final table after making a brilliant call with sixes on a 98x flop against two overcards. Unfortunately, one of the overcards hit the river, but it was a great performance by the very likeable Kevin to finish fourth.

I never got going in the main event but did at least have the consolation of cashing twice (11th in the Leaderboard final, and third in a turbo side event) to come home with more money than I left with,which is always nice.

This week's main focus is the European Deepstack in D4 hotel. This tournament will always have a special place in my heart given that it's where it essentially all started for me. I was a novice who had only been playing a few months when I won the first running of it in 2008, and that and a few other results around the time convinced me to take a chance and see if I could make a go of playing professionally.

I have a very good overall record in this tournament, finishing 15th the year after my victory and final tabling it for a second time the following year, so I'm hopeful of another deep run. This year's programme also includes a High Roller event starting tomorrow which I'll probably play too if I'm not too tired.

For this week's strategy section, I want to talk about a hand I wasn't involved in (I wasn't even in the game) but witnessed in Prague. I was chatting to Team Irish Eyes member Gerry Kane from Scotland, a very good solid player who has cashed in a number of WSOP events and qualified for TV tournaments through small feeder satellites (a great way for recreational players to take shots at the big stage without straining their finances). Gerry was playing in a cash game which was playing very looe, with a mix of players between those who were happy enough to gamble it up with a very wide range of hands, and some (like Gerry) who were sitting tight waiting for good spots to exploit the gamblers. The action started with a raise in mid position, which Gerry flat called on the button. The big blind was a gambly type player and true to type he now stuck in a big raise. After the initial opener had folded, Gerry quickly shoved. After some speechplay which indicated that the big blind was far from happy calling Gerry's shove with whatever spanners he had, he did anyway. Gerry had pocket eights and flopped the nurs (top sets) which became quads on the river.

There's a general belief in poker that aggression is good and that raising is always better than calling. Aggression is good but there are spots where if you have a hand strong enough to call you should raise, but like all general rules it has many exceptions. The key to how Gerry played this hand is his hand is a mile ahead of the range of hands the loose player lurking in the blinds will make a move with, it's unclear whether he's ahead of the opener. He's almost certainly behind the opener's four bet shoving range and I'm pretty sure Gerry would have folded if the opener had four bet. So by flat calling, he gets a clearer view of the opener's hand strength before committing many chips to the pot, and he has set up a very profitable situation where he can often get it in against a worse hand, but can get away cheaply if he's behind the opener.

On the Irish Eyes front, some very interesting news is that a new software update is due to take place next week on the 14th. The new update brings the awaited 'Preferred Seat' function to the poker client. This feature gives a player the option to choose a favorite seat on the tables. All tables will virtually be adjusted so the player is shown to sit at the same seat at all tables regardless of game, limit or number of seats. Great addition for multi-table play.

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