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Poker Advice Needed

Easy n Dirty

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I'm playing in a live tournament tonight, relatively small - maybe 20 to 25 players at 3 tables to start, I assume.


I've played with this group before - I'm not an especially accomplished player, but there are some real fish in this group, probably more fish than not. The first time I played with them, I won the tournament and a nice payday, but in four times since, I haven't hit the final table, due to a combination of bad beats and bad play on my part (was first one eliminated once when I got 'em all in pre-lfop with K-K and lost to A-Q, that one really stung).


Many of you I'm sure have played in this type of game before and are maybe familiar with the unique challenges it presents - I'm generally reluctant to make large bluffs, because some of these guys will call with middle pair. Same thing with pre-flop raises - whereas I would typically raise to 3x-4x the big blind with a hand like J-J, in this game I might get three callers, and I'm not that keen on putting alot of chips into a pot with J-J if I'm gonna' get that many callers.


So part of me says to just be pateient and wait for a big hand, then play it aggressively because I'm likely to get paid off. Then there's another part of me that says with so much limping going on (as this is the norm in this game), I should try and see as many flops as possible, even with hands like 7-9 offsuit, in the hopes of hitting one big because it is cheap to see flops.


Any thoughts on how to play in a game like this one, pre-flop or otherwise? I sometimes walk out of this game thinking that it's easier to play against good players than it is against bad players - when a good player bets, at least it gives you some insight into what they might be holding, whereas with this crew I feel like I rarely know where I am in the hand.


Hope this post doesn't come off as arrogant - like I said I'm not an extremely accomplished player by any means, but I do play often enough online and feel like I have a better grip than most of the guys who will be there tonight, although my results since that first tournament would say otherwise.


I'm trying to get the blind structure and will post that here if I can as that's pretty relevant - my recollection is that there are two levels up front that last maybe 90-120 minutes total, then half-hour levels from then on in, so my feeling going in has always been that the blind structure is conducive to a patient waiting game.


Thanks in advance for any thoughts.

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1,000 chips to start - blinds are 10/20 for an hour, then we go to 20 minute levels of 25/50, 50/100, 100/200, then all the way up to 250/500. I ain't nuts about this blind structure, but there it is.


Big Country, where are you?

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I am by no means an expert- although I am pretty good tourney player. Nothing earth-shattering here from me.........


- Early on, with alot of limpers while it is still cheap, I would play quite a few hands, suited connectors, JQ, 10J, 910, etc.- for the right price. You nail a flop- you can build your stack nicely. Conversely, if you do get a premium hand- make em pay, if they are gonna call your raise with rags- let em. Likely, fish may call your big raise with rags, or pf all in, your in w/ AA,KK,QQ- take that all day long.


- If you can build a good stack early- prime spot to bluff IMO- if they are fish, they will be passive- you can take down some pots.


- You can get stung by a passive game like that- BUT when you do have a big edge, big favorite- make em pay- that is key-


Good luck! you always have to win a race or two or three in a tourney

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As a friend of mine noted after a game last weekend, if the other players aren't smart enough to know the difference between a bluff and a real hand, you shouldn't bluff.

Edited by muck
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I play this size tournament a lot...


First round bet high and hard, but not your whole stack... people are trying to feel things out and unless they are accomplished players will let you buy a few hands early on.


Then bring it waaaaaay back and play to get yourself to the Championship table. Once there you should have your groove going and can open it up again.

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What has worked for me, I bet or fold after seeing the pocket cards.


This does 2 things, it gets the pot up early, or you have less people to land a river card to beat you.



Second, I never go all in unless I have a Ace high Flush or a high boat. 4 of a kind is automatic, but those 2 are more common.


I rarely bluff at all, since someone else could also be bluffing with say a pair of 3s, but if you have nothing, they can take you out even if they are bluffing as well


Finally read the cards on the table. If there is a chance of a flush, 3 of the same suite on the table, or a potential straight, or even a pair showing, there is a decent chance someone has the 8 needed for the straight, the 3rd of a 3 of a kind, or pocket clubs needed for the flush. Those are the 3 things that beat me the most, when I have a decent hand like pocket Kings, but nothing else, or 2 pair Jacks and 9's as another example.


Now if you have a decent hand, and there is no chance of a flush, straight and your say 3 of a kind is higher than the highest card on the table, catch his ass bluffing or trying to steal a hand.

Edited by Sgt. Ryan
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I play in alot of local games around that size. The one piece of advice that I would give you is to PAY ATTENTION. Notice who overbets pots, calls down bets, chases cards, passive players, etc. It wont take long to figure out what people are doing and who is aware of the game. Try to see if you can put players on hands by their betting patterns. Then try to find a couple of victims that you want to target. But the key is to just play solid poker. Fish wont ever even catch on to any moves you make, so just play straight up. You can set traps but if they call your bets anyway, just bet out.


I play these tourneys differently depending on how everyone else is playing. I disagree that its easier to steal early, unless these fish are laying down hands. If they cant be bluffed, just keep betting when you think you have the best of it. Remember that position is very important, maybe the most important thing. Make plays when you are in position. And the closer you get to the final table and/or the bubble, players will tighten up so thats a good time to steal. But remember to just play solid poker. You dont have to make moves at all with so many fish swimming around. Wait for solid hands, then play them aggressively. Dont be in alot of pots.

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As a friend of mine noted after a game last weekend, if the other players aren't smart enough to know the difference between a bluff and a real hand, you shouldn't bluff.




im in a few games like that... only do some monor bluffing in those

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Quick reply on what I would do here.


If they will call down a lot, push hard. That means, especially early on, throw out those 3-5X BB raises preflop with JJ-AA and AK and push that up to more of an 8-10BB raise (especially with QQ, JJ and AK where you'd rather win small pot preflop than lose a big pot post flop) If you get called, proceed with caution if the board is a scary one. If you hit a big hand (set, etc., I'd try to get my opponent to get it all in), if you have an overpair to the board, I would not slow play, I'd make a sizeable flop bet and hope to get the pot there.


You will want to try grow your stack during that 1 hour low blind period by also seeing cheap flops with speculative hands if you get callers, ie suited connectors and small pairs, and pushing hard if you hit your set/straight/flush, but escaping cheap when you don't hit.


You are playing with people that will pay you off when you have big hands, and it sounds like they may be letting you see cheap flops. If it is more of a game where they are raising preflop every time, then forget about playing the low pairs and suited connectors, and instead pop them hard when you get AA-QQ, and instead go into a more of a double up with a big hand or go home mentality.


Once the field is thinned and the game assumedly tightens up, go back to a solid tight strategy. If it seems real tight, loosen up and start raising from the button and cutoff just about every time if there is no one in ahead of you, if it stays loose, keep following the strategy of double up by getting it all in early with a big hand or go home.


Now that is my strategy to try and WIN the tournament.


If you just want ot hit the final table, fold almost everything and let the loose players cannibalize themsleves, but you will be shortstacked come final table time unless you hit a great run of cards at some point.

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Bah! Finished 10th out of 22 players, but had the potential to do better. Here's my tournament report - kinda' long, so don't bother unless you enjoy reading hand histories and the like.


They changed the tournament structure - starting chip count was 1500, and all levels were a half hour long. very little of note happened for me in the first level, even wanting to see abunch of flops I was getting hands like 8-2 off and the like, and saw a couple flops which I failed to hit. I won the first hand of the night, a very small pot, and I think that was about it for the early going.


Critical hand in the second level which haunts me - I called from the button with 4-6 of hearts, and the flop came J-x-x, with 2 hearts. First guy opened for 50, and the next guy raised to 200. The player behind him called, and then action was to me. With about 1100 in front of me, and with 2 players yet to act behind me, I folded - ugh. I actually felt that the guy who called in front of me was also on a flush draw, which certainly would have been a higher draw than mine. Bad read. You know the rest - heart hits on the turn, and then after the river there were 4 cards to a straight - 2 guys had the striaght, but one had the higher straight and took down a very large pot for that time in the tournament. Should have been mine.


Shortly afterwards, I was in the small blind and completed with Q-6 spades, flop was 2-5-6. I bet out 200 to take it down right there and got one caller. Next card was an ace, and I ended up calling off quite a few chips to the other guy, who had A-K. Should have gotten away from it, but I was frustrated at having folded all night.


That left me pretty crippled at around 570 chips, with blinds at 50-100. I read somewhere once something that made sense to me - if in a tournament you have in front of you less than three sets of blinds, and if you're opening the pot, you should be all in with any two cards. I don't adhere to this blindly, esp. if in early position at a full table, but I do adhere to it more often than not. In this case, I was just north of 3 orbits worth of blinds (3 orbits = 450, I had about 570), but when the action folded to me on the button and I looked down at K-7, they all went in. The guy after me, a weak player, folded what he later told me was A-10 (yikes!), and then the big blind, who was on a big stack, called me with J-10. A jack hit the flop, but by the river I had a straight draw and a flush draw, with tons of outs. River was K, and I doubled up - but was still in pretty bad shape at around 100 chips with blinds of 50/100.


Shortly after, blinds went to 100/200, and I got moved upstairs to a different table. On my short stack, all in was my only weapon I felt, and I used it liberally. Never got called and stole a decent number of blinds, working my way up to about 2300 in chips. There was one hand of note which plays into a later hand - sitting on the small blind, and with 1100 in chips, blinds were 200/400. I posted the small blind, and action folded to me, so I pushed with Q-8 offsuit. The big blind was my buddy Paul, who had a medium sized stack and needed to call another 700 to play. He deliberated and then folded, showing 4-4. The table rightfully abused him, and I showed my Q-8 to add to the fun. We then dealt out the card sreal quick (it's a friendly game), and I would have hit the 8 on the river to double up, which would have been a blast, so now Paul felt like he made the right play. Because Paul was immediately to my left, to the extent I was stelaing blinds, it was usually his.


Now to my demise - blinds still at 200/400, with a 25 ante, and I'm at about 2300. Action folds to me, I look down at A-8 suited, I deliberate and then push all in (more on that later). Paul needs to call another 1900 to play, which if he calls and loses leaves him with less than a big blind remaining. He deliberates for awhile and then calls me with 10-J of diamonds. A jack hits on the flop, I get no help from the turn or river, and I'm sent to the rail while the remaining nine players consolidate into the final table.


I debated Paul's play with him later - I thought for sure he should have called me earlier with the 4-4, and I thought he probably should have folded the 10-J suited on that last hand, although that one is more debatable. I guess since I had been all in so many times in the 40 minutes or so that I sat at that table, and because I flaunted the Q-8 earlier, I can understand the call here. But by this time I had worked my stack back up to a respectable 2300, so I thought that my all-in in this instance should have carried more weight than my previous all-ins, when I was clearly in dire straits. And calling me here was gonna' cost Paul virtually all of his chips, whereas calling me earlier with the 4-4 was gonna' cost him less than a third of his stack at that time. Heck, even if I have Q-8 again he needs help to win. I'm clearly biased here, but I thought calling me with J-10, even suited, was a bad play for him at that time, I'd be curious to here what others think, if anyone else made it this far.


My other thought was should I have played my A-8 differently, and I've concluded not. I'm clearly raising here, so even if I min-raise to 800 (a weak play in my mind), and then make a continuation bet on the flop, that's 1200 chips right there, a little over half my stack. I prefer to push all-in and hopefully take it down right there, I think that was the right play in this instance. And when all's said and done, I got all my chips in as a 54.5% favorite (per Cardplayers odds calculator), pretty decent especially when short-stacked.


Had alot of fun and I was pleased with the way I worked myself back up after being down early on, but ultimately frustrating. The hands that stick with me are the flush draw that I folded, which I think is defensible but was ultimately the wrong decision in this instance, the two all-ins with Paul, where I think I deserved better, and calling the other guy down with my pair of sixes, which I think is not defensible and was clearly a product of frustration. Bah!

Edited by Easy n Dirty
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Very nice analysis.


A few comments:


Rule of thumb in no limit, and there are a few, is if you're stack is less than 10 BB, you are essentially in all in of fold territory. If you make a typical 3 BB raise and are called, there is usually too much in the pot that you are committed and at the same time, any further bet/raise from you will be so little in comparison to the pot that you're opponent, unless likewise shortstacked, would ususally be mathematically compelled to call with almost any two cards, so you may as well get it all in and try push people off of better hands preflop when below 10BBs.


You made the right play with the 46 hearts (well, without knowing size of blinds and number of callers, etc.), though without knowing the details of how many were already in the pot, I don't know if the initial call was correct. But, with an opener, a raiser and someone willing to call the raise, you are likely way behind at that point, and, as you noted, there is a good chance your flush draw would not have been good even if you hit.


You already analyzed the Q6 hand correctly. Seems like it was a small enough pot to make it eay to get away from the 6's. Not as bas to let the small pots get away when you are at best a small favorite. As it was the BB in with you, he could have hit a ton of things that beat you as he literally could have any 2 cards.


Can't fault the K7 push from the button when you had less than 5 BBs, nice river. Against the blinds, K7 is a better than average hand so the play makes sense.


Tough fold for the 44. He is getting about 2 to 1 on his money to call, and 44 at best is a small favorite against 2 overcards but is dominated by a bigger pair. You noted that calling would virtually put him all in. IMO, good fold by him. I don't mind calling off all of my chips with a big hand, but I don't want to call them off with a mediocre hand, paticularly when my best chance is to be in a 50/50 race for my tourney life.


A8 suited in that situation is an easy all-in for you. JT suited is not a great hand, but, in the chance you do have an overpair, he is a little worse than a 2 to 1 dog, in this situation, he was a 5 to 4 dog. Either way, very questionable call, especially since his call represented a large portion of his stack. Again, much better to push all in with a marginal hand than to call with it. But, JT is one of the most overrated hands in poker.

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Thanks Big Country.


Couple small points - in the Q-6 hand, I was not in against the BB, I was in against a guy who limped under-the-gun, he turned out to have A-k. Once the ace hit, I knew I was beat, and he confirmed it by betting into me on the turn and again on the river, in each case after I checked. It was a terrible play by me to call him down, plain and simple.


On the 4-4 hand, it would not have cost him nearly all of his stack to call me there, in fact I think it would have cost him somewhere between 1/4 and 1/3 of his stack. Easy call for him IMO, especially given that I was very shortstacked and could have been all-in with pretty much any two cards, so the risk of running into an overpair was not as great as it might have been otherwise. The reality is that once it folded around to me, I definitely would have been all-in with any two cards.


On the 4-6 hearts hand, I believe there were 4 players in ahead of me with the blinds still to act behind me, and big blind at that point was only 50, so it was exactly the kind of multiway pot I'd want for that hand, and it was an unraised pot so I was able to see the flop for only 50. I'm pretty comfortable that I made the right decision to see that flop, and the more I think about it, my subsequent fold was also probably correct - it irks me because I could have won a boatload of chips, but I probably took the right action at each decision point. EDIT - after the flop, the blinds checked, and the under-the-gun guy was already all in. UTG+1 bet 50, UTG +2 raised to 200, and UTG +3 called.


The J-10 hand is the one that I still struggle with - I think in a cash game, given that I had nothing else behind it and that I was all-in for maybe the fifth time within about 40 minutes at this table, you could argue for a call here. Certainly if the hands were face up at that time, you would call in a cash game, as maybe a 45% dog and getting about 3-to-2 to call. But in a tournament game with the additional factor of limited resources, I would not have called off essentially all of my chips with a J-high. he explained to me afterwards that he was frustrated because I was pushing him around and stealing his blinds repeatedly ever since I was added to that table - I certainly understand that, having made some bad calls on my Q-6 hand about an hour earlier, also out of frustration. But I do think it was a bad call.


Thanks again.

Edited by Easy n Dirty
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Must have mixed up parts of your orignal post.


We agree on the Q6 hand...


With it being such a small portion of his stack, agree than that the 44 hand warranted a call in that situation.


on the 46, if my math is right, that puts 750 in the pot with 200 to call, just under the 4 to 1 you would want to go for the draw, but, as you noted, even if you did hit there was a decent chance you would be beat, or that a 4th heart on the river would counterfiet you. Give the adde info, I agree, correct decisions on each street.


And I think that the JT was a questionable call at best. As noted, I likely would not call with it in the described situation, but many player are infatuated wit hthat hand and overplay it.

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