Building back confidence at the tourneys

Building Self-confidence in Yourself
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A while back I wrote a post about losing confidence at the tables during a large tourney and how that had affected my playing.  In order to overcome that feeling, I have played in three Sit N Go’s with at least 27 people. I was able to win fourth place in one while not making the payouts in the other two. I felt a little more comfortable as a result.

The idea was to just play a hand at a time at a table and not worry about what was happening around me at other tables. Just doing so has  helped my concentration.  I even entered a tourney that had over 734 players and while I finished 262nd,  I found that my playing ability was passable.  Did I make a few judgment errors? Yes. Was I bluffed out of some pots that I might have won had I not folded? Yes. Did I win a few pots by bluffing? Yes!

It is important to make sure that you feel confident about yourself and believe in yourself before entering a tourney. Yes, there is some luck and you cannot avoid a streak of catching bad cards or playing good cards badly if you act unwisely.  But, if your overall play is sound, you will, in the long run, accomplish your goals.

How do you get ready for a large tourney? What helps you to maintain your confidence? Are you satisfied with your results?

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Poker is a game of skill – Omaha Pot Limit High / Low is a flop game

vintage cowboy: arizona outlaw
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Last night I played in a Pot Limit Omaha High/Low Poker tourney being hosted by the Cowboy’s Poker League played on FullTiltPoker.  Scott (twitter name is ffcowboy76) and Jeremy (twitter name is IBGPN) are the hosts and contact persons. Tweet or follow them on their exploits as well as follow their league twitter name – @CowboyPoker. Only one game remains to be played in the regular season league play so check out their schedule here.
At the end of the season there will be a “Championship” game with only the top 9 on their leader board being invited to play. Congratulations to the top three prize winners. The tourney summary was as follows:

2: Belsepub
3: ffcowboy76
4: kazor
5: KennyBannia
6: StevieTrips
7: Street 3
8: Zonetrap

The basic difference between Pot Limit and No Limit is that your largest bet is limited to the size of the pot after a round of betting. Pot Limit betting makes it harder to get a player to fold a drawing hand as the player is getting good odds to call raises.

Additionally, Omaha Pot Limit is considered to be a flopping game, meaning that most of the decisions should be made after seeing the flop and after you see what your chances are of having the best high hand and the best low hand.

I folded the first eight hands I played either pre-flop or right after the flop.

On the ninth hand of the evening I was dealt Jc 2s Ac Qc, which is a good but not great starting hand. This is the type of hand that can make a high straight or the nut high flush (highest flush hand possible) and also a low hand using the A 2 as part of the low. I had what is called many outs or many ways that I could win the hand. I had eight outs for the flush draw. I had 16 outs for the high straight draw, and I had 12 outs for the best low draw.

The flop was Ks Th 2d and based on the flop I had a good chance of making the high straight draw but not the flush or the low hand. Based on that flop I should have folded. But I bet about 30% of my chips trying to drive out the other players. Instead of folding, one of the other players raised all-in. Both myself and another player called the all-in.  The turn card was a 7c, no help. The river card was a 5d, also no help. Even with all of the possible draws I had available, I lost both the high and the low hands and was down to 285 in chips. Because my hand post flop had no chance of winning low, my best course of action was to fold instead of raising.  Pot Limit Omaha is not forgiving of errors made in post flop play.

My last and final hand was hand #16. I was dealt 2d Ks As Ah and with only 225 in chips I went all in. Again I had cards that could win both the high and the low if the flop, turn, and river helped my hand. Because I was short stacked, low on chips, this was my best hand to go all-in with.

The flop was 3d 9s 3c, giving me two pair with the Aces I held and a chance for the low, if both the turn and the river were low as well, but not paired. The turn was an Ad giving me the best full house possible. I remembered thinking that there was no possible way a higher full house would beat this hand. The river card was a 7s. For a moment, it looked like I would double up by winning the high hand, until my opponent turned over his cards, 2h 3h Ac 3s, showing that he had made four of a kind or quads with the 3’s which beat my full house.

Have you ever played a hand in Pot Limit Omaha High/Low that you thought had the lock on the high side only to be surprised? Do you always try to enter a pot cheaply pre-flop and then make your decisions on what action to take after the flop?  Do you avoid playing hands that cannot make both the high hand and the low hand as well?

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Confidence is a necessary part of a poker player's tool kit

The 2002 World Series of Poker in progress.
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Confidence is a necessary part of a poker player’s tool kit and the lack of confidence can be devastating.  I have been wanting to play in a large payout tourney for some time now. I have had some success at smaller MTT’s, multi-table tourneys, and wanted to take a crack at a larger tourney. The tourneys that I have won at recently have had 45 people or less and the one that I was considering playing in was the Sunday PokerStars Tourneys.

These tourneys are run every Sunday and there are at least three major No Limit Hold ‘Em tourneys with guaranteed payouts of $1,000,000, $750,000, $250,000. Of course you don’t get to win the whole amount, just a percentage,  anywhere from 6 to 25 percent of the top prize goes to the first place finisher. The percentages vary with the number of players registered for the game. Details are on the PokerStars web site. Most of these tourneys have more than 10,000 players registered on them.

The tourney I decided that I wanted to play in was the “Sunday 1/4 Million” played at 3:30 pm EST. I had won my entry fee of $11.00 through a satellite that cost 210 Frequent Player Points which I had accumulated as the result of playing in cash games and other Sit N Go tourneys. Prior to registering for this event, I noticed that the number of players enrolled had reached over 22,000. This started to cause me some concern. I have played in about a dozen of these larger tourneys before and have done poorly in them. I was concerned about what my approach would be to out lasting over 22,000 players.

This was when I developed a lack of confidence in myself. I was torn between playing in this tourney or another one that had only 1,500 registered players. In the end, I decided to go with my original plan and play in the Sunday 1/4 Million Tourney.  My lack of confidence in my ability enabled me to play very badly, making poor playing decisions on the table I was assigned and within 22 minutes I was out of the tourney. I finished in 24,093rd place out of 27,540 other players. Only the top 4,500 players won prizes.  Below are the top five finishers.

PokerStars Tournament #157110461, No Limit Hold'em
Buy-In: $10.00/$1.00
27540 players
Total Prize Pool: $275400.00
Tournament started 2009/04/26 15:30:00 ET
Tournament finished 2009/04/27 0:31:18 ET
  1: ImTheDubs (North Port), $24786.01 (9%)
  2: horryclutch (valley village), $17047.27 (6.19%)
  3: IndianKobra (München), $12393.01 (4.50%)
  4: otnorot66 (toronto), $9639.01 (3.50%)
  5: ram55443322 (Barcelona), $6885.01 (2.50%)

My lack of confidence came at a bad time for me, but had I read my son’s blog, I might have changed my approach to the game. On that very same day, Chris Brogan wrote a blog entitled “Confidence and The Next Move” that contained many great ideas that would have motivated me to play up to my ability. In my next attempt at a large, my plan will be to play it hand by hand, table by table as I have in the past.

Have you every played in a tourney or game and felt a lack of confidence in your ability to play at that table or tourney? How did you go about turning this around? What helps you to build up your confidence?

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Twitter brings tweeple together – for and ad hoc #tpt poker game

An example of a social network diagram.
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Last Friday afternoon, the following twitter message was sent by @mcmac51:  “anyone up for an off-cycle #tpt tonight? #tp t and an unscheduled Twitter Poker Tour event got started.

@mcmac51 contacted @tracyjsnell @cprpoker and then got over 21 people together at 9 pm on a Friday night for what was called the “#tpt Exhibition Match”, the first of its kind for the “Twitter Poker Tour”.

This shows just one example of the power of Twitter to help people with similar interests get together. I am sure there are many other examples that could be found.

Have you ever used Twitter to gather a group of like minded people for an event? What was the purpose of your event? What was the response you received? Did you find that Twitter was the tool for you?

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Twitter Poker Tour Europe (#TPTE) – Event 2 Summary

Map of the time zones of Europe.
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This year the Twitter Poker Tour has added a European Event tagged in Twitter as the #TPTE. It has its own time zone and prizes different than the original #TPT tourney.

I played in “Event 2 of the #TPTE” on FullTiltPoker yesterday. Because the event was created to favor the Europeans, the start time was 2 pm Eastern Daylight Time or 7 CEST time – Central European Summer Time. I was looking forward to playing in this event because of the time zone and due to the fact that I would not have to stay up late to play. Usually the #TPT, which is played starting at 9 pm, does not finish until about midnight which is really too late for me.

Because the event in Europe is new, there are not a lot of players competing yet. Yesterday saw only eight entrants so play was confined to one table.  The standard game of Texas No Limit Hold ‘Em was played. Even though there were only eight players, the opponents were good players. A few have played against each other more than once and knew what to expect. Altogether, the game lasted about 1 1/2 hours and about 156 hands were played.

The following is the summary of the tourney with only the first three finishers being paid a prize.
1: fleapid
2: StevieTrips
3: Excalibur9
4: Fingolfin2
5: amuzulo
6: jeffpovey
7: RawrStar
8: taz31362

Congratulations to all who played and to those that won. Please be sure to spread the word about the #TPTE, Twitter Poker Tour – Europe, and join the fun.

Does your strategy change when you play on one table versus multiple tables? Does your results differ between the types of game, (single table versus multiple)? Are you able to make it to the final table and be paid off for your efforts?

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Changing up my game – time.

Twitter Pocker Tour Logo

I have enjoyed playing in the Twitter Poker Tour tourneys the last few months and I have had some success playing in them. I enjoy playing Texas Hold ‘Em in its many forms including Limit and No Limit.

The only drawback about the tourney for me has been the time of day that the tourney is held. For the last several years my work day habits were such that I was up in the morning by 4:30 – 4:45 am and off to work by 6:00 am. At the end of the day I would retire by 10:00 at the latest. Even now, when I am  no longer working, I tend to keep the same hours. So I was greatly pleased to hear that I could continue to play the Twitter Poker Tour, but at the European tourney time.

I am going to greatly miss the gang at the #TPT, but I am looking forward to playing at the #TPTE during hours that favor my life style. As they say, ‘shuffle up and deal”!

Do you find you play better during certain hours? Are you able to stay up later than usual with no effect to your game or your health? Are you a morning or an evening person?

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Defending and stealing blinds

A picture of a texas hold'em poker table, with...
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As I mentioned in previous  posts, I have won a one month training subscription to which includes the unlimited use of their videos and reading materials. I have been watching training videos about how to improve my game of Texas Limit Hold “Em poker.

Episode three was about the importance of the blinds, the forced bets that players are required to make in Hold ‘Em. Typically the small blind bets 1/2 of a small bet and the big blind bets one small bet prior to being dealt cards. In a .50/1.00 table, the small bet is .50 cents and the large bet is 1.00. The small bet is used in pre-flop and after the flop betting. The limit is raised to the large bet size of $1.00 for bets made on the turn and the river.

As a poker player, who is in either the small blind or big blind, it is important to defend or protect your blinds from being stolen by an aggressive opponent. You defend the blinds by one of two actions; either by calling the raise or by re-raising the raiser.

The big blind:  You should be able to call the bet because you are getting good odds to do so. If your cards are good enough, a raise for value might just win the pot without even seeing the flop if your opponent folds his hand.

The small blind is a little trickier. If there has been a raise before the betting gets to the small blind, defending the blind will depend on how many small bets need to be made and how good the hand is.  If there has not been any raises when action gets to the small blind, it is ok to complete the bet by putting in the remaining 1/2 of the small bet as the small blind is getting at least 2 to 1 odds to call and maybe more if other players limped into the pot by just calling one small bet and not raising.  What to do after the flop depends on whether the flop helped or improved your hand.

As the small blind and big blind are forced to bet, their cards can be considered to consist of a random hand. It is a goal of the professional poker player to try and get those blinds away from the players by either betting with a strong hand or by trying to bluff them into folding their hands. Many times a raise will cause both the small blind and the big blind to fold, giving you their blinds equal to 1 1/2 bets if you make a raise to two small bets. You only have to win 2 out of three times to show a profit. If you are re-raised you can make your decision as to what to do next based on how good your cards are.

Do you defend your blinds? Do you try to steal your opponents blinds or do you just play good hands?

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Training Videos – helped to open up my game.

Flop, turn and river in community card poker v...
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One of my favorite poker games is Limit Hold ‘Em. I currently play on various online sites at the low limits while I continue my education on how to play winning poker. As I mentioned in my last post, I have won a one month training subscription to DeucesCracked.Com which includes the unlimited use of their videos and reading materials.

I began by focusing on materials regarding Limit Hold ‘Em and started watching a video from a series entitled “Passing the Torch”. Episode one was about opening up my game. Prior to watching this video I was what is considered a TAG type of player, Tight and Aggressive. I would raise hands in the AA, KK, QQ, AK range and call with hands such as TT, 99, 88 but only if a raise had not already been made. I would try limping in with suited connectors or one gappers but only if I was in position.

After watching the video, I saw that there was value to be aggressive pre-flop with these type of hands and would come into the hand raising, re-raising and even capping the betting preflop. If the flop was good for me, I would continue to fire bets into the pot. For the session that I attempted this, more loose type of play, LAG, Loose and Aggressive, was very profitable for me.

Last night I watched “Passing the Torch – Episode two”. This video contained ideas about the practice of value betting your hands, something I had not been doing much of. Basically, if you have made the hand you wanted, you would continue to bet out as long as the board cards were not too scary. By that I mean, if I made a pair or my pocket pair was higher that any of the cards on the flop, I should continue by betting out and seeing what happens. If I was called, I would continue to bet the turn and the river. Again this would depend on whether the board looked like I might be beaten. At that point, if I was raised, I would call as I was getting good pot odds to do so.

My results last night were not as spectacular as the night before, but I did show a profit for the hour of play while watching the video. In the hands that I did hit, I was able to value bet sucessfully.

Do you value bet at the river when you think you might have the best hand to get more value out of your session? How do you learn in order to improve your game? Videos, books, live training?

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Taking advantage of training and other lessons

Kirby and his chips [Feb 7]
Image by santheo via Flickr

Last Thursday night at the Twitter Poker Tour’s Season Three debut, I managed to outlast all of my opponents and win first place. Besides the first place cash prize, I was awarded a tee shirt and a month’s subscription to, a poker training website. To summarize the prize I won, I have included the following from their website.
————————————- Premium Users get access to videos created by the industry’s top poker coaches. Improve your game anytime, anywhere with videos built by coaches who have expertise in both theory and teaching.

Participate in forums
Access ALL articles & blogs
Download (DRM-Free) videos for any device
Access NEW premium video series
View 100+ archived videos
7-DAY FREE TRIAL! (Only with the Monthly Plan)*
The one month training package is worth $29.00. With their annual rate, you can bring the cost of training down to $23.20.

I have watched just three videos since signing up on Friday but those have been very helpful to me thus far. Last night, I played ” Passing the Torch, episode one, while playing Limit Hold ‘Em on PokerStars at the .50/1.00 level. By the time the video had finished, I had won over $20 more than I started with. Some of my playing was influenced by the video. I was able to make adjustments to my games while playing the video. I am sure the trainers would be shocked that I did not give the video 100% attention. I plan to continue playing during the videos to  use their advice immediately. I have only 27 days remaining, I want to put the training to use and benefit from the results. I will let you know my overall impressions of their training once the month is up.

Do any of you subscribe to paid poker training sites? Which ones do you use? What has been your results since the training? Do you feel the training was worth it to you?


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Good decisions plus good cards plus good reads makes for a winning session.

Andy Bloch at the 2007 World Series of Poker -...
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Last night at the No Limit Hold ‘Em Tourney run by the Twitter Poker Tour and sponsored by DeucesCracked (free month subscription) and PrintMojo (#tpt t-shirt, I was able to stay in my comfort zone and play winning poker. As a result of making the right decisions, I was able to keep chipping away and staying in the top third of the entire pack until I made it to the final table. I stayed in the top three for most of the final table play until I eventually had all the chips and first prize. My biggest help was that I was being railed by my lovely wife Diane, who kept reminding me about my post yesterday on decision making and about my resolve to take more time to think before committing myself to a specific action.

Congratulations go to all who played last night. The top five finishers were as follows:

1: StevieTrips
2: donnij
3: astro_pup
4: mcmichael51
5: charlibigpla

Special thanks also goes to @sebastianrocks who invited Andy Bloch of the FullTiltPoker Team to play with us last night. Andy’s Twitter name is @Andy_Bloch.

Do you ever plan out your strategy prior to an event? Do you stick to your plans? Do other players make you lose your resolve and cause you to forget your best laid plans? Do you go on tilt easily?

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