Katie's Anatomy of a Sunday Grind: September 8
Soon after blogging about maintaining balance in life while playing poker for a living, the scales tipped in an unfavorable direction for me. The Internet issues I've written about in this column before came back with a vengeance one Thursday in August, during which disconnections cost me about $1.5K in equity. As I practically begged my Internet providers to show up again for what felt like the millionth time, it prompted an unusual negative tweet from me:
Adding to my Internet tilt, it felt like I was being trolled on twitter by one of the providers:
While my Spanish still isn't perfect, I was confident that using a Telcel stick wasn't "facil," as it didn't work for me at all!
Once my primary Internet company, Telnor, missed yet another long window for their arrival, I decided to give up and take on the stress of moving to my second foreign country. As I was picking out my plane ticket, Telnor showed up like a one-outer on the river. Limited by my elementary Spanish, I think the only question they understood from me was "Quisieran agua?" But when they left, I had another new line installed and five hopeful green bars shining on my screen like the Emerald City.
I started playing tentatively but soon regained my trust in my Internet and was back to 30+ tabling. By the end of Saturday, I'd had a very profitable start to the month, and I was eager to get back on track with my 2013 goals of hitting Supernova and playing at least 15,000 tournaments.
I headed into Sunday pumped to take a shot in the $215 NLHE WCOOP!
While listening to one of my favorite songs, "The Best Day of my Life" by American Authors, I played an interesting hand in my first WCOOP tournament of this year:
My default play would be to three-bet the queens pre-flop, but, after about 60 hands, the villain hadn't entered a single pot. When he checked back the flop, his range looked weighted towards overcards, though the trapping hand he actually had was clearly in his range as well. I lead about half the pot on the turn, as it was likely that I had the best hand. I elected to check-call on the river, though I think taking a bet/fold line also would have been reasonable.
From this particular opponent, I was hoping to induce a bluff from over-cards, possibly a value bet from 9-9, T-T, A-J, or K-J. If I gave him a range of A-A, K-K, J-J through 8-8, 6-6, A-Js to A-Ko, then the river is a clear call, as I have almost 70 percent equity versus this range. While this isn't the range I would give to a reg, I had a lot of time during my forced break to study the ranges of players that evaluate hands in a different way than I do. All in all, I felt fortunate to have lost less than 10 big blinds with an overpair to a fairly disguised full-house. Sometimes getting away for about the minimum feels like a win!
As I mentioned earlier, being unable to play for so long set me back in terms of reaching a few goals: playing at least 15,000 tournaments this year and reaching Supernova. In order to help myself to achieve those goals after an unexpected 2.5-week absence from the tables, I decided to start playing some 9-man SNGs. Because of the understandable lack of five minute breaks in them, I loaded them at the beginning and end of my session (since I can't go eight hours without a bathroom break). In fact, I ended up sprinting to the restroom when I only had a few 9-mans running on my first break. I'm a gambler!
Even with my "LOL sample size," the 9-mans are off to a good start with about 100 of them played and a 27 percent ROI. I have a soft spot for 9-man non-turbos, as I had my first large bankroll boost from a single SNG back in college. My husband was playing high-stakes SNGs, and I was railing him while playing some very low stakes tournaments. I'd like to blame my hair color on the fact that I absent-mindedly registered a $215 SNG (thinking it was a $2 tourney). I didn't realize that I'd bought in with my entire bankroll until I was already in the money! First prize was huge to an unemployed college student, and it is one of the many things that contributed to my love of poker!
Fast forward years later, and I realize that a 27 percent ROI is very far from sustainable in 9-mans, but in addition to accumulating more VPPs, I also love the increased heads-up practice. Many MTTers don't get to play heads-up very often, but it is actually one of the most important aspect of a tournament player's game. That's because the biggest prize difference between two finishing positions is between first and second place. I was pretty excited to win a Battle of the Planets prize in my first week playing 9-mans on PokerStars!
After losing a large pot after an all-in pre-flop with kings to aces in the WCOOP $215, I realized that if I was going to have a successful Sunday, it was likely to be thanks to the lower-variance formats I play. Maybe it was a self-fulfilling prophecy, because I busted the Womens Sunday soon after in this hand:
Over a few hundred hands, Villain was playing an aggressive style. Given that, Nash Equlibrium would like me to shove about 18 percent if the villain had open-min-raised. Given the 3x open, I'm generally going to have less fold equity than if the player had min-raised, but there is also the benefit that there is more in the pot. While I wouldn't have shoved any pocket pair there, I think shoving sixes was the right play, even though it didn't work out this time.
The upside of busting the big tournaments early is that it inspires me to play even better in the smaller tournaments. I've seen a frequent theme of my students not playing as well in their smaller buy-in tournaments. Underestimating lower buy-in opponents and simply not caring enough about playing great are common reasons. That's why poker players should actually strive to play their best in the lowest buy-in tournaments that they play, because it is easy to get excited about the highest tournaments, and caring a ton about even the lowest buy-ins will have a trickle up effect.
Without the hope of making over $200K in a single tournament score, the importance of all my hands was further underlined. Things began to take a good turn after winning a $15 180-man and final tabling some $35 180-mans. I became determined to do everything possible have a good day, even if it was destined to be devoid of total glory. I paid particular attention to not missing iso-shoves at the bottom of my range.
On the final table bubble of a $35 180, I was dealt pocket nines in a spot where I would get it in with any possible action in front of me.
And then, my screen went dark.
I frantically checked to make sure I hadn't turned off my monitor. Then, my HUD stats for my 35 tables were displayed without any of the poker tables. With all of the tiny, multicolored digits on a black canvas, it looked like some bizarre form of mathematical modern art!
I thought that my old nemesis-- a dropping Internet connection had resurfaced. But an error message popped up, and it looked like my barely-over-a-year-old gaming computer was picking this moment to die an agonizingly slow death.
I scrolled my mouse over to where I knew the $35 180-man table where I had pocket nines was and jammed down my all-in button hot key over and over, without any clue as to whether or not I was successfully shoving. Contrary to the common definition of "all-in in the dark," I was literally going all-in in the darkness of my black screen!
Only from looking at the hand history after the tournament did I find that my computer didn't actually allow me to shove:
Considering that I would have practically doubled had my computer allowed me to call the all-in, I'm glad I didn't know what had happened until after I finished playing. It was the online equivalent of something that frequently happens live -- the decision of whether or not to look at your cards when a hand's been declared a misdeal. I'm a firm believer that it's better not to know!
Eventually, my computer started functioning again, and I removed malware that I think was the culprit. I took third place in that $35 180-man after losing K-T to K-8 all-in pre-flop for just a bit less than winning a $15 180-man, which led to a solidly profitable day.
While this Sunday wasn't the glory-fest every tournament player dreams of, I overcame a rough start, nursed my computer back to health, and I even got to view some modern art in the process.