I worked on applying the adjusted tournament strategy I have been considering at an Casino Malaysia game last night. It seemed to work very well for the early rounds – but also, I did feel I was somewhat lucky hitting hands as well.
By the end of Level 3 I was the overall chip leader, with 15,500 while the stack average was about 3,000. I was limping in with the following hand selection:
– Any small pair
– Any suited 1 or 2 gap connectors
– Any non suited connectors
– Any ace and card down to 10
– Any king and card down to 9
On that basis I was in about 2/3 of the pots, and since the table was fairly passive, got to see a lot of flops. However, if there was a 3-4 or more times BB raise, I folded, and if I didn’t connect with at least top pair or a strong draw on the flop, I would fold to any bet. Many times however, the table checked around and I got to see at least one free card.
At the same time, if I did connect with A K or Q top pair to an otherwise raggy board, I also checked. A lot of players in pub poker games treat any face card as a premium hand, and will bet it, so when those in the hand check, there is a reasonable chance they don’t have anything over a J. Of course, it depends on the players, but the ones at my table seemed to fit that category. My reason for checking with what I was pretty sure was top pair, was because on those types of flops with no flush and straight draws, I was almost certainly well ahead and a bet would only chase off players that might later contribute more chips, but had very little chance of drawing out on me. Even if it was a drawing board, there is only a 1/3 chance of the draw being made. If it was, I can get away from the hand with minimal loss, if it isn’t I get the benefit from busted draw bluffs. (No one lays down a four card draw to any size bet in pub poker anyway).
My checking with top pair and reasonable kicker induced bluffs on the turn and river which I called. There were about six hands like that, and I only lost one. The reason I didn’t bet on the river was because, based on my revised strategy, I didn’t have the nut hand, and did not want to commit chips where there was some chance of losing. Although as my chip stack grew, I changed that a little bit, and when felt sure I was well ahead, bumped up the pot with value bets, or tried to make it look like I had a busted draw and was bluffing on the river.
One thing is for sure, no one had any idea of what I had in any hand – apart from the fact that if I was still there by the river, they were probably beat.
My three best starting hands were K J off, A 10 and 6 6, and my most profitable hand was J 9 off. The K J hit a king on the flop and I sucked out on every street by calling down an Ace high bluff. A 10 I folded to a large bet after a raggy flop. 6 6 hit trips and I sucked out two players, one chasing a busted flush and the other who paired his king. The J 9 made the nut straight on flop, I called a bet and a raise on the turn, checked the river, a short stack went all in and got called, I re-raised the caller all in, he called.
I also lost some strong hands to slightly better ones. 9 10 two pair to 10 J when a J hit on the river. If I had been betting and raising my top two pair, the guy with top pair would have called and then sucked out when his jack hit. By using the principle of not betting without the nuts, I saved myself some chips on those occasions that would in other cases mean a big suck out.
Unfortunately, after the break my strategy fell apart a little. I was card dead for almost the next two levels, and also the third pint of Guinness was kicking in, and I fell back to my usual tight/aggressive style. I donked off 4,000 with the nut straight to a four flush board and the nut flush. I went card blind and didn’t see the possible flush, and completely missed the meaning of the small (500) value bet on the river and re-raised to 2,500. Idiot.
I limped in with pocket threes, hit trips, bet each street and got chased down by another flush on the river. Bye bye 3,000.
I managed to work my stack down to 4,000 with the blinds 500/1,000, got lucky with K J and tripled up. Then just managed to make it to the final table with 10,000 and the blinds at 2,000/4,000. But at least there were two stacks shorter than me.
With only one move to make, I waited for a hand to push with. Won a small pot from another short stack, but it was not enough and I placed 7th.
Conclusion: I can’t really draw one, the number of hands with the new strategy was too small. I felt I was lucky on some of the flops before the break, and unlucky with my regular style after the break. Certainly I placed no better than I have done in the past. Never the less, there are indications that, with refinement, it could be an effective method, so I will keep going with it and see how it pans out.