Sometimes consider it as part of your arsenal
My moniker at a couple of online sites is “IonlyPlayAA.” Way back in 2004 when I went deep in the main event of the World Series, one of my opponents commented, “He only plays aces.” The comment made the TV broadcast, and hence, one of my online monikers was born. It’s always fun to be dealt aces with that kind of online name.
You will often hear people say that you shouldn’t go broke with pocket aces when the stacks are deep. Every scenario is different, and I’m going to discuss a hand that I played recently in which my play looks very passive. It is important to understand that both aggressiveness and passiveness have a place in poker. Good players adjust their play based on what the situation demands.
A lucky day!
The $100K Holiday freeroll tournament at Full Tilt Poker ended up being a nice Christmas gift. The buy-in was 2,000 FTP points, and there was a cap set of 10,000 players.
A total of 1,800 places were paid: 1,800th - $10; 91st - $100; 10th - $600; ninth - $1,000. More than one-third of the payout went to the final-table players. The top three finishers received $10,000, $7,500, and $5,000, respectively.
This kind of tournament is usually much different than the normal major tournaments I play on Sundays. Given that it was a freeroll, you would expect there to be a lot of weak players looking for a big score. In reality, I found the play early on to be a lot better than expected. However, once we made the money, you could see that many of the players were playing simply for the next pay jump, even if it was "only" $40.
Preparing Darus Suharto
I had the pleasure of hosting an event to help Darus Suharto prepare for the World Series of Poker main event. Darus finished in sixth place and took home more than $2.4 million. The main event has come a long way the last few years, as Darus took home close to the same amount that Chris Moneymaker won in his classic 2003 victory.
Eric "Rizen" Lynch was coaching Darus to help him prepare for the main event. Eric and I had talked earlier in the summer about various ways that one might prepare given the four-month layoff. Once Eric started actually coaching Darus, he called me about one of the ideas we had.
Test Your Skills
These hands are taken from the, expanded edition of Internet Texas Hold'em: Winning Strategies for Full-Ring and Short-Handed Games. Take this quiz to test your skills. These are limit hold'em hands at the limits shown.
1. 25¢-50¢: You hold the A 3 in middle position. Three players call from early position, you call, and the big blind checks. Five players see the flop of 9 7 2. The player under the gun bets, the next player calls, and the next player raises. There is $2.35 in the pot. What should you do?
When and when not to do so
Editor's note: This column is an excerpt from the, expanded edition of Internet Texas Hold'em: Winning Strategies for Full-Ring and Short-Handed Games. It includes a new chapter on playing multiway pots, as well as two new chapters for shorthanded games.
Beginning players, and even some players with a decent amount of experience, have misconceptions concerning when they should raise and when they should call with a draw.
Most players understand that they should raise with the best hand; what they don't understand is how to define the best hand. The best hand is simply the hand that has the highest chance of winning by the river; this can be either a very strong made hand on the flop or a very strong draw.
Keep track of the changing stack sizes
I just completed working on the book Winning Poker Tournaments One Hand at a Time, Volume I, by Eric "Rizen" Lynch, Jon "PearlJammer" Turner, and Jon "Apestyles" Van Fleet. Other than specific concepts and strategies, this book shows the reader what it takes to think through hands at a professional level. The one thing that becomes very apparent is that top professionals are always acutely aware of their stack sizes, the stack sizes of their opponents, and these stack sizes in relation to the blinds. When I am sitting at the table, I am constantly evaluating how the stack sizes are changing throughout the tournament, and I do this following practically every hand.
Stack size is everything when it comes to tournaments.
A disappointing tournament
The 2008 World Series of Poker was extremely disappointing for me. I played 15 events and was able to manage only one small cash. This is particularly disappointing because I prepared harder this year than I ever have. There is no question in my mind that I was ready to take my game to another level. In most endeavors in life, if you work hard, you generally start to see good results. But in poker, you can work harder than you have on anything ever before, but there is no guarantee that you'll see great results, at least in the short term.
So, how do I evaluate my performance? Did I play well or not? Did I prepare correctly - mentally, emotionally, and physically? What can I do to try to achieve better results next year?
A hand from the World Series of Poker
Event No. 3 of the World Series of Poker was $1,500 pot-limit hold'em. There was one particular hand I played that had a lot of interesting twists and turns.
The blinds were 50-100. I had about 7,800 in chips remaining. Everyone folded around to the button, who limped for 200. He had 4,650 remaining. This was not the first time he had limped, and he previously had folded to a pot-size raise after limping from the button. Dewey Tomko folded from the small blind, and I checked my A-8 from the big blind.
The flop was A-Q-5 rainbow. I checked, and my opponent made a small bet of 200. At this point, I was very confident that I had the best hand. It was unlikely that he would limp with A-X. Most players would raise with A-A in pot-limit hold'em to start building the pot size; 5-5 was a possibility, but was only one part of a very wide range here.
Restealing is important
I recently won the Full Tilt Poker $750,000-guaranteed event under the moniker "IonlyplayAA." My win earned me a little more than $132,000, as I weeded through more than 3,500 players. This tournament has been good to me this year, as I've had three top-100 finishes, two final tables, and now this big win.
There is no question that working on my latest book project with Eric "Rizen" Lynch, Jon 'Pearljammer" Turner, and Jon "Apestyles" Van Fleet has helped to boost my game. One thing that I've learned from these guys is that I need to incorporate more resteals into my game.
This article was written by Matthew for Cardplayer.com during the Fall 2007 and originally published here
Take advantage of them
I've been fortunate enough to cash in three of the last four main events at the World Series of Poker. Looking back, I've learned a lot about playing in the main event, and I think I probably haven't exploited bubble situations as much as I should have. This column will share some of those lessons.
Before discussing the WSOP bubble, we need to first define what a bubble is. Typically, players refer to the cash bubble and the final-table bubble. These are the two most distinct "bubbles" in a tournament. Most players want to cash, especially when getting close to the money.