## Wednesday, February 27, 2008

### 12.3 No Limit Hands

That how many hands on average before elimination at a NL Holdem MTT table. How did I figure that out? Simple math.

Typically one half to two thirds of an MTT field is eliminated in an hours play. The rate may be a bit slower in the first hour of a deepstacks MTT but eventually it will settle into that range. I am going to assume for this calculation that 60% of an MTT field is eliminated per hour.

How many players per table in a full ring MTT? I will use 8.8 players. For the case with 100 tables left you would have 895.5/900 players typically. For the case of 10 tables left 85.5/90 players typically. For a semi massive MTT 8.8 seems about right.

How many hands per table in an NL Holdem MTT? 60 hands/hr online is pretty typical for cash games. MTTs play a bit faster because of less post flop play. I will say 65 hands per hour.

Players per Table Eliminated per hour = 8.8 x 60% = 5.28

Hands per Player Elimination = 65 / 5.28 = 12.3 Hands

So typically every 12.3 hands somebody will be eliminated from your table at a NL Holdem MTT. This is a nice fact to be aware of. If you have the chips to get through say 15 hands, and there are 88 players left you can figure that at least 9 will be eliminated by the time the 15 hands are played. It will also give you a way to figure how long it will take to complete an MTT based on the number of players and tables left.

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### More Bodonkey Points, 7th Overall

I scored some more points by finishing 13th in the bodonkey last night, and moving up to 7th overall. I had a pretty easy run as early on I ran AA into KK and doubled through to a quick 6,000 in chips. At this point a quick calculation shows that you can fold into the points pretty easy. The points bubble breaks about 2 1/2 hours in, and 6k in chips will get you there. The blinds start at 5/10. The points are worth so much that you want to make sure you get them if you get a double up. This is a \$11 buy-in MTT and a seat is worth about \$750 dwarfing the payouts for this individual MTT. So I basically clamped down and played uber tight even for me. About an hour and 45 minutes in (blinds 100/200) I pick up KK and open raise to 800. Riggstad jams all-in for 4500 ish. Not really an autocall. I can still fold to the points, but big points would be nice to. After thinking briefly, I figure there is no way he shoves AA there, and I call having him covered by about 1500. He flips AJo and I sweat out the board to victory. This put me above 10k and with enough of a stack to push the table around with without risking elimination before the points bubble. I jammed over columbo's open with 44 and he called with AK (i think), and I lost the coin flip. I called peaker's open jam with JJ and lost to his KJ. Basically I bled my way down to 6500 with 13 left and in the points. I then picked up 99 on the button and jammed over the chip leader's early open. Chip leader thought and called with 55 and IGHN when a 5 flops. Stupid presto. So I basically played two big hands in the first two hours, and used those good situations to secure the leaderboard points. Late in the MTT when I could have rallied back into a position to win, things did not go my way. No biggie, just need to grab some more points next week.

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## Thursday, February 21, 2008

### Stalling in MTTs

Hoy posted a week or so back about slowing down his play on purpose while in the money of a major online MTT. A practice also known as stalling. The general idea behind stalling in an MTT is that it forces your table to play fewer hands, while other non-stalling tables play more hands. This in general will result in more eliminations at the other tables, and less at your table, causing you to move up the payout schedule. Now I have stalled like probably no other in past MTTs, so I agree in principle with what I just wrote above. That however does not make it the correct strategy at any specific point of a MTT.

Stalling is useful in some limited MTT situations for most players, and useful in additional situations as your skill level declines. Stalling works best in large Satellite MTTs with multiple tables left. If you are at the Final Table, stalling can’t help you at all because there will not be another table to play faster. So stalling makes no sense in a 1 or 2 table S&G. It also makes little sense when you are down to the last few tables in an MTT of any size.

When does stalling work the best?

1) Flat Payout Large Field Satellites
If you are in a satellite that pays out 30+ identical seats, and you accumulate a certain high enough number of chips, stalling is a solid move. If you figure that you have 30 minutes of blindes/antes left and the Satellite bubble will burst in 25 minute, you don’t need to play another hand to get your seat. You really should not play another hand once safely into a seat. I have seen tons of people blow a seat they had already earned by getting AA or KK cracked near the Satellite bubble. So you could just fold to the money in the above example. Let’s say that you only have 20 minutes worth of blinds, and the bubble will bust in 25 minutes. Then you stall to your seat. You slow the blinds down enough at your own table to stretch your 20 minute of blinds out to 30-40 minutes, and win your seat. A hugely +EV move by any calculation in a flat payout Satellite.

2) Fucking a Short Stack in a Turbo Near the Bubble.
This is one of my favorites, and applies mainly to turbo MTTs. In turbos, timing can be everything. As the bubble approaches shorties will be trying to figure out if they can get through the blinds one more time before being forced all-in. Sometimes you can stall before the blinds get to them and get the level to pop up to something they can’t cover. This will force them all-in an orbit earlier than planned, and with less hands to choose from that they thought. If you apply this correctly, by stalling on just one or two hands, you can force the bubble to break.

3) Safely in the Money, and Very Near the Bubble
If you have a decent stack, are at a tough table with big stacks, and are 10 minutes or less from Hand for Hand or the bubble, you may want to stall to get through. The key here is that you will be only stalling for a short amount of time, and will be assured of a cash if you do. Unless you are in a great situation as a pretty big favorite, you should not get yourself eliminated at this point.

4) Hopelessly Short Stacked and Near the bubble
This one is kind of like example #1. You are very short, but figure that if you stall, you can get ITM. You are basically trading any shot of winning the MTT for the small cash prize. In this case, you need to try to figure out your chances for a much higher cash if you play the MTT out normally instead. If your chances are very small, you may want to throw the towel in and take a cash. Just make sure you can actually make it ITM. Sometimes you will stall away and still not quite make it. You need to factor this in as well.

5) Hopelessly Short Stacked and Just Past the Bubble in a Large MTT
In this case you used example #4 and made it ITM. You realize that you can get through two more orbits. You figure with stalling this will take 20+ minutes. You also know that now that the bubble has burst people will be flying out. So you stall to move up a few more payouts, also giving up any chance to win the MTT.

6) Medium+ Stack, in a Potential Elimination Hand and Near a Higher Payout
Sometimes you will pick up a hand that you know you will be going to the felt with in a large MTT. If you are very near a payout jump, you can stall this one hand as much as possible and hope for others to be eliminated and for Hand for Hand to start. If you can get to hand for hand while stalling, and somebody with a smaller stack is eliminated, you will still move up a payout even if eliminated on this hand.

7) Stalling to appear weak
If you stall a couple of hands near the bubble people will expect you to continue with your plans. Sometimes you do this to set someone up if you are willing to play back. This works best as you blinds are approaching, and you are willing to defend them.

So above are some examples of when it can be correct to stall. Now before I go any further, I need to clarify something. When I say stall, I mean stall. You use every possible second you can before acting. This includes letting your time expire if that slows down the table by an additional second or two. Stalling is not against the rules, so if you are going to do it, you do it. You don’t apologize for it. You will piss the table off in most cases, but who cares. You are employing a strategy that is with-in the rules of the poker site. Now let’s look at why stalling in general is a bad strategy.

Stalling will reduce the number of hands played per hour at your table, by a large amount. One player stalling can cause close to ½ as many hands to be played as what is normal. The blinds will continue to go up at the normal rate, so what you have done is cause there to be half has many hands per blind level at your table. You have caused the blinds at your table to be effectively turbo. I will not try to argue this point here, but in general slower structures favor the better players, while turbo structures reduce the better player’s edge. If you are a “better player”, you are reducing your edge by stalling. If you are outclassed at you table or in the MTT you may be helping your chances, but now you are relying on luck mostly to succeed.

So as I became a better MTT player, I found that there were much less situations where I could correctly employ stalling. Almost to the point where I don’t do it anymore. There are times when you should never stall as well.

Never Stall in an MTT When

1) There is more than 30 minutes to the expected bubble.
2) You are the largest stack at your table.
3) You are near the bubble, and at a passive table.
4) You are past the post bubble frenzy.
5) You feel you are one of the best players in the MTT.

An interesting example is the Bodonkey. This is a small field MTT so in general stalling is ruled out. You do have the points which are worth a lot. I seat in the final is worth roughly \$750, and the total buy-in for the series is only \$198. So stalling to the points makes some sense except there are only two tables left at points bubble time. With two table left you lose most of your leverage from stalling making it not worth much. The next interesting bubble in the Bodonkey is for the 109 MTT credits. These go to the top five. So you are at a single table at that point, and stalling can’t help. Since there is such a huge payout jump from 6th place to 5th, not playing a hand now becomes a strategy with results similar to stalling. The fuck the guy in the blinds technique can also come into play on the 109 MTT credit bubble. This week I got through the 109 credit bubble for 4th place. I am sitting in 9th overall through 3 events. My goal in these things is to get the 109 credit first before focusing on the win. I think this is +EV, but I may have hurt my win chances this week a bit.

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## Wednesday, February 13, 2008

### MTT Success Requires Blind Faith

Blind faith can be a pretty bad thing. You throw out all evidence against your position because your beliefs are so strong. Your faith may be misguided, but you will never see that with blind faith. Blind Faith in MTTs is a good thing though. It is actually required. You must have blind faith in your MTT/poker skills to be successful long term in MTTs. That seems a bit crazy, but it is true.

The feedback you get on your poker game in MTTs is so very, very poor. You can play well for very many MTTs and have no success at all. You can play like a total donk and win an MTT. It is pretty hard to tell if you are playing well or playing bad, as MTT results can vary so far from your actual play. The variance is just so high. Lets say that you played the 50/50 twice a week, 50 weeks out of the year, and it averaged 1000 entries. On average through average play you will win the 50/50 once every 10 years. Once every 1000 trials. Now lets say you are above average by 20%. Now you will win the 50/50 once every 8 years if you play it 100 times per year. So now you are 6 years into your quest to win the 50/50 (or the Mookie if you are Hoy), and have not got it done yet. Is this because you are good and unlucky? Is this because you are a bad player? Or, is this because you have not run enough trials yet. This answer is you have not run enough trial yet to know.

So 6 years later in the example above, or several weeks later if you are playing tons of MTTs, you start to question your game when the results are not there. It may be that your game has issues, or it may be that you have not run enough trials to overcome the variance. If your game has issues you need to fix them. If you have not run enough trials, you need to run more, and not change your game at all. If your game is good enough to be successful you MUST have blind faith in it. If your game is there already, and you tweak it because of lack of success you will make your game worse. You simply need to know that your approach to MTTs is correct, and success will follow.

Am I there yet? I think I am close, but I can lose faith from time to time. In the Bodonkey last night, I was getting rivered a bit here and there, and had chipped down to around 2k about an hour or so in. Still plenty of time to recover, but not a good start at all. I picked up KK and raised the 15/30 blinds to 100. 4 callers. The flop drops Q92 rainbow, and it checks to me. I c-bet about 300, and ScottMC reraises me to 700 or so. So I have about 1600 left, and this is simply a push or fold situation. The problem here is that so many were able to see the flop, and they all had set mining odds. There is a very decent chance that I am up against a set here, and I could easily see ScottMC play a flopped set that way. MTTs are more aggressive, so over pair folds are tougher. If I have a full stack, I can fold that to Scott much easier. My stack was not full, but not desperate yet either, but against my internal warnings I push and Scott has 99 for the set and IGHN. One of my worse plays in a while in an MTT. Some justification I guess, but still not a very good play. I can make that fold and still have enough play to get back into contention if I have blind faith in my game. I also know that folding an over pair in an MTT is sometimes required to win. Had my stack been a bit smaller, I can justify the push even when it is wrong. Well there is always next week to put blind faith to the test.

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## Monday, February 11, 2008

### Bodonkey TOC Seat Lockdown Time

It took a bunch of work over here in Blinders land, but I have the hall pass to play in the Bodonkey series. I went and guaranteed here last week that I would get a seat (and a 18-1 shot in an online poker TOC for a WSOP ME ticket) before even locking down my permission slip. A bold move I must say. Well after my 10th place finish last week, I have convinced the powers that be that this is not just talk. I can back up the talk and play for such a prize. You to could be playing for such a prize. You would be a fool not to, and I have no problem inviting you, knowing that my seat is virtually locked up. I am going to need to get through 17 of you guys in the end no matter how many play each week. So lets load this thing up.

For those of you who don't know you get 3ooo in chips, and the blinds start at 5/10. Thats more play than any of the other weekly blogger MTTs. Plus Bodog adds \$600 each week to the prize pool. Last time I checked nothing much is being added to the others. They are basically paying us for the right to send one of us for free to the WSOP ME. I think I know why. They think one of us can take the WSOP ME down. They can't dig up a Jamie Gold each year, so we are it. We are 2008 GOLD. We are Bodogs hope and they have faith in us to get it done. And why not? We are as good as most of those jokers, right. May the best blogger win!

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## Wednesday, February 06, 2008

### On The Board In 10th

I played the bodonky last night and earned some points for the WSOP ME TOC. It was a tad unusual of a MTT for me. In the first two hours I never got a big pair, yet I held the chip lead from about 45 minutes in till about the 1:30 hour mark. This was due to some aggressive post flop play, and some nice flops here and there. Key hand was limp/calling a preflop raise with 88, and flopping a boat in position. I called a pot bet on flop, called a near pot bet on the turn, and pushed over a river bet for a couple hundred extra against an unimproved overpair. Not faulting the other guy there. I did outplay Tripjax possibly. With trip on the semi short stack while I was holding the chip lead, I limped AQ from middle position. Trip raised for near 1/2 his stack from the button. I picked this up as a move against my limp and the blinds based on his position and M value. So I took the unusual preflop Limp/Jam line with AQo. Trip was priced in and called with pretty much air, and my hand held-up.

I hovered at around 10k in chips for a long time. Whenever I would give up chips, I would find a way to get them back within an orbit or two. I actually started catching some huge hands finally with two tables left. I got QQ, AA, xx, AA in a series of four hands. I won with all three big pairs, but mostly just preflop so they didn't help too much. Normally, when I make it deep without getting cards and then hit like this late, it's my night. Not so much last night. The blinds rose up as always, and I was unable to hold the 10k chip level forever against 600/1200 and increasing blinds and antes. Eventually, down to about 4500, I open jammed K8s from the cutoff and got called by 99 in the BB. IGHN, but get my T11 refunded and valuable TOC points.

The points bubble broke at the 2 1/2 hour mark. You start the MTT with 3000 in chips and an M of 200. I see myself in the points more often than not here, and will be locking down a spot in the TOC pretty quick. 17 more spots still up for grabs though.

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## Tuesday, February 05, 2008

### Fantasy NASCAR Launches on FSL and 17 Bodog TOC Seats Up For Grabs

Today we launched Fantasy NASCAR on FantasySportsLive.com. Falstaff and others helped us develop a pretty cool structure and scoring system for Fantasy NASCAR. We wanted to roll it out late last year, but decide to push it out to the start of the 2008 NASCAR season, and here we are. The Daytona 500 is first up, and we will have weekly contests for just about the rest of the year. I don't put a lot of time into discussing FSL on this blog, but lots of you ask me about it at the Blogger gatherings so I thought I would mention a few highlights.

1) We had a great Football Season (thanks to many of you), and added tons of new users.

2) Fantasy Basketball has been HUGE since the end of football season with us running about 60 contests a day on average and growing every week.

3) With the Launch of NASCAR we have rolled out Baseball, Football, Basketball, Hockey, and NASCAR all in just 7 months since our launch.

4) We have paid out close to \$250,000 in Guaranteed Cash Prizes since launch in late June 07.

5) We are about to pass over the 10,000 contest milestone (see ID numbers in the lobby)

6) We are anticipating a Ginormous Fantasy Baseball Season in our second year.

7) We have a ton of great ideas for the website in the pipeline that will keep us busy (and ahead of the competition) for years to come.

In a nutshell things are going great with the website, and the sky is the limit for 2008. Thanks to everyone out there who supports FSL in our quest to rise above the giants in the industry.

Now on to the Bodonkey. The WSOP Seat giveaway series starts tonight. There are 17 TOC seats available. I say 17, because I am guaranteeing right now I will get one of the seats. So come on down to Bodog and compete for the other 17 shots at a free WSOP ME seat. See ya tonight.

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## Monday, February 04, 2008

### Superbowl Pick Post Mortem

That was quite a game and my pick of NE clearly sucked, so let’s try to see what went wrong with my handicapping. Also, I got burned a bit by not being able to make a proper halftime bet. I will get to that at the bottom of the post.

First off, one of my normal requirements when picking a Superbowl team to cover a large spread is that they need to be playing very well going into the Superbowl. This is typically indicated by very lopsided wins in the playoffs. Teams that absolutely crush the competition in the playoffs, usually end up as pretty big favorites, and still have the ability to cover. New England was not really crushing anyone in the playoffs. I shook this off as an issue with cold weather affecting their passing game, and them playing tougher competition. This was a pretty big mistake. The Giants were not exactly crushing anyone in the playoffs, but they were at least peaking. They were playing their best football of the season, and the Pats played their best football of the season over the first 10 weeks or so. NE has not been playing well lately.

Lastly, I underestimated the Giants Defense. I gave NE a small edge here, but the Giants had a huge edge in the actual game. There is no way you can expect to cover a large spread in the Superbowl if you are going against a much better defense then your own.

So after watching the first half, I was not liking NE anymore. I always keep a bunch of funds on the sideline for halftime bets. Halftime bets are great, because you have already seen the 1st half and have a great idea of how the second half will be played. With NE up by 4 at half, and getting the ball to start the second half, I figured they would be 7 point favorites max in the second half, and I would be able to take the Giants, and completely cancel out my NE bets (losing the vig of coarse). The problem with this is that all of my sportsbook funds are on Bodog, and they are absolutely horrible at setting lines. They tend to put up a bad number and just stick with it vs. adjusting the number based on how the betting comes in. They retardedly set the line at NE -7 1/2 in the second 1/2. Nobody watching the first half would have taken the NE side at that spread for the second half. So all the money came in on the Giants and Bodog would not move the spread down. So you would need to lay -145 to take the Giants, and +125 to take NE. Based on that, I was not able to cancel out my bet on NE for the game. I quickly searched the other sporstbooks, and they all had the line set properly at -6 1/2 or -7 and were getting somewhat even action on both sides. I tried to make a credit card deposit to offset my bets at one of the other sites, but was not able to get it to go through. I was forced to just let it ride in the second half because Bodog has no clue how to set a proper line. I did take the under in the second half to reduce my overall losses for the game somewhat. I also had Maroney to score the first TD at 4.5 to 1 and that helped as well.

In summary, I gave too much credit to Bill Belicheat, underestimated the Giants Defense, and forget to properly consider how well both teams were playing going into the game. As for Bodog, I already knew that they have issues setting lines, and should have had an alternative sportsbook funded and ready prior to the game. Bodog lost thier ass on the second half line with all the money on the winning side. Hopefully they fire the guy who set that line. With my winnings from Maroney and the second half under win, I would have been break even for the game vs. dropping a couple hundy. Hopefully I can learn from these mistakes going forward.

It was a great game to watch though, and once it was clear NE had no chance to cover, I was rooting for the Giants. I am a closet Miami Dolphin fan, and have been rooting (and betting) against NE for a good chunk of the second half of the season. I am so glad that they lost, because they were unimpressive in the Superbowl, and were not even close to deserving of the best team ever title, even if the were to get the win. This will end that argument. They were not the best team ever, not even close. They struggled pretty big starting with the Philadelphia game, and pretty much lucksacked there way to a perfect season. Their luck simply ran out in the Superbowl.

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## Friday, February 01, 2008

### Super Bowl Pick

I love to bet on the Superbowl, but who does not. Some years it’s tough to pick a side, and I wager a bit less and focus more on the prop bets. Some years I am feeling good about a side, and throw substantial funds its way. Just north of age 21, I won \$1,700 on the superbowl during a trip to Vegas (specifically to bet on it). I have won north of \$1k a couple other times as well. I have never really lost a bunch due to my complex hedging strategies on any Superbowl. Normally, I love a Superbowl that has the best NFL defense as there is almost always a ton of value there. No such luck this time. The other key thing about the Superbowl, like I said for college bowl games, is that there will be no let downs. You can expect both teams to be rested and ready, and to give 100% effort. The better team will likely win, and normally does in the Superbowl.

I am feeling pretty good about a side this year. I am loving the Patriots to cover. I already booked significant action at NE -11 on Bodog. I will be loading up more over the weekend. There are a bunch of reasons that I am sure the Pats will cover. I will list a few of them below.

1) The Patriots have the better coach.
I doubt there is any argument here. More importantly, the Pats just played the Giants in the last game of the season. The Giants gave them everything that they had. They revealed their hand so to speak. Belicheck can and will exploit this information in the Superbowl. NE also cheats, so they probably have a good read on the signal calling and other items as a result of this recent game.

2) The Patriots have the better Q.B.
No argument here either I am sure. Brady is simply the man. Who else would you want as your Superbowl QB? Manning’s little brother is not even on the Radar here. Great QBs do great things in the Superbowl, and in general the lesser names struggle (though there are notable exceptions).

3) The Patriots have the better receivers
Plax is coming back around, but Moss broke a ton of records this year, and Welker is a high volume target. The rest of the WRs are solid for NE. After Plax you got Ike, and then not much with the Giants.

4) NE has the better defense
We may get some arguments here. The Giants defense has been playing well. However, NE defense is statistically better, and they played a tougher schedule as well. NE does have an edge on Defense.

5) Best Team Ever vs. 5th Seed in the worst conference does not bode well for the underdog.
The 2007 Patriots may be the best team ever. The 2007 Giants are not even close in all-time rankings. They would not even be mentioned. The Giants are a huge dog here with little chance to get the win.

6) The point spread is more than fair.
-11 to -12 is more than fair for the NE side. This is a pretty low number IMO. It has been driven low by NE's inability to cover in its last five games, as well as the Giants ability to pull off a few upsets in the playoffs. The Giants have not faced a team like NE yet, and NE has had to play a bunch of cold weather games lately against better teams than the Giants. NE is a team built for warm weather, and I see them as having a home field disadvantage in the playoffs. The Superbowl will be a warm weather high scoring game. NE will once again run the score up.

7) Moss is going to blow up in the Superbowl
This is old hat for most of NE players. This is all new for Moss. He has been quiet for a couple straight games, but has never stayed quiet for very long all season. He can and will be HUGE in the superbowl, and has a decent shot at MVP.

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