Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Time To Stop Dropping The Hammer?

I am taking a huge risk with this post. The bad karma associated with disrespecting the hammer can be devastating. At last winters blogger gathering, during the Caesars tournament I disrespected the hammer. I was starting to get short with about 1/3 of the field remaining. I picked up AQs in the BB, and Mattazuma raised it up from the cutoff enough to put me all-in. I called and said "show me the hammer". He did, and sent me to the rail when he out flopped me.

The concept of dropping the hammer in theory is sound though slightly flawed. It is a way to prove to yourself that the cards do not always matter. It is typically played for a raise as the worst possible starting hand. When you play it for a raise though it is not really the worst starting hand. 72o is the worst possible hand in a multiway pot. The worst heads-up hand is 32o. When you raise preflop you are looking to reduce the competition. So if you are trying to get heads up with the worst possible hand you should be raising with 32o. If you want to play the worst multiway hand (72o), you really should limp it to get the pot multiway.

The hammer and bloggers go back a ways. The hammer has been dropped for a few years now. If the concept of dropping the hammer, is to show yourself that you can win with ATC, and that hand strength does not always matter, I would imagine most of us hammer droppers have learned this by now. But lets face the facts. Raising preflop with 72o is -EV for even the tightest players like me. For the looser bloggers, it is even more -EV. I thought the point of this community was to collectively improve are games. Is this not correct? Is the point to look cool in front of your cyber freinds at the cyber tables? If that is why the hammer continues to get dropped, and if you are honest with yourself you know this is true, then why still do it?

I stopped dropping the hammer a while ago, and you know what. My game is better as a result. In the blogger MTTs it is like free money when the hammer gets overplayed. It has fattened up my stack on many an occasions, and is probably one of the reasons a cash game player like myself can hold my own against a bunch of MTT specialists. So the next time you get ready to drop the hammer, ask yourself a question. Are you doing it to look cool or fit in, or are you honestly doing it as a way to expand and improve your game. If your motivation is to be cool, then don't do it! Fold the hammer. Focus on improving your game. Playing -EV hands to be cool it a great way to make your game worse.

It is like the whole weak/tight vs. maniac argument. The weak/tight (or tight-aggressive) is the easiest way to make money at the tables based on your skill level. There are some highly skilled individuals who can make the maniac style work for them, but most just do it because it makes you look cool, and is funner then the tighty whitey style. Use dollars earned per hour as your metric, then you will know if your play is getting better or worse, and play the style that maximizes this. This is how people improve there games. It is not by doing something that long ago stopped playing dividends.

Am I wrong here???? Poker Gods please spare me on this one. I am writing this for an important reason

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At 8:01 PM, Blogger Mattazuma said...

It's one thing to drop the hammer in one of the weekly blogger tournaments, but playing it in a tournament for "real" money was and is a dumb move.

At the Summer Classic, you will most likely never see me drop the hammer.

I make no such guaranties in the Mookie. :)

At 8:13 PM, Blogger Buddy Dank said...

Shout it out brother!!! Amen!
I'm right there with ya. I admit doing it early on in my involvement with blogger tournaments. But after being burned a number of times, I no longer even try. OK, so maybe in the Friday donkament $1 rebuy I'll drop it before the rebuys end.

I will say that I did start my blog to get involved with the blogger touneys in order to improve my game. And I feel I have to a certain degree but no where near where I would like my game to be.

At 9:12 PM, Blogger Mike Maloney said...

I'm with Matt. I don't use the hammer in my regular cash or tournament games, there's no point. I do like to drop it in the blonkaments, just because it's a fun atmosphere and a fun move to make. I don't disagree with your -EV comments, but I do think it has some entertainment value, which comes into play at the blogger tourneysc

At 5:44 AM, Blogger Pokerwolf said...

I'm standing next to Mike Maloney with my opinion. It's fun to use
The Hammer in blogger tournaments (which are essentially internet "home games"), but I don't play The Hammer outside of blogger games because it's too easy to bluff off chips.

At 8:27 AM, Blogger Drizztdj said...

There's a difference between CALLING with the hammer, and RAISING with it.

The two cards shouldn't even matter, its about using position and a little aggression.

Its about breaking a shell of playing only "premium cards".

At 8:40 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The hammer is so 2004. In other words its dumb as fuck. It's doubtful but some day maybe it will go to it's rightful place, into the muck.

There are no Gods BTW.

At 8:57 AM, Blogger Instant Tragedy: Just Add Sean said...

No POKER GODS? Woah Don, Don't anger the gods. (Putting out an offering to try and get rid of the bad mojo).

I dropped the hammer on the way of making my first BBT Final Table run. Then I got an instant message from the Infamous AlcantHang.

"Sean... Stop doing that blogger crap and play your game. You here to win."

And I finished 4th. The Hammer is a psychological ploy you can use early but as many people have said earlier it is so -EV that it would be better for you to take that gun that you are shooting at your stack and point it at your pwn foot.

Cheers on the post!

At 9:38 AM, Blogger Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo said...

I continue to drop the hammer in all tournaments I play in. In fact, literally the very month I started playing the hammer -- in the correct way, mind you -- is also the very month where I started winning mtts. I find playing and showing the hammer is the best advertising you will ever get, and it has been responsible to a great degree in every single big tournament win I've ever had. There is no doubt in my mind that playing the hammer has been hugely +EV for me over time. Hooooogely.

I will say this. There are only a very small few of the bloggers who actually know how to correctly play the hammer. The guys who call allins with it, they're just trying to be cool and it costs them of course. The guys who call with it early in the hand, they're just trying to be cool and are definitely losing EV over time playing the hand. But, if done correctly -- basically only for open-raising and maybe for limping into a large pot with -- it can definitely add value to anyone's game. Most people just don't know how to use the weapon properly is all.

So, no brag post today about you making the points in 10 out of 10 BBT events so far? I've come to enjoy those posts so let's go with that already. Nice job last night in the Mook.

At 11:08 AM, Blogger bayne_s said...

Playing the hammer or the junk 2 card combos I get caught playing on occaison is certainly -EV for that one hand.

I also believe I take more bad beats and get paid off on big hands more because of previous loose plays.

At 11:23 AM, Blogger Irongirl01 said...

Completely depends on my mood Blinders but lately I wont drop it. Last nite I had a stack and wanted to hold onto it. I may go to blogger hell for this but I folded to a large raise. Im playing to win and cash not to show im insane or can play Laggy. I did that with my suited 89 twice :)

BTW nice run in the last couple tournies. Pretty dang good for a cash game specialist

At 5:27 PM, Blogger Blinders said...

Hoy you ignorant slut. You don't even own poker tracker, and you act like you can state the EV values of the hands that you play. Sorry, but you can't. 72o is -EV period. I challenge anyone to post a screenshot from poker tracker for 72o with at least 250h at the same blind level (cash or MTT), that shows a profit.

The only argument that I am willing to buy here is what Bayne_s stated. 72o by itself is -EV, but it improves the EV values of your stronger holdings. On this point I agree.

The problem with this argument is you can get the same or more EV improvement in strong holdings by raising up a hand like 75s or 86s and showing. In fact raising with a hand like that appears more loose than 72o. So many people (including non-bloggers) know about the hammer that it is a bit gimmicky. If they see you raise with it fine. That does not mean you also raise your one gap suited hands. There are a lot more one gap suited starting hands than the very specific 72o, so raising thoose types of hands looks way looser, and they also have some real value on thier own. How about selectively raiseing one gap suited hands as the new hammer? To me that is much better in terms of EV to your entire game than raising the hammer could be.

At 10:49 PM, Blogger bayne_s said...

1 gap suited is p*ssy poker.

Man up! 2 gap suited 58 and 74 is the way to go to project a loose image.

JJOK, Smokkee and now sellthekids probably now permanently associate me with a far wider range of hands than I am playing on a given night.


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