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Aliens vs. Predators

For a while now I have believed that the perfect micro level tournament player is someone with a good understanding of the game, its mechanics and the numbers but someone who hasn't allowed millions of hands to twist their perception on the value of the play. I recently registered my dad on PokerStars so he could also play and learn the in's and out's of online poker. I started him off on 9 Seater SnG to get a hang of playing, game theory and all that jazz. The reason for this blog is simple, my dad is doing very well in a tournament that I am now coaching since he has made it quite far. I've on purpose not helped him till this stage so that I can review his hand history and isolate plays where I believe more experienced players, like myself, are making folds/giving credit to players that aren't deserving of them and inadvertently letting go of hands we should be playing.

I will be editing this post with the inferences I have made regarding the tournament and the plays that were instrumental as he progressed closer to the final money. This is sure to be a very interesting analysis that I can't wait to data mine.

You probably reading this cause you got a dirty mind or I'm the one with his mind in the gutter. Most of the time yes :) This time, no. To any and all playing micro limit tournaments, be warned, there is one poker tactic that is very difficult to pull off, The Bluff.

It is one of those things that every poker player can do and if done successfully can greatly increase your chip stack and put your opponent on tilt. Constantly pondering what the F you had. The thing is this though, do not try this in micro < $5 buy-in's if you not already in the money or on that bubble period. Players at this level don't think, no offense, they don't, they just say "Oooohhh, I have bottom pair, I know I am going to win, nothing can beat bottom pair".

What you have, what the board says, means nothing. At this level, they playing to get lucky, to prove you have nothing, to hold on to hopes and dreams that this is the double up they need. What ever happens, this tournament doesn't mean that much to me I should play tactically, mathematically, strategically. They want to be the luckiest person on the table, that's their goal.

Elaborations and waffling aside, play your odds and outs, your position, your opponents with care early on and don't be scared to check. Getting your opponent off will prove more difficult then you think. If you have position and they have called to river with no obvious sign a straight or flush was what they could have been chasing; chances are they have some small pair that they believe is strong and will not let it go. So if you made it this far, better have something to show. If not, just check in position and see the showdown. Rotations later, you will be in a situation where the hand plays out in a similar way but this time, you hit what you needed and this time their flat calling will be in your favor. You will be that much closer to taking the tournament down as it's victor.

Good luck to you at the tables and if you have thoughts to share on this topic, I would be very interested to hear them.

I recently blogged about my pursuit in the micro level stakes. I chose to play at this level for many reasons but it boils down to 3 keen objectives/outcomes/reasons

1. Bankroll Management

2. Steady ROI Growth

3. Understanding My Weaknesses

Tournaments have large variances with many experiencing down swings sometime to no fault of their own. Playing at micro allowed me to focus on playing and not being concerned with the buy-in value, since this was not material enough to affect my game. Getting in the money 100% of the time would mean that I would average, based on payout structures a return of circa 50% if busted straight after the bubble. Therefore 2 things are important

* Knowing when to play to survive

* When to play to win

Many will argue that you should always be in it to win and I agree with this, but at the end of the day you have to be smart about the decisions you make, re-evaluating your strategy as you progress in a tournament. My long term goal is consistently profiting to the point where the returns sustain a full time career playing poker. At micro, this would mean top 3 to be material for me and reality is, this is not feasible consistently.

I have played just over 30000 hands in the last 2 months and at this point was consistently running deep in tourneys (ITM 38%). The large player pool and ranges made it difficult to final table and this is where I needed to set my sights on. Since my last blog, I have bought into tourneys between low and medium ranges applying what I have learnt and understood about my game. The reason for the sudden jump in buy-in is based on this material output / $ per hour; busting out on a $13.50 tourney could gross me $85 at half way mark in the money. My net return is now material in terms of what I could finish the day with after all my buy-ins and ITM amounts. Higher limit tournaments offer variance cause of less players but on the other hand you playing against a stronger field.

We all want to win that monster tournament that offers us a 1000 buyin return but the reality is that this is very difficult to achieve consistently. The ITM amounts at least are material enough that making $300 a day affords me the opportunity to do this full time. My advice to all playing online is understand why you are playing, the motivators behind the time you invest at the tables should always reflect your strategy. Set goals for each phase in the tournament; align expectations to reality and be prepared to grind and work hard to reach your objectives.

Deep Sea Fishing

Hi All,

My name is Byron Van Wyk. I have always enjoyed playing poker and started playing online on and off about 7 years ago. I took a long break from poker as life and work went into full swing. In more recent times, I have had some pretty difficult shit to deal with and even though I reached a respectable point in my career, consulting to blue chip organisations on BI architecture, I've decided to give this poker career the chance I never gave it before.

I will be blogging about anything that I feel was a turning point in this journey for me and what I have noticed about the 'type' of players, strategy I found particularly successful or not. The one thing I have to be very disciplined about is bankroll management. Journeys take time, dedication, patience and discipline to excel at and for that reason my journey starts as low as it can get, the micro limits.

I seldom play tournaments where the buy-in is higher than $5 and at these low limits, 95% of the time there is in excess of 3000 players. The margins are small and only final tables really offer anything material. None-the-less, every game is about maximizing my position and always ensuring I get in the money.

So here's to me, grinding it out, avoiding bad beat fish calls and taking down big pots when it matters most against the many fishes and sharks found at the micro levels. To everyone else out there, good luck at the tables and if we happen to meet up, may my hand always hold against yours :)

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