Saturday, October 1, 2011

Quality minis

This week's write up is inspired by a recent blog by good friend and wise poker pro Dara O'Kearney or 'Doke' as we've all come to know him by. Doke's blog back in early September Tanks and minis included the closing statement of "It's not always about driving the big tank in this game: the great players know how to navigate a mini through a minefield when needed too".

Doke was referring to the patience and ability of the good tournament players to not just rely on and play well with a dominating huge stack (a tank) but also not lose hope when in possession of a short-stack (a mini) - knowing how to use a mini in the right spots to chip up is crucial to overall tournament results. Perhaps this skill is even more important in the small stakes 180-SnGs as there is a lot less room to manoeuvre than the traditional large field MTTs. As I will elaborate below I have fallen back on this style of playing 'minis' more over the past few sessions and the results have been promising.

This week I didn't achieve much volume but ended the month of September with 120 tournaments at an ROI of 18% bringing my bankroll almost back to even. Here is the summary for the past week:

Session 1: Played 8, Placed 2 (2nd, 5th), Prizes $109 
Session 2: Played 8, Placed 1 (7th), Prizes: $14 
Session 3: Played 6, Placed 1 (8th), Prizes: $11

And here is the trend graph (the big 'W'):

So after 10 weeks and 432 tournaments I am more or less break even at $527 (four buy-ins down but still over 200 buy-ins for the current level). Considering what seemed like a couple of bankroll breaking downswings along the way I'm not too disappointed. Although I am not used to playing this low I am really enjoying the challenge at the moment and building a strong mental resilience which will pay off for me in later larger events.

As I stated in my last blog my focus of late is less on quantity and more on quality which is more in line with my natural patient style of play. This does not mean that I play like (or condone playing like) a total nit but just that I have focused more on not getting involved in a lot of dodgy 50-50 spots when I know that there will be better spots available later against poor opposition. In fact my observation during my huge downswings has been that I have taken every 50-50 spot in the hope of building a huge stack only to be unlucky at crucial times and have my the large stack counting for nothing. The rest of the time I might be knocked out in the first few levels playing this way and not giving myself a chance later on against more crucial errors that opponents at this low level make - at least just specific to this level this has to be -EV.

On the other hand during my upswings I'm playing more sensibly in terms of +EV and surviving to the late stages before taking risks with an average or quality mini stack and it seems to have payed off. I've even managed to be patient enough running my stack down to 3-5BBs right on the bubble and still making the final table. Of course running good is always a key factor no matter what your style is so long as you have the fundamentals right. Hopefully this approach will get me moving upwards again.

I have to say that reading The Poker Mindset by Ian Taylor & Matthew Hilger has probably been the biggest help of late helping me keep it together mentally when things haven't been going so well. Some of my learning from this book may make up some material in future blogs. If you are starting out and would like to see a book review or applied learning in my game please leave me a comment.

On other news I have now booked in my trip for the 2012 Aussie Millions in January so I will be looking over the next few months to prepare by playing some live events, some qualifiers as well as some larger online field MTTs so stay tuned...

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