Tuesday, October 18, 2011

200 SNGs

Every time I do a post about my poker results, either live or online, I think, "There can't possibly be anybody interested in this." But comments keep suggesting otherwise, to my puzzlement, so I venture again.

A little less than three weeks ago I reported to you about my first 100 single-table sit-and-go tournaments on Bodog. I have now completed the second 100. I mixed some $10 in, whereas the first 100 had been all $5. I also started tackling three games at a time instead of just two, and it is already more comfortable and less frenetic-feeling than it was the first time I tried it. Still, I can't pay as much attention to what individual players are doing, which bothers me. I have no idea how online specialists manage 20 or 30 tables at a time. I assume that, like most anything else, it's just a matter of gradual increases in facility of decision-making, but at this point it seems as impossible as climbing Mt. Everest would be for me.

As you can see from my nifty graph, I hit a rough patch there for a while, though I appear (and hope) to be just on the verge of climbing out of it with another upturn. I'm mostly good about avoiding going out on the bubble, but that bad patch included a sequence in which I bubbled four out of seven games, which was, I'll admit, pretty tilting.

My pattern of finishes has remained virtually unchanged:

I suppose that shouldn't be too surprising, since I haven't changed how I play in any noticeable way. In-the-money finishes are 36%, exactly the same as after the first 100. I still pretty well avoid the bubble and being the first or second one out. I also still score more firsts than anything else, which pleases me greatly. It makes me think that maybe there's something to this whole "poker is a game of skill" thing after all.

If I make the money, the most likely outcome is a win, the second most likely outcome is second place, and the least likely outcome is third for the min-cash. This is as it should be. There is no question in my mind that I have a measurable edge on most of my opponents when it gets to the end game. Most of them are either stupidly aggressive, pushing all in with ridiculous frequency (obviously afraid to make the harder decisions that come post-flop), or, alternatively, way too timid. In the latter group, they tend to limp every button, display obvious bet-sizing tells (mostly small bets with weak hands, big bets for big hands), and not bluff enough. Because my play is tight-aggressive during most of the tournament, they have learned to be afraid of my bets, and the combination of table image and a better knowledge of how to play two- and three-handed allows me to chip up against such players by running over them much more than they should let me.

My net profit after 100 games was $115. My net profit now is $185.

So if my pattern of finishes hasn't changed, why the lower profit per game? Simple: I'm doing less well in the $10 games than in the $5 games. In fact, my return on investment (ROI) is a little higher now than it was after the first 100 for the $5 games (1.25 compared to 1.21), but ROI for the $10 games is a dismal 0.88, with a net loss of $44.

You can go ahead and mock the fact that a player as experienced as I am struggles to beat $10 online SNGs. It doesn't worry me. My first run at the $5 games was negative for a while, too, until I adjusted my play to match the players. I've only done 34 of the $10 games compared to 166 of the $5. I'm confident I'll figure out what tweaks I need to make in compensation, given more time.

There is, in fact, a noticeable difference in the style of play moving up one notch--more than I would have expected. Sure, there's a lot of overlap, but I definitely see more thoughtfully aggressive play and less blindly aggressive play. In the $5 games, it's common to run into players who think that the way to run a bluff is to shove all-in, on the assumption that nobody can call a bet that big. Of course, what happens is that they only get called when they are crushed, and they get knocked out. That particular behavior is hugely profitable for the better, more patient players, and there is much less of it one level up. Players that lacking in fundamental understanding tend to choose the lowest buy-ins, and even the difference between $5 and $10 filters them out to a substantial degree.

I mentioned last time Cardgrrl's suggestion that I start keeping notes about my 7th- and 8th-place finishes. Why those spots in particular? Well, my 10th- and 9th-place finishes are mostly bad beats and cold decks. Those are early enough in the game that I'm not getting my whole stack in without strong reason to do so. If I lose, it's because it was something like a nut versus second-nut situation, or flopping a set and getting sucked out on with a straight or flush. There's not much room for examining and improving my play in those circumstances. The later finishes (6th, 5th, and 4th) are just run-of-the-mill stretches of dead cards, or appropriately gambling with a shove when short-stacked relative to the blinds, and it not working out. Again, it's hard to find systematic things wrong with my play that would keep those situations from happening.

But I have a lot of 8ths and 7ths, which are still early enough that a good percentage of them might be avoidable, and it's probably worth finding out if that is so. I added a "comments" line in my spreadsheet and now force myself to enter a brief evaluation of what happened. I try to be brutally honest with myself in chalking the results up to bad play versus bad luck. Here's what I wrote. (Some of these are for 10th and 9th-place finishes, too, when I thought there was something noteworthy.)
Overplayed big pair in face of resistance, shouldn't have lost. He had flopped 2 pr.

Cold deck, QQ v. KK. OK with play.

Bad beat cost much of stack, then open-shoved with 10-10 with 10 bb, called by KK.

Prob bad play.

AI on flop with pair and flush draw vs. top pair no draw, missed 14 outs x2. OK with play.

Shoved pre with JJ over 4 bet, which was QQ. Bad play.

3-outer on river. Played fine.

Guy went all in 1st hand with Q-9, I called with AK. He caught a 9. Definitely right move.

Made every kind of bad play.

Horrible 3-outer on river after all in on flop.

20 bb in SB, shoved w AK over apparent blind steal from big-stack button, he had 10-10, held.

Cold deck. Overpair plus straight draw plus flush draw lost to one-bigger pair.

Played fine. 15 BB, shoved with JJ over table's most frequent raiser, he had AK, caught A.

Tried AI semibluff w flush and str draws against a player who had been getting frisky. He had flopped a set that time.

Card dead. 11 BB shoved with 99, called by KK.

Check-raise shoved with pair and flush draw, guy called with just two overcards, hit.

Made stupid bluff attempt.

Played fine, just unlucky everywhere.

Stayed with second-best hands a couple of times when I should have folded.

Cold deck--KK on dry flop, but guy had hit 2 pr.

TPTK, he made disguised straight on turn. Unsure whether I overplayed it or it was reasonable. Really hard to put him on that hand.

Card dead. Played fine.
There you have it--my confessional for all the world to see. Of course, any particular evaluation might be wrong and/or self-serving and/or the result of denial. I write them instantly after getting knocked out, usually while still playing one or two other games, so I can't devote too much time or attention to the analysis. Still, it gives me a sense of how much of these disappointing results can be attributed to me doing something stupid. It's more than I wish it were, but the first step to correcting a problem is acknowledging it, so maybe there's hope for me yet.

I have also just ordered Collin Moshman's book Sit 'n [sic] Go Strategy from Amazon. Maybe that will help me spot some leaks.

OK, that's enough navel-gazing for now. Onward and (I hope) upward. I'll report again after another 100.


arniejokin said...

Good to see no recorded events of 2-4 failing!!

Terry in Victoria said...

I love the graph and detailed explanation as to why you went out. I just disagree on one thing where you called an all in on the first hand with AK. At best its a race for all your chips. Your a much better player than that and why risk them all when you can get your money in a much better times with less risk and more reward.

Paboo said...

Try the 7.50+.50 Double or Nothing Turbo. You can easily play 4 at time b/c decisions are much easier.

Turbo have more bad players and the double or nothing forces good players to make more bad decisions when they don't take into account that all they need to do is make it into the money instead of being the player with the most chips.

I've been having good luck with these particular SNGs and less variance.

BTW... AK is easy fold in first round of these DON SNGs.