Poker Words - A Poker Blog

Mostly a recount of my poker exploits along with a bunch of random other stuff just for fun.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Matrix Poker Part 2

I finally tried one of those Matrix SNG's at FullTilt. Just in case you missed my fascinating post a while ago about the Matrix tourney's they work like this:

9 Player SNG. Each player plays four simultaneous SNGs. 1/5 of the prize pool is allocated via the normal payout schedules to the top three players in each table. The remaining 1/5 of the prize pool goes to the Matrix Points winner. You get points for eliminating other players and outlasting players in each of the four tourneys.

I did a little research online for what other people were saying about the tourneys and the consensus I got from what little commentary was out there was that the format helps mediocre to moderately losing players by giving them access to 1/5 of the pool that they normally wouldn't get, meanwhile winning players will win slightly less than under normal formats.

I don't know if I agree with that or not. I think good players will more often than not last longer in each of the tourneys, thus accumulating more points providing insurance for when they get hit with a bad beat and don't finish as high in as they might normally have expected.

Regardless of whether or not it was +EV, it was fun. I could just be that I was playing four tables again, instead of just the one that I've been doing as I ease myself back into the online poker scene, but I also think the fact that I had the same players at each of my tables helped. There were times when I was looking at the matrix points standings and comparing them to the players at my table to figure out who I needed to outlast more. And I think the fact that busting someone was worth two points, enters into the expected value of any given pot. Finally you can use player's tendencies, or situations on one table against them in another. For example I was in a lengthy heads up battle on one of the tables, and I knew that if I had him with a difficult decision on the heads up table I could easily steal his blinds on the other table.

Speaking of the heads up battle, it had to be the longest heads up match I've ever been in. We got to heads up well before any of the other tables, and yet we were the last to finish up. I think we were at 30/60 blinds when we started and at 250/500 when we finished. That's eight levels. I started out with a 3:1 chip lead, but I just couldn't finish him off. I was playing more aggressively, but fell into the familiar routine of stealing a few small pots, then losing a bigger one when he pushed into my garbage. Eventually he hit a few big hands and I doubled him up. He must have had to go somewhere then because on both that table, and the other table we were still playing he went into all-in or nothing mode. He got bumped from the other table pretty quickly and I once I figured out his new strategy I just waited for big hands for him to double me up. And he did. And I ultimately won.

So I came in first in two of the four, and seventh in the other two. I also won the matrix points pool. It was a $10 entry, and I won $9 for the three first place finishes. Which is $17 profit. If I had entered four separate $10 tourneys instead I would have paid $40 and won $90, for $50 profit, which would have averaged out to 12.5. So in this smallest of sample sizes, the Matrix format was profitable.

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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Actual Poker Played

Its a Christmas, er Thanksgiving, miracle! We actually scheduled and held a home poker game this week. One of my friends is going out of town to visit his in-laws for Thanksgiving. His wife left a few days earlier, leaving him home alone to fend for himself for a few days. So we had ourselves a little poker game.

We intentionally kept it small, and the goal was to play a bunch of quick small tournaments. I'm not sure how to actually accomplish a quick tournament without turning it into a complete luckfest, but that really only mattered for the first game.

We started out playing holdem, trying to get ourselves back into the routine. In an effort to speed up the game we halved the amount of chips that we normally start with and dropped the blind levels from 15 to 10 minutes. For the first few blind levels everything seemed to go normally, and maybe it was just coincidence but everyone's chipstack was more or less equal. Then all of the sudden the blinds were so high that any legitimate pre-flop raise committed you to going all-in on the flop and everyone tightened up. It turned into an all-in fest with no one really willing to call anything and the tournament dragged on way longer than we anticipated.

In hindsight I think decreasing the starting chips was a bad idea. Giving people more chips to start would allow them to stay in hands longer, without fear of going broke. Staying in hands longer gives them more time to hit a nice second best hand which would lead to bigger pots and faster eliminations.

After that we tried Omaha High. None of us play Omaha or have any idea what a good starting hand is, or when a good time to fold is, so this was more an exercise in comedy than poker play. While I think my hand discipline was better than most, I don't think I actually won a hand the entire time so I didn't last very long.

Our third game was Razz, in which I think I have a pretty big advantage, because I at least somewhat understand the concept. We had issues figuring out what the ante, bring in, and bet amounts should be, and after playing on FullTilt later I think we completely messed it up, but it probably doesn't matter.

We started Razz with a couple people absolutely refusing to understand what they should do. At one point someone said, "Just tell me when I have to put money in, and how much because I'm not folding" He would then start cracking up every time he got another card. I think he endend up hitting runner,runner,runner A25 to win the hand on the river.

I did well in the beginning of the tournament, but I think I ended up chasing a bit too much and went out third or fourth. I think the hand that did me in had me with two pair showing, but staying in. I had pretty good down cards though and I think I still had a ton of outs, but the seventh street brought me a face card and forced me to fold.

About halfway through the game something clicked for our host and he went from tentatively calling whatever bet was out there because he had no idea where he stood, to actually figuring out exactly where he was in the hand and altering his aggression accordingly.

Not bad for Tuesday night. I can think of worse ways to spend it, despite my pretty poor showing. Now all we need to do is find a way to get a weekend game going with a decent amount of participants.

Originally posted at

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Saturday, November 22, 2008

Matrix Poker

I logged onto my Full Tilt account for the first time in quite a while this afternoon. They have an interesting new(ish?) tournament format called Matrix tournaments. Its an interesting twist on tournament play.

It works like this: You join a tournament with 8 other people. The tournament consists of four simultaneous SNGs. Top three are paid in each tournament as normal, except that only 20% of the prize pool goes to each of the four SNGs.

The remaining 20% goes to the overall points winner. You get points by outlasting other players, by knocking other players out and by winning tournaments. Top three points earners are paid out with a normal SNG payout structure.

Its a nice twist on bounty style tournaments, especially for those of us that don't have the attention span for just one table at a time. Maybe I'll try one later and let you know how it goes.

Originally posted at

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Friday, November 14, 2008

Heartland Poker Tour Take Two

You'll never believe what I did today. I played poker! More poker than I've played in the last five or six months combined. Of coarse that translates to about 15 minutes and maybe 12 hands, but I'm getting ahead of myself.

I had to go to a client in Indiana today, and about halfway between my house and there is the Majestic Star Casino, home of a Heartland Poker Tour event. Last time the tour came through I wasn't able to make it, but a number of friends went to the first round satellites and qualified with ease. My plan was to get there around 5:00, place in either the $105 or $150 satellite and then play in the $440 at 7:00.

I did manage to get there around five despite the Indians Highway constructions best effort to reroute me to Ohio or Michigan. I was sixth on the list for the $150, but the other four people didn't sign up until almost 6:00.

Here's an observation. Casinos in Vegas = Fun and Exciting, even when killing time waiting for a table to open up. Casinos in Indiana. Sad, Dirty and Pathetic.

On the plus side I turned a dollar into a fat two dollars and twenty cents playing five cent video poker. That's 120% ROI. Beat that. I forgot to turn in the ticket though, so I might as well have lost, but that's not the point.

So the tourney finally starts around 6:00. Little to no chance it will be done in time for the 7:00 qualifier. We get T$1700 with blinds starting at T$25/T$50 and going up every 10 minutes. You basically get one chance to win a pot otherwise your out.

I think eight of my ten hands in the first orbit were K and something in the range of 2-6 offsuit. I'm not trying to complain about my cards, but it was odd that I had King almost every hand.

In the little I saw, the players weren't as terrible as I had been led to believe, but they made up for by being annoying. There were a few of the same players in most pots and they felt the need to give us a play-by-play of each hand. Even when they weren't in a hand they had to tell everyone what they would have gotten. Just shut and play. Is that too much to ask?

I hadn't put in a chip other than the blinds until the hand I went out. I had AKo in late position with a limper or two. I put in a big raise and the BB went all in over the top. She was one of the play-by-play analyzers and had already gone all in with weaker aces, and just complained about how she should have gone with her gut when she folded QKs to two all-ins, and AK and AQ. She would have flopped a flush.

So anyway, I thought there was a pretty good chance I was ahead and I was pot committed regardless. Of coarse she had aces. So I'm out third. I'm also reasonably confident that I could have just folded every hand and made it into the next round. Or at least to 4-5 where I could have played the all-in or nothing game.

Originally posted at

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Sunday, November 02, 2008

Heartland Poker Tour

Maybe I'm not meant to play poker anymore. I was planning on playing in some satellites for the Heartland Poker Tour. Unfortunately I've been sick all weekend, so instead I spent the last few days on my couch staring at my TV, which half the time isn't even on. Fun. The main event isn't until later in the month so hopefully I'll have a few more opportunities to qualify

Originally posted at